Christmas is Family Time

Here’s a Thursday Tidbit about some of the descendants of the original four Giorgio brothers who came to western Pennsylvania from San Vito Chietino – a town on the eastern coast of Italy. It’s almost due east of Rome, just slightly to the north.

As I’ve been working on this “tidbit” for the last four hours, I understand why it has been so long since I’ve posted on this blog. In an effort to verify the facts that I have about each person, I get pulled in so many directions that I end up saving the draft and not coming back to it for awhile. I started this post well before Thanksgiving but hope to get it posted in time for Christmas.

It started as a laundry list of the descendants of the original four Giorgio brothers who arrived in western PA in the late 1800s to early 1900s. But as I worked my way through their 30 known children, it became apparent that this post was turning into more of a tome than a tidbit . So in the interest of getting something posted, with the supporting facts, and keeping it interesting (I hope) I’m going to focus on the children of Pasquale Giorgio. Born in Italy on May 20, 1877, Pasquale was the third youngest of the four brothers who came to PA. He seems to have outlived the other three brothers since his death certificate indicates he died in 1958. Although I still haven’t found the death certificate for Adriano who returned to Italy family stories suggest he died some time around 1951.

Between the four Giorgio brothers I can document 30 children but there could be more who died between the census years. From what I’ve discovered in searching the New Castle News and Pennsylvania death records, among those 30 offspring, there were seven children who did not survive to adulthood. Five of those seven children were Pasquale’s – four with his first wife, Maria Concetta Iavicola, who seems to have been known as Concetta,  and one with his second wife Filomena Ranieri. Both women died either during or shortly after childbirth.

Pasquale and Concetta were married on November 20, 1902 in San Vito Chietino Italy. This date is noted in the margin of the Italian birth records for Pasquale, which are online.

From the Pennsylvania birth certificate for their daughter Maria Dominica, who was born on June 1, 1906 in New Castle PA, we know that they’d had two children prior to her birth and one was living at the time. This is the basis for determining that one of their children was born and died, in the period from 1902 (marriage date) and 1906 (birth date of their third child.)

I found the death certificate of their son Vito, who was born in 1904 and died in 1907.  He would have been the child still living when Mary was born. Based on census records that indicate Concetta immigrated in 1904 and an indexed birth record for a Vito Giorgio born in New York, I’d speculate that Concetta was very pregnant on her journey to America.

 

 

There’s not enough information from this index to verify that this Vito Giorgio, born in Manhattan in April 1904 was in fact the son of Pasquale and Concetta, but the birth date fits the age of their son who died in New Castle in 1907 at the age of 3. It also fits with a census record that indicates Maria Concetta immigrated in 1904. Next research I need to do is to find her immigration records to see what they reveal.

Three healthy girls are born to Pasquale and Concetta in 1906, 1908 and 1910 before tragedy strikes again in 1913.

This death certificate for a stillborn child of Pasquale and Concetta born on April 13, 1913 is evidence of the third of their children to die. The child’s sex is not indicated on the death certificate.

And here’s the sad evidence of the death of the last child born to Pasquale and  Concetta – a death certificate for a premature daughter stillborn on January 12, 1914, almost nine months to the day of the stillborn child in April 1913.

Last child born to Pasquale and Concetta

But the more tragic even on that cold January day in 1914 (the newspaper reported a high of 12 degrees that day) was the death of Pasquale’s first wife, Concetta of complications related to childbirth.

Pasquale remarried in 1914 and immigration records show his return through Philadelphia PA with wife, Filomena Ranieri.  Pasquale and Filomena had four sons and one daughter named Concetta who was born in 1918. (As an aside, does anyone else find it interesting that the only daughter he had with his second wife, was given the name of his first wife?)

In January 1920, Filomena died of pneumonia, six days after giving birth to a son. That son survived, but their daughter Concetta, who was only two, died a month later on February 27, 1920. Family history as related by Terry Colaluca, granddaughter of Mary Giorgio Colaluca, indicates that the infant son born in January 1920 was given up for adoption (most likely a private adoption) because Pasquale could not take care of so many children without a wife. This child grew up as Louis Thomas Perfi and lived in Abingdon, Illinois for most of his life. In the 1930 census, he is the only child in the home of Angelo and Georgia Perfi living in Abingdon, Illinois a town 50  miles west of Peoria.  His father Angelo was born in Italy and his mother Georgia, who was 54 years old in 1930 was born in Nebraska.


Apparently Louis maintained his relationship with his biological brothers because his name appears in the newspaper report of a Giorgio family reunion held at Willow Lake in 1967.

New Castle News – Page 9 July 11,1967

 

I’ll close for now with a list of the children of Pasquale Giorgio who survived into adulthood. I’ll also add the names of their spouses and marriage dates if I know them. Of the seven children born to Pasquale and his first wife Concetta in the years from 1902 to 1914, three girls survived to adulthood. We do not know the sex of two of the children who died but we know that one was a son named Vito who died when he was three years old in 1907 and the other was a premature stillborn daughter born who died in January  1914 on the same day as her mother. The three surviving children, who lost their mother when the oldest, Mary, was only 7 years old were:

Mary George (1906 – 1993) who married Romeo Colaluca (1903-1965) in 1928.

Christine Marie George (1908-1985) who married Nicholas Benedict Panella (1906-1997), probably in 1929.

Vida Marie George (1910-2000) who married Egidio Sforza in 1939, based on the date of their marriage license.

The children born to Pasquale and his second wife, Filomena Ranieri who survived to adulthood were four boys

 

:

Victor George (1915-2004) who married Mary Cestrone (1916-1992)

Nick George (1916-1992) who never married

Louis Amedio George ( 1917-1994) who married Jean Camp of Mystic Connecticut some time before 1943 – more work to do but here’s the New Castle News article that provides the evidence of their marriage and the link to Pasquale.

And Louis Thomas Perfi (1920-2006) who was raised as the son of Angelo and Georgia Perfi, although I believe he was the last child born to Pasquale and Filomena Ranieri.

Stay tuned for a similar “tidbit” on the descendants of the other Giorgio brothers. If you happen to be the descendant of any of the people named in this post and have stories to share, please leave a comment.

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Happy Anniversary to Adriano Giorgio and Marianna Frattura – Married on this day in 1895

Today would be the 122nd anniversary of Adriano and Marianna, parents of only one child, Nicola Vitus Giorgio (aka Nick V. George). The notation in the left margin of the record copied below memorializes this event. This is the first page of the official birth records of Adriano Giorgio, which are from the town of San Vito Chietino in the Province of Chieti. Just under his name – “Adriano Giorgio” it is noted that

” 31 Agosto 95 spojo (he married ?) Frattura, Marianna . . . ”

I think most of what follows is the signature of the official who made that notation but it is possible that the “Att 35” is a reference to the marriage record where more information about their marriage could be found. Presumably a similar notation appears in Marianna’s birth record.

Italian marriage records –  processetti or allegati – contain an incredible amount of information including the birth certificates of the bride and groom as well as consent to the marriage from both fathers. If the father of either spouse was deceased, the death certificate of that father would also be included, which would contain information about the parents of the deceased person. This can often provide information about family names going back to the 1700s – a genealogist’s dream come true!

1871.BirthRecord.Antenati.SVC.Immagine95

I know I’ve wondered about this before but how did Adriano Giorgio, from the town of San Vito Chietino on the east coast of Italy, end up in the mountains of central Italy getting married to Marianna Frattura? It’s an important mystery to solve because it lays the ground work for his subsequent marriage to Custode Iacobucci, who is also from that small mountain town. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Custode may have been related to Marianna Frattura.

If Marianna Frattura and Custode Iacobucci knew each other, we can assume from what we know about Custode’s immigration date (April 1897) that she was in Castel di Sangro on August 31, 1895 when this marriage took place as well as the next November when Nick was born and his mother tragically died within a week of his birth.

 

Thursday Tidbit – Our Family Poet – Nicholas Vitus George

poem-wakeningmoon-29mar1969

In a recent email I mentioned to Irene George Veri that I wish I could have met her father. I usually form an idea of what a person is like (rightly or wrongly) from what I read in the old newspaper accounts about that person. Everything I’ve read about Nick George reveals a kind and loving man whose family and community were of primary importance to him.

Irene mentioned that her father used to dictate song lyrics to her and she would write them down and mail them back to him. This was a way of documenting the date the song was written for copyright purposes. I wonder if Irene still has any of those lyrics?

When I came across this poem, published in the New Castle News on March 29, 1969, I could hardly wait until March to post it.

Based on last night’s torrential rains and thunderstorms here in Greensboro, NC and the predicted dip to low temps in the 20s this weekend (after a ‘wacky’ month of early spring) I’d say Nick captured the vagaries of March weather perfectly.

A New Mother for Dominic and Eugene

img023Dominic and Eugene sat side by side on the piano bench in the front room of the strange lady’s house. Their father, Nick Renzi, had come into town to find a new mother for them. The woman who met them at the door was old and her stern expression frightened them. Surely this woman wasn’t going to be their new mother.

A woman with dark hair and round glasses came down the stairs. She gave them only a fleeting glance then looked at their father. She never smiled at him as she shook his hand. Would this woman would be their new mother?

They sat as still as two rambunctious boys of 6 and 10 could sit, crowded together on the narrow piano bench, their dangling legs swinging back and forth, not touching the floor. The tight collars of their dress shirts made their necks itch and they pulled and tugged at their sleeves. From across the room their father gave them a stern look and motioned for them to be still. He pulled his shoulders back to show them how they should sit.

Soon the adults went into the kitchen and continued talking in Italian. The woman with dark hair and round glasses never said a word. Did she even have a voice? They only heard the voices of their father and the older woman. It seemed to take forever before their father came back in the room and said it was time to go.

As they left the house, their father turned to the woman with dark hair and round glasses and said – “Boys, this is Lena George, she will be your new mother.” They looked at Lena and didn’t know what to say or do. She stared back at them with a blank expression. “Say good-bye to your new mother,” their father prompted.

“Good bye mother,” Dominic said, not sure whether he was supposed to hug her or shake her hand so he did neither. The woman stared at them as if she were in a trance – she was looking at them but didn’t see them. She didn’t look very happy about being their mother. Dom and Eugene crowded close to their father, one on either side, as they went down the front porch steps out into the bright September sun.

The next week one of their uncles brought Lena’s suitcases and trunks to the farm and carried them up to their father’s bedroom. Two of their mother’s sisters came to the farm and packed up all of her jewelry, dresses and shoes that had been in the wardrobe and carried everything away.

“Aunt Jennie and Aunt Amanda will take good care of you while I’m away, their father said that night as he was packing his suitcase.

“But Papa, we want to go with you – where are you going.”

“Lena and I are going on a trip to Washington, DC, New York and Canada. That’s what people do when they get married.”

“Can’t we go with you?” they pleaded.

“No, you’re not old enough. It will just be Lena, her nephew Harold and me.”

“Why does he get to go with you on your wedding trip – that’s not fair!” shouted Dominic. He’s only 13 and I’m 10 – that’s not fair!”

Nick sighed and shook his head. He didn’t know why he agreed to let Harold go on their honeymoon. Of all the things Custode demanded when she agreed to let Nick marry her only remaining daughter, this was the most unreasonable. A 13-year old boy going on their honeymoon! He would never hear the end of it from the guys he worked with on the railroad.

But his boys needed a mother and Alverda thought Lena would be a good match. At 33 it was unlikely Lena would ever find a husband on her own. Maybe if they had time alone together she would warm up to him. But that was unlikely to happen on their honeymoon with Harold in tow. Everything Nick had heard about Custode was true – she called the shots. Whether out of love, respect or fear, her grown children did whatever she demanded. And now she was controlling what would happen on his honeymoon. How humiliating!

As their father drove down the hill, his car vanishing into a cloud of dust, Dominic realized this was the first time since their mother died in May that their father had been away for more than a few days. Their aunts had taken turns staying with them at the farm over the summer so why did they even need a new mother? Couldn’t things just stay the way they were?

When Nick came home three weeks later, Lena was with him. They ran to hug their father and he kneeled down and hugged them both –one on each side – his blue eyes twinkling with joy at the sight of his sons.

“Give your new mother a hug,” he said, pushing them toward Lena who stood there with the same blank stare she had when they met her at Custode’s house in Dunbar.

Eugene being the youngest and eager to please his father ran over to Lena and reached up to hug her around her waist. Lena stiffened and pulled away but Eugene clung to her, looking up with his trusting brown eyes, his wide happy smile beaming up at her. He was glad to have a new mother, he didn’t care what Dom said.

Lena looked down at Eugene, and with what Dominic would later describe as her other expression –  eyes squinted and nose wrinkled up as if a most horrible smell had suddenly filled the room – Lena firmly grabbed each of Eugene’s tiny wrists and pushed his arms away, twisting out of his embrace.

Dom ran over and grabbed his younger brother’s arm, “Come ‘on Gene – let’s go outside and play.” He glared back at Lena – trying to match her cold, icy stare. He didn’t care what his father said, this woman was nothing like their mother. Their mother was pretty and always smiling – even near the end when the goiter made her neck bulge out. Dom could still remember his mother’s soft hands as she stroked his forehead when she tucked them into bed at night.

Dom never want Lena to touch him or his brother Eugene. He was too old to be tucked-in anyway. He didn’t want this new mother and no matter what his father might think, he could tell that she didn’t want them either.

 

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November 8, 1928 Wedding of Nick Renzi and Julia Giordano

 

 

The Sad Story of Frank Bell

The 1910 census for Dunbar is the only one that has Adriano (Andrew) and Custode (Christine) living together in Dunbar, PA. The other census from their time together in America was in 1900 in Blairsville, PA. They moved to Dunbar at least by December 1901 because Gene was born there in December 1901 based on St. Aloyius parish records on file at the Dunbar Historical Society.

We know from Lena’s birth certificate in November 1906 that Andy’s job was listed as a merchant. And from Custode’s testimony in 1912, she said they had been in business for 8 years, so I assume they started the store in 1904, which was before they bought any properties in Dunbar.

Okay – so what’s that got to do with Frank Bell? In the 1910 census, Andrew and Christina George are in Enumeration District 18, which includes the whole town of Dunbar. The houses were not numbered with addresses but rather by house number in the order in which the census taker visited each house. They were house #208 and appear on page 20 out of 40 from the online Census Report on Ancestry.com. You wouldn’t know from this census report that they ran a grocery store because Andrew’s job is listed as a laborer at the furnace.

At the top of page 20, in order of the census taker’s visit, house number 201 is Dr. William Warner (who delivered Lena and signed her birth certificate) and house number 204 is Dr. David McKinney and house number 207 (either across the street or next door to Andrew and Christine) is Harry McGibbons, who runs a drugstore. Perhaps what planted the seed in Custode’s mind that her boys should be pharmacists.

But what’s that got to do with Frank Bell?  Okay – I’ll get to the point. On page 14 of 40, at the 140th house visited by the Census taker, Frank Bell and his wife Santina, live with their 16 year old daughter Angeline. Frank is a naturalized citizen who immigrated in 1882 and he is listed as a merchant in a fruit store.

I wanted to develop a back story for some of the people that Custode and Andy may have interacted with in 1910 so I picked Frank Bell. When I searched the Connellsville Courier for articles about Frank Bell, I found this one from July 25, 1914, which is printed below in three sections. It is such a sad ending to what seems to have been another example of a successful Italian immigrant making a new life in America.

frankbell-dies-july1914

PART 1

frankbell-dies-july1914-part2

PART 2

P

frankbell-dies-july1914-end

PART 3