"A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots."

Apr7th2018

Chicago Panhandling in 1914

by  Phyllis Zeck

del principe, ciolliI have a subscription to Newspapers.com and every so often I jump onto the website to search for articles about our Del Principe and Ciolli relatives.  I found a very interesting one page article from the Chicago Tribune dated Sunday April 19, 1914 which contained my great grandfather Pietro (Peter) Del Principe’s name. The photos are amazing however the author’s writing skills are certainly different from what we would read in todays news stories. There are 2 photos of the author playing Pietro’s hand organ.

You can read the whole article by clicking the pdf here Chicago Tribune Apr 19, 1914 however it can be hard on the old eyes. Zoom in to read the text.  

This is what the author wrote about my great grandfather. The section titled No One Cared for the Music says: “There are several reason why hand organ begging has its drawbacks. In the first place it is hard to get hold of a hand organ in Chicago. The art seems to be passé. Finally I got a tip through one of the big music houses that an Italian over at Harrison and Jefferson streets might have one of the instruments.  Peter del Principe had one, I found, and he promised to loan it to me. But when I went back the next day, dressed for the job (as a begger), there was nothing doing. He merely shook his head and muttered. It took a $20 deposit to get hold of a the battered affair. Afterward, when I asked Signor del Principe to explain, he grunted, “No lika da elo’s!”  

The author continued “I located in front of a saloon on the west side with a “please help the blind” sign pinned to my coat and placed my hat on the wheezy organ to catch the flow of gold.  Peeking out of the corner of one eye, I could see that I wasn’t “making good” at all. It seemed so easy for the pedestrians – men, women, and children, old and young – to pass me by. Every third note on the organ was flat, and the tune was of the “Don’t Turn Away, Madge, I am Still Your Friend” vintage. Just about when the thing was repeating the chorus for the fifth time the owner of the saloon came and tapped on the window. When I tried my luck farther up the street two Italians came along and one of them bent over me with a gutteral something about “Americano” butting in on somebody else’s trade.”

The rest of the article is interesting and I was able to create a visual for myself of what downtown Chicago was like in 1914 based on the photos and the authors narration. This was a fun find for me and I hope I can turn up more newspaper articles about our ancestors.

 
 

Mar24th2018

Joe’s Path In Life

by  Phyllis Zeck

Joseph Florian Del PrincipeJoseph Del Principe Jr (son of Giuseppe Florian Del Principe) was born in Chicago in the 1940’s. Joe lost his father when he was a young man. He has often told me that his father was a very compassionate person. Joe speaks fondly of his father and of all the Del Principe uncles and their families. 

Below is an image of the registration card for Joe’s father, Giuseppe who served in the cavalry. It’s dated June 5, 1917. Click on the image to enlarge it. You can read more about  Giuseppe’s service by clicking here.  Below are some memories that Joe shared with me recently about his time spent at Keesler Air Force Base. 

“Here is a photo that was recently discovered. It was taken in my dorm room at Keesler AFB, in Biloxi, MS in 1962. I doubt that I was ever that young. LOL

Actually Keesler is a training base, and was mostly administrative in nature. President Kennedy issued orders that if things were to get worse, they would ship us into the interior of the state, and bring in personnel more geared up for combat. This was my first permanent party assignment, and is where I started learning about the field of accounting and supply distribution management. I was amazed that I was given that assignment as I was the only high school dropout in my group going through basic and tech school training. That undoubtedly started me on a totally different path in my life, as I passed my GED exams there, and then went on to take college level courses. It was the same year that the USAF quit inducting individuals with less than a high school diploma.

I had a fantastic record collection as a result of my dad owning a record store, and I had my collection shipped down to the base. My dorm room became one of the most popular rooms in our unit. It took on the same feeling as being back home singing all of the great songs of the 50’s and early 60’s out on the street corner with the guys from the neighborhood.

I even talked the owner of the local pizza place outside the base to put some of my records on his juke box, instead of the country songs that were there. Boy did his business pick up from the guys on the base. Of course the locals were not real happy about it.”

 
 

Jan3rd2018

Christmas Cards

by  Phyllis Zeck

Carl DiNella c 1960I love receiving Christmas cards. In the “old” days the cards started arriving the day after Thanksgiving and were hung across the window frames and lined the entrance doors to my house covering the doors like wallpaper.  My favorites were the cards that had glitter glued on them, they looked so elegant.

In the past 10-15 years the cards I receive have dwindled significantly. The religious tone of the season’s message was replaced by photos of family on some of the cards.  Digital cards have also become popular as they send messages of holiday cheer via music and magical animation.  

This year the beautiful card above was sent to me by my 3rd cousin Victoria Di Nella. Vickie lives about 2 miles from the house I was raised in. Her great grandmother is Bibbiana Celestina Ciolli.  My great grandmother Elvira and Bibbiana were sisters. I had the pleasure of meeting Vickie in 2011 at the home of another cousin, Allen Adezio. Allen and his wife Marie hosted a lunch for Vickie, myself and my sister Lori. You can read about our fun day by clicking here. If you click on the card to enlarge it, you will see the name DiNella in lower left corner. Inside the card was a lovely holiday message and text which says “The artist of this original watercolor was Carl DiNella. c 1960”.  

Me being me, I wanted to find out more about the card and Carl so I emailed Vickie.  Vickie explained that her father Emilio had an older brother named Carmello (Carl). Carl was an artist and Vickie took a photo of a watercolor Carl painted, then made it into the Christmas card. Carl has passed away but Vickie has created a wonderful way to keep his memory alive and share Carl’s talent. The painting to the right (click to enlarge) is a watercolor that Carl painted in 1952 which was the year that he visited Pescasseroli, Italy.

Below are a few more photos of watercolor paintings that Vickie has shared. Thank you Vickie, your uncle was very talented.

 

 
 

Dec16th2017

Digital Gifts from Francesco Gentile

by  Phyllis Zeck

The last 7 years of genealogy research have bought so many wonderful new relatives and friends into my life. Thanks to email, the internet and facebook I’ve been able to deepen these friendships and I  hope that one day I will meet these wonderful people in person. This year  Francesco Gentile was kind enough to send me some amazing images and a genealogy pedigree PDF chart that I want to share with family today.

Non Solo Pizza

Francesco and his wife Hala live in Pescasseroli Italy, the birth place of many of my ancestors. Hala and Francesco own a restaurant called Non Solo Pizza. The photo above was taken of Francesco and Hala by my cousin Joe Del Principe when Joe and his wife visited Italy in 2011. I have a few ancestors with the last name of Gentile in my family tree and although we are related, I have not yet found my genetic connection to Francesco. Antonio Gentile born in 1753 is my 4th great grandfather and his daughter Maria Domenica Gentile born in 1780 is my 3rd great grandmother.

The jpg images below are official birth records from our family church in Pescasseroli. I was thrilled to find among them for the first time a record of my maternal great grandmother Elvira!  Perhaps the reason that I have not been able to find the record in the past is that her full given name was Cesidia Elvira Tranquilla Ciolli which I did not know until Francesco generously supplied the record. 

I have tried to piece together the full given names and correct birth year for the children of Filomena Ursitti and Don Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli (my great great grandparents) and have listed them below.  If you are researching your family trees I hope these records will clarify names and birth years.  Please email me if your records do not agree with the labels I’ve given to the images below.

Click below to download a file of my genealogy research from Ancestry.com of Filomena Ursitti’s descendants.
Descendants of Filomena Ursitti Dec 17, 2017

Click below to download a pdf file of Francesco’s family tree. There is a treasure trove of information in this document.  You’ll have to put on your detective hat and use google translator to figure out the clues if you don’t speak Italian though.  For starters, it looks like Pietrantonio Amabile born in 1830 had a brother named Belissario Fedele born in 1834 (see page 10). 
Francesco Gentile Ciolli Family Tree

Below are Francesco’s digital records of what I decipher names and birth years for Filomena and Pietrantonio Amabile’s children to be.  Click once on the image to view it, then click on it again to enlarge it.  Thank you so much Francesco for these priceless family records!

 
 

Oct17th2017

It Can’t Be October

by  Phyllis Zeck

Wow, has it really been 9 months since I’ve written a blog post? So much has happened this year. I know everyone has been crazy busy.  I hope you’ve reached some of the goals you set for yourselves since the New Year. l have made some amazing, wonderful strides in my personal growth. My brother Tony and his bride Gail began their life as husband and wife last month. We welcome Gail and her two daughters into our clan. The photo to the right includes Gail’s daughters Lauren and Katie (in red) and Tony’s son Robert.

My first grandchild turned 21. We’ve experienced the miracle of welcoming new babies into our world; Xander Paul (Gilberto’s great, great, great grandson) and James Eugene (Antonio’s great, great, great grandson). We’ve tried to be strong watching our loved ones deal with their health challenges. We’ve mourned the deaths of our beloved family members.

One of the year’s highlights for me was the Blended Blessing of my daughter Ashley and Ryan’s families. They eloped to the beach on a warm sunny afternoon this summer to exchange their vows. Ashley and Abby along with Ryan’s three daughters cement the fact that Ryan will forever be out numbered by females. They have purchased a home in a wonderful neighborhood just a 30 minute drive away from Nana. The photo above taken in Oceanside, Oregon includes Morgan, Arlington, Ashley, Ryan, Abigail, and Emersyn. I pray this family continues to love, respect and encourage each other as they settle into their new lives.

It has been so long since I’ve logged into Ancestry.com I though I’d check out the number of little green leaves begging for my attention. Never should have looked – 2,507 hints!

We’ll here are a few hints that I couldn’t help clicking on. The first is my maternal grandmother’s Petition for Naturalization, click here Bertha Del Principe to read the document. According to this record Bertha Marie Reher was born on 22 Apr 1901. Hmmm, this conflicted with my record of Bertha’s birth year which I had as 1902. Mom and Auntie Phyllis loved to tell us the story of how our grandmother was scandalized by the fact that she was one year older than grandpa Gilbert. Now it looks like the document that Bertha filled out stated that she’s two years older than grandpa. Poor Bertha, the things we worry about. I never knew my grandmother.  She passed away when mom and Auntie Phyllis were teenagers. The document also mentions that Bertha had a scar on her throat. I wonder why she had a scar.  It was exciting to see Bertha’s signature for the first time at the bottom of the document.

The second hint that I clicked on were photographs from the 1967 Willowbrook High School yearbook in Villa Park, Illinois. Inside I found photos of my two oldest brothers Rob and Steve.  In the first photo Rob (aka Bob) is in the lower photo, back row, fourth person from the left.  He was part of the Quill & Scroll society. Rob went on to get a journalism degree from Northwestern University and taught English for awhile.  I do envy Rob’s writing skills. He really knows how to bring his characters to life and has a very unique descriptive style that makes reading a pleasure. Please click on any photo view a large image.


Rob is in back row 4th from left

Steve 2nd row from bottom

Rob is mentioned in item 6

Rob is on left, 3rd photo down

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there you have it.  I’ve checked off two hints, only 2,505 to go. I also have some wonderful documents that family members have emailed to me that I hope to share with you very soon. The photo below was taken of Rob and Steve this summer. I imagine they are thinking high school seems like it was just yesterday.

Rob & Steve in Oregon