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


Antonio’s Cottage

by  Phyllis Zeck


Elieen (Turk), Margaret (Gan), Elvira (Snooks), Antonio

Elieen (Turk), Margaret (Gan), Elvira (Snooks), Antonio

Mary (aka Bear) has sent me several photographs that I’ve been anxious to share.  Bear’s grandmother was Elvira (Snooks) and her great grandparents were Antonio Del Principe and Margaret (aka Gan) Heenan.  Antonio and Margaret were married on Nov 12, 1919.  In 1928 Antonio built a summer cottage in Lake Villa, Illinois. Bear wrote to me that  “During the summer my husband and I go and stay in the summer cottage that Antonio built in 1928!  It is in Lake Villa.  It’s such an amazing piece of family history.”   

To make any of the photos larger, click on the photo and you’ll be brought to a new page.  Click on the photo again and the photo will be enlarged.  Click on the back arrow to return to the blog post.

Bear and her husband have been remodeling the cottage.  They are having a new roof put on and are restoring some beams.  They are also remodeling the bathroom which was not a part of the original structure.   

Antonio"s Cottage 1940

Antonio”s Cottage 1940

This photo was taken June 2, 1940.  The back of the photo says, “Roy + Snook + Aunt Turk + Bernard O’Donnel (Aunt Turk’s old Boyfriend.)  Jack Hoffman and Red Zinger. They liked Snook but Snook liked Roy.”  Elvira (Snook) married Roy Weber and they had four children: Antoinette, Gregory, Madeleine, and Margaret.  Some of Antonio’s brothers went to the cottage to help build it.  I don’t know if my grandfather Gilbert assisted in the building, but I suspect he did.  The brothers were always helping each other.  When my grandfather and father were building our house in Villa Park in the 1950’s, grandpa’s brothers were frequently there to lend a hand to grandpa and my father.

Margaret and Antonio 1940

Margaret and Antonio and Roy 1940

Bear wrote “Roy absolutely loved going to the cottage.  When my dad, Greg, was a kid they’d go up every weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  He’d come home from work and Snook would have packed everything in paper bags by the door.  He’d load up the car and Blackie (their dog at the time) would hop in the car and would NOT leave for anything.  My dad said he’d growl and snarl if anyone would try to make him get out of the car because he knew it was time to go to the cottage.  He’d wait in the car as long as it took.   My dad said that he and Mad and Maggie would start to get anxious in the winter around Feb and they’d ask how many more weeks til we get to go to the cottage? So his mom would count down the weeks with them till Memorial Day weekend.” 

“Pa (Roy) continued to go to the cottage even after Snooks died.   They were very good friends with the couple that lived across the street from the cottage, Wallie and Mickie.  Mickie still lives there, and we see her quite often.  She is one of the most active 84 year olds I ever met!”  

Summer 1939

Summer 1936

Bear explains the photo to the right: “The girls are sitting on the roof of the south side of the cottage.  If you are looking at the cottage from the front, they are dangling their legs off the left side of the cottage. Snook is the third one from the left.  I always assumed Turk was in the photo, but I don’t recognize the other three. One might be Turk.  We just lost the big tree behind them in the photo.  There was a nasty storm last June.  Wyatt (my husband) and I were up there during the storm and it was scary!!  A near by big oak tree was split in half by lightening and the tree in the photo was knocked down by 70 mile an hour winds. We also lost the tree between Gan and Antonio in the other picture.  It was a sad day.”

Wow Bear! Thank you so much for sharing your stories and photographs.  Because of your generosity we are able to get a deeper understanding of our ancestors, which was one of my goals for starting this blog.  



Amada’s First Communion May 1911

by  Phyllis Zeck

A trip to my sister’s house would never be complete until I’ve dragged out all of our mother and grandfather’s boxes and riffled through them.  Lori was thinking ahead and had the boxes stashed in my bedroom on the day Don and I arrived for our visit this past September.  One morning I decided to go through the boxes and discovered something I thought I had not seen before. Lori said we looked at it two years ago, but I don’t recall seeing it.

Amada Del Principe's Bible

Amada Del Principe’s Bible

The new treasure was a children’s bible that belonged to my grandfather’s brother Amada.  The front of the Bible is titled “Jesus Teach Me To Pray”. 

I went to our family tree to see if I had any notes about a child named Amada and couldn’t find anything.  So Lori and I searched on Ancestry.com and on Family Search’s website for information about Amada.  Click here for the 1910 census which lists Amada as 10 years old and records that he was born in 1900.  (He is not found in the 1900 census.)  I wondered if the census taker mixed up Amada’s name with one of the boys.  The 1910 census taker spelled Amada’s name wrong (Amalia) and listed the boys birth order as: Amada, Otto, Frank, Gilbert, and John.  This birth order is not correct.

So we searched for Amada in the 1920 census (click here).   The census taker lists the sons birth order as: Amada, Otto, Paul, Gilbert, and Frank.  This is correct.  I could not figure out why they twice put Amada’s birth before Otto who we know was born 20 Oct 1899.  

Today it hit me – Amada is Hank!  I have been spelling Hank’s name Amedeo and have his birthday as 01 Aug 1898.  This still doesn’t explain why Amada’s name is not listed on the 1900 census, but it clears up for me who this Bible belonged to. 

My mother Corinne Caroline’s First Communion

It also made sense that my grandfather Gilbert had Hank’s bible on his night stand.  Grandpa was very close to Hank. Hank passed away on 09 Jun 1969.  My grandfather lived until 1981.   

So it looks like Pietro and Elvira had 17 children, not 18.  This discovery will also explain how Amada “disappeared” after the 1920 census.  Lori and I debated how Amada could have lived to be 21 years old and then just vanish.  We couldn’t figure out how none of the brothers discussed Amada, especially since he left behind a bible from 1911.  If any other family members are researching the brothers and have a different conclusion please let me know.  Click on any of the photos of Amada’s Bible below to enlarge them.  Click the arrow button to return to the blog post.


I will add the photo of Amada’s Bible to our family Heirloom page.  I’m also adding a photo of Lori’s Grandfather clock from Germany.  Grandpa Gilbert bought it for his wife Bertha.  The clock was constructed in the 1930’s and still works like a charm.



Anna Pauline & Annie Carmela & Anna Paulina Carmela

by  Phyllis Zeck

As I discussed in my blog post from Oct 13, 2012 Pietro bought one grave site on June 15, 1896 at the Calvary Cemetery in Evanston, Illinois.   Through research at the LDS Family Search website my sister Lori and I discovered two of Elvira and Pietro’s babies are buried in this grave; Angelo Serafino and Amadea (the cemetery spelled her name Amdesa).  Lori wrote to the cemetery in an effort to obtain more information and was told the children are buried in Lot 95, Block 31, Section T and the owner of the grave is Pietro Del Principe.  

Lori also found out that Annie Carmela was interred in this same lot on Feb 5, 1907 at the age of 6 months.  Click on this link to view the undertakers report Annie Carmela Undertaker Report Family Search.  It looks like she died from pneumonia. 

I had to find out more about this grave.  I called my brother Tony and asked him if was willing to drive out to the cemetery to see if he could find out anything else. He called me to say that there is no head stone for the babies.  This is very upsetting to me however I know that Pietro had only been in the United States for 5 years when he bought the lot and I suspect that money was scarce.   Tony also discovered that a fourth child was buried in this lot and her name is Anna Paulina.  She died on July 4, 1902 at the age of 2.  Thank you Tony for researching this for me.

Calvary Evanston Cemetery in Chicago. View from the babies gravesite.

Calvary Evanston Cemetery in Chicago. View from the babies gravesite.

Next I turned to the Cook County Vital Records Department to see if they could confirm who the parents of Annie Carmela are.  When I called Cook County they said I can fill out the request for a birth record but I probably would not find one.  Birth and death records were not required by law until 1916.  Most people gave birth at home because they couldn’t afford to go to the hospital.  The clerk said that my undertakers report is probably the only document they will have for Annie Carmela.  The undertaker was not required by law to fill in the parents names.   The cemetery required an undertakers report before they would bury a family member.  It seems very strange that they have a spot for the parents place of birth but not for the parents names.  

Four babies are buried in the grave at Calvary Cemetery.  Amadea (Female) Age 1 year 2 months died March 19, 1897.  Angelo Serafino (Male) Age 1 year 9 months died June 14, 1896.   Anna Paulina (Female) Age 2 died July 4, 1902.  Annie Carmela (Female) Age 6 months died Feb 5, 1907. 

The undertakers report (click on the child’s name to view the report) stated that all three babies lived at 289 S Jefferson at the time of their deaths.  Anna Pauline who died in 1902 and Annie Carmela who died in 1907 are buried at Calvary Cemetery.  Anna Paulina Carmela who died in 1909 is buried at Mt Carmel.  

My records show that Elvira and Pietro lived at the following locations: (1900 census) 165 Forquer St, (1905 City Directory)  289 S. Jefferson St., (1910 census) 618 S. Jefferson St., (1914 City Directory) 618 S. Jefferson St., and (1920 census) 2244 W. Harrison St. 

I don’t know that Annie Carmela was born to Elvira and Pietro even though we have 3 pieces of evidence closely linking her to them.  We have documentation to show that Elvira and Pietro lived at the same address in 1905 that appears on Annie’s death record in 1907.  The Calvary cemetery has confirmed that Pietro owned the grave site where Annie is buried.  The death record states that Annie’s parents are from Pescasseroli, Italy.  

Who else could be Annie’s parents?  Pietro’s brother Antonio came to America and passed away in New York on 11 Mar 1928.  Antonio would have been 68 in 1907 so it is unlikely that Annie Carmela is his child.  I have not found any relatives of Antonio’s but it is possible a son of Antonio’s could be Annie’s father. 

Pietro’s brother Vincenzo may have come to America.  We know for certain that Vincenzo’s two sons came to America.  Giuseppe Donato Del Principe married Marie Concetta DiAddezio and they had five children that I know of; Nocola Vincenzo Loreto (James) born 1892, Liboria (Laura) 1889-1968, Victor born 1904, Leonardo 1901-1929, and Angelo born in 1903.

Vincenzo’s other son Leonardo married Almerinta and they had two children; Frederico was born in 1907 and daughter Lucrezia was born in 1912.  

I don’t know if I will ever solve the mystery of Annie Carmela or Anna Pauline or Anna Paulina Carmela.  I hope I do.  It’s very distressing that many of our ancestors came into this world and left so quickly, with just a whisper of their existence.  Someday I hope to visit the gravesite of these babies and let them know that they are not forgotten. 



National Day Of Listening

by  Phyllis Zeck

As we go into the holidays we all reflect on what we are most thankful for.  I think the holidays are a perfect time to also take advantage of visits with extended family members and to listen to their stories.   Let me tell you about StoryCorps.  StoryCorps records and preserves the stories of everyday people and is one of the largest oral history projects of it’s kind.  Since 2003 StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 40,000 interviews.  Each conversation is recorded and preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.  StoryCorps encourages you to interview a family member.  Recording your interviews is super easy in our digital world.  

StoryCorps has a StoryBook location in Atlanta, GA & San Francisco, CA.  They also have a MobileBooth which is an airstream trailer that travels the country year round collecting stories.  StoryCorps interviews are featured every Friday on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.  You can listen to some sample stories by clicking on their podcast page

Friday November 23rd is StoryCorps National Day Of Listening.  I hope you take the time to set aside the chores and hectic shopping and interview a family member.  Listen to their story.



The Entertainer

by  Phyllis Zeck

Tony Prince Antonio Del PrincipeAntonio Del Principe was the first child born to Elivra Ciolli and Pietro Del Principe.  He was born in Pescasseroli, Italy and arrived in the United States on the ship The Weser when he was 4 years old.   

Tony married Margaret Heenan and they had two daughters; Elvira and Eileen. Elvira’s granddaughter Mary (aka Bear) sent the wonderful photos displayed above. Tony is the gentleman on the right in both of the partner photos.  Tony had promotion photographs taken.  The photo of Tony in a hat was taken by “Swisher” at 32 N State St in Chicago.  The photograph taken with him playing the accordion was taken by “C-I-Hak” at 323 W. Clark St in Chicago.

Antonio Del Principe Music Store business cardTony spent much of his time traveling and performing.  This is one of the business cards that he carried.   Bear sent me an absolute treasure which I want to share.  I received an original brochure that her great grandfather handed out promoting his sales and entertainment services. My Aunt Phyllis always told me that Antonio went by the name of Tony Prince.  As you can see by the brochure below, she was correct.  Tony passed away in 1941 so the brochure is at least 71 years old.  You can click on the business card to enlarge it.  Click here to see page 1 of the brochure and to read the lyrics to the songs, click here to see page 2.  Thank you for sharing Bear!