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.

BlackHand.Article.march1909

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

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