Lena George Renzi presents and interesting example of the confusion that can arise with an ancestor’s name. Here is Lena’s birth certificate:
I don’t think anyone has ever mentioned “Ida” as a part of her name. It is easy to see that Lena would come from Angelina but where did Ida come from? Also interesting in this birth certificate is the name of her father “Andy Georgia.” We’ve certainly seen Adrian referred to as Andy but “Georgia” instead of Georgio or George is unusual.
Lena’s birth certificate gives us a clue that Adrian and Custode were operating their store in Dunbar by 1906. I’d love to pin down exactly when they began operating the store – my guess is some time between 1903 (when Joe was born in New Castle) and 1906. Unfortunately, the birth certificates for the George children born before Lena are not available. Reporting births at the state level was not very common during this time so even though I might find a record at the county level, it is something I will have to search on my next trip to PA. There are also privacy laws restricting the release of birth records of anyone who might still be living so it will take awhile for me to assemble all of the birth records.
One final point about the birth certificate is the use of Custode as the first name of Grandma George and confirmation of her maiden name as Yacobucci. I suspect the variations between it spelled with an “Ia” or a “Y” depended on the person in the clerk’s office filling out the information.
Now take a look at Lena’s application for a marriage license which was signed in 1939. “Angelina Ida” is now “Lena Agnes” and the full name Angelina is not used at all.
You might also notice that Lena refers to her mother as Christina instead of Custode and she indicates her father is deceased. Irene George Veri remembers her father Nick planning a trip to Italy to visit his father in the mid- 1950s and cancelling the trip because he got word that Adrian had died. So Lena’s mention of her father being dead, may be more of “he’s dead to me” since he abandoned the family when she was only six years old than any sort of proof that he was physically dead. I really look forward to the day I find out more about Adriano’s final years in Italy. (Mostly because I will probably have to go to Italy to do that!!!)
The other interesting thing about this license is the time frame. Nick’s first wife Julia, died in May of 1939 and in less than four months he married Lena. Dominic Renzi, Nick’s oldest son, has pointed out that his father worked on the railroad and needed someone at home with his two young sons. Nick’s sisters helped out after Julia’s death, but Nick needed a more permanent solution. Dominic has also mentioned that he never saw much love expressed between his father and Lena but that she was a good step mother. I’ve heard from others that Lena was not a very nice person and was sometimes mean to the boys. Gene George, Lena’s older brother, was the peacemaker in the family and a great uncle to Dominic and Eugene Renzi. From what I’ve heard about the family dynamics, it seems that much like Rosie and Custode (who were different as night and day) Philomena and Lena also had very different personalities.
It is unclear how Custode felt about Lena leaving home. I have heard some stories that suggest Custode and Nick met to negotiate the arranged marriage but I’ve also heard that Custode was against the marriage and wouldn’t let Lena (who was an accomplished pianist) take her piano with her to the farm when she married Nick. Apparently this caused a riff in the mother daughter relationship. Others have suggested that Custode did not think Nick was “good enough” for her daughter.
I would love to hear from any of you with an opinion about Lena’s marriage to Nick and what effect it may have had on the family dynamics. It certainly sounds like time on the Renzi farm is a favorite memory that many George descendants share and none of that would have happened if Lena had not married Nick.
I can’t wait to meet Dominic in March and see some pictures of the farm. I would also love to have a picture of Nick Renzi if anyone has one.