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


Send A Card

by  Phyllis Zeck

W1a_Send A Card-001


My cousin Toni sent me a copy of a letter that our grandfather wrote to her in 1980.  Click here to read it Letter from Grandpa 1980.  Thank you Toni for sharing this. 


W2a_Send A Card-002 copy



Baby Miller Surname Family Tree

by  Phyllis Zeck

Baby Miller Surname Tree sml
Last weekend was my daughter Ashley’s baby shower.  Her first child is due in 6 weeks.  I’ve been busy this winter preparing surprises for the baby shower. I gave Ashley the baby cup and silverware she used when she was a toddler. Twenty nine years ago my mother gave me a card to celebrate the birth of Ashley.  I kept that card and read it often.  I bought a new frame for the card and gave it to Ashley.  The card now sits on the baby’s bookshelf.  I gave Ashley the rocking chair that my mother bought for me so Ashley can rock her sweet babies to sleep the same way I rocked Ashley to sleep.  

My favorite gift that I gave to Ashley was Baby Miller’s genealogy book. It includes photographs of Ashley and of her husband Matt from the time they were babies through college.  There are also photos of Ashley and Matt from their wedding and Ashley’s pregnancy.  Pages are ready for photos of the baby shower, the baby’s arrival, and the baby’s baptism.  And of course the album includes photos of Ashley and Matt’s ancestors. 

The photo above is on the second page of the baby’s album.  This is a clever idea that I got from one of the genealogy blog posts that I follow.  I exported a report from Ancestry.com of the baby’s family surnames.  Then I copied and pasted the names over and over in a word document.  I printed the document and Don took a pencil and shaded in the tree.  Back on the computer I changed the color of the tree to brown in the word document.  I saved the file as a jpg and printed it!  

"The Newest Twig On The Family Tree"

“The Newest Twig On The Family Tree”

Now for a little down time as we wait out the next six weeks.  We don’t know if the baby will be a girl or a boy.  Our little bundle of joy is already showered with love and we can’t wait to meet her (or him)!  



Who Arrived First?

by  Phyllis Zeck

I’ve been gathering immigration documents from our Del Principe and Ciolli relatives to try to determine who was the first to arrive in the United States.  

The Belgravia

The Belgravia

Pietro (my great grandfather) arrived in the United States on May 21, 1891 onboard the Belgravia.  Click below for the record, you will be taken to a new page, click it to view.  Click the back button to return to the blog post.  Immigration Pietro Del Principe 1891 Ancesty.com. If you look closely at the record, the name after Pietro’s is the name of another Del Principe with the initial of M.  I have no idea who this is.  Darn those record keepers, would it really have hurt to write out the passengers full first name?! Listed next is D. Saltarelli, then L. Saltarelli, and G. A. DiPirro.  We have many Saltarelli’s in our family tree and Frank DiPirro married Anne Leone (daughter of Gemma Ciolli).  I can just imagine the partying that took place on that ship!

Pietro had a brother named Vincenzo who was born Jul 2, 1830. Vincenzo and his wife Lionarda Liboria Rossi were married on Jul 15, 1856.  They had at least two sons both born in Pescasseroli Italy; Giuseppe Donato (Daniel) born Apr 1, 1863 and Leonardo born Jun 1, 1866.  

Leonardo Del Principe’s port of departure was Naples, Italy aboard the ship Chateau Yqeum.  He arrived at the port of New York on May 21, 1888 at the age of 22, three years before Pietro.  Click here for the record Immigration Record Leonardo Del Principe Ancestry.com from Ancestry.com.  I did not find Leonardo in the census records of 1900, but I did find a marriage record for him and Alimarinta Barile on 30 Jul 1904 in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania.  Click here for the record  Del Principe Marriage Record Family Search.

Leonardo’s brother Guiseppe Donato’s (Daniel) port of departure was Naples, Italy aboard the ship Hindoustan.  He arrived at the port of New York on Dec 14, 1891.  His occupation is listed as a farmer and his last residence was Pescasseroli.  Click here for the record G. Donato Del Principe 1891 Hindoustan FamilySearch.org.  Four years later Leonardo traveled from Italy to New York aboard the ship Werra.  Click here for the records Donato Del Principe 1895 Werra Ancestry.com and G. Donato Del Principe 1895 Werra FamilySearch.org.  There is one more record of Donato coming to New York from Italy this time in 1898.  G. Donato Del Principe 1898 Kaiser Wilhelm II FamilySearch.org.  The record states he was aboard the Kaiser Wilhelm, his occupation is a Porter, his home town is Pescasseroli, and he is able to read and write.

Pietro had one more brother who came to America.  Antonio Luigi Del Principe was born on Mar 12, 1839 and died on Mar 11, 1928 in the Bronx in New York.  He had three sons that I know of; Nicholas, Henry, and Peter.  I was unable to locate any immigration information for Antonio in either Ancestry.com, Family Search or the Ellis Island webseite.

The Weser

The Weser

The first Ciolli’s to immigrate appear to be Carmino J. age 15 and Oreste Emilio age 33.  They arrived on May 1, 1890 aboard the Britannia.  Click here for the record  Emilio and Carmino Immigration 1890 Ancestry

Following her brothers was Elivra Ciolli (my great grandmother) age 25 with three of her sons Antonio, Giusepppe, and Amelio.  They arrived on Aug 21, 1893 aboard the Weser.  Click here for the record Elvira Ciolli 1893 Ancestry.com Record.  The Weser was 351 feet long and 40 feet wide and could accommodate 880 passengers (60 first class, 120 second class, 700 third class aka steerage).  It was built in 1867 and scrapped in 1896.  How is it possible that a ship this size could hold that many people?  Perhaps the crew is included in the third class count. I wonder if Elvira ever got any sleep trying to keep track of 3 toddlers.  I’d be worried that they might fall overboard or get lost in the crowd! 

Angelica Ciolli arrived in New York on board the ship Columbia on Dec 6, 1900 when she was 19 years old.  The spelling of her name is wrong in Ancestry.com, it’s spelled Angelia.  Click here for the record Angelica Ciolli 1900.  Her information is on line 1.  She is listed as single, occupation is seamstress, she is able to read and write, her nationality is Italian, her residence is Pescasseroli, her final destination is Chicago, she did not have a ticket to Chicago, she paid her own passage, she had $20.00, she had never been to the United States, she is joining her sister Elvira Ciolli, she was never in prison or supported by a charity, she was not a polygamist, her mental and physical health was good, she not deformed or crippled.  What a treasure trove of information!  Angelica was so brave if she traveled alone.  I did not recognize any family names listed along side her name.  Maybe she traveled with a neighbor or friend.  

Gemma Ciolli arrived in New York on Aug 16, 1901 aboard the Patria.  She was 46 years old.  Click here for the record Gemma Ciolli Immigration 1901 Ancestry. Gemma appears on line 54 of the ships manifest.  She was detained because she had “insuff. money to Chicago”.  The disposition column reads “to go to husb, Giacomo Leone, 165 Forquer St Chicago, Ill”.   Gemma was discharged Aug 21st at 10:00 am.  She was detained 4 days.  How scary must that have been?!  Under the meals columns the following was logged: Breakfast 4, Dinner 4, Supper 4.  Was she charged for her meals?  What if her husband wired money for transportation from New York to Chicago but not enough to pay for the 4 days of food on the ship?  She was probably terrified that she would be sent back to Italy.

Bibbiana Celestina, Henry, and Speranza (Mary) also came to the United States however I have not been able to locate their immigration records.

The Hills of Pescasseroli

The Hills of Pescasseroli

And so the answer to the question Who Arrived First? seems to be Pietro’s nephew Leonardo Del Principe, Carmino & Emilo Ciolli were next, then Pietro followed closely behind.  I wonder what took Leonardo to Pennsylvania and Carmino, Emilo, and Pietro to Chicago.  Just think, if they had not ventured to America along with all the Del Principe and Ciolli’s who followed, we would all be running around the hills of Pescasseroli, Italy instead of spread out across the United States of America.



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.