I‘ve often wondered about the origin of the Minicola surname. The original and proper spelling of the surname was Menecola back in Italy. For some reason, lost to history, the name was misspelled after immigration to Canada in 1883. My guess as to the changing of the spelling is that the language barrier caused the immigration officials to spell the name phonetically. The Italian pronunciation of Menecola sounds exactly like Minicola to English speaking ears. As far as I can tell, everyone that uses the Minicola spelling descended from 2 families that originally settled in the Peterborough, Ontario area in the 1883 – 1900 time frame. The descendants of these families are today mostly centered around Peterborough and Kingston, Ontario with a few families in Hawaii, Nevada, California and Pennsylvania in the United States.
The original, correct spelling – Menecola – was retained by later emigrants from Roseto Valfortore. Most of those families settled in and still live in and around Toronto and Mississauga, Ontario and also in the eastern part of the state of Pennsylvania, mainly in the following cities: Roseto, Bangor, Easton and Philadelphia.
All of the Minicola and Menecola families originated in Roseto Valfortore, Italy and they would all therefore be related somehow although many of the current descendants would be very distant relations.
As to the origin of the the Menecola surname – according to the Dizionario dei Cobnomi e Soprannomi di Cerignola (The Dictionary of Surnames and Nicknames of Cerignola) the origin is as follows:
MENECOLA vezz. f. di Meneco (ipoc. Di Domenico)/ cogn. a Foggia/ cfr. Menica in Lucania [MENECOLA vezzeggiativo femminile di Meneco (ipocoristico Di Domenico)/ cognome a Foggia/ confronta Menica in Lucania]
Translation: MENECOLA – feminine endorsement of Meneco (hypocoristic (i.e. nickname or shortening) of ‘Di Domenico’)/ surname in Foggia/ compare Menica in Lucania
So Menecola is the feminine version of Meneco which is itself a shortening of the surname ‘Di Domenico’ which simply means ‘descendant of Domenico’. In Italian grammar, all nouns are classified according to their grammatical gender. Generally nouns that end with an ‘a’ are feminine while those that end with an ‘o’ are masculine.
Another common practice in Italy is the use of soprannome which is simply translated to ‘nickname’ although in Italy soprannommi are used to identify certain clans or branches of families so it’s almost the same as having a third name. In Roseto Valfortore the soprannome for Menecola is Cicianedde which translated from the Rosetan dialect means little jug or a little water or wine container made from terracotta. It’s pronounced cheech-uh-nedd.
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