Happy Birthday Irene!

img092
I woke up this morning with this song running through my head but with slightly different lyrics. Not the sad blues version first recorded in 1933 by Louisiana bluesman Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter

and popularized by the Weavers  in the late 1940s –

but a happy birthday version for cousin Irene Rose George Veri. Happy Birthday Irene!

When I met her I asked Irene if she knew where her name came from. I think she said she didn’t (I always hesitate to recount what Irene told me about things because her memory is better than mine, but I’m pretty sure she said she didn’t know who she was named for other than her middle name Rose.)  Her middle name might be from her father’s Italian family – specifically Custode’s sister Rosallia. Rosaria is another form of that name and was the name of Nick George’s aunt, Rosaria who was married to Ciro Giorgio, Adriano Giorgio’s older brother. Ciro died in 1926, but Rosaria Giorgio and her children, including Josephine Bucci, lived in New Castle, PA near Irene’s family. Several girls in the George family have Rose in their name, usually as a middle name, so I think there is a family connection for Irene’s middle name.

What Irene did tell me is that her father often wrote songs and she was his secretary. They preserved the copyright for the songs Nick wrote by mailing them back to themselves so they’d have an “official” date (the postmark) of when they first created the lyrics.

My hunch about Irene’s name is that it came from the song Leadbelly Ledbetter sang at every show he performed. It became his “signature” song and you can read more about it here . His music was discovered in the early 1930s when John Lomax from the Library of Congress was sent to record American folk/blues music, specifically “Negro” songs of the South. He visited Southern prisons because he reasoned that the folk music he was after was going to be in songs by people who’d had a hard life. He recorded Huddie Ledbetter’s music in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in 1933.

Nick and Mary George followed the Italian naming convention for their children – first son after the paternal grandfather, first daughter after the paternal grandmother, but by the time Irene, their last child came along, I think they chose a name just because they liked it. I realize it’s probably more likely they knew someone with that name but I like to make up fun theories to explain family history, and given Nick’s love of music (and my love of this song, which I can remember my grandmother singing to me) I’m sticking with my theory that Nick’s love of music influenced Irene’s name.

Be sure to check out this version by Ry Cooder, which has all the gruesome lyrics of love gone wrong. I linked it because of the accordion – when was the last time you heard an accordion in a band?

Whatever the reason for your name, I’m sure glad you were born and wish you many happy returns of the day!

Irene George and Andrew (Butch) Veri

Irene George and ???

Irene and Eleanor

Irene George on left, cousin Eleanor George (daughter of Fred and Betty) on right.

Advertisements

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.

 

 

Happy Birthday Irene George Veri

Today is Irene George Veri’s birthday!!! Happy birthday Irene. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do on this blog without your fantastic memory and family stories that offer so much background on the George family. And did I mention pictures?

Here are just a few to highlight your special day! Maybe you can add some comments to tell us all a bit more about them. Is this one with the piano in the background at your parents’ house in New Castle?

img092

And here are a couple more in honor of our birthday girl.

 

img093-2

Where are you going all dressed up?

 

 

img096-2

Is this your front porch in New Castle?

 

 

Nick George -Where’d They Go Wednesday

Each of the four Giorgio brothers except Ciro had a son named Nick. (Although it is possible that Ciro’s first son was named Nick, but he did not live to be an adult.) ,For today’s post I’ll provide a bit of information on four of them and help sort them out.

Thankfully, an important piece of advice that I got from Terry Colaluca when I began researching the George family in New Castle, PA was not to confuse the Italian George’s with the Syrian Georges. That was a big time saver for me because it is easy to get them mixed up especially in reviewing newspaper articles. They also tended to have children about the same ages and often with the same names. (I think there is also a Greek George family – to make things more complicated!)

From oldest to youngest, the Nicks are Nicholas Vitus George (1896-1974) son of Adriano and his first wife Marianne Frattura; Nick Anthony George (1907 -???? ) son of Romualdo and Dorinda George; Nicolino George (1916 – 1992) son of Pasquale and his second wife, Filomena and Nicholas Frederick George (1928- 2002) son of Nick Vito George and his wife Mary.

Nick George #1

Nicholas Vitus George was born in Castel di Sangro Italy in 1896 to Adriano’s first wife Marianne Frattura. His mother died the week after he was born and his father, Adriano, immigrated to America,  married Custode Iacobucci on February 14, 1899, and began his new family. In 1904, Adriano returned to Italy and brought his son Nick to Dunbar, PA. All of the children born to Adriano and his second wife Custode Iacobucci considered Nick their brother.

Nick’s youngest daughter, Irene Veri, is able to provide first hand accounts of her father as have many of her cousins. Uncle Nick is universally described as fun-loving, happy and jovial. He loved to sing and his wife Mary was a wonderful cook.  It is clear that visits to Nick and Mary’s home on East Lutton Street in New Castle created a store of happy memories for many Giorgio descendants.

Nick loved to sing, made wine in his basement (which he shared liberally with his guests regardless of their ages) and was active in church and community affairs. He never had a car and either walked or got a ride with someone when he needed to go somewhere.

Here’s one of Irene’s early memories of her father:

“My earliest remembrance of my father was when I was about 4 or 5 years old . . . he was working at the Irwin Works in Irwin, PA . . . a cousin of mine, also with the name of Nick George, his mother was Dorinda, also worked at the Irwin Works. He picked my father up and off they went. Since it was too far to commute back and forth in one day, they left early Monday morning and came back late on Friday. I remember standing on the couch looking out the window on Fridays waiting for him to come home. He always brought me a surprise and I greeted him with a big hug and kiss.”

And here’s a newspaper article and picture of her father from the New Castle News in December 1956 when the Sons of Italy began construction of a new lodge. Nick George is on the left holding his hat in his hand.Nick.SonsofItaly.bldg.1956.NCN

Irene can fill us in on whether or not her father ever made a trip back to Italy. I think he was planning one some time in the late 1940s or early 1950s when he got word of his father’s death but as far as I know he never visited his homeland but one of his sons did.

Nick George #2

The next Nick George, Nick Anthony George, was born to Romualdo and Dorinda George in 1907, three years after his parents arrived New Castle from Italy. His delayed birth certificate is copied below and includes his parents’ names and their birthplace. NickAnthonyGeorge.Delayed birthcert.1907Many of the articles in the New Castle News from the 1920s and 1930s mention Nick George as a wrestler and as the coach of the YMCA wrestling team. Nick was state champion in his weight class for several years. His younger brother John was also a  wrestler. Many of the 478 “hits” that I got when I searched the New Castle News were for this Nick George. In this picture from the March 31, 1934 edition, Nick is seated on the front row, far right and his brother John is beside him. Handsome guys – I would love to see a picture of their father Romualdo. Interestingly – they seem to bear the classic male George – non-smile.

Nick&JohnnyGeorge.1934

Another interesting tidbit about this Nick George is that in 1942 he married a girl named Rose Colaluca, creating a second Giorgio/Colaluca connection. (The first occurred when Pasquale’s oldest daughter, Mary George, married Romeo Colaluca in 1928.)Nick

Nick’s younger brother John George was one of the first servicemen from New Castle, PA to die in World War II. You can read more about him here.

Nick George #3

Nicolino, Pasquale’s son, was born in 1916. Apparently he travelled to Italy with his father and brother Louis because the ship’s log from July 1925 shows them returning to America. It also gives his date of birth as August 1, 1916. I wonder if Pasquale returned to Italy in hopes of finding a new bride? It seems that is what he did after his first wife died in childbirth in 1914 only to have tragedy strike again in 1920 when his second wife died less than a week after giving birth to her fifth child in as many years.

Nicola.shiplog.22Jul1925

In the 1930 Census Nick was living in the home with his father Pasquale, his half-sister Vida and two brothers, Victor  and Louis but by 1935 he was institutionalized at the Polk State School for the Feeble Minded. I know that institutions bring up a host of horror stories but during the Depression it was very difficult for people to take care of their families, particularly if one of the children was a special needs child. According to Terry Colaluca, although Nick was institutionalized for most of his adult life, his intellectual disability was not severe enough that he would be institutionalized today. Pasquale’s grandson Patsy George, visited his uncle Nick George on a regular basis. I have noted that Nick lived until 1992 but I don’t have a source for that date.

Nick George #4

In the next generation we find Nicolas Frederick George, the last of four sons born to Nick and Mary George. He was born in New Castle on March 7, 1927 and died on August 6, 2002. Terry remembers that a Nick George owned a small printing company in New Castle and I’m pretty sure that is our Nick because I saw some ads in the New Castle News for his printing company. This would make Nick the third of Nick and Mary’s sons to work in the newspaper business. Two older brothers, Frank and Anthony, moved to San Leandro, California and worked in the newspaper business out there.

NickJr.classified manager.

Where’d They Go Wednesday

Wednesday May 25th is moving day for Irene Veri! After 46 years in her house on Mount Jackson Road, New Castle, PA, she is moving to Cranberry to be closer to her daughters. I talked to her last night and she is determined to feel cheerful as she drives away from her home today after the movers pack up everything.

I can’t imagine the process of downsizing somewhere you’ve lived for so long. And to think that our ancestors came to a new country with only a suitcase! I’m looking forward to visiting Irene at her new place in July before my genealogy course starts. In fact, when she picks me up from the airport in Pittsburgh on July 16th, it will be exactly three years from the day when Rick and I first met Irene and her daughters Lynnette and Andrea when this picture was taken.

DSC08891

George Cousins Reunited July 2013

Rick and I had spent the morning at the courthouse in New Castle doing family history research with Terry Colaluca (seated next to Rick in the picture above) and Irene had us over for lunch. At that point in our week-long research trip, Custode’s maiden name was still a mystery to us but a few days later when we found Philomena’s and Lena’s marriage license applications at the Fayette County courthouse in Uniontown, PA, we discovered the Yacobucci/Iacobucci name.

Here’s hoping Irene has many years of happiness in her new place as she treasures the memories from her life in New Castle. And knowing what a great memory she has, I know Irene is carrying a treasure chest full of memories with her today.