Manci's Antique Club

Manci's Family History


The story and history of Manci’s filling station and antique club is as fascinating as the story of the city of Daphne and the Eastern Shore. The Italian Settlement of Daphne, or commonly referred to as the Italian Colony, got its beginning in 1888 “when its founder, Alesandro Mastro-Valerio, whose purpose in organizing this colony was to induce Italian immigrants to come to this country to till the soil, thus taking them away from the larger, overcrowded, and filthy cities.”[1]

Photograph from 1933 when the "club" was beginning to form. Author's collection.


The influx of Italian immigrants to the United States occurred throughout the “Great Arrival when nearly four million Italian immigrants to the United States during the period of 1880 to sometime after 1920.”[2] Furthermore, Mr. Mastro Valerio firmly believed that the social, political, and economic future of his countrymen could be better safeguarded through a shared commitment in agriculture and therefore made the made the permanent move to the area in 1889.


The influence of the Italian colonists who immigrated to the United States and would ultimately settle in Daphne brought “their traditions of fine food and wine, and considerable agricultural expertise.”[3] In order to further boost attention and attraction to the agricultural area, Mastro-Valerio influenced Italian families “through the use of newspaper advertising and sending circulars, whereby the majority of families coming to Daphne were from Illinois.”[4]

Map of Italian Provinces home to original Italian Colony families. Author's collection.


More importantly, the new families to the area immigrated from select Italian provinces and the island of Sicily. As seen in the map, important families settled in the Daphne and Belforest area, and continue to remain there today.  


Moreover, the economic accomplishments of Francesco “Frank” Manci, who arrived in 1897, is often revered by the Italian Colony as one of its greatest businessmen and architects of the colony’s early progress and survival.


Wine label created by members of the Italian Colony. Author's collection.


In sum, the hardworking Italian farmers in Daphne and Belforest illustrate the importance of immigration to Alabama’s (and our nation’s) historical development. Italian migrants became major participants in the national produce market through advanced cultivation methods and shipping mechanisms to utilize up-to-date trucks and boats, with the Manci family leading this sector.

Italian Colony Marker in Daphne, AL. Author's collection.
List of Founding Fathers of the Italian Colony in Daphne, AL. Author's collection.
Photograph of Francesco Manci, date unknown. Author's collection.

[1] Guarisco, “The Italian Settlement at Daphne,” 69.

[2] Ann Manci, A Tour of Historic Olde Towne Daphne, 18.

[3] Ann Manci, A Tour of Historic Olde Towne Daphne, 5.

[4] Guarisco, “The Italian Settlement at Daphne,” 69.

[5] Ann Manci, A Tour of Historic Olde Towne Daphne, 5.

[6] Mary Guarisco, “The Italian Settlement at Daphne, in Daphne: A history of its people and their pursuit as some saw it and others remember it, eds. Florence and Richard Scott (Bay Minette, Alabama: Lavender Press), 149.

[7] “The Great Arrival,” Library of Congress, accessed March 6, 2024,