Research Day at Uniontown

On Monday July 25th, instead of heading directly to Washington DC, Rick and I made a stop at the Fayette County Courthouse in Uniontown. We got there just a few minutes before the office with wills was about to close for lunch so we didn’t have as much time as we wanted to search for Vincenzo Versace’s will. I was curious to see if heIMG_4401 had a will and whether or not he left anything to Custode or Frank George.

Even though the records are on microfilm (once you use the index to find the correct book and page number) I love being able to search the original documents. This is the box where Versace’s will would have been if he had one. We came up empty handed.The next picture shows what the original documents look like.IMG_4402

Once they kicked us out of the Will’s office we made a stop at the Register of Deeds office. They were at lunch too but allowed us to use the records while they were out. It turns out there are quite a few deeds in the names of Andy George and Custode George. I was impressed that Custode owned property in her own name before 1912. It turns out that she owned more than just the three properties mentioned in the lawsuit. We didn’t get to copy all of the deeds but took pictures of a few using Rick’s cell phone which are not cooperating in my attempts to upload them.  One of the images is the deed when Custode finally got two of three properties back once the Trustee in Bankruptcy settled all claims with the other creditors of Andy George.




WOW!!! What a Week!

I am relaxing after a whirlwind week of genealogy classes, sightseeing in Pittsburgh, too much food and best of all – trovando famiglia!!! A Giorgio family reunion in Scottdale PA on Sunday July 24th. It truly was icing on the cake.


A huge THANK YOU to Glenn and Carole Johnson who hosted the event and to Carson’s Catering in Scottdale, PA for an absolutely delicious dinner and perfect setting!  Carole and Glenn graciously hosted a dinner for 25 descendants of Adriano and Custodia Giorgio – immigrants from Italy who made Western PA their home over 100 years ago. Their niece – Paula Santini – recounted her heart-warming adventure of returning to Italy to find her father’s family.IMG_4368

We had a slide show (with a LOT of help from Sarah and Jack – mille grazi) and we had a wonderful time reminiscing about our matriarch and my heroine – Grandma George. There’s no doubt she was not the “milk and cookies” kind of grandmother but she raised 8 children as a single mother in the early 1900s and left a close-knit family of strong and successful men and women who united today to honor her legacy. I am honored and humbled to be a very small part of that legacy.IMG_4371

Her story fascinates me and this past week has only strengthened my desire to make sure that it is not lost. Best of all were the next generation of her descendants – Jack Burnett, Colin Johnson and Sarah George – and the even younger generation of Eli – grandson of Richard Galland and Nico George, grandson of Irene George Veri – still in their teens.


Sarah George with her great aunt Lynnette George Burnett

I am tired so there will be a much more coherent post when I get home mid-week, but for now I am happy to relax and enjoy the wonderful feeling of family reunited.


Mille grazi to Carole Ann and Glenn Johnson.



Day 4 GRIP – Exciting Discovery

This afternoon’s lecture is on Passport Applications at the Archivio di Stato di Napoli (State Archives of Naples). Paola Manfredi, our instructor for this session, examined the documents on file in Naples for Italians who applied for a passport to leave Italy. The records only cover the period from 1888 to 1901 but for our research into the Giorgio and Iacobucci families the records may exist since many of them left Italy during this time.

Passport applications can be a goldmine for genealogists. The written documents may include the reason the person is leaving Italy, where she came from, where she is going, her marital status and certain documents from Italy such as her birth certificate, birth certificate of any children and marriage license. Unfortunately – there are no pictures – just lots of paperwork with information about height, eye color, hair color, complexion, size and shape of nose, body shape, and any distinguishing physical characteristics.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could find the passport application for our ancestors! Unfortunately these records are not available online and they may not even be available to the public.

So what’s the exciting discovery? It turns out there are efforts underway to reconstruct information and records for Italian emigrants and the results are available on line. So I took a look and thought I would share what I found. Recognize any familiar names below? Line 56 shows Custodia Iacobucci, age 17, who arrived in New York on 2 April 1897.

Other records for Custode list her birth year as 1880 or 1881. Her birth date in the Social Security Death Index is 27 May 1880, which would mean that she was about 2 months shy of her 17th birthday when she arrived in New York.

The benefit of finding this site is that the image associated with it provides the exact date of her arrival in New York and the name of the ship she was on – the Burgundia – and her destination in the United States – Brandville and the town she was from in Italy – Castel di Sangro. The added benefit of finding this record while I was in this program at GRIP, is that the woman who does research for the Western Genealogical Society was able to tell me that there is a town in Westmoreland County just south of Pittsburgh, where her ancestor settled, named Bradenville.

Once I had the name of the ship and the date and a little bit of time to scroll through the online records at, it didn’t take long for me to find the record of Custode’s and Rosallia’s arrival in the US.Rosalia and Custodia Iacobucci.Burgundia Passenger list.2Apr1897 It helps that I’ve been looking at Italian cursive handwriting for the past four days but the example above probably gives you a pretty good idea why Custode Iacobucci wasn’t showing up in the indices I’ve been searching for the past three years. From this record you might think her last name is “sister.” It also helps to know that she probably came over with her sister Rosie who we now know was names Rosallia. And even though her last name doesn’t look like Iacobucci, trust me, it is.

It is highly unlikely that I ever would have found this record if I hadn’t learned about the Italian website so I have nothing but high praise for my course at GRIP and especially Paola Manfredi who told us about this website.


Another Mystery from Irene’s Basement Photo Collection

This one is priceless – and there is no indication of who they are. To me, the woman looks much older than the man. Irene thinks she is not pretty enough to be a Giorgio – so maybe she is a Iacobucci or perhaps an unidentifed person from Irene’s mother’s side of the family. Unfortunately I don’t know the date of this photo which would help a lot in this case. Any ideas???


Husband and Wife or Mother and Son???


GRIP – Day 2

img083Let’s start with another picture from Irene’s basement. It is identified on the back as “Phil, Mother and Lena” and we know from others we’ve seen that this is a picture of Custode Iacobucci Giorgio and her daughters, Philomena George Galland and Lena George Renzi. There’s no date on the back but I would guess it was taken in the early to mid 1930s.

Now for an update on how my class is going. We’ve finished the language lessons for the course and I’ve learned just enough Italian and Latin to know some of the words I’m likely to encounter in genealogical documents. One of the most important words I learned was fu. When you see fu at the beginning of someone’s name in a record, it means that person is dead. I like fu – it’s easy to recognize, even in crazy 18th century Italian script, and it demonstrates a great economy of words.

Today’s class topics were:

8:30 – 10:00 – Latin for Genealogical Records

10:15 – 11:30 – Researching Catholic Ecclesiastical Records

1:00 – 2:30 – Marriage in the Catholic Church: The Council of Trent, Impediments and More

2:45 – 4:00 – Evaluating Evidence in Italian Genealogical Records

4:00 – 5:00 – Three Case Studies

Yup – long day!!! But I’m loving it!!! I don’t agree with some people I’ve met who say that these are the nicest dorms they’ve ever seen but I do agree that the cafeteria food is great. I had a wonderful dinner of salmon, brown rice and steamed vegetables. I’m not crazy about the breakfast options because the eggs are always cold and I HATE cold eggs, but everything else has been wonderful – even the coffee and unfortunately for my waistline – the desserts.

I’ve started talking to some of the people in my class including Jose who is 100% Italian but was born in Argentina. Both of his parents immigrated to Argentina from Italy in the early 1900’s. He gave me a website that might help determine whether or not Adriano immigrated to Argentina. He also offered to help if I don’t find anything. Jose lives in Chicago now but he was born in Buenos Aires.

I was a little stressed when I discovered I have a written homework assignment that has to be emailed to the instructor by noon on Thursday. It involves translating two Italian records and answering several questions about them. Melanie handed them out in class just before her lecture on how to apply the genealogical proof standard to Italian records and I breathed a sigh of relief when I got two documents that are on pre-printed forms. One is completely typed and the other has fairly legible handwriting (not the crazy hard to read script from the 1700’s that we’ve been looking at for the past two days). Whew!

After dinner I heard a lecture by Tom Jones entitled – “Can a Complex Research Problem be Solved Solely Online?” It was an interesting analysis of Thomas Edison’s father using on-line records (he had three wives, possibly more than one at the same time) but I must admit I wasn’t giving it my complete attention and after about an hour of it (and he wasn’t finished yet) my eyes started to glaze over. Earlier in the day someone had given me the name of a book that every genealogist simply must have – it explains the way to write a proof statement and all the genealogical proof standards and how to apply them. Guess who wrote it? Yup – Tom Jones.

Back to the topic of this blog and today’s Tuesday Tidbit. The last hour of class provided a perfect one. Melanie Holtz, one of the instructors who currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, was originally from western Pennsylvania. Her great grandfather, Antonio Lo Schiavo, immigrated from Italy to western PA in the late 1800’s. It turns out that her great grandparents were married in Pittsburgh in the same church that Adriano and Custode were married in – in the SAME year – 1899 – by the same priest – Father Lagoria!

There were three Italian parishes in Pittsburgh at the turn of the 20th century and Father Lagoria served all three. After a couple got a marriage license from the County court, they were able to be  married by the priest. After performing the marriage ceremony, the priest was supposed to send a document known as a marriage return back to the county court courthouse. This is the only proof that the ceremony actually occurred. Getting a marriage license is not sufficient proof of marriage because a couple could get a license but not follow through on the marriage.

In our case, Father Lagoria did file the marriage return and the document I got from Allegheny County shows the date of the marriage as February 14, 1899. In Antonio Lo Schiavo’s case, Father Lagoria did not file the marriage return and the only proof of the marriage is found in the ecclesiastical records. I do need to find out how to request a copy of the ecclesiastical records of Adriano and Custode’s marriage because they might have additional information about both of them.

Okay – time to get back to my translation and analysis of Giovanni Bettini’s records from Marsciano.