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.





Searching for Aunt Rosie

The sunny blue sky outside makes it a little harder than yesterday to take the day off and do Ancestry research. It’s also the day Rick and I have agreed that it’s time to DE -DECORATE from Christmas – (sigh) we both love how our house looks when it is decorated for Christmas. And let’s face it, unless you’re one of those people who has your naked Christmas tree out by the curb on December 26th, does anyone really have as much fun taking down Christmas decorations as they do putting them up?

I did spend a little time  this morning searching Pennsylvania death certificates for Buzzelli because I’m still trying to find Aunt Rosie’s child who died at a young age and her husband Peter. Other than her last name, the only thing we know about Rosie’s marriage is from Carole Ann who mentioned that Rosie had been in an abusive relationship and had some permanent damage to one of her arms from an injury inflicted by her husband. Carole Ann also knew that Rosie had a child who had died at a young age. She thinks there was something wrong with the infant because it (she doesn’t know whether it was a girl or a boy) cried a lot.

Here are the results of this morning’s search. There were 96 death certificates for people in PA with the last name of Buzzelli in the years from 1906 – 1964. But only one Peter who had a wife named Sally Antinerelli, which I’ve copied below. It is unlikely he could have been Rosie’s husband who remarried because this Peter would have only been 18 in 1900 and the census for Peter and Roseanna Bootsaddle list their ages as 28 and 26, respectively. That’s a pretty significant discrepancy in age.


We don’t know when the “Roseanna and Peter Bootsaddle” from the 1900 census parted company. It is possible that they had a child who was born and died before 1906, which is the earliest year for the online birth and death records. It is also possible that Peter died before 1906, which is why we can’t find his death certificate.

We do know that a “Rosa Botsella” is living with Adriano and Custode in Dunbar in 1910 but the census doesn’t indicate her marital status or how many children, if any, she has. It does give her age as 35 and indicates that she is a servant in a private home. If you can enlarge the image below, Rosie is listed 12 names up from the bottom of the page and is identified as the sister-in-law of the Head of Household – “Andrew George.”


So again, we come up empty handed in our search for Aunt Rosie’s past. So I’ll just close with a picture of her holding Richard Galland, the youngest son of Philomena (George) and Anthony Galland.


And one more picture from Domenic Renzi’s collection of Rosie at the Renzi farmhouse on Limestone Hill. Domenic remembers Rosie living at the farm when Lena came to live with them (beginning in the fall of 1939) and remembers her as being very kind and loving. She provided a buffer between Dom and his brother Eugene and their stepmother Lena George. Dom also remembers driving to the farm to take Rosie to church, even after he had moved away.


It looks like the dress in this second picture might be different but the apron seems to be the same as in the picture with Richard. Since we know Richard Galland was born in March of 1943, we can get an approximate date of when these pictures were taken – probably summer 1943. Given her birthdate of 2 Mar 1877, Rosie would be 66 years old in this picture (although some sources suggest she was born in 1874 or 1875). She died on 19 Apr 1969.


Lainie McGreevy sent me the picture of Aunt Rosie’s funeral card but I’d love to here from anyone who remembers attending her funeral. Does anyone know where she was living when she died in 1969?

From other information about Aunt Rosie, her birthdate could be as early as 1874 (her age was listed as 23 in the immigration records of her arrival on 2 Apr 1897) or 1875 (her age was listed as 35 in the 1910 Census).

Well, I’ve procrastinated long enough and now really must get to work.


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.




The Giorgio Iacobucci Connection

What is the connection between the Giorgios and Iacobuccis? Interestingly, they are not from the same town in Italy. The Iacobucci’s are from Castel di Sangro, in the mountains that are inland from the coast and the Giorgios are from San Vito Chietino, which is on the east coast of Italy, slightly north of from the top of the boot – by which we learned the shape of Italy. Isn’t it interesting that Italy and California both have such distinct shapes!

When Rick and I had lunch with Irene Veri in July 2013, two things stood out to me about her memories of Custode.  First of all, she had not heard the name Custode and had always known her grandmother as Christine, which is the name that most of her grandchildren remember. Second, she did not know Custode’s  maiden name.

Rick and I met Terry and Irene when we were about mid-way through our family history trip to Pennsylvania, which proceeded in a counter-clockwise fashion around Pittsburgh, starting in Washington County, then New Castle, with a side trip to East Liverpool, Ohio and Midland PA, then to Burgettstown, where Rick’s father grew up, then to Brookville and Grove City , where Rick’s mother grew up and finally to Fayette County to visit Dunbar and the courthouse in Uniontown.  I remember being so excited on our last day of research to find the marriage licenses for Philomena and Lena George and to finally learn that Custode’s maiden name was Iacobucci.

On her marriage license in 1923, Philomena listed her mother’s name as Custode  Yacibucci and listed her father’s residence as Italy. In 1939, on her marriage license, Lena listed her mother as Christina Yacuobucci and listed her father as deceased. (The variations in spelling could be due to the clerk who took the information because handwriting on the form is different from the girls’ signatures.

When she learned of Custode’s maiden name, Irene wondered about the possible connection between her mother’s older sister Marianne Giampaolo who married Joseph Iacobucci and the connection between Adriano and Custode.  Is it possible that Irene’s parents met because Custode was related to Joseph? The missing piece in this scenario is the connection between the Giampaolo’s and the Giorgio’s but let’s examine that a bit closer.

If Custode was Joseph’s sister, she may have met his wife’s family the Giampaolos, but that wouldn’t explain how she met Adriano Giorgio.  We know that Custode and Adriano married in February 1899 in Pittsburgh.  It seems that Joseph Iacobucci and Marianne Giampaolo married at about the same time because their first son was born in 1901. I should probably search for their marriage license.

We also know that a Vincenzo Iacobucci gave permission for Custode to marry Adriano and his relationship to her was listed as “guardian.”  I found a Vincenzo Iacobucci who lived in Derry PA although I can’t know for sure that he is the same one who signed as her guardian.  What is interesting about his death certificate (he died in 1943) is that his birth place was Castel di Sangro and his father was Agostino Iacobucci and his mother was Philomena Petrarca.

I’m not going to be able to tie this up in a neat little bundle, but at least it will get me back on track with this mystery.  The interesting thing I learned when I checked the death certificate for Joseph Iacobucci (Irene’s uncle on her mother’s side) who lived in New Castle is that he was VIncenzo’s brother! The parents listed on each man’s death certificate are Agostino Iacobucci and Philomena Petrarca and their birth place is listed as Castel di Sangro.

Unfortunately Custode’s death certificate is not available on line but I may order it just to close the loop and find out if she is their sister.  She was born in 1881 so she would have been 20 years younger than Vincenzo and fifteen years younger than Joseph.  While that may seem unusual nowadays, it wasn’t that uncommon for a woman to start having children at age 16 or 17 and continue into her early 40s.

So if any of these new names ring a bell, or you remember anything about relatives in Derry PA, be sure to leave a comment.

Where’d They Go Wednesday? Lucy George and Viginia Iacobucci

I’ve mentioned that one of my favorite parts of genealogy research is finding odd similarities. Sometimes the similarity is between an ancestor and someone alive today. Sometimes, like today, it is a sad coincidence from 1916-1917 when two little girls died within a year of each other – one just a few months shy of her seventh birthday the other almost 7 ½. The mystery is – how were they related?

Lydia Lucia (known as Lucy) was born to Adriano Giorgio and Custode Iacobucci in Dunbar PA in December 1909 and died on September 17, 1916 of scarlet fever. About a year later, on August 13, 1917, Virginia Iacobucci, daughter of Joseph Iacobucci and Marianne Giampaolo, who had just turned seven that March, died of rheumatic heart disease. If Custode and Joseph were siblings, these two young girls would have been cousins.

Lydia Lucia dies of Scarlet Fever at age 7

Lydia Lucia dies of Scarlet Fever at age 7

Lucy has been described as having red hair and green eyes and her death was a sad event that made enough of an impression on her older brother Joseph that he mentioned her to his children. He described her as having red hair and green eyes and some accounts of Adriano describe those same features. Others report he had dark eyes and dark hair and so did Custode. But some grandchildren of Custode think she had dark hair but blue eyes. It may be impossible to reconcile these different recollections, which may be based on what someone remembers themselves, or what they remember being told by their parents. None of the Giorgio cousins I’ve talked to could have known Lucy since she died in 1916.

Virginia Iacobucci has a different story and may have gone “unnoticed” if it weren’t for a casual mention of the death of Virginia Iacobucci in the index for the New Castle News. The date of the death announcement was August 13, 1917. I was confused, because Irene Veri had given me the rundown on the children born to Joseph Iacobucci and Marianne Giampaolo (Irene’s aunt) and told me that their daughter Virginia entered a convent. If you don’t know Irene you might think she was confused about which daughter entered a convent but I know that Irene has an amazing memory so I dug a little deeper. (Every genealogist should be so lucky to have an Irene in their family.)

The 1930 census for New Castle, PA shows that Joseph and Marianne Iacobucci have a 10 year old daughter named Virginia, which means she would have been born in 1920. Hmmm. . . a Virginia Iacobucci died in 1917 and another was born in 1920 to the same parents? Yep – not that uncommon. Remember the three Romeos from last week? Romeo, Romeo, Romeo There was a tendency for families to give subsequent children the same name as a child who died. But it can create a lot of confusion when you’re researching them later and may be what account for dates being off on some trees.

Fortunately, the New Castle News is digitized and searchable on Even though not every name shows up (i.e. a search for Virginia Iacobucci turned up 0 results) if you have the date and page reference for a marriage or death announcement, you can browse that issue of the paper (scanning page by page) and sometimes find what you’re looking for.  (I’m still learning how to imbed a screen shot but if you look in the upper left hand corner of the picture below (in the black strip just below the “back” arrow) you will see the date of the newspaper – August 13, 1917.

New Castle News - Death of Seven Year Old Virginia Iacobucci

New Castle News – Death of Seven Year Old Virginia Iacobucci

Often, but not always, you can find the death certificate

Death Certificate for Virginia Iacobucci #1

So that’s how we know that two 7 year old girls died within a year of each other of similar, but not identical, diseases. It turns out that rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that may develop after an infection with group A Streptococcus bacteria (such as strep throat or scarlet fever). The disease can affect the heart, joints, skin, and brain. Even though scarlet fever and rheumatic heart disease are not the same disease, they can be caused by the same organism. Almost unheard of nowadays with antibiotics, these were common causes of death for our ancestors’ children.

And now for the mystery – how were Lucy and Virginia related?

If Custode Iacobucci was Joseph Iacobucci’s sister (pure speculation on my part) they would have been cousins. I have yet to confirm that relationship. Nonetheless, it is likely the families knew each other even though Lucy lived in Dunbar PA and Virginia lived in New Castle PA – 100 miles away. They may have even played together at Nick George and Mary Giampaolo’s wedding in October 2015, if weddings in 1915 were as widely attended as they are nowadays.

And here’s why – Mary Giampaolo, Nick’s wife, had two older sisters, both born in Italy though she was born in New Castle, PA, much later in her parents’ marriage. The sister closest to her in age was Marianne or Anna Giampaolo who was 19 when Mary was born in 1899. By the time Mary was born, Marianne had been married to Joseph Iacobucci for about four years. Their daughter Virginia #1 was born in 1910. It seems likely that as a 5 year old, she would have attended wedding festivities for her Aunt Mary, especially since she lived in New Castle and Nick and Mary were married in New Castle. Be sure to check back tomorrow because I am going to use Nick and Mary’s wedding picture for my Friday Foto Feature.

Nick George and Mary Giampaolo's Marriage License

Nick George and Mary Giampaolo’s Marriage License

The question is whether Custode and any of her children would have attended the wedding. By October 1915, Adriano had been gone about 3 ½ years. The groom Nick was not Custode’s son, but we know that he remained close to his “half” siblings who were born to his father and Custode. We also know that Nick’s children knew Custode as Grandma Christine so there was some remaining connection despite Adriano’s departure. It seems likely that some of Nick’s half brothers (Fred and Gene were 16 and almost 15 at the time Nick married) would have attended his wedding. If Joseph Iacobucci were Custode’s brother, it’s possible that she would have enjoyed the occasion of a wedding to visit with him.

So how would a mother and eight children go to a wedding 100 miles away in 1915? Even if she had a mini-van they wouldn’t all fit! They probably would have gone by train but alas, something we’ll never know for sure. (Makes you want to write down the names of everyone who attended your wedding – for posterity’s sake!  A yet unborn descendant of yours might be trying to figure this out in about 100 years – so make it easy for them!)

So that is today’s mystery – not so much a “where did they go” but “who did they know.”