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


Christmas Time by Rob Winike

by  Phyllis Zeck

Christmas is always big at our house,because my parents suffered through Christmases with very little to spare during the Great Depression. Now they are effusive and generous to us kids, as no one in their generation, or even in their parents’ generation could have afforded to be. My grandfather tells us of many Christmases where he only received a stocking with a few candies and an orange, the only orange he would get to eat all year. One year, he says, his brothers were so wicked everyone in the family

Steve, Bob, and Tom Winike

got a lump of coal in their stocking. That was the second worst Christmas of his life. The worst we find out about later, when we’re older.

But Christmas in the Fifties, oh boy! Mama takes us on the “El” to Michigan Avenue, to see all the storefront windows brilliant with garish colors and sparkling shapes. Mechanical fairytale figures dance, skate, and twirl before our eyes, each window a different scene.

I am dreaming of Lionel trains after seeing the elaborate layout my cousin Bubba has. I ask my father if Santa will bring me a train set. He says, “You have to ask Santa that yourself.”  But I see the gleam in his eye; turns out he loves Lionels as much as I.




Elvira Ciolli Del Principe

by  Phyllis Zeck

Elvira Ciolli Del Principe

Elvira married Pietro around the age of 14 in approx 1888.  We know she had at least 15 children.  She came from a large family herself.  Brothers Amelio and Carmino (Charles) arrived aboard the Britannia on May 1, 1890.  Other siblings living in America were Henry, Gemma, Angelica, and Sparanza.  I believe the photo below is of Elvira and her sister Gemma Leone, although I couldn’t tell you which woman is Elvira! Gemma Leone lived across the street from Elvira and she is was Aunt Phyllis’ godmother.

Now we may have discovered our first link to family in Italy.  Through correspondence with a B&B in Pescasseroli, Salvatore writes

Elvira and sister (or friend)

“I’m not yet sure but your Grand Mother, Elvira Ciolli should be my great grand mother sister Ester Ciolli. They were about 15 brothers and sisters.  Ester Ciolli died when their children were very young. My Grand father Angelo was just 5, his sister Maria was 11. They have two more brother Paolo and Amelio which went to Usa.  My mother is Ester, as you can see her first name is after her Granny. To be sure I have to ask an old lady here in Pescasseroli and I’m waiting for my mother to arrange an encounter with her”.

We try to remain patient waiting for a response from Salvatore.  Life seems to move at a slower pace in Italy than in the USA!



Marriage Bann from 1854

by  Phyllis Zeck

Persons wishing to be married in Italy must appear with two witnesses and make a declaration of their intention to marry before the Ufficiale di Stato Civile (Civil Registrar) of the city or town where the marriage is to take place.  At the time of making their declaration the couple must present all required documents.  Following the declaration it is usually necessary for banns, or marriage ammouncement, to be posted at the local comune (city hall) for two consecutive Sundays before the marriage occurs if one of the parties is Italian or if the U.S. citizen is a resident of Italy.

On the fourth day following the second Sunday on which the banns are posted the couple may be married, either in a civil ceremony or a religious one.  A civil ceremony is performed by the Ufficiale di Stato Civile or one of his assistants.

Here is a marriage ban for the sister of my great grandfather Pietro.  Her name was Maria Domencia and below is our translation of what the document says.

Maria Domencia Del Principe's Marriage Bann

Dated on the 9th of Jul, 1854.  The groom is Samuele Nicola Del Principe, the adult son of Francesco and Beatrica (Crioli) Del Principe. The Bride is Maria Domencia, the adult daughter of Gaetano and Annamaria (Boccia) Del Principe.

My daughter Ashley and I found the bann on micro film that I had ordered from the LDS church in Salt Lake.  It took 3 weeks to arrive in Portland.  The reel is put on a projector  that enlarges the image.  There were  hundreds and hundreds of documents on one reel.  Once I spotted names I recognized, I saved the page as a jpg file and brought the files home.

Almost every document was signed by Nicola Del Principe.

This is the marriage bann of Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli and Filomena Ursitti.  We believe the translation is “The year of one-thousand, eight-hundred and fifty-four, on Sunday the sixteenth day of July at 1:00 pm, and been posted on the door of the municipal notification within the time prescribed by law for the solemn promise of marriage between Pietrantonio Ciolli the adult son of Raffaelo and of Sparanza, and Filomena Ursitti the minor dauther of Angelico and ??”.  Signature of the Civil Officer of the State.  Nicola del Principe.

Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli and Filomena Ursitti 1854

If you’d like to view a short video of how the LDS Church archives their records in Salt Lake City click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAzty9dd6rA




by  Phyllis Zeck

Margaret Heenan

Antonio was Pietro and Elvira’s first child.  He was born in 1888 in Pescasseroli, Italy.  He married Margaret Heenan and they had two daughters: Elvira Antionett (Snookie) and Eileen (Turk).

Elvira married Roy Edwin Weber.  They may have had a daughter named Margaret.  Eileen may have had one son.  If anyone knows of any relatives of Elvira or Eileen please send me any information you have.

Elvira (Snookie) played the accordion.

Elvira (Snookie)

Eileen (Turk) was a ventriloquist.

Eileen (Turk)


Margaret Snookie and Turk


Snookie and Turk



Newspaper Articles

by  Phyllis Zeck

Here is a page from the Chicago Tribune from July 18, 1948 discussing entertainment at Lilacea Park.    The seventh paragraph tells the community “Choral music will be presented Aug 19 and an accordion band from Del Principe school of Music, 5220 North Av., will be heard Aug 26.”