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.


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?


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.


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.




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!


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.


The Path That Led Us to Custode

It’s time for me to set the record straight. It is true that I currently spend more time than Rick does researching the George family. But it is also true that Rick is responsible for getting us on the path to finding his family.

If you’ve read this blog for awhile you know that when Rick got a DNA test in April 2013, he found a match who turned out to be Terry Colaluca who we met in July 2013. Terry’s great grandfather was Pasquale George, Adrian’s brother.

But before that, when Rick was researching his father’s name in hopes of finding his grandfather, he came across this draft card from 1917 on

The card is really cool because:

  1. It has Fred George’s signature, which is VERY neat. Someone made sure he had good handwriting – hmmm… wonder who?
  2. It tells us that on September 12, 1918, Fred George was a clerk at P.R. Rys Co. (a drug store maybe) in Dunbar, Pennsylvania.
  3. It tells us that at age 18, Fred was short and slender with brown eyes and dark hair.
  4. It tells us that a woman named Custode George, who has the same address as Fred, is someone who will always know his whereabouts.

And that’s how Rick discovered that his great grandmother’s name was Custode George. (Finding her maiden name is another story but I’ll save that for another post.)

The discovery of her name (thank goodness her first name was unusual) led him to a google search for “Custode George,” which led him to this result which is from a 1912 lawsuit. He found it on Google Books.



This image is really sad, because the court goes on to rule against Custode on the grounds that the court in one county can’t overturn the decision of a court in another county. It seems that “Andy” and his brother Pasquala George, were in cahoots to find a way to deprive Custode (AND HER 8 CHILDREN!) of the house they lived in.

Okay, I get it, “Andy” may have been trying to escape the Black Hand (one version of why he left Dunbar) but he obviously took time to go to New Castle and give his brother a promissory note for $3,000 before he skedaddled. I may be reading between the lines but it seems that he really had it in for Custode and didn’t care too much about his own children who would suffer the consequences.

But of course, the REST of the story is that Custode did not take one adverse ruling against her as an answer. She pursued legal action for at least two years and in the end she got to keep two of three properties.

When Rick and I stopped by the courthouse in Uniontown on our way out of Pennsylvania last July, we didn’t have long enough to study things thoroughly, but in the deed books it seems that Custode may have owned several more pieces of property than the two that were the subject of this lawsuit. We definitely need to plan another trip for some more research.

How can you not be totally impressed with Custode Iacobucci George?

A young Italian immigrant woman who had been abandoned by her husband had the wherewithal to fight against what she knew was wrong and to keep fighting until she prevailed. This was before women could even VOTE in this country! After less than 10 years in America she owned property in her own name! And even though her husband forced her to sign it over to him, she fought and got it back.

That is ONE AMAZING woman who leaves so many of us (probably more than she ever knew) forever indebted to her.


So let’s not forget to thank Rick for setting us on the path that brought us together.




Snow Day – Let’s Dig out Info from the 1900 Census for Derry, Pennsylvania

It’s about 4:30 pm on Saturday January 7th – which also means it’s the first Saturday of 2017. It started snowing in Greensboro, NC last night around 11 pm and didn’t stop until 1 this afternoon. There’s nothing better than a snow day on a weekend when you don’t have to feel the least bit guilty about not going anywhere or doing anything (or even getting out of your pajamas for that matter).

It’s also a perfect time to get back to blogging. I sometimes worry that I don’t really have anything new to say but since I’ve spent a good part of today reviewing facts that I’ve accumulated on Custode Iacobucci – I might as well share them.

I wanted to review the various sources that give her age because there’s been some confusion as to whether she was born in 1880 or 1881. It’s not unusual for dates to be off by a year or so and there are lots of ways discrepancies can arise. It’s a good idea to look at each record and consider who provided the information. Did the informant really know the birth year of everyone in the household when the census taker came calling?

The good news for Custode is that her age is consistent in four of the five census reports that are available for her (1900 – 1940). Beginning with the first report in Dunbar in 1910, she aged by 10 years in each census report and the age given in each of them calculates to a birth year of 1880. The discrepancy occurs in the very first census report (1900) where she and Adriano appear as husband and wife, along with their first son, Frederick William George, who was born in November 1899.

The 1900 Census is a great find because it is the only one that lists the birth month and year for each person. Later census reports only list the person’s age, which can create errors when calculating the person’s year of birth. People were supposed to answer the census question stating their age “as of” a set date, but there was often confusion in how well the census taker understood his instructions and in how well the respondent understood the census taker’s questions.

For the longest time I couldn’t find the 1900 census for Adrian and Custode and now I don’t remember how I found it. I think reading someone else’s account of how they found their Italian ancestors may have led me to it but it was somewhat of a fluke. One reason it was hard to find is that Adriano Giorgio is listed as Henry George. But take a look at the screen shot of that page and I think you will agree these are definitely Adrian and Custode and their first born son Frederic (spelled in this case without the “k”) even if they are listed as “Henry and Christola.” (And Aunt Rosie appears underneath them with her husband “Peter Bootsaddle” but no child yet. The two columns to the right of her name are for for # of children born/#of children living and they both have “0.”


One of the most interesting things about this census is that “Henry” reports his immigration year as 1893 and his citizenship status as “NA” which means he had become a naturalized citizen by 1900. This means that there should be some naturalization records I’ve yet to find and they might provide more information about him. It would also explain how Custode gained her citizenship status and why I haven’t found any naturalization records for her.

So it’s great to know that Adriano became a US citizen because that would be how all of our more immediate ancestors (the children of Adriano and Custode) gained their citizenship. Back then, it wasn’t enough just to be born here. During this time frame, if a woman who had been born in America to American parents married an alien, she actually lost her US citizenship! Up until sometime in the 1920s women could not file for their own citizenship status – it had to come through their father or their husband. (That’s a simplified version of a very complex set of immigration rules.)

Here’s a link to an article with more than you probably want to know about women’s citizenship status but I find it fascinating.

But take a look at the date listed for his immigration year – 1893! That definitely throws a wrench in my guess work as to when he arrived. And of course I’ve still never found his immigration records. But if he first immigrated to the US in 1893, it means he went back to Italy to marry his first wife Marianne Frattura and consummate their marriage leading to the birth of Nicola Vitus Giorgio in Castel di Sangro in 1896.

And we know that Uncle Nick (aka Irene’s father) was born in Italy. And we have a record of him immigrating to the US with Adrian in 1904. I had always assumed Adriano came to the US shortly after Marianne died, but this new information creates another possibility.

And while we’re on the topic of marriages – take a look at the number of years Aunt Rosie and her husband Peter have been married – 5. So if that is correct, she was married to Peter Buzzelli BEFORE she immigrated to the US in 1897. And we do know that is her immigration year because I found that record this summer.

There are several trees on with lots of information about the Buzzelli family from Castel di Sangro but the only connection it shows to our family is the marriage of Adriano and Marianne Frattura. I sent a message to the owner of that tree awhile ago to get more information but he didn’t respond. Here’s a link to his tree in case IRENE and DOMINIC might take a look and see some familiar names. He has some interesting pictures and he has actually visited relatives in Castel di Sangro recently.

So now I have a few new mysteries to run down but I thought I’d get this on the blog so that other folks can weigh in with their ideas about this. I love hearing from my extended Giorgio family and posting on Trovando seems to be the best way to keep in touch.

Hope the New Year is good to you and I will try to get back to a more regular posting schedule.




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.