Friday Foto Feature – Dunbar Then and Now

The Dunbar Historical Society from WIkipedia

The Dunbar Historical Society from WIkipedia

Other than New Castle, Dunbar is the town in Pennsylvania where the George family has its roots in America. From Custode’s testimony in her 1912 lawsuit against “Andy George” for desertion, we learn that they moved to Dunbar in 1901. Their first son Frederick William George would have been turning two that November and Luiginio Anthony (“Gene”) George was born that December in Dunbar.

When Rick and I visited the Dunbar Historical Society in 2013, we found Gene’s baptism record in the copy of the St. Aloysius Church Register that was in the historical society’s office but we didn’t find records for any of the other children. This would fit with family recollections that Custode may have left (or been excommunicated from) the Catholic Church. Or it may be an indication that not all the church records were copied for the Dunbar Historical Society’s office.

We also learn from Custode’s testimony that she and Adriano began operating their grocery store in 1904. By 1912, the store was doing well. They owned three houses but at the time of the lawsuit the houses were rented and the family lived above the store. According to Custode’s testimony, she thinks Adrian left town because some people were trying to “do him harm.” She did not name anyone in particular but family lore suggests that Adrian refused to give the Black Hand a cut of the store’s profits.

There is no shortage of newspaper articles about the Black Hand’s terror tactics in the immigrant communities in the early 1900s. A search of the Connellsville paper for the key word “Black Hand” turned up 317 articles between 1904 and 1977, the last date for which digitized records are on file. The article in the first column gives an example of their terror tactics.


I’ll add a link on the Trovando Facebook page but since I know some readers are not on Facebook, here is a picture from the Friends of the Dunbar Historical Society’s FB Page of what Dunbar probably looked like when Custode and “Andy” moved there 114 years ago. It’s a little hard to tell but I think the house on Connellsville Avenue,  where Custode raised her children after getting it back through the lawsuit, would be just out of the picture to the right of what is shown here.Dunbar.historicimage


Where’d They go Wednesday – Adriano Giorgio

In the two and a half years since our search began in 2013, I have often heard the family story that when Adriano Giorgio left Dunbar in May 1912, he went to South America. Argentina has frequently been mentioned as the likely place that he went and perhaps raised another family.

One of the source documents I’ve used for the background of the Giorgio boys was provided by Terry Colaluca who got it from someone in San Vito Chietino, Chieti, Italy a few years ago when she was researching our ancestors. The original Giorgio boys started out in San Vito Chietino on the Adriatic Sea (hence the name Adriano) and were likely to have had a connection to the sea. This document is obviously missing a few important details (like Adriano’s marriage to Custode and the eight children they had together in Pennsylvania) so we can’t take it as the absolute truth, but it does shed some doubt on the idea that he went to Argentina. Or would suggest that he didn’t stay in South America for very long.

According to this Giorgio family history (written in Italian) Adriano was married to Marianne Frattura around 1895 and Nicola Vito Giorgio was born in Castel di Sangro and Marianne died soon after his birth. The next marriage that is recorded for Adriano is his marriage to Maria Flamminio in June 1913 in Castel di Sangro. Obviously this doesn’t tell the complete story or I wouldn’t be writing this and you (other Giorgio cousins) wouldn’t be here to read it. Continue reading

Friday Foto Feature – October 16, 2015

Connellsville Daily Courier - May 18, 1963

Connellsville Daily Courier – May 18, 1963 – Page 12

The New Castle News is by far the most indexed newspaper of the ones I’ve searched for family articles and pictures but occasionally I find one from some of the other areas. Like today’s Friday Foto Feature.

I know that Gene George served on the school board in Fayette County for a few years before this unsuccessful run for County Commissioner. I love the fact that our first generation American ancestors were so involved in their community. Kudos to Custode!

Where’d She Go Wednesday? Searching for Aunt Rosie

Most of Custode’s grandchildren remember the happy smiling face of their parents’ Aunt Rosie in stark contrast to their memories of their grandmother. Rosie is described as sweet, happy and always smiling even though she only had a few teeth – Grandma George, as she was known, not so much. She was stern and serious. They also recall that Aunt Rosie didn’t speak English but Grandma George did.

I based my initial assumption that Rose was Custode’s sister on the information in the 1910 Census for Dunbar, PA, which listed Andy George as the Head of Household living with his wife Christine, their children and Rose Botsella, his sister-in-law. Rose was 35 and her marital status was blank. If she was Adriano’s sister-in-law her last name would have been George or Giorgio. If she was Custode’s unmarried sister, she would have been Iacobucci. This is why I deduced that she was a widow and had been married to someone named Buzzelli. But the column for marital status is left blank so we don’t know that she was a widow.  As for her name, it would be a common mistake for a census taker to spell her name with a “t” since that is probably how the “ZZ” sounded.

If Adriano and Custode were running a grocery store during the first ten years of the 1900s – there may have been someone helping take care of their children. That someone was probably Rose. If Rose was recently widowed (whether in Italy or the US we don’t know) it would be a convenient arrangement for her as well. The fact that the two sisters didn’t get along, so I’ve heard from some of Custode’s grandchildren, would explain why we don’t find Rose living with Custode in any of the census reports after 1910.

So where did Rosie go? Another bit of information from the 1910 census gives us a clue. Her occupation is listed as “servant” and her employer is listed as “private family.” In the 1930 census for Chartiers, PA in Washington County – not too far from Dunbar, we find a “Rosy Buzzelli” living with William and Mary Warne (ages 67 and 57) on a farm.  Her occupation is listed as “servant.” The census report indicates she is able to read, write and speak English and that she immigrated from Italy in 1897. Even though I haven’t found her immigration records, that is the year in which I think Custode arrived. Maybe I should look for them traveling together – Custode Iacobucci and Rose Buzzelli.   Interestingly,  in the 1930 census, the column for marital status indicates that Rosy is married.  Hmmm…. a mistake or were she and her husband separated for a long period of time and if so  – why? Or maybe she told her employers she was married. There’s really no way to know how that information was included. It’s also possible that the Rosy Buzzelli is Chartiers is another woman and not our Rosie. So many possibilities.

If we assume that when Italians came to America they tended to live with other families they knew from their home town in Italy, we would expect to find the following family names in Castel di Sangro – Giorgio, Iacobucci and Buzzelli and living together in America. And we do. Particularly interesting is that in the 1930 census for Dunbar, we find Alphonse Buzzelli and his wife Viola living at 120 Connellsville Street – just three houses down from Custode George who lives at 128 Connellsville Street. 1930 Census.Dunbar.Connellsville St.marked
Alphonse is 35 in 1930, he was born in Italy, and his immigration year is listed as 1901, which means he came over when he was six. But more interesting than that is his occupation – he is a clerk in a grocery store. Could it be the same store that Custode and Adriano once ran?

It is pure speculation on my part but I think there is a connection between the Iacobucci’s and Buzzelli’s based on more than the marriage between Rose Iacobucci and the yet unidentified Buzzelli who was her husband at some point before 1910.
I’ve been doing some research on Iacobucci’s and Buzzelli’s and looking at the other trees on that have those names.  The real question I want to answer is about the relationship between Guiseppe Iacobucci of New Castle, PA and his brother Vincenzo Iacobucci, of Derry, PA and the two Iacobucci sisters – Custode and Rose. Were they all siblings or were they related some other way?  Perhaps other family trees on will provide some answers.

The Iacobucci siblings (I think) are listed here by birth order with their birth and death dates following their names. As far as I can determine, they were all born in Italy.

Vincenzo (1861-1943) Remember – a Vincenzo Iacobucci was identified as Custode’s guardian when she married Adriano in Pittsburgh in 1899.
Guiseppe (1866 -1942) He died on his birthday – June 5th
Rose (1877 – 1968)
Custode (1880-1967)

If these four Iacobucci’s are siblings, Custode was 19 years younger than Vincenzo. That is certainly possible given the early start that most Italian women in the mid- 1800s got on having children and the number of children they had. It is also possible that Vincenzo was a cousin or uncle to Custode.

There is no easy answer but it is helpful to know that Rick’s DNA matches some of the owners of trees that have Buzellas and Iacobuccis. They don’t include Custode or Rose but they may not have extended their tree that far since they are focused on their direct line. The DNA connection strongly suggests that some of the Iacobuccis and Buzzellis in those trees are connected to our family. My task is to find out how!

Friday Foto Feature Returns

George Cousins Reunited July 2013

George Cousins Reunited July 2013 (L-R: Rick George, Terry Colaluca, Lynnette Veri, Andrea Inman and Irene Veri)

I had a momentary panic attack yesterday when I couldn’t find the photos we downloaded from our trip to PA in 2013. Rick to the rescue!!! He found them safe and sound in the computer files and on the back up of the hard drive – whew!

So here are a few photos from that visit that I thought folks might enjoy. I love seeing the one of us gathered around Irene’s dining room table. What a fun day that was!

507 Lutton Street New Castle, PA - July 2013

507 Lutton Street New Castle, PA – July 2013

The next day we drove through New Castle to see some of the addresses we’d been reading about for so long – 507 E. Lutton Street – where Nick and Mary George raised their six children and 109 E. Home Street where Pasquale Giorgio lived (it actually seemed like his house may have been in the grassy area to the left of the house in this picture based on the address.)

109 East Home Street, New Castle PA - July 2013

109 East Home Street, New Castle PA – July 2013

Of course a few days later we had to snap a few shots of the place where it all started at Custode’s house in Dunbar.  We also found her grave (it was not that easy to find even though we asked at the cemetery office.) It’s interesting that Aunt Phil and her husband Tony Galand buried their mothers next to each other (the name of the cemetery escapes me at the moment) but I think Phil and Tony are buried in the St. Aloysius cemetery, which is not where their mothers are buried.

The random red brick building is the school that was just a few doors down from Custode’s house. Somehow with the boarded up windows, I don’t think it was going to be around for long so I’m glad I got a picture of it because it is probably where Adriano’s and Custode’s children went to school.

I’m not sure what order the photos will display in but the photo just before the cemetery picture is the view of Custode’s house that would have been from Aunt Phil’s vantage point. Several people have mentioned the big garden that was between Grandma’s house and Aunt Phil’s house.

Custode's House in July 2013from Aunt Phil's view.1 graves