Antonio’s life story is the story of hundreds of Follansbee immigrant families.
Born in Italy in 1896, he came with his brother Pasquale to the States in 1912. His brother Mareliano, who was already in the U.S, helped him get a job working for a railroad in Scranton, PA. Antonio remembered laying tracks at night in knee-deep snow. He earned 17 cents an hour. In 1915 Antonio arrived in Follansbee and worked 12-hour shifts in the Tin Mill. He boarded with other Italians including the DiMarzio, Paesani, and Fiazza families until 1917. He was then drafted and sent to Camp Lee (VA) where his training involved using broom handles to simulate a rifle. He was shipped overseas on a British transport that took 23 days to arrive in England. On ship, their meals consisted of mutton, which was fowl. That led him to eat raw cabbage instead of regular meals. He returned to the US in 1919 and received his citizenship with a $30 bonus. Back in Follansbee, he again worked in the Tin Mill sorting room. Rather than giving kickbacks to the boss to keep his job, he quit and went to the open hearth. In 1924 he went into the grocery business with Tony Nazionale. Before refrigeration was available, Antonio would get up at 5:00 a.m. to go to Steubenville to get ice to keep the meat fresh. He bought a truck in 1924. The only driving instructions involved driving it around the block. He returned to Italy to marry Donnina Quaranta in 1926. He became the sole owner of Ferrante’s Market in 1928, later the name changed to Main Street Market because of its location. During 1930, he went to local farms to butcher calves and lambs to sell at the store. When the Depression became widespread, he donated beef to the soup kitchen. Mr. Ferrante was forced to close when the business lost $10,000 due to unpaid credit. In 1936, he moved the store to 910 Main and continued to operate during World War II. He finally sold out in 1963. Even though Antonio received only a few months of education, he was able to send four of his five children to college. He took pride in that he worked hard and always moved his family ahead.
- Liberatore Ferrante, “Antonio Ferrante,” July 10, 1974, (unpublished family document)
Picture of Antonio Ferrante in front of his store circa 1930 with his young daughter, Luisa, and his brother-in-law. On left, looking through the window is his wife, Donnina. Photo Courtesy of Anna Berardi.