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


The Ciolli Family Crest

by  Phyllis Zeck

As I was saying in my previous blog, one of the highlights of my visit to Chicago in May was the day my sister Lori and I joined our cousins Allen Adezio and his wife Marie, and Vickie Di Nella for lunch at Allen & Marie’s beautiful home in southern Illinois.

How are we connected?  Elvira Ciolli is Lori and my great grandmother.  Speranza (Mary) Ciolli is Allen’s great grandmother.  Bibbiana Celestina is Vickie’s great grandmother.  Elvira, Speranza, and Bibbiana were sisters.

This stunning painting is hanging in the entry hallway of Allen & Marie’s home.  It was painted by a relative of Allen’s from a snap shot that was taken a few years ago when Allen and his brother Ron went to Italy with their wives.  The photograph is Allen (on the right) and Ron in front of the Adezio family home in Italy.   The writing on the photograph says D’Addezio House, 2 Vico Corto, Pescassoreli, Italy. 

This was the home of Allen and Ron’s father Cesidio (Jesse) Adezio, who was a Shepard as a little boy.   Cesidio’s parents were Luigi D’Addezio and Carmela Testa.  Their children were Guiseppi (Joseph), Antonio (Babe), Cesidio (Jesse), Guilia, and Lucia.  Allen’s last name is now Adezio so somewhere along the way the family name was changed.  Unfortunately no family members currently live in the home.

This is our Ciolli Family Crest.  Some people refer to this as a Coat of Arms; they are basically the same thing.   Allen’s cousin said that her father was given the “plans” for the Ciolli Crest from Frank DePirro.  (Frank was married to Ann who was the daughter of Gemma Nicolina Ciolli and Giacomo Leone).

Below is a photo taken last May of my sister Lori, Allen is behind her, Vickie is next to Allen, and I’m in front of Vickie.  As you can see the Ciolli Crest is hanging on the wall.  Beneath it is a wine press.  Allen’s father used the press to actually make wine, Allen and his brother assisted their father.  Allen tells the story of  “driving his dad to the markets to get crates of grapes, and putting all the grapes in the trunk of his car.  That’s when the trunks of cars were big!!!”

Now let me introduce Barbara.  Barbara found our family website and emailed me that she was one of my long lost relatives.  I love it when that happens!  Barbara’s grandfather was Carmino (Charles) Ciolli, brother to my great grandmother Elvira. (Check back later for more info, because of course I will have to write a blog about Barbara’s family.)  Allen’s wife Marie, Barbara, Joe and I sent several emails back and forth.  It turns out that Barbara has the very same Crest hanging in her home.   Barbara agreed to copy a black and white version of her Crest and mail it to Marie and I.

Barbara knows that her Crest was done and researched by a commercial company in Italy in the 1930’s.  Her crest bears the stamp: Archivio Araldivo Cimino.   We assume this is the company that made the Crest.

Since this is the very same family Crest we thought it was time to take this investigation one step further.

I turned once again to Kathy from GenTracer to ask her to research her archives and see if she could find any records of a family Crest for the Ciolli family.  Oh and by the way – would she look for record of a Crest for the Del Principe family?  I scanned the copy of the Crest that I received from Barbara to Kathy because there was some text below the Crest.  Kathy didn’t find any record that an official Crest was made for the Ciolli family or the Del Principe family but she did give us an explanation of the text below the Ciolli Crest.  Click on the Crest to see a larger version, click the back button to return to this blog.

Kathy writes:  The brief translation on the Crest is that the family is from Tuscany and Memorialized in the town archives of Pisa in the magistrate of Siena until 1408 and patrons in Florence.

Valerio was a sculptor in the 15th century, born at Settignano.  Andrea was a senator of Florence in the 15th century.  Michele was born at Settignano in the 16th century and a scupturer in Siena. Raffaele and Simone were sculptors.  

Of course, there is no documentation of any of the above. There is also no clear connection to your family.      



My brother shared this Del Principe Crest with me.  It is an example of what our crest might look like.  It is not authentic.






If you have an interest in the origin of Family Crests and a Coat of Arms click on the links above and check out the websites that were sent to me from Kathy.




Victoria Di Nella’s Family

by  Phyllis Zeck

Victoria Di Nella is my 3rd cousin, she lives in Illinois.  In fact she now lives about 2 miles from the home where I was raised.  She joined Lori and I for lunch at Allen & Marie’s home in May.  Her great grandmother is Bibbiana Celestina Ciolli born on Jan 19, 1865 in Pescasseroli, Italy.  She was delivered by a mid wife named Gemma Di Nella.  My great grandmother Elvira and  Bibbiana Celestina were sisters.

Bibbiano Celestina Ciolli DiNella 1914 – 1915

This photo was taken about 1914 – 1915.  Bibbiano Celestina is seated.  The baby on her lap is Vickie’s father Emilio (Emil) who was born in 1914.  The woman standing is Maria Grazia De Rubeis Di Nella, her husband is Vito Di Nella.   The boy standing is Vickie’s uncle Carmello (Carl), born in 1910.  The little girl is Vickie’s aunt Anna Maria Antonia (Mary) Di Nella born in 1912.

The photo below is the passport photo of  Maria Grazia De Rubeis Di Nella (Vito’s wife) and their children; Emilio, Carmello, and Anna Maria Antonia. The same three children appear in both photos.

Maria Grazia DeRubeis DiNella 1920.

Bibbiana Celestina married Basilio Di Nella on Aug 18, 1883 and they had three sons; Vito, Pasquale, and Nicholas.

Vito (Vickie’s grandfather) was born in 1886, he married Maria Grace De Rubeis in 1910.  They had ten children. Vito arrived in the USA on June 20, 1913 aboard the ship Italia. When he left Italy his wife was pregnant with Vickie’s father. His wife and three children came to the USA in 1920.

Pasquale came to Chicago but returned to Italy to serve in WWI.  He was an Alpine soldier and was killed approx 1918.  His name can be found on the statue in the town square in Pescasseroli.

The Alpini are the elite mountain warfare soldiers of the Italian army.  Formed in 1872 they are the oldest active mountain infantry in the world.  Their original mission was to protect Italy’s northern mountain border with France and Austria.  

The soldiers were recruited from the local people who were used to the conditions and already had both good local knowledge as well as specialized skills for living and surviving in the mountains.

They also adopted the famous Cappello Alpino (Alpino hat) which included a white eagle feather for officers and a black raven feather for the men.

They distinguished themselves during World War I when they fought a three year long campaign in the Alps against Austro-Hungarian and the German Alpenkorps in what has since become knows as the “War in snow and ice”.  The Alpini saw heavy combat in the mountains and glaciers of the Alps suffering many casualties on both sides with over 12,000 Alpini casualties out of a total force of about 40,000.

Click on the memorial below to read it, then click the back arrow to return to the blog.

Pasquale Di Nella Memorial Plaque

Giuseppe D’Addezio Memorial Plaque

Paolo Del Principe Memorial Plaque







Nicholas lived in Pescasseroli his entire life. He had one child named Celestina.  She married N. Siciliano and lives in Varessa, northeast of Florence.

Vickie’s father was Emilio Alberto Di Nella and was born on Feb 13, 1914 in Pescasseroli, Italy.  He married Helen Zak and they had three children; Gerald, Victoria, and Joanna.

Vickie’s uncle Carmello (Carl) was in Pescasseroli Italy in February 1956.  He was an artist and was working on a painting when a terrible snow storm crippled the town.  Carl called his family in Chicago and asked for help for the town.  The photo above shows the relief truck that was sent to the village with the funds donated by Carl’s Chicago friends and relatives.

The Chicago Daily News printed the article and photo above on Feb 24, 1956. The arrow is pointing at the truck.  The text in the box says “Villagers of Pescaressoli, in the mountains of central Italy, gather around the first Red Cross truck (arrow) to arrive with relief food and first-aid supplies in many days.  The village is among hundreds in the region isolated by the heavy snows and the fierce European cold wave.”

Below are three pages from a memorial book for Maria Grazia De Rubeis Di Nella.  She died on Easter Sunday April 17, 1949.  Click on the pages to enlarge them, then click on the back arrow to return to the blog.  You may recongize many of the names, my grandfather Gilbert signed the guest book.













Thank you Vickie for all of the information and wonderful photographs that you’ve shared.  It was a true pleasure to meet you.  I look forward to much more correspondence between us as we continue to grow our family tree.




My Visit To The Windy City

by  Phyllis Zeck

Last May I took some time for a little fun and relaxation and flew to Chicago.  What a fantastic trip it was!  My only regret was that I was unable to meet my cousin Joe.  He was not able to make the trip to Chicago this year.   Lori and I did however get to meet Joe’s sister Dolores and Dolores’ daughter Gayle.  They happen to live in the same town that my sister lives in.  We met for lunch and shared stories about our families along with some photographs.

The first few days of vacation were spent catching up with my sister Lori and my brother Tony as well as with Sue, one of my best friends from high school.   In between visits, lunches and errands I began dragging boxes up from Lori’s basement to see what I could uncover to help me with my genealogy search.  These were the boxes I was itching to dig into!  There were a couple of small boxes that held some items from my grandfather Gilbert and my mother.  One box had grandpa’s glasses and glass case which he always had in his left shirt pocket.  The box had his address book and many Mass cards from friends and relatives.  The pages of grandpa’s tiny address book were frayed and had to be turned gently.  Grandpa had penciled in the birthdays of all 13 of his grandchildren in the back of the book.  He also had written in the married names of his brother Paul’s daughters Toni and Paulette.  Bingo!  I had been searching for Toni and her twin sister Paulette for a year but I didn’t know their married names.  Lori and I called Toni and Paulette right then and there and boy was it great to finally speak to them.

One day Lori and I took a trip to Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery and the Queen of Heaven Mausoleum in Hillside.  The first section we stopped at was the gravesite of our great grandparents Pietro and Elvira.  Buried nearby is their son Anthony, their son Paul and Paul’s daughter Dorothy, their son Gilbert (our grandfather) and Gilbert’s wife Bertha.

We drove to another section of the cemetery to see our parents graves, Robert and Corinne Winike.  Also buried in this section are Grandpa’s brother’s Hank, Otto and Frank and Frank’s wife Edith, as well as Muriel’s husband Justin.  

After lunch we went to the Queen of Heaven Mausoleum.  Grandpa’s brother John and his wife Jeanette are buried here.  It was dark and quiet inside and we walked through all the floors admiring the glorious stained glass windows.


Queen of Heaven Mausoleum









Our last stop of the day was to drive by the home where our family lived from 1956 to 1996.   I can not believe how many people lived in that tiny home: mom and dad, eight kids, grandpa, plus daddy’s mother & father who lived in an apartment on the second floor.  How different it looked!  I took some snap shots and how I want to “photo shop” out the huge trees that now hide the house & garage and remove the city side walk next to Villa Ave.  Those things weren’t there when I was a child.

I want to add in grandpa’s rose bushes and his garden with his tomato plants.  The swing set and swimming pool were missing from the back yard and the slip & slide wasn’t rolled out on the front lawn.  Where were all the bikes that were normally left in the driveway? Lori and I drove away feeling melancholy; I was lost in my childhood memories.

Since we needed a Pick-Me-Up we decided the next day to drive out to Jay’s Beef in Schiller Park to visit with Muriel.  Ah, I would finally be able to sink my teeth into one of our families famous beef sandwiches.  What fun we had with Muriel!  We spent the morning talking and eating; a favorite pastime of all Italians.


Another day Lori and I took the train downtown.  We went to the Chicago History Museum.  There were so many great exhibits and of course we were the last two visitors to leave as the employees tried to lock up and go home.  We caught a cab ride back to the train station and were treated to a ride along Lake Shore Drive and through the Magnificent Mile shopping district.

I have to say one of my favorite days of the trip was the day Lori and I went to meet our newly discovered Ciolli cousins.  We had lunch at Allen & Marie’s house and Vickie joined us for the day.  But I’m afraid this is a topic that will need to be written another time, stay tuned for part 2…



Margrette Elvira 1919 – 2011

by  Rob Winike

Like my sister Phyllis, I don’t remember Aunt Margie. But I just recently talked to her younger brother, John Junior, about Margie, and now I have a greater appreciation for the many people in our family she touched and influenced.

John Del Principe is 69 now, living in Southern Illinois, and has some fine memories of talks with his sister. He said Margie had already moved out of the house when he was adopted by their father, Uncle John. She was some 30 years older than he was. But she always treated him well, as did her husband, Al Vitullo. John would often visit them at their two Italian beef sandwich restaurants. The first one was on the corner of Cicero and Arlington Streets, which she opened in partnership with her friend, whom he remembers as a lady named Carm. That was the beginning of the Del Principe family’s long-standing history of beef stands.

My sister Phyllis has posted a blog and photo of the second beef stand, where she writes, “Margie and her husband Al Vitullo owned an ice cream store under the El tracks on Hoyne Ave and added the sandwich to the menu.  Their most popular beef stand was located at Cicero Ave and Kammerlig St.” (See blog dated Jan 4, 2011).   According to John Jr., this was across the street from a huge railroad manufacturing plant owned by the Pettibone-Mulligan company, a historic part of Chicago’s phenomenal rapid growth at the turn of the century. He remembers that when he would visit Margie there, he saw massive lunch crowds from the factory, and long lines of customers eagerly waiting for Margie’s delicious beef sandwiches.

In the front row from right to left: Leona & Margie (John’s children)

He remembers that Margie and Carm got into the beef sandwich business around 1948, after they had become friends with Ralph Scala, who operated an Italian Beef packing company on West Harrison Street, along with his brother Robert. Scala’s was established by their father, Pasquale, in 1925.

This is all an important part of the history of the Taylor Neighborhood, in the heart of one of Chicago’s most classic Italian neighborhoods. Margie’s contribution to her family, neighbors, and many customers through the years cannot be underestimated, and is much appreciated. She was among the oldest surviving members of the Del Principe family, was much loved, and will always be a blessed part of our family history.




Historical Records for Ciolli

by  Phyllis Zeck

Below is the historical documentation about my great grandmother’s family (Elvira Ciolli).  Thank you to my cousin Joe for collaborating with me on this project and thank you to Kathy from GenTracer for her research.  The photo below of Ann and Mary was contributed by Allen and Marie, my Ciolli cousins.  It was taken in Cicero Illinois.


Esperanza Ciolli’s Daughters 1919 Ann and Mary

Note below that some of the Ciolli children were delivered by midwives with the last name of Di Nella and Vitale. These last names appear over the years in our family tree.

I don’t have a completed “Family Group Record” because all birth records could not be obtained by our researcher, Kathy from GenTracer.  She explains the reason for this below.

There is some confusion as to the year Elvira was born.  I have recorded her birth year based on the information on Elvira’s death certificate.

My conclusion as to the children born to Pietroantonio Amabile Ciolli and Filomena Ursitti are:  Gemma Nicolina born 28 Jun 1855 (married ?? Leone), Oreste Emilio Fortunato born 25 Aug 1856 (married Maria “Mary” Giusta Criola), Maria Celestina Belisena born 26 Feb 1859, Cesidia Bibbia born 12 Sep 1860, Florindo Ercole born 16 Dec 1862 (married Maria Conacci), Bibbiana Celestina born 19 Jan 1865 (married Basilio Di Nella), Elvira born 08 Nov 1874 (married Pietro Giovanni Del Principe), Carmino “Charles” born 20 Mar 1875 (married Anna D’Aquila), Speranza “Mary” born 06 Feb 1877 (married Joseph Leone), Ester date of birth unknown, Angelica date of birth unknown (married Pasquale Neri),  and Henry date of birth unknown.

Documentation From GenTracer:

Elvira and one of her sisters

The goal of this research project was to trace back the ancestral line of Elvira Ciolli, wife of Pietro Giovanni del Principe, in Pescasseroli, L’Aquila, Italy.

The first step was to discover when Elvira immigrated to the U.S. and to glean as much information about her from her immigration record as possible. On the Ellis Island Website (www.ellisisland.org), a search was conducted for Elvira Ciolli or Elvira del Principe. Only one match was located: Elvira Ciolli, age 25, who arrived on board the S.S. Weser on 21 August 1893. Three children accompanied Elvira: Antonio del Principe, age 4, Giuseppe Del Principe, age 3, and Amelio Del Principe, age 2.  There was no name of the town that Elvira and her family had emigrated from, only that she was from Italy. Her destination was Illinois but there was no category on the manifest where the name and address of persons being visited in the U.S. could be listed.

Initial information on Elvira Ciolli suggested that Pescasseroli, L’Aquila was her home in Italy and that she was born about 1874. Her passenger record however stated that she was 25 years old when she arrived here in 1893, making her birth year about 1868. Because the civil registration records of Pescasseroli only cover the years 1809 to 1865, it would be impossible to obtain her birth record from the microfilms of the Family History Library, regardless of whether she was born in 1868 or 1874.

At this point it seemed that the only way to identify the ancestry of Elvira Ciolli was through her siblings, who could have been born to Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli and Filomena Ursitti, in 1865 and earlier. The research now turned to the births of any children of Pietrantonio and Filomena and also the marriage of the couple in Pescasseroli. The following children were found:

The births of Pescasseroli for 1864-1865 (FHL #1360907) included #2, the birth of Bibbiana Celestina Ciolli, was filed on 19 January 1865 in Pescasseroli, by Gemma di Nella, age 53, a midwife residing in this town. Bibbiana Celestina was born on 19 January 1865 to Amabile Ciolli, age 34, a pharmacist, and Filomena Ursitti, age 27, a property owner, residents of Pescasseroli. Bibbiana was baptized on 19 January at the parish church in Pescasseroli. Bibbiana Celestina Ciolli was married to Basilio Di Nella, son of Vincenzo Di Nella, on 18 August 1883 in Pescasseroli.2 (Document 2)

The births of Pescasseroli for 1861-1863 (FHL #1360906) included #85, the birth of Florindo Ercole Ciolli, was filed on 16 December 1862 in Pescasseroli, by Gemma di Nella, age 50, a midwife residing in this town. Florindo Ercole was born on 16 December 1862 to Amabile Ciolli, age 32, a pharmacist, and Filomena Ursitti, age 25, a property owner, residents of Pescasseroli. Florindo was baptized on 16 December at the parish church in Pescaserroli. Florindo Ercole Ciolli was married to Maria Filomena on 24 August 1891 in Pescasseroli. 3 (Document 3)

The births of Pescasseroli for 1859-1861 (FHL #1360905) included #89, the birth of Cesidia Bibbia Ciolli, was filed on 12 September 1860 in Pescasseroli, by Gemma di Nella, age 48, a midwife residing in this town. Cesidia was born on 11 September 1860 to Amabile Ciolli, age 30, a pharmacist, and Filomena Ursitti, age 22, a property owner, residents of Pescaserroli. Cesidia Bibbia Ciolli was baptized on 12 September in the parish church in Pescasseroli.4 (Document 4)

#5, the birth of Maria Celestina Belisena Ciolli, was filed on 26 February 1859, in Pescasseroli by Battista Vitale, age 71, a midwife residing in this town. Maria was born on 26 February 1859 to Amabile Pietrantonio Ciolli, age 28, a pharmacist, and Filomena Ursitti, age 21, a property owner, residents of Pescasseroli. Maria Celestina Belisena Ciolli was baptized on 26 February in the parish church in Pescasseroli.5 (Document 5)

The births of Pescasseroli for 1854-1858 (FHL #1360904) included #85, the birth of Oreste Emilio Fortunato Ciolli, was filed on 25 August 1856, in Pescasseroli by Innocenza di Nella, age 77, a midwife residing in this town. Oreste was born on 25 August 1856 to Amabile Pietrantonio Ciolli, age 26, a pharmacist, and Filomena Ursitti, age 19, a property owner, residents of Pescasseroli. Oreste Emilio Fortunato Ciolli was baptized on 25 August in the parish church in Pescasseroli. Oreste Emilio Fortunato Ciolli was married on 4 August 1884 to Maria Giusta Criola, daugher of Geremia Criola in Pescasseroli.6 (Document 6)

#62, the birth of Gemma Nicolina Ciolli, was filed on 29 June 1855 in Pescasseroli by Innocenza di Nella, age 73, a midwife residing in this town. Gemma was born on 28 June 1855, to Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli, age 25, a pharmacist, and Filomena Ursitti, age 18, a property owner, residents of Pescasseroli. Gemma Nicolina Ciolli was baptized on 29 June in the parish church in Pescasseroli.7

The same film included the marriage of Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli to Filomena Ursitti was not located during the above search. Nor was it found in the Pescasseroli marriage records back to 1852. However, the first and second marriage banns (intentions) were finally located in 1854 as follows:

#10: Parte Prima, 16 July 1854, the notification of the solemn promise of marriage between Pietrantonio Ciolli, son of the living Raffaele Ciolli, and the living Speranza Tudini, and Filomena Ursitti, daughter of the living Angelico Ursitti, and the late Annunziata de Arcangelis.

#10: Parte Seconda, 31 July 1854, the notification of the intended marriage of Pietrantonio Ciolli, age 24, a pharmacist living in Pescasseroli. He was a son of the living Raffaele Ciolli, a land owner, and the living Speranza Tudini, residents of Pescasseroli, and Filomena Ursitti, age 17, daughter of the living Angelico Ursitti, a land owner, and the late Annunziata de Arcangelis.9 (Document 9)

Even though there was notification of the marriage of Pietroantonio Ciolli to Filomena Ursitti in 1854, their marriage record could not be located. A search was made of the marriage index for that year, and the actual marriage records were examined one-by-one. The un-indexed processetti (marriage supplement) records of 1854 were also searched from beginning to end with no results, but that isn’t conclusive either way. It is possible that Pietrantonio and Filomena were married in another town, but there was no indication of that in the notification documents since both the bride and groom were living in this town with their parents.

It is more likely that they married in the church in Pescasseroli and didn’t register the marriage with the civil authorities. There were some groups who refused to register their marriages with the civil authorities because it was a holy rite.