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.

 

 

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Tuesday Tidbits – All About March

I’m enjoying a quiet week at the beginning of what will be a busy month. I’m trying to organize the research I need to do when I go to Charlottesville VA on March 18th. My book club buddies and I will be attending the Virginia Festival of the Book from March 18- 20th. Three days of author talks and programs and for me, a full day of research at the courthouse in Charlottesville, Virginia, where my maternal grandmother’s ancestors lived from the late 1700s through the 1800s.

The line I descend from moved to Richmond VA during the Civil War. I’m pretty sure my great great grandfather James Albert Powell married the nurse who took care of him after he was wounded at the battle of Drewrey’s Bluff during the Civil War. In any event, there are almost as many Powells with the names of Samuel, Elizabeth, Henry,and Benjamin as there are Giorgios named Pasquale, Nick, Louis, and Mary.  Add to that confusion that women were often still giving birth to children at the time their first children were having their own – so grandchildren can sometimes be mistaken as children and vice versa.The only way to be sure is to find original documents at the local sources.

After I get back from Charlottesville, I have one week before Easter and on Easter Monday Rick and I drive to New Jersey to meet Dominick Renzi. Get ready Dominick – we can’t wait to meet you! It will be fun to learn more about the Giorgios and Renzis of Dunbar, PA and see pictures of the family – especially the Renzi farm on Limestone Hill, PA.

After visiting Dominick, Rick and I head in to NYC for a four day visit. Our adult children, Sarah and Will, will fly up on Thursday (3/31) and join us for their first trip to New York. One of their friends, Bennett Sullivan, a very talented musician,  is on Broadway in Steve Martin’s and Edie Brickell’s musical Bright Star. What better way to experience your first Broadway play than to see someone you grew up with on stage?!?

Tomorrow is a super big day. No -not because of Super Tuesday – thank goodness my genealogy habit distracts me from politics! Tomorrow is important because the “countdown” for the Genealogy Research Institute in Pittsburgh registration for July classes hits ZERO at Noon EST. The wait is over and I can register for a week long class on Researching Italian Ancestors.

GRIP.countdown.3.1.2016

I can’t wait to learn how to find the information buried in Italian vital records to help us take the Giorgio Iacobucci families further back. If I get in the course I’ll be in Pittsburgh for the week of July 18th and at the end of the week Rick will drive up and we’ll do some more research, meet some more cousins and repeat our visit of three years ago that started us down this incredible journey.

Yeah – pretty exciting for a quiet start to a busy month!

January 27, 2016 -Where’d She Go Wednesday – Rosie Buzzelli

This is beloved Aunt Rosie at the Renzi Farm on Limestone Hill, PA. From Dominic Renzi’s notes on the back of the photo we know it was taken around 1947. I’ll add a bit more to what we know about Aunt Rosie later today. She is about 70 in this picture.

Most sources indicate that Rose Iacobucci Buzzelli was born in Italy in 1877. She is Custode’s older sister. She lived with Adriano and Custode George in Dunbar in 1910, but her marital status was not listed in the Census report.

She died in 1969 and is buried in Saint Rita’s Cemetery, Connellsville, PA.

RoseBuzella.LimestoneHill.1947

Thursday Tidbit – Photos of Italian Immigrants

Most of the pictures I use on this blog are ones that different family members have sent me. I have asked if it is okay to use them on the blog and everyone seems happy to share. I think my use of other pictures would be considered “fair use” under Section 107 of the US Copyright Act but I’m still learning the details of that. Check out this collection.

Lewis Wickes Hine was a photographer who used photographs to promote social change – changes in child labor laws and other working conditions for poor immigrant Americans. Most of his pictures are from New York but they still give you a feel for what things may have looked like when Nick George arrived in New York with his father in 1904.

It’s hard to imagine what this strange new world must have seemed like to our ancestors.

If the link above doesn’t allow you to search other pictures in the collection, just Google “Lewis Wickes Hine” and the second link should take you to the New York Public Library’s photography collection of his works which are available on line.

 

New Cousin Contact

Since North Carolina finally got some of the white stuff I’m home today and taking a bit of break from work to get caught up on some genealogy. Unfortunately – the white stuff we got was not the predicted 4-6 inches of snow (my mother in Richmond got that) but about 1 inch of snow and 1 inch of sleet on top of it. Thankfully – no ice damage and no power outages for us. The cold temps, which are getting even colder as the week goes on, mean that the snow and sleet aren’t going anywhere so school could be out for awhile. In fact, we just got word that schools are closed tomorrow.

On February 12th I had a great phone call with Carole Ann George Johnson, daughter of Gene and Nora George. Carole Ann and Rick’s father were first cousins (their fathers were brothers) although they never met.  Rick’s father Fred did not keep in touch with his father’s side of the family (his parents divorced when he was young) so it was great to have Carole’s first-hand accounts of Grandma (Custode/Christine) and other family members.  The list of George cousins is growing!

Also last week, I got a wonderful email from Irene Veri with some of her recollections of her family, especially her father.  Nick George was Adriano’s first son, born in Castel di Sangro, Italy to Marianna Frattura and Adriano Giorgio in 1896. Although I still haven’t found Adriano’s first arrival in America, I know he was here by April 1898 because the ship’s log for his younger brother Pasquale indicated that he was coming to visit his brother Adriano. We also know he was here on February 14, 1899 when he married Custode Iacobucci in Pittsburgh.

It seems likely that Adriano made several trips between the US and Italy one of which was to bring his son Nick back to live with him in Dunbar PA. Adriano (age 32) and son Nicola (age 8) were passengers on the SS Roma that sailed from Naples and arrived in New York on December 19, 1904. Interestingly, Nick’s recollection of his arrival date, as indicated on his Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen filed on September 17, 1919, was that he arrived in New York on the 15th day of February in 1903.

By the 1920 census (but I would guess well before then) Nick was living in New Castle, Pennsylvania and he was a laborer in the tin mill.  My guess would be that he moved to New Castle about the time Adriano left Custode, which would have been May 1912.  Nick would have been 15 years old and might have moved to New Castle where he might have lived with one of his uncles and worked in the tin mill. (More about the tin mill in a future post.)

Nick George and Mary Giampaolo were united in marriage by Reverend N. De Mita on November 11, 1915. This is the date on the bottom of their marriage license that was on file in the Lawrence County courthouse but Irene’s parents celebrated their anniversary on October 30th.  It may be that the priest certified multiple weddings that had occurred over several weeks using the same date. Mary’s mother Angeline signed the consent for her to marry Nick since she was only 17. As an interesting research note, I found a copy of their marriage license on someone else’s page on Ancestry.com.

NickandMaryGeorge.1915

Mary Giampaolo and Nick George November 1915

Nick and Mary had six children and Irene Veri is their youngest child. Irene provided this picture of her parents on their wedding day. Rick and I had the pleasure of meeting Irene, two of her daughters and one grandson when we made our family history research trip to Pennsylvania in July 2013. When we visited Irene and Terry Colaluca, who is responsible for us ever finding our George family, we didn’t know Custode’s maiden name.  We learned it a few days later when we visited the courthouse in Uniontown, the county seat for Fayette County. If we had known it when we met Irene, we might have realized the connection – one of Irene’s aunts – Marianne – was married to a Joseph Iacobucci. Though I haven’t figured out how Custode might have been related to Joseph, it seems likely there was a connection.