According to Tony Trolio, most of the Italians that lived in Brier Hill all came from the same area; Colobraro, Provincia Matera, Basilacata.
Thanks to Trolio’s efforts and the more than 125 families who responded and paid $100 to have their family listed, the plaque was unveiled and blessed following a memorial mass at a ceremony held on Saturday, Oct. 29th at St. Anthony Church.
Following the ceremony, a social hour that included music by Dom Tocco was held at the church’s DeMarinis Hall, where a special dinner presentation was made to the church in the form of a check for $10,000, courtesy of all funds left from the families who participated in the plaque project.
“My parents, Antonio and Nicolette Trolio, came to America in 1922,” said Trolio, who added that they lived on Pershing Street, near St. Anthony's. Sharing that his father, who was a plumber, continued all of the traditional Italian customs, including having a huge garden, and making homemade wine and sausage, Trolio added, “My mother, like all the mothers, made pizza.” He added however, that his mother made and sold about 300 pizzas every week.
“We bought boxes for her and called it Mama Mia's Pizza.”
“I wrote two books about Brier Hill, and in fact I claimed to be the first one to come up with the name Brier Hill Pizza,” said Trolio, adding that he also led the move to have four road signs installed last year claiming Brier Hill as the first Italian settlement in Youngstown.
“This exciting event brings our tribute to our parents and neighborhood full cycle with two books written, four historic road signs installed honoring Youngstown’s first Italian immigrants, and finally, the memorial plaque,” said Trolio.
Now available anytime for viewing, the plaque is installed next to the parish’s cornerstone on the outside of the church where Trolio said he said received his first communion, was confirmed, married, and from where many of his family members funeral masses were held.
With such an overwhelming response to the first plaque, Trolio said he’ll happily begin working on a second as additional families have already stepped forward expressing interest. Remaining true to his roots, “I’m glad to do whatever I can to help the church,” he said.
Photos special to the Town Crier
It is through the efforts of Tony Trolio, who has written two books about Brier Hil, and led the move to have four road signs installed last year claiming Brier Hill as the first Italian settlement in Youngstown, that a memorial plaque now hangs on the grounds of St. Anthony’s honoring those who called Brier Hill their home since the early 1900’s.