A History of Sersale

Translated from "Sersale - Storia di una comunita' presilana" by Michele Scarpino - Translator, Antonio Torchia

A Baron named Francesco Sersale owned the land in 1620 where Sersale and its surrounding are now. He seemed to be a very just owner and tried to be good to his workers-so the news spread and he developed a kind of co-op system where people could work patches of land of his and have to pay him so much at the end of the year. He encouraged them to plant trees and especially a garden to feed their families. Of the 12 or so main families that settled on this land were two Torchia families.

Unfortunately his great, great, grandchildren that inherited the property were not so nice to the ones working for them and different problems developed. At certain periods because the children of the owners did not work they caused many problems such as taking advantage of the young girls and getting them pregnant, etc. It was not a nice period but on the bright side again the name Torchia appears in 1644 in the baptism of the church. The great grand children of this Baron also lost pieces of land by making bad investments and this is how eventually the land was owned by many people and we see the development of a town starting to come about.

In 1686 we see a certain Pietro Torchia mentioned in history and a Giuseppe Pietro Torchia in 1783 living in the palace of the Baron. Something interesting was in 1801 a Tommaso Torchia was major of the town.

The people living in Sersale learned to be very friendly to strangers and that is why even some from Naples came down to permanently live. If a stranger showed up at someone's house they were invited in for meal and it became like a party for the day as they drank wine and talked. The people of Sersale are known for that from the surrounding towns.

In 1807 there was a Tommaso Torchia, age 40 and his son Antonio, age 5 who were killed by french soldiers who were trying to take over the town. It seems like the english tried to take over just before that and did not succeed and now the french.

In 1857 Michele Torchia at 40 years of age and his son Antonio at 17 years of age took part in a famous group of "Briganti" that forced the french out of Sersale by cutting some of the solder's throats and letting their dogs drink the blood and eat the flesh of these soldiers so that the dogs would always be aware of the french soldiers being around and chase after them.

It seems that the "briganti" killed a whole troup of french soldiers and one of them happened to be the nephew of a famous French general. When he heard of this he decided to take a whole platoon of french soldiers and destroy Sersale. When the people of Sersale heard this they all left the village leaving just the priests and a church.

The priest tried to think of what to do so he took all the french soldier's bodies before the French General arrived and buried them right in the church as if they were very important including this French General's nephew. So when he heard the General coming he and his companions dressed up in their finest and went out to meet the General and his soldiers and took them to the church to show them what they had done and then proceeded to give a funeral for the finest in Sersale. This appeased the General after he saw all that was done for his nephew and thus did not destroy the town and people. So he returned to France and the people came back to Sersale and never thanked the priest for what he had done!

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