Friday’s Photo Feature – Custode, Philomena and Lena

I don’t know when or where this picture was taken but my guess is that it was taken in the early 1930s in the back yard of Custode’s house in Dunbar. I wonder if that is the school in the background? Philomena and Custode look very much alike in this picture. Lena seems unhappy. Her expression seems to say “I’d rather be anywhere but here.”

I’m not sure who sent me this picture but like so many pictures I’ve seen with Custode in them, it seems marked with gouges and tears. True – the marks are not as distinct as the “X” over Adriano in the wedding picture or the eye-shaped mark over Custode’s forehead in another picture of her, but there is a definite line across Custode’s face in this picture. Just a random rip in an old photo or something more?

It would be great to hear more from anyone who wants to share their recollections of these ladies. In my time of gathering the Giorgio family stories, I’ve often heard that Philomena was a wonderful cook and a very sweet lady. Carole Johnson remembers Aunt Phil taking her shopping for household items when Carole was a newlywed.

People do not describe Lena with such fondness. I have heard that she was a very good piano player and I think I remember Dominic saying that when Lena married his father in 1939, Custode would not let Lena take the piano with her to their farm house.

And then there is Custode – who seems to be smiling in this picture. I am reminded of Richard Galland’s comments at this summer’s family reunion – he knew that his grandmother loved him.  “Her children feared her but I never did.”  Richard was Philomena’s youngest son, born in 1943, and grew up closer to his grandmother than most of his cousins. His house was directly behind Custode’s, just up the hill that is now Highland Street, separated by a large garden that his father Anthony Galland tended.

Custode Iacobucci Giorgio and her Daughters Philomena and Lena

Custode Iacobucci Giorgio and her Daughters Philomena and Lena




21 and Counting!

So I just spent the better part of the day writing a post that is very similar to one that I wrote in April about Ciro Giorgio and his family. I think that is a sure sign that I need to create a better system for knowing what I have and haven’t written about.

But since it’s complete now and there’s a chance that a new post will reach new readers which might bring in more cousins – here goes. My goal is to complete a “head count” of the number of known descendants from each of the four original Giorgio boys who came from San Vito Chietino, Italy to western Pennsylvania in the late 1800s.

We’ll start with Ciro, the oldest son of Nicola Nunziato Sabatio Giorgio and Filomena Pace. As far as I know, Nicola and his wife never came to the US but their four sons who survived to adulthood did. Except for Adriano who later returned to Italy, they all stayed in and around western PA. Nicola and Filomena show up in one other tree which is owned by Anthony Joseph Buzzella. Without digressing too much, I’ll just mention that Buzzella or Buzzelli was the married name of Custode’s sister Rose, who was listed as a widow and lived with Adrian and Custode in Dunbar, PA when the 1910 census was taken. Although our Rosie doesn’t show up in the Buzzella tree, the tree has several “branches” emanating from Castel di Sangro, which supports the assumption that Custode Iacobucci was born there.

Ciro Giorgio was born in San Vito Chietino, Italy in March 1865 (some sources say the 12th, others the 18th). His wife, Rosario Lance was born in “Lanciano Pro di Chuta” on May 20, 1875. Lanciano is about 7 miles inland from San Vito Chietino and has a colorful history.

Ciro and Rosario married in Lanciano on February 4, 1892. By 1896, they’d had at least one child – Josephine who was born in Lanciano on March 19, 1896. Ciro would have been 31 when she was born, which is much older than most of the Giorgio boys when they had their first child. According to Rosario’s petition for naturalization filed in 1940, Ciro entered America for the first time on April 27, 1896, which means he must have left for America just a few weeks after Josephine was born.  Rosario and Josephine did not arrive until February 23, 1901. Imagine what almost 5 year old Josephine must have thought about that trip!

Ciro worked for the B&O Railroad and lived in New Castle, PA. I always thought it was interesting that his first American born son, Pasquale, was born in Connellsville on November 1, 1903 and I speculated that Ciro and Rosario may have been staying with Adrian and Custode in Dunbar when they first arrived in the US. I thought this because Custode’s and Adrian’s second child – Gene – was born in Dunbar in December 1901. We found his baptism record in the Dunbar Historical Society’s office in 2013 (in a copy of St. Aloysius Church’s baptism records) and know that he was baptized on January 12, 1902. I was puzzled why none of their other children were baptized there but I chalked it up to inconsistent record-keeping.

Last night I learned from Christine George, who is the youngest of Joseph George’s three daughters, that her father (the third son of Adrian and Custode) was baptized (and presumably born) in New Castle, PA at St. Vitus Church. The sponsors on the baptism certificate were Pasquale Giorgio and Concetta Iavicola. Joseph Lloyd George was born in July 1903, which makes me wonder whether or not Custode and Adrian would have moved back to Dunbar by November of that same year, when Ciro’s and Rosario’s first American born son, Pasquale, was born. So adding these bits of information together creates a picture that suggests there was quite a bit of movement between New Castle and Dunbar for at least two of the four Giorgio boys.

So here’s what we know about Ciro and Rosario and their children:

  1. Ciro and Rosario had four children; two girls and two boys. Their names and birth dates are: Josephine (19 Mar 1896); Pasquale aka Patsy (1 Nov 1903); Anna (21 Oct 1905) and Vito (24 July 1909). Anna and Vito were born in New Castle, PA.
  2. Ciro worked for the B&O railroad and was successful enough to own his own home by 1920. His wife Rosario died in that house at 932 South Mill Street in 1959. In 1920, their oldest daughter Josephine who was a widow lived with them with her four children (Elena, Umberto, Anna and Mary). That would have been 10 people living there.
  1. Josephine married Nick Bucci on August 26, 1922. It appears he had a daughter named Mary from a previous marriage because in the 1930 census, their household consisted of: Mary (age 12 and listed as daughter) along with the following Gianni children listed as stepchildren: Helen (16), Albert (14), Anna (12) and Mary (10). They lived at 930 S. Mill Street right next door to “Rose George” and her children Patsy (26), Anna (24) and Veto (20) who were all single.
  1. Nick and Josephine had one son together – Walter Bucci – who showed up in the 1940 census as an 8 year old which means he was born around 1932. By 1935, Nick and Josephine had moved to 436 Lutton Street, which is not too far from Mill Street.  According to Irene Veri, the youngest child of Nick George (who you will learn more about next week) Helen and Anna Gianni (Josephine’s daughters from her first marriage) never married and neither did Walter.  After Josephine died, Walter built a house where he lived with Helen and Anna.
  2. Ciro died of pancreatic cancer on January 13, 1926. Pennsylvania Death Certificates are wonderful things – they really help confirm familial relationships and other important details.


    Death Certificate for Ciro George

I think it is time for a head count. So far I’ve introduced Ciro and Rosario and their four children which brings us to 6. Once you add Josephine’s two husbands and five children, we’re up to 13.

Let’s continue with Ciro and Rosario’s remaining three children.

Pasquale, who was born in Connellsville in 1903 was still single and living at home in 1930. He also worked for the “steam railroad” as a car repairman. On September 16, 1930, Patsy married Mary Dominick. They had two children; Rose Marie born in 1931 and Raymond born in 1934. By 1935, Patsy and Mary and their two children had moved to Youngstown, OH and Patsy was an inspector for the B&O railroad.

Anna was the third child born to Ciro and Rosario and according to Rosario’s Petition for Naturalization she was born on October 25, 1905 in New Castle, PA. (Not to be confused with Anna, the daughter of Josephine who was this Anna’s niece). I am pretty sure that Anna never married (and neither did her niece which is why I often get confused about which Anna I’m talking about) and lived with her mother Rosario in the family home at least until her mother died in 1959 and perhaps until her death in 1973. I think I need to check the real estate records for that house, although I’ve also learned from Irene Veri that the house was torn down at some point.

Vito was the youngest of Ciro’s children and he also worked for the railroad like his father and older brother. He married Helen Pionati on August 2, 1934 and they remained in New Castle throughout their life. (Another point of confusion – this Helen is Vito’s wife – not the Helen who was Josephine’s oldest daughter – Vito’s sister which leads to another niece/aunt source of confusion for me.) They had four children, Gerald (aka Jerry), Veronica, Linda and Helen (yep – another Helen). Jerry and his sister Linda have commented on this blog and we’ve been in touch by email. I’d love to hear more of your recollections about your parents and grandparents.

Death Certificate for Rosario George

Death Certificate for Rosario George

Rosario Giorgio died on November 18, 1959 of a heart attack. She was 86 years old. Imagine the changes she saw in her lifetime from her birth and marriage in Italy in the late 1800s to her death in Pennsylvania in 1959! She had to file her own petition for naturalization because Ciro died before he completed the process of becoming a citizen. She gained citizenship in 1940. From her petition for naturalization we know that at age 69, she was 5 feet tall, 210 pounds and had brown eyes and gray hair.

So here’s the headcount for Ciro and Rosario and their descendants:

Ciro & Rosario – 2

Josephine, two husbands and five children – 8

Pasquale and his wife Mary and their two children – 4

Anna, who never married – 1

Vito and his wife Helen Pionati and their four children – 6

Next week, we’ll count the descendants of Adrian and Custode in the same manner.

PS – I added information to this post on Wednesday July 22, 2015 thanks to Irene Veri’s careful reading and email.THANKS IRENE!  I can’t tell you how much it helps to hear from people who knew the people I’m writing about. And just for the record – I am happy to capture any recollections, family stories and other details that anyone cares to share. If you would rather email or write me directly instead of commenting on this blog – you can do that at or through the good ole US Postal Service at 2405 Veranda Lane, Greensboro, NC 27455. (AND needless to say I would LOVE copies of any pictures, documents or other records anyone is willing to share)

Ciro Giorgio’s Children

I just can’t stay away from the Giorgio’s for long. The recent contact from Jerry George and Linda George, children of Vito Giorgio, the youngest son of Ciro and Rosario Giorgio, prompted me to focus this post on Ciro and his descendants. Most of my contact until now has been from descendants of the two middle Giorgio brothers – Adriano and Pasquale.

If you read my earlier post on the four Giorgio brothers who came from San Vito Chietino, on the eastern coast of Italy in the region known as Abruzzo, you know that Ciro was the oldest son and the trailblazer. He married in Italy before he came to America. His wife’s name is often listed in English documents as Rosario Lance but should probably be spelled Rosaria. For ease of reference in this post I will just call her Rose. Most of the dates I use in this post are from the papers she filed to become an US citizen in 1940 – 15 years after her husband Ciro died. He had filed the initial papers before his death, but didn’t complete the process so Rose did not become an US citizen until 1940. According to her death certificate, she died at home at 932 South Mill Street in New Castle, PA at 7 a.m. on November 18, 1959 of a heart attack. She was 86 years old. Vito Giorgio signed the death certificate as informant.

Let me digress for a minute to describe (in a very simplified way) the process for becoming an US citizen in the early part of the 20th century. The first paper an immigrant filed was called a declaration of intention to become a citizen. There was a waiting period of three years before the immigrant could petition the court to become a naturalized citizen, which required another filing. Usually the husband filed and once his citizenship was granted, it extended to his wife and children, regardless of where they were born. This is sometimes called, derivative citizenship. Of course, the children born here were citizens at birth.  Prior to 1922 women did not have to petition for citizenship separately from their husbands; minor children and women got their citizenship when their father/husband completed the process. One of the most interesting (and to me, very wrong) things I learned doing this research is that if a woman born in America married an immigrant who was not a citizen, she actually lost her citizenship until he completed the process to become a citizen. These laws changed at some point but I know that did happen to Mary Giampaolo who married Nick George. Mary was born in PA but lost her citizenship when she married Nick, until he completed the process to become a naturalized citizen.

Anyway – it was a complicated process with rules that changed over time but the benefit to people like me trying to piece things together 100 years later, without first-hand accounts, is that the paperwork immigrants filed provides a lot of information. Some of the later declarations even have pictures but I haven’t found any for the Giorgio’s.

According to Ciro’s Declaration of Intention, filed on September 21, 1923 in Lawrence County, he was 58 years old at the time, working as a laborer. He had a fair complexion, was 5’ 10” tall and weighed 200 pounds. He had brown hair and brown eyes. He states his birthday as March 12, 1865 and his birth place as San Vito Chietio, Italy. He first arrived in the US on April 27, 1896. Unfortunately, Ciro died on January 13, 1926 before he could file his Petition for Naturalization. This means that Rose, his wife, and Josephine, their daughter born in Italy in 1896, had to file their own paperwork, which is what Rose did, or gain citizenship through their husband’s application. I haven’t researched that yet for Josephine.

Some genealogy sources suggest that the information on these forms tends to be extremely accurate because an immigrant seeking citizenship wouldn’t take a chance on the application being denied by providing false information. Still, it must have been difficult for someone who immigrated as a child (like Irene’s father Nick George) to remember the date he arrived, the name of the ship and so on. This could be especially hard if the parent had died or returned to Italy by the time the minor filed his or her papers. I imagine it also could have been a difficult process, to complete the necessary forms and comply with the complicated waiting period rules, if one didn’t speak or write English.

From Rose’s Declaration of Intent, filed on April 24, 1940, we learn the following names and birth dates of her children and where they are living when her declaration is filed.

1. Josephine Bucci born March 19, 1896 in Italy, now living in New Castle, PA
2. Patsy born November 1, 1903 in Connellsville, PA, now living in Youngstown, OH
3. Anna born October 21, 1905 in New Castle, PA, now living in New Castle, PA
4. Vito born July 24, 1909 in New Castle, PA, now living in New Castle,PA

My task for last night was to list the names, birth dates, marriage dates and death dates, if I had them, of all of Ciro’s and Rosario’s children and their children. I included spouses too, when I knew them. In the list below – all names preceded by (1) are spouses or children of Josephine; (2) of Patsy (who I’m guessing was named Pasquale); (3) of Anna and (4) of Vito.

So here goes:


(1) Josephine – Born in Italy on March 19, 1896. Died in New Castle on November 11, 1974.
(1) Dominick Gianni (Josephine’s first husband who I’m guessing died between 1918 and 1920 but I haven’t found his death certificate).  Josephine was listed as a widow in the 1920 census and her youngest child was Mary Gianni, was born in 1919)
(1) Nick Bucci (Josephine’s second husband) They married on August 26, 1922. At that time Josephine had four children from her first marriage and based on the 1930 census, it looks like Nick had a daughter named Mary from his first marriage. According to the note I got from Jerry George, he thought a lot of his uncle Nick and says he was a really good man.

(2) Pasquale Giorgio – Born in Connellsville, PA on November 1, 1903, which makes me wonder if Ciro and Rosaria were visiting Adriano and Custode who were living in Dunbar at the time. Died in Youngstown Ohio on November 2, 1993. From Census records and confirmed in Jerry’s note, Patsy moved to Youngstown in the early 1930s. He worked for the B&O Railroad as did his younger brother Vito.
(2) Mary Domenick – Patsy’s spouse (Thanks to Irene Veri for confirming her maiden name and also for letting me know that she was your mother-in-law’s sister.) Needless to say there are quite a few Mary George’s in the family and probably outside of the family so it is easy to get confused without using their maiden names.

(3) Anna Giorgio – Born in New Castle on October 21, 1905. From the 1940 census report and Rose’s application for citizenship, it looks like Anna was still living at home with Rose in 1940 and had not married. She would have been 35 at the time and Jerry remembers that his father Vito helped take care of his mother and sister.  To add a bit of confusion to the mix though, there is a family tree on that appears to list Ciro and Rosaria’s children and suggests that Anna married Giacomo Saienni had five children and eventually moved to Delaware – but I think that is not our Anna. (I also think some trees seem to confuse New Castle, PA and New Castle, Delaware.) So she’s my current – relative of interest but for now, I’m going with the theory that she never married and did not have any children. (Thanks again to Irene for confirming Anna never married – I’ll have to let that family tree know they may want to change their information!)

(4) Vito Giorgio – Born in New Castle, PA on July 24, 1909 and died in New Castle, PA on October 8, 1968. His death date is after the digitized death records (as is Custode’s) but I know from Jerry’s note that he died just four months before Jerry’s first son Vito was born. It is similar to Ciro dying before Jerry was born but in that case it was several years before Jerry was born since Ciro died when Vito, his youngest, was only 16. I don’t know Jerry’s birth date, but from Census records, it seems to be later than 1940.

(4) Helen Pionati – Not sure where she was born or when she and Vito married although they are living at 118 ½ Division Street in New Castle in the 1940 census and they do not have any children yet. The 1940 Census has a neat feature of asking where the person lived in 1935 and in their case, they were living in the same place. Since Vito is living at home with his mother Rose and his siblings Patsy and Anna and is single in 1930 – I’m guessing he and Helen married some time between 1930 and 1935.

Well – the list I made last night is longer ( I still need to get to the second and third generations) but I also need to get to work! (I mean – the job that I get paid to do.) So in case you lost track – we just accounted for Ciro and Rose and 8 Giorgios, Giannis, Buccis and Pionati’s – and there’s lots more where that came from – so stay tuned.

Jerry confirmed the George family reunions with 100 to 150 people, as both Irene and Terry had mentioned, so I’m sure there are some more folks out there who want to see their Giorgio relatives accounted for on Trovando Famiglia. Feel free to email me directly at if that is easier than commenting on this blog.