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


Edith’s Baby Shower

by  Phyllis Zeck

Edith Vitullo Del PrincipeEdith Veronica Vitullo Del Principe was born in 1909. Her photo appears on the left.  I just love this photo of her. Edith married the youngest brother of the family, Francesco and they had two children.  Muriel was born in 1932 and Frank Jr (Luke) was born in 1933.  Today Muriel operates restaurants in the Chicago area with her children and Luke operates restaurants in Arizona with his children.  For more blog posts about Francesco’s family click on his name in the categories box in the right column of this website.  To view photos of Frank’s family click on this link to their photo gallery.  

Below is an invitation that Bear emailed to me.  This invitation was sent to Bear’s great grandmother Margaret inviting her to attend a baby shower for Edith.  Edith was pregnant with Muriel who was due to arrive in June.  

Edith Prince Baby shower  
                                                                                         Edith Prince Baby shower Envelope  

The shower was held at 2102 W Harrison Street.  I don’t recongnise that address.  I wondered if possibly Edith lived there and the shower was to be in her home.  I logged into my Ancestry.com account to look at their address but I didn’t have a census record saved for Frank and Edith.  I had noticed on the invitation that the guest of honor was Edith Prince.  We know that Antonio shortened his name from Del Principe to Prince but I did not know that Frank and Edith shortened their last names as well.  I searched for a census record for Frank and Edith with the last of Prince and located them in the 1930 census.  They were living at 1238 W. Ohio St, about 3 miles from the music store.  So perhaps the shower was held at a coffee shop down the street from the music store.

It’s odd that I never thought much about our ancestors having baby shower’s for each other at the turn of the century.  I suspect the showers were for women only and maybe held for the birth of the mother’s first child only.  I don’t remember my mother ever go to a friend or relative’s baby shower but we moved out of the city in 1958 and I don’t believe mom went downtown very often.  What a fun find this was for Bear!  I appreciate that the invitation and the envelope were kept in great condition after all these years. Thank you Bear for sharing.  






by  Phyllis Zeck

Don and Kelly

Wedding bells were ringing on June 1st!  Kelly and Don Jr were married in Kelly’s hometown in Iowa.  Don and I few into Chicago a few days before the wedding to attend the festivities and enjoy the excitement.  Kelly looked gorgeous, Don Jr was very handsome, and Tyler was perfect as his father’s best man.  We felt so blessed to share this wonderful day with Kelly and Don.

I couldn’t leave Chicago without touching base with family and friends.  We crossed over the Mississippi bright and early on Sunday morning and headed to Lake Villa.  Don and I were going to visit Antonio’s cottage and meet some of his descendants.  We arrived in the early afternoon.  I’ve discussed in many previous blogs my joy at communicating with Antonio’s great granddaughter Mary (aka Bear).  Bear stumbled upon my website in July of 2012 and we’ve been email buddies ever scince.  Bear shares my passion for genealogy and has emailed me many wonderful letters, photos, and stories which I’ve shared in my blog posts.  

 Antonio's Cottage 1940This photo was taken in 1940.  Far left is Roy & Elvira (Snook) and Eileen (Turk) with friends.  


                      Cottage July 1937

Three brothers?  July 1937.  My grandfather Gilbert is in the middle.                                                                                          


 IMG_1033Elvira’s son Greg, Greg’s son Cory, Greg’s daughter Bear, Me, and Greg’s wife Terri.


Don and I pulled into the driveway of the cottage and it didn’t look much different from the photos of 1940.  The cottage blends right into the woodsy environment as it’s surrounded by many beautiful tall trees.  Antonio was the first child born to Elvira and Pietro Del Principe and was 1of 17 children.  Antonio and Margaret had two daughters.  Elvira Antoinette (Snooks) and Eileen Lucille (Turk).  Elvira married Roy and they had four children;  Antoinette, Greg, Madeleine, and Margaret.  Greg and his wife Terri have two children; Mary (Bear) and Cory.  To read other blog posts about Antonio’s family go to the navigation bar on the right, scroll down to “categories” and click on “Antonio”.  To see additional photos of Antonio’s family click on this link.

What a joy it was to meet this family!  Bear’s husband Wyatt was also on hand as we were given a tour of the cottage, then settled down near the cozy pellet stove for a lively and animated visit.  We all had so much we wanted to share with each other.  Just think of how happy Antonio and his brother Gilbert (my grandfather) would have been to see their descendants meet here for the first time.  Greg said that Antonio’s brothers helped build the cottage and I’m sure my grandfather was there working along side of his brothers.

Bed Room IMG_1026

Three bedrooms lined the side of the house, off of the living room.  The bed in middle room had a quilt and pillow covers of a full moon, trees, wolves, deer, and bears.  The photo on the left was the bedroom off of the kitchen.  Bedspread, lamps, and window coverings featured a bear motif.  I suspect that Bear had a hand in decorating this room.  The kitchen and bathroom are additions to the 

Kitchen IMG_1024

cottage.  The original siding was left in place and now pots, pans, and cooking utensils hang from the siding.  Before we knew it the afternoon had flown by. We ordered pizza for dinner and then took a stroll down to Miltmore Lake. Greg smiled as he told us how his dad used to drive him down to the community water pump so they could fill the water buckets.  He said his grandfather Antonio did not want lake front property.  He was afraid his little daughters might fall in the lake so he bought a lot one block away.

The photos below left were given to me by Bear.  She was thinking ahead and asked Don to snap some photos in the same locations, very clever of her.  Thank you for thinking of that Bear.  

 011 Snook & Roy Miltmore 012 Bear_Phyllis_IMG_1045
 Elvira and Roy  Bear (Elvira’s
granddaughter) and me
 004 Elvira Eileen Roy 005 IMG_1041
 Elvira, Eileen, and Roy  Bear (with Oso bear)
and me
008 Lake Miltmore Swings  010 Phyl Swings IMG_1043
Swing Sets  
Don and Me

The sun was setting.  It was time to call it a day.  We said goodbye to these good people and thanked them for a wonderful visit.  I’m so lucky that Bear found our family website and that we had this opportunity to met.  

Don and I had one more day left in Chicago so of course I squeezed in three more activities!  We wanted to visit with my brother Tony and my nephew Robert plus meet Tony’s new fiancé Meredith.   

Robert, Meredith, & Tony

Robert, Meredith, & Tony

We decided to meet at Jay’s Beef so we could eat one of our families famous beef sandwiches.  We love Meredith!  Before our lunch arrived we were laughing, joking, and teasing.  It was clear from the start she fit right into this family.  Cousin Muriel dropped in to say hello and we all had a great visit.  My dear high school friend Sue met Don and I for dinner.  A wonderful way to end a perfect day.  Our plane took off the next day, another terrific vacation had come to a close.



The Music Store (Update)

by  Phyllis Zeck

Below is a post that I published in Oct 2010.  I’ve updated information and added new photos. 

When my great grandfather Pietro Del Principe immigrated from Pescasseroli, Italy to Chicago he opened a music store (probably in the late 1890’s).  The store may have been called the Oakley Music House, it was on the corner of Oakley and Harrison.  

Del Principe Accordion

The photo above was sent to me by Todd who is working on a researching project of the area.  This is the intersection of Oakley and Harrison in approx 1930.  You can see my great grandfather’s name at the top of the building on the left, next to the gas station.  Click on the photo to enlarge it.  This is a priceless photo and I want to thank Todd very much for sending it to me!

Eventually the store was named the Del Principe Accordion Company and was the Chicago agent for Dallape Accordions.  I recently spoke with one of the employees of the Italo-American Store in Chicago named Pompi.  He knew of the Del Principe brothers.  He repairs accordions for the Italo-American store but did not do repairs for us.  He did say that the brothers imported accordions from The Polverini Brothers in Italy.   There is a Polverini store in Chicago.  I spoke with the owner’s daughter.  She said her uncle came to America to open a store but changed the store name from Polverini to Alywind Inc. 

Chromatic Accordion

Chromatic Accordion

The music store address was 2244 W Harrison St in Chicago.  The building had 3 floors.  In the 1920 census Pietro and Elvira were living at this address with Antonio, Hank, Otto, Paul, Gilbert, Frank, Emil, along with 2 daughters-in-law Margaret and Rose.  Also living here were grandchildren Bernie, Anne, Willie, and Eleanor.  Wow, can you imagine the happy noise in that structure!?

In the 1930 census Elvria was living in the home with Hank and Paul.  The apartment on the third floor was split into two apartments.  My grandfather Gilbert, his wife Bertha, and my aunt Phyllis are listed in the upstairs apartment and Antonio, Margaret, Elvira, and Eileen are listed in the other upstairs apartment.  The apartments were shuffled between one or another brother and his family for many, many years.  Uncle Paul and Uncle Otto lived around the corner with their families at 516 Bell Ave.  The apartment building is gone now, the land is part of the University of Illinois campus.

Uncle Otto in front of the store on North Ave.

Uncle Otto in front of the Del Principe Music House at 5516 W. North Ave.

Frank, Otto, John, Joe, and Tony all partnered in running the stores in Chicago.  Other addresses I have for the stores are: 29 S. Cicero Ave, 307 S. Wabash Ave, and 5600 W. North Ave.  Joe’s store address was 5220-5222 W. North Ave.

Eventually one store was passed from Otto to his sons Phil and Pete to run.   Phil’s business card lists the store as Del Principe Accordion
Co. (312) 656-2848 at 6129 W. Cermak
Road in Cicero.

The store was sold when the brothers passed away.  I want to thank Otto’s daughter Susan for many of the photographs and for information about the stores.

Corinne Del Principe Winike (my mother)

Corinne Del Principe Winike (my mother)

My brother Tom recalls, “Uncle Paul and Aunt Mary had an older daughter, Dorothy. She passed away in childhood, and a few years later they moved to a small house in a quiet neighborhood. Uncle Hank rented out the upstairs apartment. The house on Bell Ave had a basement, so it seemed smaller than the huge store on Harrison. Both houses had beautiful woodworking, with elaborate sash windows, and carved oak mantles. Bell Ave had a back yard enclosed by tall fences, and an attached garage. The Harrison St house was more like a commercial bldg., surrounded by alleys and parking lots. We used to love riding in Grandpa Gilberts station wagon, to look at the tall buildings. There was a giant ice-cream place, where all the musical trucks would spread out across the city every afternoon.”

        Uncle Otto

  Pete, Elvira (Snookie), and Phil                               Uncle Otto


One of my husband’s favorite shows on the science channel is called “How It’s Made”.  Something finally caught my eye.  Check out this 3 minute video explaining how an Accordion is made.



                     Bobby Winike                               Del Principe Accordion

Last week my brother Tony drove downtown to run an errand and offered to drive by the block of Harrison where the apartments used to be and take a photograph for me.  The photo below is of Tony at the University of Illinois at Chicago at 2242 W Harrison.  Thank you for the photos Tony.

Now I’m on a mission to find a photo of the front of three story building at 2244 W Harrison.  As you know, when I’m on a mission I am relentless.  If anyone has any photos will you please email it to me or mail me a copy?  I will be forever in your debt! 

Anthony Winike

Anthony Winike



Abigail Rose’s Baptism

by  Phyllis Zeck

Abigail Rose Baptism

Abigail Rose Miller

On Sunday May 19th, 2013 Abigail was baptized at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Vancouver, Washington.  Ashley and Matt asked my brother Rob and his wife Judy to be Abby’s Godparents.  Rob holds a special place in Ashley’s heart as he is her Godfather.   Rob was with us at St Mary’s Cathedral when Ashley was a senior in high school and she was confirmed.  Two years ago Rob gave a reading at St Mary’s Cathedral during Ashley and Matt’s wedding ceremony.   

Ashley was baptized at St. Francis Church in Portland Oregon in 1984.  The gown that Ashely and Abigail wore is a heirloom from my mother-in-law Yvonne’s family. The children of Pauline Baumann and Harry Hill Harrison wore this gown; Homer born 1888, Violet born 1889, Beulah born 1891, and Alma born 1895.  Alma is Abigail’s great great grandmother.  This gown at least 125 years old.    Click here to read about the Harrison family in a previous blog post.  

Ashley with her Godparents and my mother 1984

Ashley with her Godparents (my brother Rob and my sister Holly) and my mother 1984

Abby with her godparents and parents

Abby with her godparents & parents


Other babies who were baptized in this gown were Frank & Don Zeck, John & Brian Zeck, Don Jr & Heidi Zeck.  My mother-in-law Yvonne left us a note telling us she used to dress her Mary Jane dolls in the gown and said that the gown was not used for her generation.  Yvonne asked that this gown be passed down with love and respect.

Heidi, Ashley, Don Sr, Don Jr

Heidi, Ashley, Don Sr, Don Jr

For this sacred ceremony Abigail Rose wore the same treasured gown as her ancestors.  And so precious Abby, may the blessings of the Lord be with you on this happy day and always!



Del Principe Accordions

by  Rob Winike

Submitted by my brother, Rob Winike.

Bobby Winike

Bobby Winike

I am the accordion player shown in the wonderful blog post from Oct 2010, the artist formerly known as “Bobby Boy.” My first performance lessons were when I turned four, at Uncle Otto’s store on Cicero Ave. My teacher was George Russo, who was also a great friend of my father, Robert Thomas Winike. They both owned new 1956 Ford Fairlane Victorias, two-tone. My cousin John “Bubbles” (Dean’s dad) told me last year that he used to covet the chance to drive those cars around the block so he could wash them back in the alley between our families’ two tenements, one on Harrison Street and one on Bell Avenue. Dad and George would proudly park their Fords at the front of the cinder lot on Harrison so the public and all could see and enjoy!

When I was talented enough, my Grandfather, Gilbert Del Principe used to take me to the neighborhood tavern, the Four Deuces, where I would play songs and patrons would throw quarters at me. These I promptly plunked into a colorful Seeburg Jukebox and play top hits of the 1950s. I loved taking lessons at Uncle Otto’s store because if I played well, he would let me choose two 45 rpm records as a reward, and usually Grandpa would buy me two more. My record collection was the best in the old neighborhood by far, varied and popular with cousins and friends alike. 

John M.'s  Del Principe Accordion.

Del Principe Accordion (Owned by John M.)

I hated having to practice everyday after school, but dared not incur the wrath of my teacher, by wasting his valuable time and “make a monkey of me,” as George would say. If my hand went limp on the treble keyboard, he’d slap it sharply. “Practice don’t make perfect,” he’d say. “Perfect practice makes perfect!” This he’d say in a small acoustic practice room rank with humidity and clouded in thick cigar smoke, as was Uncle John’s whole store, which ran in streaks of grey and brown from constant cigar smoking and full trays of stale cigar butts on every desk in the back. 

Del Principe Accordion

The climax of my accordion apprenticing came in 1958, when I won a regional contest and was scheduled to audition for the Ted Mack Music Show, playing a blistering rendition of John Phillip Susa’s march, “Under the Double Eagle.” Two weeks before the audition I caught the Asian Flu, as did all my cousins and half the kids at my school, Saint Callistus Elementary School. Both our tenement buildings were quarantined, and my big chance for accordion fame and national acclaim was sadly lost. But I was still inclined to play at a large number of Italian weddings, First Communion parties, and St. Joseph Day Progressive Dinners in various homes of parish families. Polkas were popular, but classic Italian songs were always requested. Some of the crowd favorites were, of course, the Tarentella; Al di La or Domani both popular songs then by Julius LaRosa; and always, Oh Marie, Oh Sole Mio, or Santa Lucia

Rob Winike with his Accordion

Rob Winike

I greatly regret now not having developed my talent like some of the cousins of my late mother, Corrine Del Principe, and my Aunt Phyllis. I continued to play after our family moved to Villa Park, but finally gave it up after entering junior high. I was convinced no seventh grade girl was ever going to go out on a date with a guy who played the accordion, especially one with the inglorious name of “Bobby.” I changed my name to “Bob” and put the accordion aside. Last year I bought a used accordion made by Enrico Roselli and started taking weekly lessons again. I’m now practicing the same songs I played so well nearly 60 years ago! My goal is to get good enough to purchase a Del Principe accordion and post a photo of “Bobby Boy” playing with the same fire I once had, as all things accordion eventually run their course. As an historical footnote, I still have the original accordion made by Pietro shown in the blog written by Phyllis, although it is much worse for wear. I have it encased in plastic and hope to one day have it restored and displayed in a glass case. A lot of family memories and musical legends will reside in that case!