What’s in a Name – or a Census Report for that Matter

Several people have commented that of the four Giorgio boys, Adrian and Custode gave their children (sons at least) the most “Americanized” names – Fred, Gene (Luigino so perhaps the exception), Joseph, Hubert (unusual), Victor and Francis (or Frank.) Like many Italian immigrants, I suspect they wanted to minimize the discrimination their children might face based on their name.

If you click on the image below it should enlarge (I’m trying to use a new screen clipping tool). I captured the lines from the 1930 US Census for Midland in Beaver County PA, where Fred George was living with his brothers – Victor and Hubert. Their names were the first three in what appears to be a boarding house at 384 Midland Avenue. There were at least four other families there, including the owner of the house – a total of 20 people – with some living “upstairs” or “rear.” The house had boarders from strange and exotic places; Yugoslavia, Italy and even Arkansas, Mississippi and North Carolina!

But if you check the middle columns for our ancestor F W George and his brothers, it is reported that they were born in Pennsylvania (true) and that their father was born in England (not true) and their mother was born in Wales (also not true). Isn’t it ironic that we take such delight in exploring ethnic heritage when less than 100 years ago some of our ancestors were compelled to deny it!

1930 Census for Fred George and two of his brothers - taken in Midland, Beaver County, PA

1930 Census for Fred George and two of his brothers – taken in Midland, Beaver County, PA

We cannot assume from this bit of information that Fred was intentionally hiding his Italian background since we don’t know who was providing the information to the census taker. Perhaps the three George boys told the landlord that their background was English instead of Italian to avoid housing discrimination. Perhaps one of the other brothers (Hubert or Victor) provided the information.

I wonder if this was originally where Fred lived with his wife Evelyn when they first moved to Midland. In 1930 they were separated, she was in California with her sisters and the two boys she had with Fred but we don’t know when she left for California or when she returned to Pennsylvania.

 

New Year – New Approach – Hubert Allen George (1908-1958)

After two years of spending a lot of my free time doing genealogical research, I have amassed multiple storage containers of various notes, notebooks, index cards, etc. I’m still struggling to create a uniform system of organization but I am determined to sort out and organize what I’ve already accumulated before adding more.

So to that end, as I come across random tidbits of information, I’m gonna create a post about the person the information pertains to. Today that person is Hubert Allen George – the sixth child and fourth son (I think) of Adrian and Custode George.

Hubert (sometimes mistakenly listed as Herbert or Humbert in Census records) was born in Dunbar PA on September 23, 1908 and died in New York (probably East Aurora which is a village in Erie County southeast of Buffalo) on November 15, 1958. I found these details in the Social Security Death Index, which is a fairly reliable source for birth and death dates.  For obvious reasons, it doesn’t work so well for someone named John Smith or even Victor or Joseph George, but for Hubert, it was a good source.

Hubert and his wife, Grace Ann, did not have any children. Grace was born in Sheraden, PA on April 17, 1912 and died in East Aurora NY on February 11, 1997 (again from the Social Security Death Index). Interestingly they are both buried in Hollywood Memorial Park in Pittsburgh PA, which makes me think there must have been some family connection in Pittsburgh since it’s about 225 miles south of East Aurora.

Final Resting Place of Hubert Allen George and Grace Ann George

Final Resting Place of Hubert Allen George and Grace Ann George

Lynnette shared a story about Grace that she remembers hearing from her mother. At one point when Lynnette (then an infant) and her parents and siblings were driving somewhere with Hubert and Grace, and Grace was in the back seat with Betty and the kids, Grace was quite taken aback when Betty tried to put her toddler Eleanor in the seat beside her. Poor Betty had to hold both Eleanor and Lynnette so that Grace could have her “space.” It seems she wasn’t fond of children and it’s probably for the best that they didn’t have kids.

Lynnette also remembers that Hubert had a successful career in pharmaceuticals in New York.  Hubert is listed in both the 1940 and 1930 Census reports as living in Midland PA. In 1930, he was 22, single and living with two of his brothers, F.W.George (head of household) and Victor (19) and also single. F.W. George was listed as married, but his wife at that time, Evelyn, and his two sons from that marriage (Fred and Richard) were living in Santa Monica California with Evelyn’s younger sister Grace.

By 1940, Hubert had married Grace and the census for that year shows that they lived in Midland and had a room or an apartment in a house at 541 Midland Avenue. Hubert’s job was listed as “pharmacist.” He probably began working in George’s Pharmacy when he finished college in Pittsburgh, sometime between 1935 and 1940. The 1940 Census also shows that in 1935, Hubert and Grace both lived in Pittsburgh. The census also indicates education level. Hubert had completed 4 years of college and Grace had completed 2 years.

At some point after 1940, Grace and Hubert moved to New York. I did find Hubert and Grace in the Buffalo, NY City directory for 1957 and he was listed as a manager for Leader Drugs. I’ve learned that Leader Drugs was a cooperative that supplied drugs to independent pharmacies in the Buffalo area, so in that sense, Hubert was branching out from day-to-day pharmacist duties. According to Lynnette, Hubert was very successful and always had a new car when he came to visit.

 

I’m Back…….

So – four months after pledging to make more regular posts, I’m finally getting a round to it. First, I wanted to thank Irene Veri for sharing this site with Dori Robinson and Dori for making contact. It does make a difference to know that people are interested in what I write about my discoveries in the Giorgio family history. I’d love to find ways to make the site more interactive – so if anyone reading this has some ideas about how to do that – please let me know.

I’d love to hear from people who have specific memories of any of the people I’m writing about. It is a public site so what you share can be read by anyone but my theory is that the more information we share the better picture we all get of our ancestors.  I try to verify the information I provide by checking public records, but that isn’t always possible. My information does not meet the genealogical standards of proof since it is largely based on secondary sources, but I try to indicate when I am making assumptions. Sometimes I get carried away with a story that makes sense to me, but might be wrong.

A good example of this is the reference in one of my earlier posts to Frederick William George and Evelyn Clark (parents of my father-in-law Fred George) reconciling briefly in the early 1930s as eidenced by the birth of Evelyn’s third son, Jerry John. That was an assumption on my part based on the date of his birth (December 8, 1931) occurring before Evelyn had married her second husband Ben Williams and before Frederick George had married his second wife Elizabeth Collins. Since that post, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Lynnette George Burnett, the youngest child of Frederick George and Elizabeth Collins. According to Lynnette, her mother told her that Frederick was not Jerry’s father. This seems consistent with my husband’s recollection that Jerry didn’t really look like his father and his father’s brother Richard and his personality was quite different from theirs also. This offers a good example of how the stories we create can always benefit from additional sources and information.

Here are the independently verified facts:
1. The 1930 Census shows Evelyn George (married) living in Santa Monica CA with her two sons, Fred and Richard, and her younger sister Grace (unmarried) but no spouse living in the household.
2. The 1930 Census shows Frederick George living in Midland PA with his two single brothers, Victor and Hubert. He is listed as married, but no spouse is in the household. This is also the Census in which Frederick reports that he and his brothers were born in PA (true) and that their father was born in England and their mother was born in Wales (not true).
3. Frederick George married his second wife, Elizabeth Collins in Wellsburg, Brooke County, West VA in 1932. The marriage records on Ancestry.com do not indicate the date of that marriage. (Interestingly, Frederick and Evelyn Clark were also married in Wellsburg on November 22, 1921.)
5. The 1940 Census for Hanover, Washington County PA., lists Ben Williams as head of household living with his wife, Evelyn Williams, his son Gordon (24) and three boys identified as his step-sons; Fred(16), Richard (15) and Jerry (8) all with the last name George.
6. The 1940 Census also indicates that everyone in the Williams household in 1940 had been living in Burgettstown PA in 1935 but that doesn’t really tell us whether or not Ben and Evelyn were together then. Dad remembers growing up in Burgettstown, PA. with his grandfather Walter Clark who was a dentist. Dad also remembers his grandparents taking in boarders in the 1930s to help make ends meet.
7. The 1940 Census for East Liverpool, in Columbiana County OH, lists Fred George as head of household and his wife Elizabeth and their three children: James (6), Eldo Jean (4) and Linet(2) and indicates they were living in the same place in 1935.(Census takers weren’t always the best spellers.) Also of note on this census report is Fred’s occupation – insurance salesman – and his hours worked per week – 60!

Although Jerry John’s last name was George in the 1940 Census report, somewhere along the way he legally changed it to Williams. Whether that was a choice Jerry made later in life or whether Ben Williams adopted Jerry at some point (Dad’s version of events) we may never know.

So all of this is really an example to encourage everyone to provide additional information and question any of my stories that don’t fit with something you’ve heard or assumed from your family history. We may never be able to “prove” things one way or the other but the more viewpoints we share, the better chance we have of finding the truth. Hope to hear from you soon.