A Broken Branch on the Family Tree

I have been spending time lately researching my family history.  I was inspired to find out more when I found my Great Grandmother's book a few weeks ago.  You can read about her book in this blog post.  I decided to start with a free trial on Ancestry.com.  I found out so many interesting facts about my ancestors.  The most interesting thing that I discovered was that my Great, Great Grandfather was murdered.  This is the newspaper article about it from October 11, 1917.  

The article is blurry and the lettering too small to read.  Below is a summary that I also found on the website. 

Roman Smith was murdered and his wife Mary gagged and severely beaten Oct 11, 1917 on his farm in East Brunswick NJ by four men. 

Mary was tied up and the house ransacked with the thieves stealing about $165 in cash, a small amount of jewelry and a shotgun from an upstairs bedroom.  They did not find a small safe which had been covered by an apron left by one of the daughters on her way to work.

Roman returned from the fields leading a horse where he was shot and killed in a small tool shed on the property.  His murder was discovered a short time later by his son Joseph as he also returned from his work in the fields.  The farm was located on the Milltown-South River Road near present day Ryders Lane.  A $500 reward was offered for the arrest of the murderers by Roman’s brother George.

Indicted for the crime were Salvatore Ferrella, Frank Laveri, Emanual Nepolitano and Antonio Ambruzzso.  Emanual Nepolitano, who was thought to be the principal in the crime was arrested in Weehawken NJ.  Durning the first week of April 1918 a trial was held in New Brunswick NJ at which time  Genario Palmieri (alias  Emanual Nepolitano), Mike De Palma and Frank Laveri were found guilty of the murder of Roman Smith and were sentenced to die in the electric chair on May 20, 1918.  Emanual Nepolitano was sentenced to 10-30 years for his part in the crime.  Salvatore Ferrella who was at first thought to be involved was released on $1000 bail, because , although he was not implicated in the murder was indicted on another charge of highway robbery.  Antonio Ambruzzso was still at large in April 1918.  On May 7,1918 Senator Hammond, a prominent Trenton attorney, asked for a stay of execution on behalf of Palameri, De Palma, and Laveri.

Summary written from a series of newspaper articles that appeared in the New Brunswick Home News, October 11,1917 and May 20, 1918.

The murdered man was my Great, Great Grandfather.  His son, Roman, Jr was my Great Grandfather.  He was married to my Great Grandmother Marie Oehl Smith who was the author of this book.  Roman and Marie had a son Linus, (along with almost a dozen other children) who was my Grandfather.  Linus Sr. was my father's father. My father is Linus Smith, Jr.

Roman Smith Sr
I am surprised that I have been on this earth for almost 38 years and this is the first I have heard of this tragic event in my family's history.  I wonder what else I will discover on my family tree?


  1. My father in law is half Smith. His mom maiden name was Smith from the East Brunswick area. I never really looked at her family. Joe is interested in his fathers family from Portugal. His father came to this country in his early 20s. His father died in an accident when he was only 10 so he never really knew about the Neves family.

    When I get a moment I will have to look into his Smith family more.

  2. Please write to me. Mom mom smith was my great grandma too. Livewell_@hotmail.com dont forget the underscore:)

  3. I grew up on Elaine Road right next to the field. We Called Farmer Smith Pop Pop Smith. Even remember sitting in his lap riding the tractor.


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