Tuesday Tidbit – Meeting Dominic Renzi

img023Rick and I spent today with Dominic Renzi at his apartment in Brick, New Jersey. He and his friend Diana picked us up at our hotel this morning at 9:30 and took us to breakfast. He brought us back to our hotel at about 9:00 pm tonight after dinner at a Chinese buffet. We spent the hours in between at his apartment learning more about life on Limestone Hill in Dunbar Township in the 1930s and 1940s while I scanned several of his photos using my newest “toy” – a portable scanner.

Dominic was ten when his mother Julia died after what should have been a simple surgical procedure to remove a goiter. When his father went to the hospital to bring her home the next morning, he learned that she had bled to death during the night after the surgery. Within four months, his father married Lena George and she moved out of Custode’s home in Dunbar to the Renzi farm on Limestone Hill. According to Dominic his father had visited at least two other women in his search for their next mother. Since his father worked on the B&O railroad and regularly traveled from Connellsville to Pittsburgh, he needed someone at home with the boys.

In many respects Lena fit the model of the evil stepmother. She was mean to the boys when they were young and once they started working she demanded part of their pay. Dominic does give her credit for teaching him and his brother table manners. Aunt Rosie lived on the farm with them and Dominic remembers his father and Aunt Rosie singing songs in Italian to records his father played on the Victrola. Aunt Rosie was loving and kind to the boys and shared in their misery, as Lena was also mean to her.


Dominic and Kalen at Chinese Buffet for Dinner


Rick and Dominic at his apartment

Dominic has nothing but praise for Uncle Gene (Lena’s older brother) who loved to spend time at the farm and was very close to both Dominic and his brother Eugene.  Dominic often turned to Uncle Gene for advice after his father died.

I have lots of stories for future posts, but its been a long day and I need to rest up for our three-day adventure in the big city that starts tomorrow. Rick is going to brave the NYC traffic to get to our hotel in mid-town Manhattan and Sarah and Will arrive very early on Thursday. We’ll have two full days with the kids before we drive home on Saturday.
I’ll close with a few photos from today and one or two of my favorites from the ones that line the walls of Dominic’s apartment.


Dominic and his father, Nick Renzi


Dominic Renzi circa 1930


Friday Foto Feature – Josephine’s Children?

Josephine's children.adrian.Lainie sent me this picture last fall and I stored it as “Josephine’s Children” but I’m not sure who they are. I think Lainie also said that the boy was known as “little Adrian” but whether that was written on the back of the photo or she knew it some other way, I can’t recall.

There are two women named Josephine in the Giorgio tree;  (1) Josephine Fonzeno, who married Frank Louis George, the second son born to Nick and Mary George and (2) Josephine Giorgio Bucci, the oldest daughter of Ciro George. Josephine was born in Italy but came to New Castle in early 1901 with her mother Rosario.

Josephine was originally married to Dominick Gianni and had 4 children (Helen, Humbert, Anna and Mary born between 1915 and 1919). He died sometime between 1918 and 1920 and Josephine remarried Nick Bucci and they had one son together – Walter Bucci who was born in 1932.

Would love to hear from anyone with more information. But whoever they belong to – the sure are cute!

Tuesday Tidbit

March 8, 2016

You would think with the descendants from the original four Giorgio boys who came from Italy in the late 1800s – that I’d never run out of “tidbits.” So there’s really no excuse for leaving this blog unattended for so long. I would gladly welcome any family stories or tidbits that any of you want to share – so let me know if you’re interested.

Truth is, I’ve been immersed in my own family history for the past few weeks, specifically the Powell family from Albemarle County, Virginia. Next week I’m travelling with my book club friends to Charlottesville, Virginia (about a 3 hour drive from Greensboro). In addition to being the home of Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia, Albemarle County is where Caspar Powell (or “Gaspar Powel” as his name might have been spelled in German) settled with his wife Anna Catherine Drumheller, when they migrated down the Shenandoah Valley by wagon train from Berks County, Pennsylvania in the mid-1700s. At least that is what one of my  “ancestry.com” cousins remembers hearing from her father who heard it from his grandmother whose great grandmother was Anna Catherine (or something like that.)

Today’s tidbit is just to remark on the similarities between the Giorgio family from Italy and the Powell family from Virginia. And maybe it is a broader truth about families in the 1800s – THEY HAD A LOT OF CHILDREN!!!

My great grandfather – Thomas Greenwood Powell – was born in 1885 when his father was 60 years old. He was the youngest of nine children. His own father, James Albert Powell, was the 8th of 13 children. James’ mother Elizabeth had her first child in 1809 when she was 17 and her last child in 1834, when she was 41. That’s 25 years of childbearing! By comparison, Custode had her first child in 1899 when she was 19 and her last child in 1912 when she was 32 – for 13 years of childbearing.

Yes – lots of children. Lots and lots of children named William, Samuel, Benjamin, Thomas, Sarah, Elizabeth, Catherine and Eliza. Two of those 13 Powell children died young and only had one child each. But the other 11 produced a total of 78 children! That’s a grand total of 80 first cousins – and maybe more because some family trees suggest that Elizabeth and Samuel Powell actually had 14 children – part of what I’m trying to figure out when I go to Charlottesville next week.

The problem before birth and death records were kept by the county or state is that it is often difficult to document the actual number of children in a family. Census records are the best source, but children can easily be born and die between census years so you have to find other records to prove they existed. When children are given the same names as their cousins and siblings stay in the same area, even the census records can be confusing.

While it’s true that only one of those 13 children born to Elizabeth and Samuel Powell is my direct ancestor, I have the best chance of learning more about the family if I broaden my search to include as many siblings and cousins as possible. But think about it – 80 cousins plus 13 sets of parents, plus Samuel and Elizabeth,  would have me searching for information on 108 people!

Thankfully, four of the Powell boys left Virginia in the 1840s – 1850s and moved to Missouri. So for next week I’ll be searching the ones who stayed put in the area around Charlottesville. If I get lucky, I might find some graves – that’s the one thing that has been hard to find so far, perhaps because they were buried in small unmarked family plots.  All but one of the nine boys were farmers. Benjamin, the fourth son, was a tailor. Of the four Powell daughters, all but one married a farmer. Mary’s husband, Benjamin Woodson, was a blacksmith.

So that’s why you haven’t heard a lot from me on Trovando for the past few weeks and may not for a couple more. But you can be sure that before my July trip to Pittsburgh (I got into the course on Italian Genealogy!!!) I’ll be fully immersed in the Giorgio family again.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to take me up on the offer to share your Giorgio family memories just let me know.


Tuesday Tidbits – All About March

I’m enjoying a quiet week at the beginning of what will be a busy month. I’m trying to organize the research I need to do when I go to Charlottesville VA on March 18th. My book club buddies and I will be attending the Virginia Festival of the Book from March 18- 20th. Three days of author talks and programs and for me, a full day of research at the courthouse in Charlottesville, Virginia, where my maternal grandmother’s ancestors lived from the late 1700s through the 1800s.

The line I descend from moved to Richmond VA during the Civil War. I’m pretty sure my great great grandfather James Albert Powell married the nurse who took care of him after he was wounded at the battle of Drewrey’s Bluff during the Civil War. In any event, there are almost as many Powells with the names of Samuel, Elizabeth, Henry,and Benjamin as there are Giorgios named Pasquale, Nick, Louis, and Mary.  Add to that confusion that women were often still giving birth to children at the time their first children were having their own – so grandchildren can sometimes be mistaken as children and vice versa.The only way to be sure is to find original documents at the local sources.

After I get back from Charlottesville, I have one week before Easter and on Easter Monday Rick and I drive to New Jersey to meet Dominick Renzi. Get ready Dominick – we can’t wait to meet you! It will be fun to learn more about the Giorgios and Renzis of Dunbar, PA and see pictures of the family – especially the Renzi farm on Limestone Hill, PA.

After visiting Dominick, Rick and I head in to NYC for a four day visit. Our adult children, Sarah and Will, will fly up on Thursday (3/31) and join us for their first trip to New York. One of their friends, Bennett Sullivan, a very talented musician,  is on Broadway in Steve Martin’s and Edie Brickell’s musical Bright Star. What better way to experience your first Broadway play than to see someone you grew up with on stage?!?

Tomorrow is a super big day. No -not because of Super Tuesday – thank goodness my genealogy habit distracts me from politics! Tomorrow is important because the “countdown” for the Genealogy Research Institute in Pittsburgh registration for July classes hits ZERO at Noon EST. The wait is over and I can register for a week long class on Researching Italian Ancestors.


I can’t wait to learn how to find the information buried in Italian vital records to help us take the Giorgio Iacobucci families further back. If I get in the course I’ll be in Pittsburgh for the week of July 18th and at the end of the week Rick will drive up and we’ll do some more research, meet some more cousins and repeat our visit of three years ago that started us down this incredible journey.

Yeah – pretty exciting for a quiet start to a busy month!