51st Anniversary of the Passing of Gene George

GeneGeorge.obit.30Dec1966It was on this day in 1966, that Gene George died unexpectedly at his home at 137 N. Tenth Street, Connellsville, PA. His obituary was on the front page of the Connellsville Daily Courier on Friday December 30th. According to his daughter, he died of a heart attack, which seems to be the cause of death for many of the George men – several as early as their mid-fifties. (Might want to note that for health conditions if you happen to share the Y chromosome!) This obituary gives a pretty good overview of Gene’s many accomplishments. But as with any obituary, it can’t really capture the significance of the deceased to his family and friends. Maybe this post will shed a bit of light on Gene George.

 

Gene and Joseph George.12.29.17

This is one of my favorite pictures and shows Gene (on the left) with his brother Joe. Family stories often recount fun times at Joe’s house in Midland PA where Sunday dinner was still a full Italian affair. They both look so happy in this picture, which I think was taken at Joe’s house in Midland PA. I love finding details about our ancestors in newspapers and historical records, but I love the personal recollections of family members who knew them even  more. There’s no shortage of accounts of what a generous, tolerant, kind and loving man Gene George was. Many thanks to Lainie McGreevy for sharing this picture. And happy belated birthday! In an interesting coincidence, Lainie McGreevy (Elaine B. George, second daughter born to Joe and Olive George) shares a birth day with her grandfather Adriano, which means that the anniversary of her birth is also the anniversary of the day Custode died. Oh the things we discover through genealogy.

Before I knew any of the George relatives we’ve found on this journey, I had an image of Gene as the dutiful son, living at home with Custode and Lena as late as 1938 according to the Dunbar City Directory. I thought he was a confirmed bachelor, perhaps even somewhat reclusive or maybe shy and awkward. Why else would he be living with his mother until he was in his mid-30s, I wondered? And his profession in the 1940 census listed as ” State Auditor” seemed to support this assumption of someone with an introverted personality. The stories from people who knew Gene reveal a different picture.

It turns out Gene married in 1938, a few months after he turned 36 (even though the age  on his marriage license in West Virginia is 34.) His wife, Annorah Riley, was born in England and came to America with her aunt and her sister after her parents died when she was a girl. Gene and Nora had two children, Robert Spencer (Bobby) born on April 28, 1940 and Carole Ann born on June 8, 1943.

Earlier today I tracked down this marriage license from Gene and Nora’s wedding in Hancock,West Virginia. Note that Gene’s age is listed as 34, but he was actually 36.MarriageLicense.19Feb1938

Gene was one of the first of Custode’s and Adriano’s children that Rick and I learned about when we visited the Dunbar Historical Society in 2013. Some of the baptismal records of St. Aloysius Church are copied in notebooks there and we found an entry for the baptism of Luigino Anthony George on January 12, 1902. This record confirms his birth date as December 18, 1901 and can be found in the St Aloysius Church Records labelled: B 847 Vol 248. Interestingly we did not find baptism records for any of the other children even though they all grew up in Dunbar.

Based on this information we know that Custode and Adriano moved to Dunbar sometime before January 1902 and most likely sometime before December 1901 when Gene was born. In the 1900 census they were living in Derry, PA with their son Frederick William and living next door to Peter and Rose Bootsaddle – an interesting phonetic spelling by the census taker for Custode’s older sister and her husband – Rosallia and Peter Buzzelli.

But I digress – because this post is about Gene L.A. George. The Gene obviously comes from Luigino but I love that in his later years, he paid homage to his full name by using L.A. as his middle initials – as evidenced in this newspaper clipping when he was running in the Democratic primary for County Commissioner. The field included 14 candidates and although he did well in Connellsville (third highest vote getter with 513 votes only 3 votes behind the leader), he was not successful in gaining a spot in the general election although I can’t seem to figure out exactly where he fell in the primary votes for the whole county.

CountyCommissionerRace.1963.p.12CDC.18May1963

Dominic Renzi has very fond memories of Gene, which help offset the less pleasant memories of Gene’s sister Lena, who married Dom’s father in 1939. After Nick Renzi died in 1949, it was Gene who finally got Lena to leave the Renzi home on Limestone Hill and paid for her to live in an apartment in Connellsville.

When Dom was living on Limestone Hill and renovating the old farm house, he went into town one day to meet Gene for lunch. Afterwards they were walking along the street and stopped beside a pickup truck. Gene made casual conversation and asked if Dominic like the truck. He said he did and Gene said, “Well, it’s yours.” Up to that point, Dom had been hauling the lumber and other supplies he needed for the renovation in the back of a sedan that had been modified by removing the rear seats. Interestingly Carole Ann remembers the truck but she never knew that her father bought it for Dom.

Dom was very close to Bobby, Gene’s son, who by all accounts was a talented high school athlete. According to Dom, Bobby quit playing football because Gene was a bit too invested in the game from the sidelines, often arguing with the referees and also “coaching” Bobby from the sidelines. If you assume that competitiveness has a genetic basis, as someone who lives with three Georges, I can vouch for the fact that it is alive and well in the George gene pool! (So for obvious reasons, I’m not looking forward to tonight’s Cotton Bowl between USC and OSU. Let’s just say we’ve got family members pulling for each team and somebody has to lose.)

So if anyone reading this would like to share some recollections of Gene George please leave a comment below.

Allow me to close with an interesting genealogical coincidence that has nothing to do with the George family but a lot of significance for me. December 29th also marks the passing of another special man, Charles Sedden Latham, Jr. better known as “My Buck.”

Nana and Buck were my maternal grandparents. Buck was actually my grandmother’s second husband but much more a part of my upbringing than my biological grandfather. Nana and Buck took care of me as an infant when my mother joined my father in Bremerton Washington – his naval assignment in early 1956. According to Nana, “Buck” was my first word.  Apparently they rushed me to the hospital because I was having trouble breathing and when I gasped and took a breath I hollered “BUCK.”

Nana and Buck were always a part of my life and provided a good example of what happy married life looked like. Buck did not die suddenly, in fact he was in the hospital for almost 6 weeks. Even though I was 17 when he died, and knew that his death (from emphysema) was inevitable,  is anyone ever “old enough” to lose someone they love? I think the hardest part was seeing my grandmother’s grief – I don’t think I had ever seen her cry before Buck’s funeral.

So here’s a happy picture of me and “my Buck” circa 1956.myBuck.1956Wishing everyone a healthy and happy New Year.

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50th Anniversary of Custode Iacobucci George’s Passing

Fifty years ago Custode Iacobucci George died in Connellsville Memorial Hospital. She was 87 years old and she died on her husband’s birthday. Although he abandonned her in 1912, and she raised her children as a single mother,  I can’t help but think there was some significance to her death occurring on Adriano’s birth day.  I wonder what Custode would think about the recent interest in her life and the incredible legacy that she left behind?

Can you imagine leaving your home in Italy as a 16 year old girl in 1897 and travelling to a new country with your sister who was  only a few years older than you? Sure – your older brother was waiting for you but still – a long trip to Naples from your home in the mountains of central Italy and even longer on a ship to America.

In the past four years as I have learned about Custode, my husband’s great grandmother, I have been impressed with the life she created for herself and her children. There is not enough time in this post to do her justice but I will just close with a remembrance of  an incredible woman who influenced her children and without directly knowing it, her grandchildren. I think she would be very proud of the children of her children and their children’s children.

Rest in peace Custode and know that your memory lives on. custodeiacobuccigeorge-young

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.

The Doomed Horse Soldiers of Bataan

Thanks Irene for mentioning her new Facebook friend and cousin – John George, who has done a lot of George family history work. He recently visited the Philippines where Lieutenant John Andrew George, one of the first men from New Castle to die in World War II, was killed while trying to save his men. A whole chapter of the book is devoted to Lieutenant George.  Here’s a link to the book on Amazon.

Here’s a picture and some stories from the New Castle Newspaper of our famous relative.

My Weekend in San Vito Chietino

I spent a good part of the long weekend exploring the names of San Vito Chietino, Chieti, d’Abruzzo, Italy. Or perhaps I should say – the names that were prevalent in the records of that town that also showed up in New Castle, PA.

The four Giorgio brothers who immigrated to America in the late 1800s – Ciro, Adriano, Pasquale and Romualdo (who went by Romeo) were born in San Vito Chietino, Italy between 1865 and 1879. The oldest and youngest – Ciro and Romeo – married girls from their home town (or nearby in the case of Ciro.) The two middle Giorgio brothers married girls from a small town in the mountains of Abruzzo – Castel di Sangro. (Coincidentally each of them had two wives from Castel di Sangro.)

The connection between the two towns is still an unsolved mystery but this post will focus on some of the people from San Vito Chietino that I’ve gotten to know by reading both the Italian birth records and news stories from the New Castle News.

A quick look at the birth, marriage or death indices for San Vito Chietino always yields a high number of entries for the names – Altobelli, Bianco, Cupido, Flamminio, and Veri. Probably next in terms of frequency are names like Chiarini, Ciampoli, Filippo, Giorgio, Iarlori, di Nardis and Pace.

In conversations with Irene Veri, I remember the name Bobby Cupido. Hmmm… safe bet that his father might have been from San Vito Chietino so I started my weekend research project with the goal of learning more about the Cupido family.

Irene remembers going to school with Bobby Cupido in New Castle – they were only a year apart in age. Her mother, Mary Giampaolo George, was good friends with his mother, Concetta George Cupido. Concetta and Mary’s husband Nick George, were first cousins. Concetta was the oldest daughter born to Romeo George and his wife, Dorinda diFrancescantonio, another name from San Vito Chietino – (SVC).

Sure enough, the SVC birth records for 1896 show that a Benedetto Cupido was born on November 6th to a Vito Cupido, age 50 and his wife Teresina Croce Cupido. I can’t make out her age from the birth record of her son Benedetto, but I can tell that Vito’s father is deceased. Following Italian naming convention, it is likely that Benedetto, was their first son.

Sure enough in the ten-year marriage index, I found a marriage record for Vito Cupido and Teresina Croce. They were married on May 6, 1892 (or thereabouts). From this record I can see that Teresina is 31 in 1892 which would make her 34 or 35 when Benedetto was born. Given the ages of the bride and groom, 31 and 50, I wonder if either of them might have been married before.

VitoCupido.TeresinaCroce.marriage.1892

In the New Castle News records that span a period of about 50 years, from the 1920s to the mid-1970s, there are quite a few mentions of a family named Paul and Mary Cupido who married in 1925.  I’m curious to see if I can make a connection between Paul and Benny Cupido, but after hours of research my best guess is that they may be cousins but were probably not brothers.

The obituary for Paul Cupido who died on December 24, 1970 in New Castle lists his birthplace as San Vito Chietino and identifies his parents as Frank and Teresa Giovanelli Cupido and he identifies two brothers, both in Italy at the time of his obituary. Their names are Nick and Rocco.

And what about Benedetto Cupido? We know from his birth record that that his father’s name was Vito.  Benny Cupido married Connie George in October 1929 in New Castle PA. He would have been about to turn 33 and Connie would have been 20.  For a short time after they married in 1929, it appears that Connie lived in Peekskill, New York with Benny where he was working as a carpenter. Here’s their entry from the 1930 Census.

1930 Census.PeekskillNY.BenedictandConnieCupido

But by 1934 when their only son Robert Vitus Cupido was born in New Castle PA on March 31st, the New Castle News reports the address of Mr. and Mrs. Benny Cupido as 503 Uber Street. But I can’t help but wonder if Benny was ever there, or if Connie had moved home without her husband?

1934.birthann.RobertCupido.NCNp6

The 1940 census shows Concetta Cupido and her son Robert, living inNew Castle with her parents Romeo and Dorinda George at 1008 Cunningham Street. The 1940 census for an area just outside of Blairsville, PA shows a “Penny” Cupido (who is the right age to be Benny) living in the home of his sister-in-law, Anna Cupido, a 42-year old widow. His address in 1935 ( a great feature of the 1940 census) was New Castle, Pennsylvania. It seems quite likely this is our Benny and his marital status is M for married.

An interesting thing about the family living with Anna Cupido at 402 First Avenue is that the four oldest children (ages 17-13) listed as her sons and daughter, have the last name Iezzi. Then there is a six year old Lena Cupido and an infant son, Joseph Cupido. It seems likely that Anna Cupido was married to Iezzi before she married Benny Cupido’s brother.

This 1940 census record helps explain why the 1942 draft record for Benny Cupido in Baltimore Maryland, lists Anna Cupido at 402 First Avenue, Blairsville, PA as someone who would always know his whereabouts. It doesn’t explain why he wouldn’t list his wife Concetta who was alive and well and living with her parents in New Castle. It would suggest that although Benny and Connie remained married they were estranged from one another.
Benny Cupido.draft card. 1942

 

There are several immigration records for Benny Cupido. WOW – that man made quite a few trips back and forth between Italy and the US. In fact, it appears he died in Italy because the social security death index lists his last known address as the US Consulate in Italy.

And what about Bobby Cupido after his years as a high school football star and all round athlete? The New Castle News was full of articles about his athletic prowess, starting as early as elementary school. He was quite the football star but also played basketball and baseball. An article from the New Castle News in August 1952 reports that Robert Cupido would attend Youngstown University.

His marriage license from Falls Church VA in 1956 indicates he married a woman named Sally Nitz who was from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 1, 1956. It’s interesting that Robert’s aunt Phyllis George LaFever was living in the Washington DC area at that time. It makes me wonder if that might have been the reason he moved there.

1956.MarriageLicense.RobertCupidoand Sally Ann Nitz

At some point Robert Cupido and his wife Sally Ann moved back to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, presumably because her family lived there. Here’s a picture of Sally Ann Nitz from her high school yearbook in Milwaukee Wisconsin in 1951.

SallyAnnNitz.HSGrad.1951

Irene Veri remembers that Connie Cupido and her son Bobby “moved away” but she doesn’t know when or why. She thinks that Adele George, who grew up in the same house as Bobby might know. Adele if  you’re reading this I’d love to hear from you.

We know that in May 15, 1971, Connie Cupido was still living in New Castle because an article honoring the employees of St. Francis hospital on that date, lists her as an employee who had worked at the hospital for at least 10 years.

Yet by June 22, 1972, it seems that when it was time for his 20th high school reunion, Robert Cupido was someone who’s address was unknown. I suspect that at that time he may have been living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It turns out that his wife died at the very young age of 40 in 1974 so I wonder if they moved back to be with her parents because she was ill.

Sally Cupido.Death.1974

Twelve years later, Robert Cupido, still living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, died.

Death Certificate.Robert Cupido. Wisconsin.1986

And five years after that, in 1991, his mother, Concetta J. Cupido, who was still living in Milwaukee Wisconsin died.

So that’s what my weekend research told me about the Cupido families from San Vito Chietino. Interestingly, when I discovered the marriage record for Dorinda and Romeo it turns out that Dorinda’s mother’s maiden name was Cupido.