by Phyllis Zeck
Elvira Ciolli Del Principe died on December 24, 1939. Since it was Christmas Eve Elvira wanted my grandfather Gilbert to take her to church to see the Nativity Scene. My mother Corinne and my aunt Phyllis were with Elvira. Grandpa was pulling the car to the front of the church when Elvira collapsed.
Elivra’s first born child Antonio died on Dec 7, 1941. This is the morning that Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor. Antonio suffered internal injuries when he fell from a ladder a few months before his death.
Elvira is in the center in this photo. Her arm is linked around Antonio’s. We don’t know who the woman on Elvira’s right is. I suspect she felt close to Elvira, notice that her hand is on Elvira’s shoulder. We also do not know who the person is in front of Elvira. If you are able to help identify the two unknown people, please leave a comment or email me.
Antonio had a daughter named Elvira. Elvira’s granddaughter Mary sent this photo to me along with the letter below. Thank you so much for sharing Mary! The letter is from a cousin named Leonard Del Principe dated Dec 10, 1941. He lists his address as 1211 W. Lead Ave in Albuquerque New Mexico. The letter is addressed to Antonio’s brother John at 2244 W. Harrison St in Chicago.
I believe Pietro had 3 brothers: Vincenzo, Antonio, and Gerardo. Leonardo was the son of Vincenzo. Leonardo married Alimarinta and they had two children; Frederico born in 1907 and Lucrezia was born in 1912. Leonardo had a brother named Giuseppe Donato. The 1910 census show Donato living with his wife Marie Concetta Diaddezio and their 4 children as well as his brother Leonardo in Pennsylvania. In the 1940 census Leonardo, age 74, lived at 2224 Polk St in Chicago with his son Frederick age 32, Frederick’s wife Esta, and their 7 year old daughter Dolores.
I have tried to decifer the text of the letter below.
“To John Del Principe brothers and families
Nearly two years on Dec 24, ’39 while I laid in bed I heard a rap at the door. I said what is it? Oh Pa, Zia Elvira is dead! I exclaimed oh God, what Christmas greeting are those given me! There I came into the house that should be in gay and happy, enjoying the festivity of the Baby Jesus, and the families, of old and young with heart filled with joy and happiness I found? I found the scene all changed, the house, from gay & happiness, to a mournful and the families young and old from a happiness and contentment, to a sorrowful heart and tearing eyes, crying the death of dearest mother! Yes Zia Elvira was dead!!
On Dec 8, 1941 the day of the immaculate conception, a rap at the door came, and the voice of my daughter said Pa, here is a telegram for you; what is it? John says his brother Anthony died! Oh God, I cried what Christmas greeting is this? Is the same fatal change falling on that misfortunate family? Oh God, yes is identical the same!
The first being the dearest Mother, now is the first link of her golden chain, that broke loose and fell dead, and cause the remaining eight brothers and families, old and young to change the festival of the coming Merry Christmas to a sorrowful house, into mourn & tears & crying the death of their dearest brother Antonio Del Prinicpe! Yes he is passed away.
May I hope and pray God to let enter the kingdom of Heaven and sit by his dearest Mother! With my breaking heart and tears from my eyes I am writing yours this letter to express my deepest sympathy to the deceased family, the brothers, and all their families & relatives of my dear cousin Antonio Del Principe.
Forgive me for not being present at the wake among yours my dearest ones to share the sorrowful time or pay a better respect than this, but hope that God will bless all of yours and give you courage and comfort.
Your Affectionate Cousin
Leonard Del Principe”