Thursday Tidbit – Custode’s Lawsuit

There are some things I never get tired of writing about. One of them is the amazing moxie of Custode George. I found this summary of the lawsuit that she filed when Adriano deserted her. I’ve only included a portion of the case but it does a good job of summarizing what it was about and how the court ruled.


First Page from Google Books Summarizing the Lawsuit

At some point, before or after he left Custode in May 1912, Adriano/Andy gave his brother Pasquale an IOU for $3,000. Pasquale went to court in Lawrence County where he lived and got a judge to issue an order that any property in his brother’s name in Fayette County, where Dunbar is located should be sold to satisfy the debt.

I’ve heard lots of stories from family members about how tough Grandmother George was. Life has a way of toughen you up. Perhaps being deserted by the father of her children and left to fend for herself had that effect on Custode, or maybe she was always that way. She clearly wasn’t going to be deprived of what she knew was rightfully hers so when the sheriff of Fayette County showed up to force the sale of her property, she knew enough to get a lawyer.

As you’ll see from the continuation of the case summary below, applying the law doesn’t always result in a fair outcome. There is a lot of legalese that follows the part of the summary I’ve copied below, but the gist of the decision is that the court in one county (in this case Fayette) doesn’t have the authority to question the decision made in another county (Lawrence) to consider Custode’s claim that the IOU was bogus and was made just to deprive her and her children of their home.

So round one goes to Adriano and Pasquale, but in the end, Custode prevailed and got to keep the two properties she owned before Adriano forced her to sign them over to him. Not a bad outcome for an immigrant woman at a time before women in this country even had the right to vote.

I also want to make sure that everyone in the family knows that, my husband, Rick George, was the one who found this case and it was the key that unlocked the door to so many discoveries about our family roots. He found his grandfather’s WWI draft card from 1917 which indicated his closest relative as his mother Custode George. When Rick Googled “Custode George” he found a reference to this lawsuit.

The part below picks up where the excerpt above ended.


The court ruled in Pasquale’s favor in this action but Custode didn’t give up. Two years later, she prevailed in an action to keep two of the three parcels.

Although I haven’t found her birth certificate, there’s good secondary evidence indicating that May 27, 2016 would be Custode’s 136th birthday. I think most of her descendants would agree that even though she did not seem particularly nurturing, she provided her children with what they needed to be successful in the world.

Gotta give her a lot of credit for that!


Where’d They Go Wednesday

Wednesday May 25th is moving day for Irene Veri! After 46 years in her house on Mount Jackson Road, New Castle, PA, she is moving to Cranberry to be closer to her daughters. I talked to her last night and she is determined to feel cheerful as she drives away from her home today after the movers pack up everything.

I can’t imagine the process of downsizing somewhere you’ve lived for so long. And to think that our ancestors came to a new country with only a suitcase! I’m looking forward to visiting Irene at her new place in July before my genealogy course starts. In fact, when she picks me up from the airport in Pittsburgh on July 16th, it will be exactly three years from the day when Rick and I first met Irene and her daughters Lynnette and Andrea when this picture was taken.


George Cousins Reunited July 2013

Rick and I had spent the morning at the courthouse in New Castle doing family history research with Terry Colaluca (seated next to Rick in the picture above) and Irene had us over for lunch. At that point in our week-long research trip, Custode’s maiden name was still a mystery to us but a few days later when we found Philomena’s and Lena’s marriage license applications at the Fayette County courthouse in Uniontown, PA, we discovered the Yacobucci/Iacobucci name.

Here’s hoping Irene has many years of happiness in her new place as she treasures the memories from her life in New Castle. And knowing what a great memory she has, I know Irene is carrying a treasure chest full of memories with her today.


Bootsadle – I Found It!

No, I’m not losing my mind. True – I did spend all day yesterday at genealogy class on DNA and since my brain is not science/math oriented, I felt like I was losing my mind. But when I got home we celebrated Mother’s Day and I was completely pampered and spoiled with a delicious dinner that Will prepared (I swear he and Harold Galand share some genes) with Sarah and Rick’s help, so I quickly recovered from the brain drain of the class. I was happy to spend most of today applying what I learned yesterday and trying to trace possible ancestors that are recommended based on DNA results. Tedious and frustrating, but I haven’t gone crazy yet.

About an hour ago I decided to work on what I need to know for the genealogy class I’m taking in Pittsburgh in July. I decided to create a detailed list of what I know and what I still need proof for – and of course, I started with Adriano.

One thing that always puzzled me was why I couldn’t find Adrian, Adriano, Andy or Andrew with his wife Christine, Custode or Christiana in the 1900 census. We know they were married in February 1899 in Pittsburgh and that their son Frederick William George was born in November of that year so they should show up in the census for 1900. But in several years of searching, the only census I’ve found them in was 1910 when they were living in Dunbar.

The thing about genealogy research is that you just have to keep at it. And you have to keep searching for things you already searched for and couldn’t find. So when I narrowed my “search” to the census reports with EXACTLY the last name George with Nationality of EXACTLY Italian and narrowed it to the counties surrounding Pittsburgh – I got 17 hits.

I wasn’t too excited and at first glance none of the names seemed to be Adriano and Custode. But I was interested in the entry for Derry in Westmoreland County because I knew that is where one of Custode’s brothers lived.

And look what I found

Henry George, who was born in December 1873 in Italy and is working as a day laborer is living with his wife “Christola” who was born in Italy in May 1881 and they have one child who is indexed in the search function as Foredena. Sounds like Foredena would be a girl, but he is clearly identified as their son.

At first glance you wouldn’t think that is our ancestor but look again. Foredena is born in November 1899 in Pennsylvania and Henry and Christola have been married for one year – hmmm… seems to match the circumstances we know to be true for Adriano and Custode with their son Frederick. And in case you’re wondering, December and May also line up with Adriano’s and Custode’s birth months.

I was surprised that I didn’t find any Iacobuccis in Derry because I thought maybe Custode was living near her brother. But after I scanned several pages of the Census and only found four Italians, I looked a little closer at the names next to Henry and his wife. It seems that one Peter Bootsadle immigrated from Italy in 1897 with his wife Roseanna – also from Italy. Interestingly, they’ve been married 5 years but only immigrated 3 years earlier and they don’t have any children.

If you pronounce Bootsadle and try to make it sound Italian – it comes pretty close to Buzzelli – which we know to be Aunt Rosie’s married name. And it would make sense that Custode and her sister lived near each other even though in later years they had their differences.

So I’m pretty sure I’ve found Adriano and Custode in the 1900 census and as a bonus, Rosie and her husband, Peter Buzzelli. This record suggests that Rosie and her husband have been married for five years but immigrated to America three years earlier in 1897. This means I need to search in Italian marriage records to find them but it also means I have year to search for their arrival. Based on family lore, Custode may have come to America with her sister Rosie.

Even more telling about this record is the notation in the column heading “Citizenship.” Here are the instructions from the 1900 census for how to code Column 18 – Naturalization.

If the person is a native of the United States, leave the column blank. If he was born abroad, and has taken no steps toward becoming an American citizen, write “Al” (for alien). If he has declared his intention to become an American citizen and taken out his “first” papers, write “Pa” (for papers). If he has become a full citizen by taking out second or final papers of Naturalization, write “Na” (for naturalized).

The status of a married woman followed that of her husband so that is why nothing is indicated in the columns for Custode and Rosie. But I must admit I was surprised that Adriano was a naturalized citizen in 1900. I was also surprised that he listed his immigration year as 1893. If this date is correct, it means Adriano came to America before he married Marianne Frattura in Castel di Sangro on August 31, 1895. It was not uncommon for Italian immigrants to make several trips between Italy and America, but it is also possible that the date is in error.

As with most genealogical “finds” the information from the 1900 census raises more questions than it answers but I’m happy to have one more step along the timeline from when Adriano and Custode married in February 1899 to when they appeared in the 1910 Census in Dunbar.

These are the kind of days I LOVE!!!!











Thursday Tidbit – The Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl

A recent comment on the blog with a link to the official rules for the Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl inspired today’s post. Several relatives have told me that cousin Harold Galand was a famous chef, but I wonder if you knew that an annual competition sponsored by the American Culinary Federation is named after him.

You can read more about it here. Here is a brief excerpt from the American Culinary Federation’s website –

About the Competition

First held at the 1992 ACF National Convention in Washington, D.C., the Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl is the brainchild of Carol Kelly, a member of the Nation’s Capital Chefs’ Association and a culinary instructor. She used the competition format as a way of testing her vocational high school students.

As the competition grew, it was named after former ACF President and long time advocate of apprentices and junior members Baron H. Galand, CEC.

Today the competition includes sensory questions, hidden pictures, and of course challenging culinary, baking, nutrition, sanitation and math questions.

The fact that his peers named an annual competition after him says a lot about how well-regarded Harold Galand was among his peers. He certainly seems to be a man of many talents. He worked for a number of years in the Connellsville school system as cafeteria manager. He owned, with his second wife Janet Bryson, the Howard Johnson Motel on Route 40 in Hopwood, and  from all accounts was very successful in that venture.

Many of Adriano Giorgio’s grandchildren have mentioned that when they visited Grandmother George in Dunbar, it was usually Aunt Phil (Harold’s mother) who did the cooking. Others remember the wonderful garden that Uncle Tony grew in the space between the Galand’s house and Grandma George’s house. Harold must have been paying attention to his mother’s cooking skills and his father’s focus on fresh local food – well before the current trend that has resulted in an explosion of “farm to fork” restaurants and the “slow food” movement.

When I talked to Richard Galand he mentioned that his father – Antonio Gallanti – came to Pennsylvania from a small village in Abruzzo Italy when he was 16 years old. According to Richard, when his parents married, an “English lady” welcomed Aunt Phil to the neighborhood as “Mrs. Galand.” Aunt Phil liked the sound of that and it was the name the family went by from then on. But uncle Tony continued to endorse his checks Antonio Gallanti. Harold later told his younger brother Richard that he wished their father had kept the name Gallanti.

I’d love to hear from anyone who had the chance to enjoy the Baron’s, aka Harold Gallanti’s, culinary talents.