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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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!

1871.BirthRecord.Antenati.SVC.Immagine95

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.

 

What do San Vito Chietino, Roccamorice and Castel di Sangro have in common?

I came home from my Ancestry.com conference yesterday determined to find Custode and Rosie and “the ship they came in on….” At about 2 a.m. this morning I went to bed discouraged. (WARNING – Don’t start a genealogy habit if you value your rest. It WILL keep you up at night. Sometimes even after I turn off the computer the names, dates and places keep swirling through my head.

I’ve mentioned before that Custode is not a common name and rarely shows up on passenger lists. Even a search for Custode without a last name in the passenger list database on Ancestry.com yields very few results.

So this morning I decided to search for Adriano again. So far he has eluded me in my search for his immigration records. In the 1920 census Custode reports her immigration year as1897. That seems reasonable since she was born in 1880 and was married in Pittsburgh in February 1899 (her first marriage according to the marriage license.)

Family lore suggests that Custode and Rose (her sister) immigrated together and that she met Adriano on the ship. That’s a good tip  and it gave me the motivation to dig deeper into some passenger records using the search techniques I learned yesterday.

Continue reading

Where’d They go Wednesday – Adriano Giorgio

In the two and a half years since our search began in 2013, I have often heard the family story that when Adriano Giorgio left Dunbar in May 1912, he went to South America. Argentina has frequently been mentioned as the likely place that he went and perhaps raised another family.

One of the source documents I’ve used for the background of the Giorgio boys was provided by Terry Colaluca who got it from someone in San Vito Chietino, Chieti, Italy a few years ago when she was researching our ancestors. The original Giorgio boys started out in San Vito Chietino on the Adriatic Sea (hence the name Adriano) and were likely to have had a connection to the sea. This document is obviously missing a few important details (like Adriano’s marriage to Custode and the eight children they had together in Pennsylvania) so we can’t take it as the absolute truth, but it does shed some doubt on the idea that he went to Argentina. Or would suggest that he didn’t stay in South America for very long.

According to this Giorgio family history (written in Italian) Adriano was married to Marianne Frattura around 1895 and Nicola Vito Giorgio was born in Castel di Sangro and Marianne died soon after his birth. The next marriage that is recorded for Adriano is his marriage to Maria Flamminio in June 1913 in Castel di Sangro. Obviously this doesn’t tell the complete story or I wouldn’t be writing this and you (other Giorgio cousins) wouldn’t be here to read it. Continue reading

52 Ancestor Challenge – Week 6: So Far Away – Ciro, Adriano, Pasquale and Romeo Giorgio

Over the course of several years, from the mid-1890s to the early 1900s, four sons of Nicola Giorgio and Filomena Pace (the only four who survived to adulthood) left their home town of San Vito Chietino, Chieti, d’Abruzzi on the eastern coast of Italy and made their way to western Pennsylvania. All but one of them (Adriano) lived in New Castle for the rest of their lives. Like most Italian immigrants of their time, they made several trips back and forth between the US and Italy. I am writing about these ancestors for Week 6 of the 52 Ancestor challenge – “So Far Away.”

A lot of the information I use comes from Pennsylvania Death Certificates, which are digitized for most of the relevant period. That’s how I know that Ciro, Pasquale and Romeo died in Pennsylvania. That’s also how I’ve determined the birth dates for each of these men (even though they are not a primary source) since the age listed on census reports only gets you within a year or two. Obviously in both cases you have to assume the person providing the information is being truthful. Their birth order and the order in which they arrived in America is: Ciro (1865), Adriano (1872), Pasquale (1878) and Romualdo, who went by Romeo (1879).

Adriano Giorgio (my husband’s great grandfather) became Andrew or Andy George and was identified as a laborer in the 1910 census for Dunbar, PA. In various ships’ logs his occupation was listed as laborer but we know from other secondary sources such as court records that he ran a grocery store with his wife Custode for several years in the early 1900s. He might also have been a brick maker – the occupation listed on his son Nick George’s application to join the Sons of Italy lodge in 1937. From a lawsuit filed by Custode in July 1912, we know that Adriano was last seen in Dunbar near the end of May. From Italian family history records we believe he married Maria Flamminio (his third wife) in Castel di Sangro on June 1, 1913. I guess he thought his wife and eight children in Dunbar didn’t get in the way of a new life, with a new wife, back in Italy. Interestingly, Castel di Sangro in the province of L’Aquila is where his first wife Marianne Frattura was from and where Adriano’s first son was born in 1896.

Ciro, Adriano’s older brother, spelled his name Giorgio or Georgio. His death certificate uses the later spelling while the first spelling was used on his declaration of intention to become a citizen, which was filed on September 21, 1923. My guess is that the variations in spelling depended on who was filing out the form. Ciro married Rosario Lance(?) in Lanciano, another town in the province of Chieti, in February 1892 and came to America without her soon after the wedding. According to her declaration of intent, Rosario arrived in New York for the first time in February 1901. Ciro and Rosario had four children – Josephine George (1896-1974) whose married name was Gianni (her first husband died before 1920 and left her with 4 children) and later Bucci (second husband); Pasquale (Patsy) George (1903-1993); Anna (1905-1973?) and Vito (1909-1968?). Ciro died at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh on January 13, 1926 after surgery for pancreatic cancer.

Pasquale, Adriano’s next younger brother’s last name was sometimes spelled Georgia, which is how it is spelled on his death certificate. It is also the spelling in the criminal court proceedings in Lawrence County, PA in 1937 when Pasquale was committed to the state mental hospital for the criminally insane where he spent the next 21 years, 8 months, 11 days of his life. He was sent to Farview State Hospital for the Criminally Insane http://www.wayneindependent.com/article/20130805/News/130809942 instead of jail after a court appointed Commission of three experts determined he was insane and had criminal tendencies. I have not been able to determine the crime he committed but I think it was an assault. The Commissioners’ report found that Pasquale was having hallucinations, talking incessantly, thought that people were trying to hurt his family and saying bad things about him and his family. As an interesting aside, Custode’s testimony in 1912 indicated that Adriano left Dunbar because he thought people were trying to hurt him. Hmmm… could there be some truth to their paranoia?

Pasquale’s children with his first wife – Concetta (Iavicoli) were Maria Elisabetta (Colaluca) (1906-1993); Cristina Maria (Panella)(1908-1985) and Vida Maria (Sforza) (1910-2000). With his second wife, Filomena Ranierri (1891-1920) whom he married in 1914, he had Vittorio (1915-2004); Nicolino (1916-1992); Luigi (1917-1994) and Concetta (1919-1920) and possibly one other child.

According to Terry Colaluca (whose grandmother was Maria Elisabetta but went by Mary), the family story is that Pasquale’s emotional turmoil began when his wife died (presumably his second wife Filomena) and he had eight young children to care for. He gave his youngest child up for adoption because with so many young children and no wife, he simply couldn’t take care of them all. As the story goes, the family who adopted that child named him Luigi, which was also the name of the youngest son that Pasquale kept. According to Terry, Pasquale was never the same after that. He was haunted by the choices he made, but when you look at the facts, it certainly seems he made the right decision.

The 1920 census for New Castle, PA, dated January 5, 1920, shows Pasquale and Filomena Giorgio living at 728 South Mill Street. The children in the home were Maria (14), Cristina (12), Vida (10), Vittorio (4 and 5/12), Nicolina (3 and 11/12), Luigi (2 and 2/12) and Concetta (1). I found the death certificate for FIlomena who died of “lobar pneumonia” on January 23, 1920. I also found baby Concetta’s death certificate. She died on February 27, 1920 (at the age of 1 year and 2 months) of “marasmus following pneumonia.” I had to look it up – “marasmus – a form of severe malnutrition characterized by energy deficiency; a child with marasmus looks emaciated.”

Since we know from Concetta’s death certificate that she was born on December 27, 1918, it is possible that FIlomena had another child before she died in January 1920. Perhaps she gave birth between the date of the census and her death on January 23rd. That would certainly explain why Pasquale had to give up the infant and might also explain why Filomena had trouble recovering from pneumonia. And poor little Concetta – it sounds as if she starved to death. I cannot imagine the sorrow at 728 South Mill Street during the winter of 1920.

I have to admit that it is very hard for me to stop researching Pasquale’s branch of the tree once I get started. I feel a special connection to Pasquale because it was his great granddaughter Terry Colaluca (Rick’s third cousin) whose DNA match allowed Rick to find his George cousins. So without Pasquale and Terry, it is unlikely that I’d be spending all my spare time on this blog. Exactly why I think that is a good thing I haven’t quite figured out.

Pasquale lived the longest of the Giorgio brothers, dying at age 81 at Farview State Hospital. His cause of death was arteriosclerotic heart disease.

The youngest and last Giorgio brother to make his way to Pennsylvania was Romualdo, who went by the name Romeo. Interestingly, the records that Terry got from her research into the family history in Italy, indicate that the Romualdo born on December 7, 1879 in San Vito Chietino, Italy, was the third Romualdo born to Nicola and Filomena Giorgio. The other two died before reaching the age of 4. I have found that it was fairly common for a child to be given the same name as a previously deceased sibling. I guess the third time really was the charm for the Giorgios.

Romeo married Dorinda di Francescantonio in Italy in January 1904 and left for America on March 10, 1904. Dorinda joined him in 1907 and they also settled in New Castle. They had five children: Nick (1907); Concetta (1909); Louis (1911); John (1913) and Phyllis (1923). Romeo died of a stroke in 1941.

Just a quick glance at the number of children that each of these Giorgio boys had who stayed in America and had children of their own, leads me to believe there are quite a few George cousins out there we’ve yet to discover. If you’re one of them, drop me a line.