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

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

 
 

Jan22nd2017

Family Stories – Pass Them On!

by  Phyllis Zeck

Auntie Phyllis and her daughter Gina’s Family

Today I will post the 5th and last audio clip that I have from a series of interviews that my bother Rob and I had with our beloved Aunt Phyllis in 2011. To listen to the other interviews, click on the box titled “Vincent Family” in the categories box to the right.

This series of blog posts have brought back wonderful memories for me and I hope that listening to Auntie’s voice has brought you as much joy as it has brought me. In the clip below you can hear the tenderness in Auntie’s voice as she tells us the story of how she sat in her grandmother Elvira’s kitchen on Sunday and Wednesday to watch her grandmother prepare spaghetti for dinner. Thank you for the priceless stories Auntie!

2244 Harrison St

Photo courtesy of Todd Harrison & Oakley 1939

The photo to the left is 2244 W Harrison St which was Auntie Phyllis and mom’s first home. I can envision the girls dashing across the street to see their aunts, uncles, and cousins each day. The photo below was taken in 1939. Click here to read more about the music store. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you will see my great grandfather’s name (P. Del Principe) on the top of the building on the left, next to the gas station.

Auntie Phyllis was born Phyllis Elvira 16 Nov 1927 and passed away 21 Sep 2013. Some very significant events happened the same year Auntie was born. Population in Chicago was over 2.7 million people. Transatlantic telephone service began between New York and London, a woman took a seat on the New York Stock Exchange breaking the all male tradition, Babe Ruth signed a 3 year contract with the New York Yankees for a guarantee of $70,000 a year becoming baseball’s highest paid player.

Babe Ruth

The US Supreme Court ruled that bootleggers must pay income tax (still pondering how that was enforced), Charles Lindbergh flew from Long Island, NY on the Spirit of St Louis on his solo flight to France, the era of talking pictures arrived with the opening of “The Jazz Singer” starring Al Jolson. In Chicago Al Capone’s support allowed Big Bill Thompson to return to the mayor’s office where Thompson pledged to clean up Chicago and remove the crooks, and Chicago Midway International airport opened. 

My siblings and I love to reminsece about our mother and Auntie Phyllis and Holly has shared one of her favorite memories below.

Holly and Aunty Phyllis 2009

“Driving around with the ladies (Mom and Aunty Phyllis) was always a scary adventure. Mom was the navigator. I’m not sure how or why she got that job when she would get lost 10 feet away from the house. Aunty was the driver. I’m convinced she scared everyone
driving around her as much as she scared me. I was always designated to the back seat where I would have plenty of air for my panic attacks while we drove around aimlessly, mom yelling at aunty, “Turn here!” and aunty yelling back, “Which way??”. Every time aunty would turn left and go over the cement dividers in the middle of busy streets, I’d throw my hands over my eyes and say, “You’re not supposed to do that!”. She’s calmly brush her hand through the air and say, “Those are there just to make you go slower when you do U-turns… we should have left her at home Corinne”. They’d both laugh and turn the Andrea Bocelli music up louder.” 

Corinne Del Principe Winike (my mother). Corner of Harrison and Oakley

Click the audio below to hear the last clip of Rob’s and my interview with Auntie Phyllis.

 
 

Jan16th2017

Cousins Make The Best Friends

by  Phyllis Zeck

Since my father had no siblings, my only set of cousins were the children of Auntie Phyllis, my mother’s sister. They lived on the east coast so we didn’t get to see them often, but we made the most of the time we did see each other. The photo to the left was taken in 1962 in Springfield, MA. Back row: Auntie Phylllis holding Gina, Grandpa, mom holding Holly. Center row: Rob (kneeling), Tom, Mark, Toni. Front row: Ricky, Phyllis, Janice and Steve.

When my siblings and I started our families our children got together as often as possible. Now the middle generation help gather our grands for play dates, zoo lights, and pool 

Jared, Robert, Dominick, Ashley, Robin, Lindsay

parties all year round. It’s a miracle when everyone can unite at the same time! My two oldest children Buck & Heidi and my grandson Tyler are missing from these photos. Someday I’m going to corral everyone at the same time and snap photos like crazy.

I asked Rob to listen to one of the clips from our interview with Auntie Phyllis and he shared his thoughts below.

Ava, Abby, Kayla, Tyler, Gracie

Rob wrote “Phyllis included recordings of our ancestors speaking. Nothing recalls memories quicker than hearing the voice of a loved one who has long ago passed on. Especially when it involves people in the family who have shared many of the same experiences. Experts say that is one reason why siblings stay close in many families: the common bond of recognizing your mother’s stressful voice when she can’t find her car keys, for instance. No one else in the world would know that sound unless they had been there and shared the experience.

So, it was with that kind of anticipation and attention when I listened to the latest recording Phyllis sent me, of an interview we did with Aunty Phyllis many years ago. Hearing her speak again, and especially the sound of her laughter, brought her presence and spirit right back to me. Or maybe her voice brought me back to HER!” 

Michele, Toni, & Gina
Ricky, Richard, & Mark

In the 4th audio clip from our 2011 interview Auntie Phyllis talks about her uncles, growing up with her cousins, working in the music store, and eloping with Richard. I asked her about advertising that was purchased for the music stores. I ran across this advertisement in Google Books. It was placed in the Popular Mechanics magazine in March of 1938. The ad states that the music store was established in 1890. 

Click below to listen to part of our interview with Auntie. If you’d like to hear snippets of this interview in past blog posts, click on the “Vincent Family” category in the right column of the web site.