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



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.  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.  

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.  I was going to visit Antonio’s cottage and meet some of his descendants.  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.


As I pulled into the driveway of the cottage I could see 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.  We snapped photos of us in the same locations. Love this! 

 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

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.  

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.   We decided to meet at Jay’s Beef so we could eat one of our families famous beef sandwiches.  Cousin Muriel dropped in to say hello and we all had a great extended visit. A wonderful way to end a perfect 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!



Yvonne Marguerite Porche Zeck

by  Phyllis Zeck

Yvonne Porche My mother-in-law was born in 23 Apr 1920 in Chicago, Illinois, she passed away 21 Jun 2007 in Vancouver, WA.  Yvonne had no siblings. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois and worked for a brief time as a social worker.  Yvonne married Francis H. C. Zeck on 20 Jan 1943 at the age of 22.  Her first son Francis Harry was born nine months later, and her second son Donald Arthur (my husband) was born in 1946.  Yvonne traveled the world with her husband Harry (see post about Francis H. C. Zeck) and was a loving and supportive military wife. Yvonne’s father was Arthur Harold Porche born 10 Feb 1895 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Arthur’s WW II draft card lists his address at 424 W. 60th Place in Chicago.  His employer was Illinois Iron and Bolt, his job title was a Division Sales Manager, and his work address was 918 S. Michigan Ave.  Arthur was killed in January 1947 in a small engine airplane crash.

Harry and Yvonne

Harry and Yvonne

Yvonne Porche Univ of Illinois

Yvonne Porche Univ of Illinois

The following is taken from an article in the Stars and Stripes newspaper; “Private Plane Explodes in Indiana, Killing 5.  Rensselaer Indiana Jan 26 1947 (his wife Alma’s birthday).  The pilot and four passengers were killed last night in the explosion and crash of a twin-engined Beechcraft private plane in a barnyard six miles southeast of Rensselaer.”  Arthur’s father was named J. George Porche born in 1856 in Louisiana and his mother was Amelia Tervalon born approx 1856.  Arthur had 6 siblings Edna, May, George, Stanley, Mildred, and Clifford.  Click here to read an article about the crash from The Arlington Heights Herald 31 Jan 1947. Arthur enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp on 03 Jun 1917.  Frank remembers his mother telling him that “Arthur was sent to France where he met with family members and served as an interpreter for the US Forces, and that he was wounded in the Battle of Belleau Wood”.  The muster roll from Sept 1918 listed Arthur #122479 Porche “trans. to S.O.S. Hospital”.  Click here to read the Muster Roll.  Most of the men listed with him on the muster roll have the following remarks “slightly wounded in action during attack on Hill 160.600 yds NW of Tigny Prov of the Aisne, France”.

Arthur Harold Porche

Arthur Harold Porche

Arthur Porche

Arthur Porche

The Battle of Belleau Wood was the first real taste of battle for the US Marines in WWI with General Pershing calling Belleau Wood the most important battle fought by US forces since the US Civil War.  Click here to read more about the Battle of Belleau Wood 1918. Yvonne’s mother was Alma Pauline Harrison born 26 Jan 1895 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Alma died in 1987 at the age of 92.  Alma had two sisters Violet and Beulah and she had a brother named Homer.   In 2011 email correspondence began

Sisters Alma and Beulah Harrison

Sisters Alma and Beulah

between Shirley and I.  Shirley is the granddaughter of Beulah.  Alma (Don’s grandmother) and Beulah are sisters.  Alma and Beulah’s parents were Pauline Barbara Baumann and Harry Hill Harrison.  Shirley has an extensive family tree account at Ancestry.com and she invited me to look at her tree, documents, and photos.  She has graciously agreed to share some of her research in this blog post.  I want to extend to her my sincere appreciation. Alma and Beulah’s grandparents were Matilda Johnson (1852-1922) and James Connor Baumann (1848-1928).  James Baumann was born on  27 Apr 1848 on the Atlantic Ocean aboard the ship the “James Corner”.  Thus he was given the name James Connor.  His parents Samuel Baumann and Maria Barbara Peterhans were immigrating from Stilli, Switzerland to New Orleans, Louisiana arriving 18 May 1848.  Samuel left behind his parents, three brothers and two sisters.  James was 3 weeks old when the ship docked.

James Connor Baumann approx 1921

James Connor Baumann approx 1921

James and Matilda married in 1868 and they had 10 children.  On 30 Jan 1870 James was appointed a Kennerville school director. The town of Kenner is 13 miles west of New Orleans.  My husband and I stopped in New Orleans during our honeymoon.  If only we’d known how close we were to Zeck ancestors we would definitely have detoured to Kenner!  In1880 James Baumann was elected Mayor of Kenner running for the Republican party.  The 1887 city directory lists James as a clerk for the 26th Judicial Court for Kennerville.  In 1891 he was an assistant foreman at the U.S. Mint.  Then on 40 Dec 1891 James was shot at and decided to leave Kenner.  Click here to read the newspaper clipping about the mysterious assault. He moved his family to 720 Lyon St in New Orleans. On 26 Sep 1892 the New York Times printed an article that James was “arrested and charged with being an accessory to the attempted assassination of Judge Long in Gretna in July.  He was taken to Gretna by Sheriff Landridge of Jefferson Parish and locked up.  Baumann’s arrest grows out of the confession of Dennis Richards, a negro who was arrested last Friday in swamp near Boutte.  Richards admits that he fired the shots which wounded Judge Long, but further says that Baumann offered him $100 to kill Long.

James & Matilda Baumann & family

James & Matilda Baumann and family

He also says that he was in communication with Baumann after the shooting, and that Baumann promised to send him money and use his influence to get him out of the trouble.”   Click here to read the full article.  A second article describes the evidence in more detail, click here to read the article.  James was eventually acquitted and went on to become a real estate agent. Click here to read the article from the Times-Picayune dated 26 Jan 1893 which states there was not enough evidence to hold and charge him.  From 1900-1915 James was appointed a U.S. Shipping Commissioner at the U.S. Custom House.  A 1902 newspaper article details the damage done by a lightening strike at the Baumann home.  Click here to read the article. James passed away in 1928 at the age of 79 in Los Angeles which is where he is buried.  You can see that newspapers play a huge roll in a genealogists quest to know their ancestors. I wonder if my mother-in-law knew that her great grandfather led such an interesting life.  In some journal notes left to us Yvonne wrote “Alma’s grandfather James came to visit us in Chicago.  Oh, how impressed I was with his tall slim stature, thatch of pure white hair and the fact he was born on the Atlantic coming from Germany.  Alma seems to have been in awe of these grandparents who gave Alma her first pick of the fruit from their own trees.” Yvonne wrote “Alma’s father used to tell funny, outrageous tales.  He used to hide lemon drops in his pocket and permit me to search for them.”

Yvonne Porche Zeck

San Francisco painted by Yvonne

Yvonne had a insatiable appetite for books and the arts.  She loved letter writing and appreciated rich textured stationary.  She was one of the most gracious and giving people I have ever known.  Mimi, as she was known after her first grandchild was born, was a talented painter.  She collected small charms from all over the world and always dressed in coordinating colors.  She must have had two dozen different colored Keds tennis shoes so that all of her outfits

Yvonne and Harry Zeck

Harry & Yvonne with Frank & Don

matched.  Mimi worked with miniatures and made a Christmas tree with miniature ornaments and gifts.  I put it on our table every year.  Mimi and Gramps loved to travel in their 40 foot Beaver motor coach.  Of all her passions I believe Mimi loved her family the most.


Yvonne, Harry & Don   Don remembers “I loved going to visit Mom.  Her smile would melt the snow on Mt Hood.  Mom always made me feel like a success.  She had to have everything in perfect order.  We’d go to her house for Sunday dinner and I would rearrange the order of the towels in the bathroom.  It drove her crazy!  Mimi kept in contact with her many life long friends over the years showing she appreciated the value of an old friend.” “I remember how Mom broke out in tears as we finished a hike on Mt. Hood.” Don continued.  “I showed her my secret valley and panoramic view.  Later she asked that her ashes be taken to that spot because it was so special.”   And that is exactly what Don and I did.