HCBG News - Grandson who battled Turnpike gets wish



Grandson who battled Turnpike gets wish: Body is ID'd, to have own grave

Italian immigrant buried 55 years ago

Saturday, October 18, 2003

By Steve Strunsky
Associated Press writer

NEWARK - Archeologists and bone experts working for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority used modern technology and old-fashioned process of elimination to identify the bones of a man buried 55 years ago among human remains being moved to make way for a new interchange.

The remains of Leonardo Andriani were positively identified this month by a team of excavators and bone specialists working on the disinterment of 3,500 human remains.

The remains are being moved from the site of the old Laurel Hill Cemetery in Secaucus, where the Turnpike agency is building a new interchange, 15X, to serve NJ Transit's Secaucus Transfer Station rail hub. The remains will be reinterred at Maple Grove Cemetery in Hackensack, said Joe Orlando, a Turnpike spokesman.

Andriani's were the second set of remains positively identified and claimed by a relative for private reinterment.

Last month, Turnpike officials identified the remains of Alfoncina Pansini of Hoboken, who died in 1928. Pansini was reburied in a family plot Tuesday in Holy Name Cemetery in Jersey City after a funeral was held at St. Ann's Church in Hoboken.

Andriani's identification was the satisfying end of a yearlong labor of love and respect by Patrick Andriani for his grandfather, who died in 1948, 28 years after coming to the United States to support his family in Molfetta, Italy.

Andriani's remains were not identified through DNA analysis. Orlando said experts used process of elimination, thanks to a computerized catalogue made using every set of remains dug up at Laurel Hill, a burial ground for Hudson County until 1962.

"We knew that Patrick Andriani's grandfather was over 6 feet tall, so we were narrowed it down to 56 people right away," Orlando said. "Of the 56 people, a certain number were women."

"They kept whittling it down by criteria, so they came down to two sets of remains and they knew that Patrick Andriani's grandfather had a gold tooth in his upper jaw.

"And they knew Leonardo Andriani walked with a limp, and they knew this one set of remains showed strong evidence of arthritis in the right leg and hip."

"We went from building a road to becoming an episode of CSI," Orlando said, referring to the CBS series, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."

Andriani said he would ask a judge to approve his taking possession of his grandfather's remains, which will be buried separately from the others in its own plot at Maple Grove Cemetery.

He said his grandfather came to the United States in 1920, after serving in the Italian Navy during World War II, looking for work outside war-ravaged Italy. Settling in Hoboken, Andriani worked as a longshoreman, and only occasionally returned to Italy.

When he died here he was alone, his wife Marriana, son Gennaro, and a daughter all still in Italy. (Gennaro Andriani, Patrick's father, is now 73 and lives in Lakewood.)

"When (Leonardo) died he had no one here to claim him, and that's how he ended up in a potter's field," said Andriani, 46, who lives in Roxbury.

"I just never thought, after what we'd been through the last year, that we'd ever actually find him. I had resigned myself to the fact that he'd be one of 4,600 people and we'd only know he was somewhere.

"We'll be able to do something we never were able to do, to give him a burial and respect and service, all the things a family does when someone passes on."


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