And so begins the past …

Adriano Giorgio was born in San Vito Chietino, Chieti, Abruzzo Italy on 27 November 1871. He first came to Western PA in sometime around 1897, leaving behind a young son – Nicola – born to him and his first wife Marianna Frattura. Marianna Frattura was from Castel di Sangro, L’Aquilo, Abruzzo Italy. Marianna died a week after Nicola Giorgio was born in the fall of 1896. Baby Nick stayed in Italy while Adriano sought his new life in America. Adriano later brought Nick to the US in 1904. Passenger logs show the two of them arriving in New York on the ship named the “Roma” on 19 December 1904. The 1910 Census shows Nick, age 14, living in Dunbar with Custode and Adriano.

Soon after arriving in Western PA, Adriano met Custode Iacobucci who was born in Italy on 27 May 1880. We’re still searching for exactly where in Italy she was born (we suspect Castel di Sangro) or whether she and Adriano knew each other in Italy or met once they were both in western PA. We do know they married on 13 February 1899 in Pittsburgh.

A word about names. Accept the fact that it is going to get confusing. Italian convention is for the first-born son to be named after his father’s father. Adriano and Marianna followed this convention in naming Nicola after Adriano’s father – Nicola Nunziato Sabio Giorgio. Adding to the confusion for finding someone in a later generation is the fact that if four brothers all name their first son after their father, you’ve got four cousins with the same first and last name.

As if that didn’t make things complicated enough, we’re also dealing with the Americanized version of Italian names. So Adriano becomes Adrian or sometimes even Andy. Custode (which is a name I’ve loved ever since I came across it because it means someone who takes care of others) was never known by that name to her own grandchildren who thought her name was Christine. Just accept that it’s going to get confusing.

Many thanks to Lynnette George Burnett, who has graciously shared her grandparents’ wedding photo. Lynnette is the half sister of Rick’s father Fred. So in finding our past it looks like we’ve found part of our future – an aunt we never knew we had. We think aunts are awesome!

Finding Family – The Search Begins

Rick’s father – Frederick William George, III (Freddy) – was born in 1923 and grew up in western PA. Once he finished medical school at the University of Pittsburgh in the mid-1940s, he joined the Navy, moved away and lost touch with his father’s side of the family. George, is the Americanized version of Giorgio.

Freddy was the first child born to Frederick William George (1899-1951) and Evelyn E. Clark (1901-1981). We know from the 1930 Census that Evelyn and her two sons (Freddy and Richard) lived in Santa Monica, California with Evelyn’s younger sister Grace Clark. At this same time, Freddy’s father (Fred) lived in Midland, PA in Beaver County, with his brothers Victor and Hubert. So there were early signs of trouble in Fred and Evelyn’s marriage that were significant enough for them to be separated – by more than 2,400 miles.

Fred and Evelyn may have reconciled briefly at some point after their separation in 1930 because a third son, Jerry John, was born to Evelyn on December 8, 1931 in PA. By the 1940 Census, Evelyn had remarried Ben Williams and they were living in Hanover, Washington County, PA. The 1940 Census lists Ben Williams and his wife Evelyn living with Ben’s son Gordon (19) and his stepsons, Freddy (17), Richard (16), and Jerry (8). The 1940 Census has a feature that identifies where someone lived in 1935. Evelyn and her sons were living in Burgettstown, but Ben Williams was in Bridgeville, PA. This would suggest they married sometime after 1935.

The 1940 Census also shows that Fred was married to Elizabeth and they were living in East Liverpool, Ohio with their three children James (6), Eleanor (4) and Lynnette (2). As far as we know, Freddy did not know about his half siblings, although it seems hard to believe that he didn’t since in 1935 when he was in Burgettstown, PA, he was living about 30 miles away from his father. Apparently the split between Evelyn and Fred was acrimonious enough that Evelyn cut off any contact between her sons and their father.

Fast forward to 2013 when wanted a DNA test for his birthday present. He was always interested in knowing more about his father’s side of the family. He researched the options and chose 23 and Me rather than the test available on Ancestry.com. In early May 2013 he spit into a test tube, mailed off the sample and anxiously awaited the results. In 2013, 23 and Me was still able to provide health information so those results were interesting, but the thing Rick really wanted, and the thing that took the longest to get, was the information showing possible relatives. This is based on other people who’ve had a DNA test and are willing to share their results. We were lucky enough to find someone living in western PA who was likely to be Rick’s third cousin.

This was encouraging – although not necessarily the link to our Italian ancestors. The match could have been on Rick’s mother’s side (her family was also from Western PA) or from Evelyn Clark’s family. When we learned that the match was with someone named Terry Colaluca – we had a pretty good idea that we were in the Italian branch of our family tree. We were even luckier when Rick and Terry began corresponding and she turned out to be a friendly, open, caring person who was happy to share what she knew about our common ancestors. The connection between Rick and Terry is that their great grandfathers – Adriano Giorgio and Pasquale Giorgio – were brothers.

The story of meeting Terry and other relatives on our trip to PA in the summer of 2013 will have to wait for another post. If someone reading this has any information about this cast of characters, please leave a comment.

About the Bloggers

We created this blog to provide a forum for sharing the ancestry work we’ve done to discover our Giorgio Italian ancestors who came from Abruzzo, Italy to western Pennsylvania in the late 1800s. Up until mid-2013 we knew very little about them. Now thanks to Ancestry.com and 23 and Me – we’re getting to know a family we never knew we had!

Frederick William George, IV (Rick) is a high school biology teacher at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC. Kathleen Ann Kingsbury (Kalen) is the Associate Director and General Counsel for Piedmont Land Conservancy, a local nonprofit that helps preserve open space and family farms in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. We’ve been married since 1983 and have two wonderful children, Sarah Elizabeth George and Frederick William George, V (Will.)

We’d recommend this blog for anyone who is embarking on a similar search for distant relatives. We hope it will become a forum for sharing tips and tricks for doing ancestry work and for anyone who wants to share stories of their immigrant ancestors.

We also hope to discover other descendants of the four Giorgio brothers Ciro, Adriano, Pasquale and Romualdo, who came to western Pennsylvania between 1895 and 1905.