The Argentina Connection Grows Stronger

I was getting ready to write today’s Tuesday Tidbit about the my current research into the Black Hand but a message on changed that. My fascination with that group stems from the explanation that “Adriano was going out the back door, while members of the Black Hand were coming in the front.” Whatever the reason he certainly seems to have made a quick get away with very little trace.

A family tree from a source in Italy documents that Adriano married Maria Flamminio in Castel di Sangro, Italy in June 1913. This has always made me wonder if there was enough time for him to have left Pennsylvania for Argentina and still get married to someone in Italy just one year after he left Pennsylvania. But if it was an arranged marriage, maybe it didn’t involve a long courtship.

The family tree for the Giorgio family from San Vito Chietino shows that all of the sons born to Nicola Giorgio and Filomena Pace came to Pennsylvania but all of their daughters stayed in Italy. Their oldest daughter, Vita, was born in 1861 and married Carmine Scoccimarra. Having a name like Scoccimarra is wonderful when you’re doing ancestry research because it is unusual.

So here’s today’s message from

Hi Mr. George!

I am contacting you to try and figure out if you are related to my brother in law Pablo H. Scoccimarra. I am trying to help him with his ancestral search. He was born in Argentina. However his grandfather, Carmine Scoccimarra, was born in San Vito Chietino, Chieti, Italy and his father Nicola was also born in the same town. Carmine had a sister by the name of Vita and that is why I am thinking these are the children of Nicola Scoccimarra (documented relationship) and Vita Giorgio (not sure this was the name of the mother).
I noticed that you have some people in your tree who match some of the names in his tree and are from the same little town in Italy. Are you familiar with that part of your tree. I would love to find the connection, if it exists. Have you had a DNA test? I am trying to see if he gets one done to see if we can get more information that way.

Looks like we might have found the missing link to Argentina. It still doesn’t prove that Adriano went there, but it certainly would strengthen the connection if his sister’s grandson (Dominick Scoccimarra) lived there. Hopefully we’ll learn more soon and be able to document that the branches of the Giorgio family tree cover three continents!

Looks like the Black Hand post will have to wait – but I’ll leave you with a teaser. Of the 2 million newspaper articles I found on when I searched for the term “Black Hand,” there was a peak during the earliest years of the 1900s (1904-1912) and the state with the most articles was . . .  yep you guessed it – Pennsylvania.





Friday Foto Feature – Custode with her Grandson -Richard Galland

One of the photos from the family reunion was this picture of Custode and her grandson Richard Galland. Richard was born in March 1943 so this must have been taken some time that year.

It was clear from Richard’s stories (of which I hope to hear many more) that he had a special relationship with his grandmother. Most of her grandchildren who I’ve talked to do not have fond memories of her. She was strict, had no time for grandchildren and was a bit scary.  To quote Richard, “Her children feared her, but to me she was just my grandmother – I knew she loved me.” img099

Now that I’m looking at the picture, I’m curious about where it was taken and who is peering out through the window?  To be honest, this picture seems to match some others of Aunt Rosie – so I’m happy to see a family resemblance between these two sisters who came to America together when they were 23 and 16. Any ideas on who the woman looking on from inside might be – or where the picture was taken?


Tuesday Tidbit – Antonio Iacobucci

Ever since the course I took in Pittsburgh in mid-July, I love to use the Italian website to search for arrival dates. This site compiles information from other records (including US immigration records and records from South American countries.)

Last night I started going through the information I have on the Iacobucci siblings who came to the USA in the late 1800s. In birth order (I think) they are Vincenzo (1861), Guiseppe (1866), Antonio (1875), Rosallia (1877) and Custode (1880). Since I’m not working from Italian birth records, the birth dates above are speculative and subject to variation based on who was responding to the census taker or providing information for a marriage or death certificate.

Today I’m taking a closer look at Antonio Iacobucci from Akron Ohio but I want to point out two things about the records I found on Custode and her older sister Rosie. The ship’s manifest, which is written in cursive, is subject to interpretation but may often be misindexed for that reason. Rosie is sometimes listed as Rosalba but I think her given name is Rosallia (the i is close to the l and looks like a b). Custode is listed as Custodia and though it is rarely a name she used here – I think that is probably her given name.

Interestingly when I searched the Italian website for Antonio Iacobucci, I got 10 hits. All but one of them was coming to the US, the other one was going to Argentina. Based on the age that I have for Antonio from other sources, I took a look at several entries and believe that this link provides the information on our Antonio.

For a quick summary of what you’ll find there, Antonio’s occupation is listed as weaver and his town of origin is Castel di Sangro, l’Aquila, Italy. His final destination is Pennsylvania and the person he is coming to visit is his sister, Rosalba.

Antonio was 22 years old when he arrived in New York on October 7, 1897, six months after his sisters arrived in April that year. We often think about what it must have been like for the immigrants who came to start a new life in America. As a mother, though, it is hard not to think about Maria Petrarca Iacobucci and how she must have felt watching three of her children leave within six months.

Friday Foto Feature – Wedding of Philomena George and Antonio Gallanti (aka Galland) – June 27, 1923

For anyone out there wondering if you should go to the trouble of organizing a family reunion – take a look at the picture below and see what you might get if you ask attendees to bring pictures and memorabilia.


Yes – just some faces to go with the names you’ve been searching for however long you’ve been pursuing your genealogical obsession. Just a wedding photo from 1923 of the oldest daughter of your family matriarch. Richard Galland brought this photo of his parents’ wedding to the Giorgio family reunion on July 24, 2016. His mother Philomena had just turned 18 and his father, Antonio Galanti, was 29.

Most Giorgio descendant’s remember the bountiful garden that Uncle Tony grew between his house and Custode’s house that was just down the hill on the main street in Dunbar PA.IMG_4364 This is a picture I took the morning of the family reunion. The grassy patch behind the fence is where Tony’s garden once flourished.  Out of view but to the right is the house on High Street (now Highland) where Phil and Tony raised their three boys. To the left, also out of view, is Custode’s house on the corner of Connellsville Avenue and Highland Street. The small shed is now the garage for that house.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the old school in the distance restored? I’m glad to see it’s still standing – it’s where all of Custode’s children went to school. I think it would make a great location for a museum that pays homage to Dunbar’s heyday – when there were multiple banks, at least four hotels and an Italian grocery store run by Adriano and Custode Giorgio. The days in the early part of the 20th century when the railroad provided good work for new immigrants and the coke ovens were still booming. It is hard to imagine all of that today when you visit Dunbar. Maybe we need to start a “Save the School” campaign.

Ofcourse, another reason for having a family reunion is the stories – the wonderful stories that need to be compiled before they are lost. Stories like the one that Richard Galland, one of the youngest of Custode’s grandchildren, told. He remarked that her children feared Custode, but he never did. To him, she was a doting grandmother. He grew up close to her and by the time he came along in 1943,  she may have mellowed some. He remembers coming home from school and asking Custode, “Grandma, the kids at school say you are a witch. Are you a witch Grandma?” And as Richard said with a chuckle, she didn’t deny it – she just gave a hint of a sly smile.

As someone who has a New England witch in her family background (or so the Kingsbury family lore goes), I’ve always thought that witches get a bad rap. I tend to think that most women believed to be witches were assertive women who did what needed to be done to take care of themselves and their children, perhaps even other less fortunate people in their communities. They probably understood herbal medicine and had plenty of “home remedies” that were essential in the days before doctors were readily available.

I am fascinated with the Italian legends of stregas and malochio. I love thinking (and I do) that Custode was a strega – practicing the craft that had been handed down through her maternal line for centuries before she came to America. So of course, the lingering question is which of her daughters inherited her craft? Or sadly, were they too much of the modern generation to believe in those ancient ways? The fact that Philomena and Lena burned everything that belonged to their mother after she died (in 1967) perhaps to ward off evil that might be lingering in her possessions – suggests that whether or not they practiced the craft – they believed in its power.

Rick’s favorite story from the family reunion was one that Richard recounted when Custode asked him if his father spoke Italian. To which Richard replied, “Grandma, of course  he does – you know my father speaks Italian.”

“No – he speaks “hillbilly” Italian,” corrected Custode. (There’s an Italian word that she used but it equates to what we would call hillbilly or less refined speech.)

This offers another clue that Custode held herself and her upbringing in high regard and did not think so highly of other immigrant families – even the ones that married her daughters. This certainly fits with other grandchildren’s recollections that Custode was from a wealthy Italian family and/or schooled in a convent and was able to read and write English and Italian at a time when many other immigrants could not.

So enjoy today’s Friday Foto Feature and help me figure out who the people in the picture are. We know the bride is Philomena George and the groom is Antonio Galanti, parents of William, Harold and Richard Galland. Richard identified the girl on the front row, far right (as you face the picture) as Aunt Lena. She would have been 16 at the time this picture was taken on June 27, 1923. Is it possible that the man standing to the right of Philomena is her brother Gene? He seems to have blue eyes and we know that Gene had blue eyes. Gene would have been 21 at the time this picture was taken.

One of my favorite things about genealogy is looking for common dates and connections between the generations. For example, my German immigrant ancestor (on my mother’s side), George Samuel Broeske, who immigrated to western VA from Darmstadt, Hessen Germany in 1852, was born on November 22nd (somewhere between 1814 and 1818) and my mother (his great great granddaughter) was born on November 22, 1933. I also like finding relatives who were born or died on the birthday of living relatives. For example, Irene Veri’s brother Anthony’s birthday is April 24 and so is my husband’s Rick.

So what’s the relevance of June 27, 1923, the date of Philomena’s wedding? (Hint – it might explain why her older brother Fred George, did not attend her wedding in Dunbar that day.) Two days prior, on June 25, 1923, Fred’s first wife, Evelyn gave birth to their first son – Frederick William George, Jr. – Rick’s father and our connection to the Giorgio famiglia.

As to the identity of the other girls in the photo – if anyone knows the Galanti family structure, it would help to know if Antonio had younger sisters or nieces. Any ideas – please share your thoughts.