More New Cousins!

Last week I got a message from Irene Veri that she ran into her cousin Adele George at dinner. Adele is the youngest of two daughters born to Nicholas Anthony George and Rose Colaluca. Nick was the oldest son of Romualdo Giorgio – better known as Romeo.

Romeo was the youngest of the four Giorgio brothers who came to Pennsylvania from San Vito Chietino, Italy. He arrived in New York on March 23, 1904. The ship’s log indicates he was coming to visit his brother Adrian in Dunbar PA and that he had never been to America before. It also indicates that Adrian paid for his ticket. The log also indicates he was married at the time of his arrival but he travelled without his wife Dorinda.

Romeo and Dorinda settled in New Castle, PA, which is where all of the Giorgio brothers lived and raised their families (except for Adriano). The New Castle News is chock full of articles about Nicholas or Nick George, Louis George, Patsy George and Victor George. The trick is keeping them straight and remembering which one was born to which of the original Giorgio brothers.

Nick George at 307 Lutton Street is Irene’s father, who was Adriano’s first son, born in Castel di Sangro, Italy where he lived for the first 8 years of his life. His mother Marianne Fraturra died a week or two after giving birth to him.

Nick Anthony George at 1010 Hazen Street is the first of Romualdo and Dorinda Giorgio’s  three sons. Nick was born in New Castle in on December 13 or 14, 1907 (different sources show different dates). Nick was a state champion wrestler and wrestling coach at the New Castle YMCA. Nick joined the Army in World War II (two years after his younger brother John George died in the Philippines).

There are other Nick George’s from New Castle, PA and some are not Italian which makes things more complicated, but I’ll hold their stories for another day.

In fact, there were 518 “hits” when I searched for “Nicholas George” in the New Castle News and most of them were about these two Nicks and their wives, who were both active in social clubs in New Castle and frequently hosting events at their homes.

I’m hoping this article from the 1932 New Castle News will generate new information from someone who knows how the different names fit into the George family. It is about a George Family Reunion held at the Algoma camp. The text is transcribed below.

September 7, 1932 – New Castle News p.3 – George Reunion

A reunion of 57 relatives of the George families took place at the Algoma camp on Monday where a delicious dinner and corn roast was enjoyed. The dinner was served by Mrs. Josephine Bucci, Mrs. Nicholas George, Mrs. Dan Chiarini and Mrs. Benny Cupido.  

Games and swimming were the main features of the day, with Nick George in charge of events. Swimming race for the single men was won by Louis George; married women’s 50-yard dash was won by Mrs. Romeo Colalucca with Mrs. Benny Cupido coming in second; single girls 50 yard dash was won by Miss Mary Bucci with Miss Vida George coming in second; married men’s 50 yard dash, Pasquale George, Nick Bucci, Nicholas George and Nick Chiarini; (notice they don’t say who won) single men’s race, Louis Felicetti of Pittsburgh and Vito George; married men and single girls race won by Miss Lauretta Campoli of Pittsburgh; small girls race by Minnie George; climbing trees won by Vito Iarlori, card games won by Nick Panella and Constantine Campoli of Pittsburgh.  

Out of town guests were Mr. & Mrs. Patsy George of Youngstown, OH, Mr. & Mrs. Campoli, Mr. & Mrs. August Freda, Misses Lauretta, Jeannette and Concetta Campoli, Messrs Louis Felicetti, Fior Campoli all of Pittsburgh and Mrs. Benny Cupido of Peekskill, NY.

Some of these names – Bucci, Colaluca and Cupido are familiar and I know which branch of the George tree they belong to. Some, like Chiarini are familiar but I don’t recall how they fit into the family (I bet Irene does though!) And some of these names – Campoli, Felicetti and Freda are not and all familiar and really spark my curiosity. When I saw “Campoli” I thought it was a misspelling of Giampaulo (Irene’s mother’s maiden name) but when I saw it in another article I realized it was a name I hadn’t seen before in connection with any of the George family stories.

Mrs. Josephine Bucci is the oldest daughter of Ciro and Rosaria Giorgio. Her first husband died at a young age leaving her a widow with four children. Those children go by Gianni. She remarried Nick Bucci and they had one son – Walter Bucci. She, like Nick George (Adriano’s son) was born in Italy in 1896.

Mrs. Romeo Colaluca is Mary George, the oldest daughter of Pasquale Giorgio and his first wife, Concetta Iavicola who died in childbirth in 1914. Terry Colaluca remembers spending time with her grandmother Mary and also recalled there was another George/Colaluca connection, which turns out to be Nick George and Rose Colaluca.

Mrs. Benny Cupido is Concetta (Connie) George, the oldest daughter and second child born to Romeo and Dorinda Giorgio. She was born in New Castle in 1909.

But I’m always more interested in new names so the three families from Pittsburgh have piqued my curiosity. So I have a research task for this weekend, which is nice because it is supposed to rain tomorrow and turn cold on Sunday.

The other interesting name in the article above is Vito Iarlori. Iarlori is the married name for two of the Giorgio sisters who remained in Italy when their brothers Ciro, Adriano, Pasquale and Romualdo made their way to America. I’d seen an immigration record earlier that indicated a young Iarlori male was coming to America (in the 1920s I think) to visit his uncle. So Vito Iarlori is another interesting angle to explore. Being the best “tree climber” at the family reunion in 1932 suggests that he was young so whether this is the same Iarlori who immigrated or perhaps his son, is something I need to explore further.

Adele George and her sister Dorinda – the daughters born to Nick George and Rose Colaluca are the new cousins I began writing about in this post but as you can see there are quite a few more waiting to be discovered.

Would love to hear from anyone who might know more about these new cousins.

Here is the obituary for Romeo George who from the New Castle News – Tuesday December 16, 1941

romeo-deathnotice-15dec1941

St. Vitus is a church in New Castle – likely a typo for San Vito Chietino where he was born

 

Here is the obituary for his oldest son Nicholas Anthony Georgenicholasageorge-obit-part1-p-3ncn-1nov1976

nicholasageorge-obit-part2-p-3ncn-1nov1976

Happy Birthday Irene George Veri

Today is Irene George Veri’s birthday!!! Happy birthday Irene. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do on this blog without your fantastic memory and family stories that offer so much background on the George family. And did I mention pictures?

Here are just a few to highlight your special day! Maybe you can add some comments to tell us all a bit more about them. Is this one with the piano in the background at your parents’ house in New Castle?

img092

And here are a couple more in honor of our birthday girl.

 

img093-2

Where are you going all dressed up?

 

 

img096-2

Is this your front porch in New Castle?

 

 

The Moonshine Still on Limestone Hill

If you asked me where moonshine originated, I’d say the mountains of North Carolina. And truth be told, I have two jars of it in my freezer right now – gifts from two different people. But here’s a fun diversion from my Giorgio family research to share a story about moonshine.

When Rick and I met Dominic Renzi at his home in Brick, New Jersey in March 2016, I typed furiously as he recalled many stories of his time in Connellsville, PA. His family had a farm on Limestone Hill. Dominic and his brother Gene are connected to the George family because their father married Lena George on September 5th 1939, just four months after their mother died.

Dominic’s father Nick Renzi was born in Italy but came to Pennsylvania as a young boy. Nick’s father was already here when he sent for his wife and two children to join him in the early 1900s.

Nick’s father Dominic and his brother Joseph were stonemasons from Italy. In the Italian naming tradition, Nick’s first son was named after his father. Sadly, Nick’s father and uncle died in 1918, victims of the influenza epidemic. Here’s a picture of Nick as child with his father Dominic (on the left) and his uncle, Louis Renzi.

renzi-men-2

So here’s a story – just as I typed it last March as Dominic shared what he knew about his grandfather Dominic.

The Renzi farm was in Dunbar Township on Limestone Hill. My grandfather was into moonshine, which he also had been in Italy when he lived in the northern section near Switzerland. The family was pretty well off. They built a smaller house near the farm house and there was a tunnel that ran between the two houses. When they first moved to Dunbar Township they had pigs on the farm. They built a slaughter house nearby, which would mask the smell of the moonshine operations.

Fast forward to this news from the Connellsville Courier in May 1929, a few months before Dominic was born.

stillonlimestonhill-1929In case you can’t read the names in the article, the two men arrested during the raid were Samuel Joseph and Carmello Strullia. The reason I think this might be the first Dominic Renzi’s still is because the article describes it as being unique because it was constructed entirely of wood. Here’s the continuation of the article.

limestonehill-still-part2-1929

I love it when family recollections are borne out in the press. And have I mentioned that there’s nothing like reading old newspapers to get your  mind off the divisions that exist in our country today and the unending stream of political rants that seem to pervade every aspect of our lives?

So yes – it is bit of a diversion from Custode’s story but it is so much fun to get an idea of what life was like in the community and I couldn’t resist sharing an article that I think Dominic Renzi would really enjoy about what became of his grandfather’s still.

 

 

A New Mother for Dominic and Eugene

img023Dominic and Eugene sat side by side on the piano bench in the front room of the strange lady’s house. Their father, Nick Renzi, had come into town to find a new mother for them. The woman who met them at the door was old and her stern expression frightened them. Surely this woman wasn’t going to be their new mother.

A woman with dark hair and round glasses came down the stairs. She gave them only a fleeting glance then looked at their father. She never smiled at him as she shook his hand. Would this woman would be their new mother?

They sat as still as two rambunctious boys of 6 and 10 could sit, crowded together on the narrow piano bench, their dangling legs swinging back and forth, not touching the floor. The tight collars of their dress shirts made their necks itch and they pulled and tugged at their sleeves. From across the room their father gave them a stern look and motioned for them to be still. He pulled his shoulders back to show them how they should sit.

Soon the adults went into the kitchen and continued talking in Italian. The woman with dark hair and round glasses never said a word. Did she even have a voice? They only heard the voices of their father and the older woman. It seemed to take forever before their father came back in the room and said it was time to go.

As they left the house, their father turned to the woman with dark hair and round glasses and said – “Boys, this is Lena George, she will be your new mother.” They looked at Lena and didn’t know what to say or do. She stared back at them with a blank expression. “Say good-bye to your new mother,” their father prompted.

“Good bye mother,” Dominic said, not sure whether he was supposed to hug her or shake her hand so he did neither. The woman stared at them as if she were in a trance – she was looking at them but didn’t see them. She didn’t look very happy about being their mother. Dom and Eugene crowded close to their father, one on either side, as they went down the front porch steps out into the bright September sun.

The next week one of their uncles brought Lena’s suitcases and trunks to the farm and carried them up to their father’s bedroom. Two of their mother’s sisters came to the farm and packed up all of her jewelry, dresses and shoes that had been in the wardrobe and carried everything away.

“Aunt Jennie and Aunt Amanda will take good care of you while I’m away, their father said that night as he was packing his suitcase.

“But Papa, we want to go with you – where are you going.”

“Lena and I are going on a trip to Washington, DC, New York and Canada. That’s what people do when they get married.”

“Can’t we go with you?” they pleaded.

“No, you’re not old enough. It will just be Lena, her nephew Harold and me.”

“Why does he get to go with you on your wedding trip – that’s not fair!” shouted Dominic. He’s only 13 and I’m 10 – that’s not fair!”

Nick sighed and shook his head. He didn’t know why he agreed to let Harold go on their honeymoon. Of all the things Custode demanded when she agreed to let Nick marry her only remaining daughter, this was the most unreasonable. A 13-year old boy going on their honeymoon! He would never hear the end of it from the guys he worked with on the railroad.

But his boys needed a mother and Alverda thought Lena would be a good match. At 33 it was unlikely Lena would ever find a husband on her own. Maybe if they had time alone together she would warm up to him. But that was unlikely to happen on their honeymoon with Harold in tow. Everything Nick had heard about Custode was true – she called the shots. Whether out of love, respect or fear, her grown children did whatever she demanded. And now she was controlling what would happen on his honeymoon. How humiliating!

As their father drove down the hill, his car vanishing into a cloud of dust, Dominic realized this was the first time since their mother died in May that their father had been away for more than a few days. Their aunts had taken turns staying with them at the farm over the summer so why did they even need a new mother? Couldn’t things just stay the way they were?

When Nick came home three weeks later, Lena was with him. They ran to hug their father and he kneeled down and hugged them both –one on each side – his blue eyes twinkling with joy at the sight of his sons.

“Give your new mother a hug,” he said, pushing them toward Lena who stood there with the same blank stare she had when they met her at Custode’s house in Dunbar.

Eugene being the youngest and eager to please his father ran over to Lena and reached up to hug her around her waist. Lena stiffened and pulled away but Eugene clung to her, looking up with his trusting brown eyes, his wide happy smile beaming up at her. He was glad to have a new mother, he didn’t care what Dom said.

Lena looked down at Eugene, and with what Dominic would later describe as her other expression –  eyes squinted and nose wrinkled up as if a most horrible smell had suddenly filled the room – Lena firmly grabbed each of Eugene’s tiny wrists and pushed his arms away, twisting out of his embrace.

Dom ran over and grabbed his younger brother’s arm, “Come ‘on Gene – let’s go outside and play.” He glared back at Lena – trying to match her cold, icy stare. He didn’t care what his father said, this woman was nothing like their mother. Their mother was pretty and always smiling – even near the end when the goiter made her neck bulge out. Dom could still remember his mother’s soft hands as she stroked his forehead when she tucked them into bed at night.

Dom never want Lena to touch him or his brother Eugene. He was too old to be tucked-in anyway. He didn’t want this new mother and no matter what his father might think, he could tell that she didn’t want them either.

 

img026

November 8, 1928 Wedding of Nick Renzi and Julia Giordano

 

 

The Sad Story of Frank Bell

The 1910 census for Dunbar is the only one that has Adriano (Andrew) and Custode (Christine) living together in Dunbar, PA. The other census from their time together in America was in 1900 in Blairsville, PA. They moved to Dunbar at least by December 1901 because Gene was born there in December 1901 based on St. Aloyius parish records on file at the Dunbar Historical Society.

We know from Lena’s birth certificate in November 1906 that Andy’s job was listed as a merchant. And from Custode’s testimony in 1912, she said they had been in business for 8 years, so I assume they started the store in 1904, which was before they bought any properties in Dunbar.

Okay – so what’s that got to do with Frank Bell? In the 1910 census, Andrew and Christina George are in Enumeration District 18, which includes the whole town of Dunbar. The houses were not numbered with addresses but rather by house number in the order in which the census taker visited each house. They were house #208 and appear on page 20 out of 40 from the online Census Report on Ancestry.com. You wouldn’t know from this census report that they ran a grocery store because Andrew’s job is listed as a laborer at the furnace.

At the top of page 20, in order of the census taker’s visit, house number 201 is Dr. William Warner (who delivered Lena and signed her birth certificate) and house number 204 is Dr. David McKinney and house number 207 (either across the street or next door to Andrew and Christine) is Harry McGibbons, who runs a drugstore. Perhaps what planted the seed in Custode’s mind that her boys should be pharmacists.

But what’s that got to do with Frank Bell?  Okay – I’ll get to the point. On page 14 of 40, at the 140th house visited by the Census taker, Frank Bell and his wife Santina, live with their 16 year old daughter Angeline. Frank is a naturalized citizen who immigrated in 1882 and he is listed as a merchant in a fruit store.

I wanted to develop a back story for some of the people that Custode and Andy may have interacted with in 1910 so I picked Frank Bell. When I searched the Connellsville Courier for articles about Frank Bell, I found this one from July 25, 1914, which is printed below in three sections. It is such a sad ending to what seems to have been another example of a successful Italian immigrant making a new life in America.

frankbell-dies-july1914

PART 1

frankbell-dies-july1914-part2

PART 2

P

frankbell-dies-july1914-end

PART 3