Staff Person: Martha Elmore
John Augustus “Lorenzo” DeVisconti (August 10, 1836-January 13, 1918) was born in northern Italy to an Italian count (Lorenzo DeVisconti) and his wife Marie. After varied careers such as being a Catholic priest and later serving in the Austrian army, he immigrated to Mexico in 1863. He then moved to the U.S., was impressed in the Union army during the Civil War, escaped to New York City and resided there for the reminder of the war, lived in the Midwest for some years and then moved to Texas, where he taught school and farmed.
In 1890 he married his third wife, Mrs. Adeline “Addie” Gertrude May Dupree of Farmville, N.C., in Texas and sired two daughters (Tabitha Marie and Sue May). After the birth of their first child, Tabitha, the family moved to Farmville.
In 1893 DeVisconti returned to Texas without his family and the couple’s divorce was finalized in 1901. So much is known about his many adventures because he wrote very descriptive diaries and letters. In the letter below, which he wrote to Tabitha on February 14, 1914, from Elida, New Mexico, he describes his harrowing adventure in November 1913 when the American Consul in Mexico ordered American citizens out of Mexico for their safety.
“November 15 I and two other men were attacked by a band of 200 rebels, constitutionalists they call themselves, we were stripped of everything, clothes, money, valuables, yea, they wanted to hang us; they wanted to get $13000 more from us; but we escaped.”
Elsewhere in the letter he relates that he did get aboard the ship carrying Americans out of Mexico and arrived safely in Texas.
To find out more about Lorenzo DeVisconti and the May family of Farmville, go to http://digital.lib.ecu.edu/special/ead/findingaids/0480/