Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rocco Nicola De Dominicis, Medical Examiner

Dr. Rocco N. De Dominicis investigated unexplained deaths in Erie County, N.Y., in the years around 1941. I say 1941 because I read that Dr. De Dominicis was summoned when the body of a lumber company president was found floating in the Niagara River in June 1941. The plaque was displayed in his office and the ornate box with angels, which says Mom on the lid, was made for his wife or mother. The same artist, possibly a family member, carved both pieces. Dr. De Dominicis graduated from the University of Buffalo in 1917 and was a veteran of WWI. He died in the mid-1960s. Italians began immigrating in large groups to Buffalo in the 1880s. Some worked as stonecutters, skilled craftsmen and laborers during construction of the Pan-American Exposition, held in Buffalo in 1901. Nina Morgana was a child singer at the Exposition and later sang with Enrico Caruso. Most of the first Italians in Buffalo started at the bottom rung of the employment ladder, so Dr. De Dominicis' ascension to medical examiner must have been a source of great pride in the Italian-American community.


  1. I really enjoyed reading this story and looking at the carvings. I'm glad you posted it. I don't know why, but I am particularly drawn to New York history (and particularly upstate New York.) Western migration is interesting too, but there is something so compelling about immigrants from many different countries, giving up everything to make a new life together in an unknown place.

  2. Very nice grouping. I can imagine these sitting in his office all those years ago.

  3. To me, the carvings show an "old world" craftsmanship that's rare today. How many Americans work with hand tools? Very few. And fewer yet have the mindset to carve a box with angels.