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


Don Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli

by  Phyllis Zeck

Arco (Arch) Ciolli

Joe Del Principe has been corresponding with Salvatore Toscano in Pescasseroli.  Salvatore is an Innkeeper who owns a Bed and Breakfast called Via Della Piazza.  Please visit Salvatore’s website at www.viadellapiazza.it

During their correspondence Joe and Salvatore discovered that they are relatives on the Ciolli side of the family!  Joe’s grandmother Elvira Ciolli Del Principe and Salvator’s great grandmother  Ester Ciolli Saltarelli were sisters.

Ester and her husband Francesco Saltarelli had 5 children: Carmela, Amelio, Maria, Paolo, and Angelo.  Paola immigrated to the US aboard the S.S. Duca Degli Abruzzo on April 1, 1920 and settled in Detroit Michigan.   Amelio immigrated in March of 1914 and lived in Chicago, Detroit, and Ann Arbor Michigan.  Ester died when her children were very young.  Salvatore’s grandfather Angelo Saltarelli was just 5.

Angelo Saltarelli married Ines Pistilli when he was 25.  He was a Shepherd like his father Francesco.  He would follow the livestock during the winter to Apulia and in the summer on the Pescasseroli mountains.

Winter in Pescasseroli

After he was married he and his father worked for the same employer building roads.  In 1937 he left for the then Italian colony in Africa – first Libya and then Somalia & Ethiopia to build roads.  In 1941 he was captured by the British army (even though he was not a soldier) and sent to a Raf camp in Uganda on Victoria Lake.  In 1945 he was taken to Glasgow Scotland and finally in 1948 he was set free and went back to Pescasseroli.  He did not see his family for about 11 years.

Angelo had 5 daughters, the eldest is Salvatore’s mother Ester who was born in 1931.  The other daughters were: Benedetta born in 1933,  Zelia born in 1935, Anna born in 1937, and Franca born in 1950.  Angelo had to wait 11 years to meet Anna.

Ester married Arnaldo Toscano and they had a son named Salvatore.

Click here to look back in time at our family tree.  You will see that another member of the Saltarelli family married a Del Principe back in 1789 when Mattia married Maria Scholastica Saltarelli.

The Ciolli home is behind the peach house

Salvatore told us that he recently spoke with a woman who is a direct descendent of the Ciolli family.  Her name is Ofelia Vitale and her grandfather was Florindo Ciolli, Ester & Elvira’s brother.  She lives in the house in the oldest part of Pescasseroli that was the dwelling of Elvira and her family.  A whole block seemed to belong to the Ciolli family.

Salvatore remembers some of the stories  that his grandfather Angelo, Elvira’s sister Gemma, and Ofelia have told him over the years.  Ofelia remembers that during the second world war the times were very hard.  American relatives helped the family in Italy by sending parcels to them.

This sign says “Salita (Uphill) Dott (Dr.) Ciolli”

Elvira’s father was Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli.  He was the town’s Apothecary (pharmacist/chemist).  His wife Filomena Ursitti was a property owner.  Amabile and Filomena had about 17 children.  One of the children was a priest at Pescasseroli’s parish.

During one of her research project’s Kathy from GenTracer discovered that the 1854 marriage record shows the title “Don” before the name of my great great grandfather Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli.  I asked Kathy about this and she said “Don is a title, as is Donna.  It is usually applied to landowners and is the top of the social strata in a town, topped only by a title (Baron, Duke, Prince, etc)”.  Also, the 1828 marriage records of Raffaele Ciolli states that Raffaele’s father Medici Carmine’s occupation is a doctor.   There is a sign hanging on a building leading to the Ciolli home that says “Dott (Dr.) Ciolli.  Does this sign refer to Dr. Medici Ciolli or to Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli?

Salvatore told me that many people from Pescasseroli left for the United States the same time my great grandparents did.  A lot of the town folks abandoned the Catholic religion to follow a popular Protestant group in Southern Italy.   The town split in two and there were many arguments about important issues such as education.  The Bishop sent some missionaries to intervene and in the end they defeated the Protestants.  Most of the Protestant people left for America.  They may have gone of their own free will, or they may have been pressured to leave.  Salvatore relays this story from a very important Historian/Philosopher named Benedetto Croce born in Pescasseroli in 1867.

Thank you Joe for linking us to our new friend.  Thank you Salvatore for the wonderful photographs and all the information.  I hope to communicate with Salvatore again to learn more about the Ciolli side of the family.




Giovanni from Pescasseroli

by  Phyllis Zeck

When you are interested in genealogy you learn to network with as many people as you can.  One way to network is to join genealogy forums.  This is how I met Gina.  She was looking for relatives of the Del Principe family of which she is a distant relative.  Gina and I exchanged several emails over the summer.   She told me she wrote letters to people in Italy with the last name of Del Principe to see if she had a relation there.  I contacted her again in December to ask if she had any success with her letters and she said yes – she gave me the email address of Giovanni Del Principe.  I am so thankful for her assistance.  She gave me access to a treasure chest!

Here is a photo taken in 1997 of Giovanni’s brother, Mariano Del Principe.  In the center is Giovanni’s mother Lucia Trella.  His aunt Lucia D’Addezio is on the right.

Thanks to Giovanni I now know Pietro’s middle name – Giovanni.  And I know that Pietro had other siblings besides Maria Domenica.    Vincenzo was born in 1830, Maria Domenica was born in 1833, Lucia Carmela was born in 1836, Antonio was born in 1837, Gerardo was born in 1846, Maria was born in 1849, and Pietro Giovanni was the baby of the family.

Pietro’s parents were Gaetano Cesidio Del Principe (born in 1799) and Anna Maria Boccia (born in 1808).  Gaetano’s siblings were Donato born in 1796, Francesco Mattia born in 1802, Michelangelo born in 1806, Giustino Gennaro born in 1835, and Domenico Leonardo born in 1808.

Gaetano’s parents were Mattia Del Principe (born approx. 1769) and Maria Scolastica Salterelli.   Mattia’s father was Donato Del Principe (born approx. 1744).  I am related to Giovanni by a common thread that dates back through Donato Del Principe.

I spoke with Giovanni via Skype.  What a wonderful experience!  Giovanni speaks English fairly well and he used a machine to help him translate some of the questions my husband and I asked him.  I thank him for his time.   I learned that Pietro’s marriage to Elvira was Pietro’s second marriage.  He was married July 13, 1880 to Emanuela (born 1862, died 1887).   Pietro and Emanuela had at least 1 child who did not live past 40 days.  Click the link below for a one minute audio clip from our conversation (click the back button when finished). Giovanni is telling Don and I that Pietro and Emanuela had a child, plus he tells us about his occupation as a surveyor at the National Park of Abruzzo.   Conversation with Giovanni

This is an image Giovanni sent me of a registration to marry.   I believe the names Mattia and Maria Scolastica Saltarelli appear in the left column.  They were married on Aug 1, 1789.

The following information and photos were sent to me from Giovanni and the text was in Italian.  I have used Google translator and this is what I believe his email said:  “The use of surnames is initially a prerogative of the richest families.  Between the thirteenth century and the fourteenth century, the family name began to be used even in the lowest social strata.

The Council of Trent, 1564, the Catholic Church requires priests to manage a register of baptisms with your name, in order to avoid in breeding.  In addition to the register of baptisms, registration of marriages and deaths was recorded.  The church organizes a “Register of souls” ,  the census was to be organized much later.

These photos illustrate the “book on the state of souls”  “liber Parochialis Status Animarum” translated from the Latin.”

Giovanni tell me: “The search for records is difficult because the books and records are in poor condition.  It is difficult because everything is written in Latin.

But books are a rich source of information because in the baptism records are parents and grandparents names.

On the page of the Register of Souls in 1834 it describes the neighborhood where the family lived and Mattia Del Principe had many sons and daughters at the time of 1834.

Del Principe Family Records

The church where the logs are kept is the parish church of Pescasseroli.  There they keep all the records that I have appointed since 1650.  The other records were lost during the earthquakes and fires.”

Abbazia de SS Pietro e Paolo a Pescasseroli Church

This is a photo of the church where our family records are stored.  It is the Abbazua di SS Pietro e Paolo a Pescasseroli church.  It was founded in 1100.  Inside the church there is a wooden statue of the Madonna and Child dated to about the thirteenth century.

I can never thank Giovanni enough for all his research and information.   I have made a wonderful new friend.  He is my hero.  I can now document my Del Principe ancestors 6 generations back!



Chicago’s Italian Beef Sandwiches

by  Phyllis Zeck

Four words that can make you salivate: Chicago’s Italian Beef Sandwiches!  No other beef sandwich comes close to the ones made by our family.

You bite into your sandwich and taste the tender beef, the sweet green peppers, and you hear the juice drip down on your plate.  You wrap the yellow crackling paper tighter around the sandwich so nothing else escapes.  You can’t help it – a huge  smile spreads over your face.  You feel like you are in Heaven.  You finish your sandwich.  It’s gone.  It’s over.  How long until you can eat the next one?


The original Italian beef sandwich recipe spans three generations and was created in the 1940’s by Margie (John’s daughter) and Edith (Luke and Muriel’s mother).

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.

And as they say – the rest is history!

Frank Jr (Luke) began his restaurant in 1965 and now has restaurants in Tucson.  Luke is still working full time, he says he doesn’t know what he’d do with himself if he retired.  Information about Luke’s restaurants can be found at www.lukessandwiches.com.

Luke’s two sons Joel and Cary operate branches in the Phoenix area and this is the link to their website http://www.lukesofchicago.com/.  Luke’s son Matt owns a restaurant in Elkhorn WI.

Margie, Frank Jr (Luke), and Muriel

Luke’s sister Muriel and her husband Justin Fortuna opened their stand in 1976.  They have three restaurants, one on North Ave in Chicago, one in Harwood Heights, and one in Schiller Park.  Their website is www.jaysbeef.com .  The restaurants are named after Muriel and Justin’s son Jay who now helps run them.   You’ll find Muriel still putting in a full day’s work behind the counter.



Giuseppe Florian

by  Phyllis Zeck

Giuseppe was the second son born to Pietro and Elvira on Oct 15, 1889 in Pescasseroli Italy.  He appears to be the only brother who entered the service.

Joe’s military assignment was the Mexican Border Campaign.  “The Illinois National Guard was ordered into federal service by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 to assist the Regular Army in restoring peace along the border between the United States and Mexico.

Between the fall of 1910 and the summer of 1916, Mexico had been embroiled in a violent revolution, with opposing political and military forces struggling for control of the country. In 1913, United States President William Howard Taft sent a large military force into Texas and stationed them along the Rio Grande to protect Americans in the region. This show of American military force caused Mexican militants to redirect their violence from their own countrymen to Americans. In 1913, when Woodrow Wilson became President, he denounced the new revolutionary government in Mexico and refused to recognize it as the legitimate government. As a result of his position, violence toward Americans intensified and there were incidents of murder, robbery, kidnapping for ransom and property destruction.

In response to the violence, President Wilson sent 4,800 Regular Army troops under General John “Blackjack” Pershing to defend the border towns and their citizens. On February 24, 1913, fighting commenced along the border near Brownsville, Texas and on March 2, Mexicans attacked U.S. troops along the border near Douglas, Arizona. The struggle for control continued throughout 1914. Mexico elected a new government and president, Venustiano Carranza, in 1915.”

You can read the rest of the article about the Mexican Border Campaign at the following   website: http://www.il.ngb.army.mil/Museum/HistoricalEvents/MexicanB.aspx

1st Illinois Cavalry Band – Joe played the Saxaphon

Joe played the Saxophone with the 1st Illinois Cavalry  Band and is in the center of this photo.  Joeseph Jr has the original photo.  It is posted online at VintagePostcards.org with more details about the photo.

http://www.vintagepostcards.org/brownsville-illinois-cavalry-band-mexican-revolution-rppc-p-4293.html (more…)



An Important Family Tradition

by  Rob Winike

An important family tradition: every year the week before Christmas, our mom would haul us all downtown on the train and bus to The Loop. Here was a kind of Mecca for all school kids because it is the heart and soul of culture and shopping in Chicago. Year after year we would make multiple class field trips to the Lake Michigan beaches, Grant Park, the Chicago History museum, the Art Institute, the aquarium, planetarium and Navy Pier, the Field Museum of Natural History, The Museum of Science and Industry, the central public library, and every kind of symphony orchestra, lyric opera, theater, and ballet or music concert venue imaginable. This along with more than 100 high-end stores of every variety – all in one six block area bounded by the Chicago River. Field trips were fun and educational, but it was Holiday Fun Time when mom would take us downtown, because we’d get to see Santa at Marshall Field and Company Santa Land. Then we’d buy brand new shoes at the only Buster Brown shoe store in Chicago, on Wabash Street. To get there, we had to walk through the intersection of State and Madison, the most famous corner in Chicago. The garish, blinking colored and strobe lights of the theaters, dance clubs, and cocktail lounges were a great distraction for me and my brothers, Steve and Tom. Mama had to herd us along the way like goats. My baby sisters, Phyllis and Janice, mostly just fussed like always.