Where’d They Go Wednesday – The Buildings of Castel di Sangro

My knowledge of World War II history is abysmal. For that matter, so is my knowledge of the first half of the 1900s. That’s an added benefit of doing genealogy now – I’m filling in gaps in my general knowledge of history.

It turns out that Castel di Sangro – most likely the home of Custode Iacobucci before she came to America – was held by the Germans during WWII. If the Italian genealogy source is correct, it is also where Adriano Giorgio was living after he left Dunbar and  where he married his third wife – Maria Flamminio – in June 1913.

If our estimate of when he died is correct (early 1950s) he would have been in Castel di Sangro during WWII. Given his birth date of 1871, he would have been too old to fight for Italy during WWII but he would have lived there during the German occupation.

Which means he would have experienced this after the Germans were forced out by the Allied Forces Eighth Army. This picture appeared in Pittsburgh newspaper on January 2, 1944. The fighting around Castel di Sangro occurred in late November 1943.

Castel di Sangro.1945

I wonder how our ancestors who were from Italy felt when they saw their home town in ruins? There were plenty of Georges and Iacobuccis who joined the American Armed Forces and fought for the Allies so I know our ancestors were proud Americans willing to fight for their new country. Most of those young enough to fight during WWII had probably never been back to Italy, but for those older relatives who grew up there, I imagine this would have been a heartbreaking sight.


Tuesday’s Tidbit – Frederick William George

There’s some consolation in knowing that even if Rick’s father Fred had been in contact with his father Fred, Rick would have never met his grandfather because he died in 1951, two years before Rick was born. His older sisters Susan and Lynn might have met him but they would have been too young to remember.

I was frustrated when I tried to find Frederick William George’s obituary on Ancestry.com because there was a gap in the digitized versions of the East Liverpool Review that were available. I was happy to find the issue I needed on another site – Newspapers.com – during my 7-day free trial period.

Here’s what I found


It seems that in death the secret of his sons from his first marriage was finally out because here’s what appeared on the continuation of his obituary.


I never knew that Dad (Frederick William George, Jr.) was stationed in Norfolk, VA, but I did know that around this time he was assigned to the Sixth Fleet and had been on a tour of duty in the Mediterranean. I also didn’t know that Richard and Jerry were both in San Francisco. Richard went to law school at University of California, Berkeley, School of Law so this may have been where he was in 1951.

There’s another mention of Fred’s illness that appeared in the paper about six weeks before he died. It is copied below. Unlike most of the George men who died young, Fred did not die of heart disease. He had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – a form of cancer that affects the white blood cells and today is very treatable.  Ironically, Fred’s grandson, Rick, did his PhD dissertation on Interleukin 2 – a cytokine – or protein – that regulates white blood cells.








Where’d He Go Wednesday – Hubert Allen George

Who remembers Uncle Hubert? Other than Uncle Frank, he was the only one of Custode’s children to venture very far from Dunbar. Like his older brothers, Hubert attended the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, graduating in 1932. Also like his younger brother Victor, he died of a heart attack when he was quite young. (Hubert had just turned 50 in September and Victor was only 49 when he died in July 1960.) According to his obituary in the Connellsville paper, Hubert had the heart attack in his office on Saturday November 15, 1958.

Hubert and Grace lived in HubertGeorge.obit.11.22.1958East Aurora, New York, a small town south east of Buffalo, New York. From the map I just saw it looks like it was about a 4 1/2 hour drive from Dunbar. Hubert and his wife Grace show up in the 1951 directory for East Aurora and also in the directory for 1958. I need to search earlier directories to figure out when they moved there.

Although I haven’t found when Hubert and his wife Grace were married, I think they met in Pittsburgh. According to the 1940 census, when they were married and living in Midland, PA, they both lived in Pittsburgh in 1935 but it isn’t clear whether or not they were married then.

Homeforholidays.12.29.1934From the Connellsville Daily Courier on December 29, 1934, we know that Hubert and Grace Halliday were serious enough that he brought her home to meet the family. In addition to Hubert and Grace, Fred, Betty and their son Jimmy, as well as Victor and Francis  were visiting.  This is one of the few times I’ve seen Custode referred to as Mrs. Adrian George. Notice also in Hubert’s obituary that he was the “son of Mrs. Christine George and the late Adrian George.” This adds another clue as to when Adrian died – some time before 1958.

HubertatHome.8.16.1933In this clipping, from August 16, 1933, we learn that Hubert was living in Pittsburgh then which was a year after he graduated from pharmacy school. From the 1940 census we know he was also in Pittsburgh in 1935. But by 1940, he and his wife Grace were living in Midland, which must have been when he was working at George’s Pharmacy.

I would love to create a time line of when each of the George boys worked at George’s Pharmacy in Midland. It seems they all worked there at some point in time, with the possible exception of Joseph. Rick’s father Fred, who was born in 1923, remembers living in Midland and being in his father’s store. This would probably have been in the late 1920s or very early 1930s. Victor’s son Victor Walton, who now lives in Gettysburg Pennsylvania, also remembers being in the store when his father worked there. Victor Walton was born in 1940 and his father died in 1960 and listed his occupation as pharmacist. This would suggest that George’s Pharmacy was owned and operated by the George boys for about 30 years.



Friday Foto Feature

Samsononhike.2003Some of you who’ve seen my Facebook post know that we had to say goodbye to our last four-legged member of the Kingsbury George family on Monday – February 1st. So it seems appropriate to feature a few photos of Samson on this first Friday without him. Anyone with pets will tell you how hard it is to lose them – they do become part of your family.

Rick told me about a study yesterday that measured oxytocin in the blood as an indicator of affection. For humans, when we have a pleasant interaction with a stranger, oxytocin levels rise slightly, with a friend a bit more and after an interaction with someone we love, oxytocin levels can increase by 50%. The study measured oxytocin levels in cats and dogs after an interaction with their owner. No surprise – dogs love you more. After interacting with their human, dogs’ oxytocin levels shot up by as much as 55% – cats, a mere 12%. More than the difference between cats and dogs, I think the study means that dogs love you even more than other humans do. That’s some kind of love!

Samson in the SnowYou can read more about Samson and our special relationship on my other blog. Suffice it to say that the house feels a little emptier and it will take awhile to adjust to the first time in 21 years that we haven’t shared our home with an animal.

We’ve had cats and dogs as pets so this is not a plug for one or the other. But it is a post about Samson. As Rick would say – “he was part of the pack.” I think that’s the main difference between cats and dogs – cats provide affection, comfort and companionship to their owner, but by their nature, they’re not pack animals. Whereas dogs, domesticated by humans over thousands of years, interact with us as if we are the same species. With dogs, there is no them and us – we’re all the same.

The human race could learn a few important lessons from our canine friends.


Samson’s First Hike – 2003


February 1, 2016




Custode George’s Social Security Information

In early January I ordered a copy of Custode’s SS-5 form – the form that I hoped would indicate her parents’ names and where in Italy she was born. I’ve been eagerly checking the mail each day for a week or so and yesterday the letter from the Social Security Office finally arrived.

But it didn’t contain her form SS-5. According to the letter, that form is missing and the only available information is her form-OAC-790, which was included. The letter indicates this form is completed when a claim for benefits is filed and usually contains the same information as the form SS-5. Unfortunately for her place of birth it just says Italy so we don’t get much help on exactly where in Italy she was born.


It’s hard to read the form (even if I were able to get it oriented the right way) and there’s no key to explain what the various codes mean. Apparently this form isn’t used anymore and I haven’t had much luck finding a sample form to help me decipher this one. But rather than dwell on what this form doesn’t tell us, let’s look at what it does. It confirms that Custode has the same parents that were listed on the death certificate for Joseph Iacobucci who lived in New Castle and died in 1942 and Vincenzo Yacobucci who lived in Derry, PA and died in 1943. It’s nice to have that hunch confirmed.

It’s also very interesting how her parents’ names are spelled. Augustine Yaccibucci and Filomena Petracci.  In most other records I’ve seen Petracci is spelled Petrarca. On Joseph’s death certificate their names are spelled Iacobucci and Petraca and on Vincenzo’s they are spelled Yacobucci and Petrarca – slight variations but certainly close enough to be the same people. Joseph’s place of birth is listed as “Castelo di Sangro, Italy.” The point of confirming that Joseph and Vincenzo are her brothers is to know that time spent searching their family history will be useful to learn about ours.  There’s nothing worse than spending hours getting lots of detail on someone who turns out not to be related to your ancestor.

And look what great information we get from James  Iacobucci’s obituary in the New Castle News on Monday, June 8, 1942.


We learn that in addition to the brother in Derry that we know about and the sisters, Custode and Rose, there’s a brother in Akron, Ohio named Anthony Iacobucci.  This is another great clue for finding out more about the parents of these Iacobucci siblings. I have to believe the reference to Rose Iacobucci is aunt Rosie – but did anyone know she was living in California in 1942? or that she was using her maiden name instead of Buzzella?  New avenues to pursue!

It is also useful to have his children’s names – especially the girls who would be harder to search if I didn’t have their married names. These are Irene’s cousins and although they were much older than she was, she does remember some things about their children who were closer to her.  Lutton Street (where Irene grew up) and Summit Street are close to each other.

The final thing we know from Custode’s OAC-790 form is that she filed a claim for benefits on January 24, 1967. This suggests that she may have received social security benefits for the last year of her life but I can’t be sure about that since I don’t know what the codes mean. Even though she may not have paid into the social security system, there was a nominal benefit that was available when someone reached a certain age. This also suggests that at some point before filing this claim, Custode became a naturalized citizen. I think that is what the “N” in the space between her birth date (05/27/1880) and the date of the application (01/24/1967) stands for. Maybe if I can find her naturalization papers we can learn a bit more about where in Italy she was from and exactly when she arrived.