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.

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