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



by  Phyllis Zeck

The Church of San Pietro and Paolo in Pescasseroli

In the winter of 2010 my cousin Joe and I began corresponding regularly about our family history.  I told him I felt I’d gone as far as I could with my independent research.  My daughter and I had searched the micro film at the Family History Library in Portland (see blog from Dec 23, 2010) for the birth record of my great grandfather Pietro and were unsuccessful in finding it.  Joe had begun correspondence with the parish priest at the church of San Pietro and Paolo in Pescasseroli in the hopes of obtaining the birth record of his father Giuseppe Florian who was born in 1889.

We decided we could use a researcher of our own.  How would we find someone?  I have been watching the tv show Who Do You Think You Are.  The featured star always has their documents ready to view when they arrive at their research facility.   This was not going to be the way it worked for us.

I wrote to some professionals who posted their services on Ancestry.com but received half hearted responses.  Then I stumbled upon a website called GenTracer.  Kathy Kirkpatrick specialized in Italian research, and she lived in Salt Lake City so she had access to the Family History Library.  Her fee was low, she responded quickly to our emails, she seemed like the perfect fit.  And she was!  Within one month we had our report in hand.   Thanks to GenTracer we are now able to fill in many gaps in our family tree.

Kathy’s report told us that “women used their maiden names throughout their lives. Italian naming patterns result in the first born son and daughter being named for the father’s parents, while the second son and daughter are named for the parents of the mother.  If one of the children with an important name dies, the next child born of that sex is given that name”.

Click this link to see a PDF file which shows the family tree more clearly:
Pedigree Chart for Pietro Giovanni Del Principe

Click this link to see a PDF file which shows family group records (it takes a few seconds to open): Family Group Record Del Principe

I thought my great grandfather Pietro had no siblings. Wrong!  Cesidio Gaetano Del Principe and Annamaria Boccia had many children.  Annamaria Boccia was the daughter of Cesidio Boccia (Cesidio’s father was Michele Boccia) and Maria Domenica Gentile (Maria Domenica parents were Antonio Gentile and Lucia Sant’Ercole).

Cesidio and Annamaria’s first born child was named Vincenzo, then came Maria Domenica, Lucia Carmina, Antonio Luigi, Berorda, Gerardo, another Gerardo born 2 years later, Maria Scolastica , and Pietro Giovanni.  Joe and I now know our great grandfather Pietro was given Giovanni for his middle name.

Cesidio Gaetano Del Principe was born in 1799 and was the son of Mattio Del Principe and Maria Scolastica Salterelli (daughter of Anseleto Salterelli).  Thanks to Giovanni Del Principe I know that Cesidio’s siblings were named: Donato, Francesco Mattia, Michelangelo, Domenico Leonardo and Giustino Gennaro.

Mattio Del Principe was born in 1761 and his parents were Donato Del Principe and Maria Tarquinio.

Donato Del Principe was born in 1744 and his father was named Mattio Del Principe.  Unfortunately we don’t know the year that Mattio was born.  I’m guessing it would have been around 1700.

Wow!  This was a lot of information to take in but I was excited that I could now document the Del Principe name 7 generations back.

Kathy from GenTracer also supplied us with official records that I will scan and add to my next blog.  If you can read Italian, you’ll be thrilled.  If you can’t read Italian, it’s still pretty exciting to skim the birth, baptism, marriage, and death records of our ancestors.




My Ciolli Cousin – Allen Adezio

by  Phyllis Zeck

Allen Adezio is my 2nd cousin 1 time removed.  Allen’s parents are Carmella Leone and Cesidio Adezio (aka D’Addezio).  Carmella’s parents were Speranza (Mary) Ciolli and Joseph Leone.  Speranza was the sister of my great grandmother Elvira.

In January I received an email from Allen’s wife, Marie, stating that her husband was a descendant of the Ciolli family.  She is also interested in genealogy so as you can imagine this was the beginning of many, many email exchanges.

The Leone Family

Here is a photo of Lillian, Speranza Ciolli & her husband Joseph Leone, and Carmella.  Lillian and Carmella are their daughters.



The  photo below is of Carmella Leone and Cesidio Adezio on their wedding day June 20, 1923.  These are Allen’s parents.

Carmella Leone & Cesidio Adezio







Josephine & Gladys




This is a photo of Josephine, born in 1909 and Gladys born in 1914 (Speranza and Joseph’s daughters).





Allen and Marie traveled to Pescasseroli Italy several years ago.  They found the Ciolli home which has now been remodeled into several apartments.  Here is a photo of the home.

Ciolli Home in Pescasseroli Italy.

Several people came out to the street and they all tried to communicate and ask about the house but the language barrier was too great, they couldn’t understand each other.  A woman sent one of the young girls into the house and she came back with a large book.  The book was opened to a photo of a woman laid out for her wake.  We think this may be a photo of Filomena; Speranza and Elvira’s mother.

In the birth records of her children it is noted that Filomena Ursitti was a “property owner”.  Her husband Amabile Ciolli was the town’s Apothecary.  We had always heard that Elvira’s parents were wealthy and important people.  Is this why the town published a photo of her in a book?  What is the name of the book?  Is the person in the book Filomena?

Marie has sent me charts with family names and dates that I will add to my Ancestry.com account.   Thank you to Marie for the wonderful photos, information, and stories.  I look forward to learning more about her travels and my Ciolli ancestors.



Home Movies

by  Phyllis Zeck

Corinne with Bobby and Mark

When I was a child Grandpa Gilbert was in charge of the movie camera.  It was expensive to buy the film and have it developed so you had to choose what you were going to record very carefully. Summer Sunday nights were movie nights.  It was always the same routine.  My father insisted we have barbequed hamburgers and hot dogs with corn on the cob and watermelon for desert.  Sunday was his one day off and mom always made sure his day was special.  Daddy would tumble the charcoal brochettes into the grill and pour on lighter fluid.  He’d toss in a match and with a “whoosh” the flames ignited.  Then the lid went on the grill.



Joseph Rachor (Papa Joe) and Grace M. Norder Winike Rachor

  While he waited for the coals to get hot, Daddy and Papa Joe would play horseshoes.  We’d watch from our swing set as the game commenced.  Daddy at one end of the yard, Papa Joe at the other.  Papa Joe would take his stance, one leg straight, one leg bent.  He’d rock back and forth 3 or 4 times as he brought the horseshoe up to his chin.  He’d take aim, pull his arm back, and let her rip!  The horseshoe slammed into the metal post with a clang and spun around a few times before coming to rest.  The dirt beneath the horseshoe flew up then floated down.  They never got tired of that game. Papa Joe was daddy’s step father.  He and daddy’s mother lived in an apartment on the second floor of our home.  Papa Joe worked for 7-UP.   I will never forget their classic slogan “You Like It – It Likes You”.   Nobody could tell a scary ghost story like our Papa Joe!

Cousins Toni and Gina

Grandpa would send someone out to his garden to pick tomatoes for the hamburgers.  There is nothing in this world like the taste of homegrown tomatoes.  Grandpa used to eat them like an apple.  He’d take a little bite so some of the skin was removed.  Then he’d take the salt shaker and pour on the salt.  Now a large bite, and tomato juice dripped down and around the tomato.  Delicious! After the dinner dishes were done Grandpa would pull the projection screen out of the closet and open the tri pod.  He’d pull the white screen up and latch it over the black hook.  Then he would set up the projector at the kitchen table.  We’d pull down the shades and the kids would clamor for seats on the benches around the table.  Grandpa would order that the lights to be turned off and the movie began. Of course there was no sound in those bulky older movie cameras but Grandpa was giving us instructions as he filmed us.  Run around the tree in the front yard.  Jump up and down.  Girls “brush the hair out of your eyes” and my arms along with my sisters flew up to our face to brush our hair back.

Some of my siblings and me

Then we hear the inevitable “snap”.  The film broke.  We’d all groan with a collective sigh and Grandpa would order that the lights be turned on.  He’d get out his splicing kit and lickety split, he’d have that film spliced and back on the projector.  The lights were turned off and we continued watching the movies. Several years ago my sister Lori and I collected that old film and we took it to a videographer and had the movies put on mini DV tapes.  I’ve added those movies to my iMac and now I can splice the movies to my hearts content. Click below for a 3 minute video of the Winike and Vincent (Auntie Phyllis’ Children) families.



Uncle Hank Takes Us for Coffee-and

by  Rob Winike


Coffee-and was a term invented by Uncle Hank. He loved rounding up us kids and taking us out on Saturday morning for Coffee-and Danish, Coffee-and Canolli, or even Coffee-and Sliders at White Castle. He just genuinely loved being in the company of a lot of kids.

On a hot humid Chicago July morning he might take us for coffee and ice cream sandwiches. During the summer breaks he might show up any morning of the week, and yell “Coffee-and! Anybody wanta’ go?!”

Yeah, hey! My brothers and sisters will spill out of their rooms like marbles, and when we still lived in the old neighborhood, cousins poured out of the apartments down the hall, floor to floor. When we were all packed into Uncle Hank’s 1948 Willys Jeep Station Wagon, we felt proud to be part of the “arrangement” we had with him. He would tease us with “How about some Coffee-and spinach?”

Sffpppt! We want Coffee-and Sliders! That was our favorite, especially on a cold, soaking wet morning. The arrangement was that he listened to us, and then decided where to go based on someone’s suggestion, be it from a bigger kid or a little one. He also loved his deli food, though, and had favored spots all over the South Side and West Side. These kinds of delis don’t exist anymore. The owners knew the tastes of their patrons like a doctor knows his patients. Uncle Hank enjoyed a bowl of chili, even for breakfast. Rail thin as he was, that might have been his only meal of the day.

He was reverent, but not churchy – before any sips or nibbles, he instructed us to bow our heads, make the sign of the cross and say “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, protect us.”

Uncle Hank lived with Uncle Paul’s family in one of two tenements the family owned. Ours was on the busy street, Harrison Street. His was on a side street across the alley, on Bell Avenue. Ours had only a pad of cement for a back yard, often cluttered with automobile parts and building supplies. His had a small patch of grass and a tall plank fence to keep out intruders. There was a chestnut tree in the middle of the yard with broad limbs strong enough to hold 5 or 6 kids at once.

When the Winike family moved to Villa Park, it was pure country out there – part marshes and meadows from Salt Creek, with woods everywhere. Uncle Hank loved getting out of the city into the country, and drove over an hour to round us up and look for Coffee-and that might be good to have in our sleepy town.

A couple of Grandpa’s others brothers had Willys Wagons as well, but painted them a different color. They were ideal for big family outings. As in, outings with your BIG FAMILY!

By 1959, he’d already made several trips to Arizona and always returned with fantastic western stories, photos, and souvenirs to show us. He once gave me a mounted collection of Arizona rocks and minerals. Then he showed me how to make my own collection box, with cardboard divisions and cotton backing, so I could mount different kinds of bugs and butterflies on pins. He made me the collector of fascinating objects that I am today.

I remember some of the other uncles jibing him about driving all the way out to “the desert” for two weeks every year.

But he must have inspired at least a few of the Del Principes to embrace life in Arizona, because quite of few of younger generations and their families have, such as Uncle Frank’s son, Luke; as well as my brother, Steve Winike.

Gentle voice, calm and slow demeanor were the big things I remember most about Uncle Hank’s personality. He worked as an elevator operator in the old Sears building in The Loop, and retired from there after 61 years. He could never have stood it for so long if he wasn’t such a calm and patient man.

This is a 6-Transistor radio, identical to the one Uncle Hank gave me. It was a big upgrade from the first one he gave me from the junkpile. It even had an earplug jack. I tried listening to the World Series with it, during class, but the teacher took it away. I explained that it was my hearing device, but he wouldn’t hear of it!

Wizardry with gadgets and electronics was his forte. His workshop looked like a cross between Leonardo Di Vinci’s and Gepetto’s. We were never allowed to go in there without him, and only one child at a time. He’d say, “Do NOT touch A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G,” drawing it out to make sure we heard it, then, “Ya folla?”

To get into it, you had to go underneath his back porch, down a stairwell that he’d dug out himself, through a door with three locks. It was a short door, and he had to duck to go in. We would tease him, “You should get a bigger door, Uncle Hank!” He’d chortle and say, “I’m a short guy, what’sa bigger door for?”

Sly like a fox, he was. Coffee-and was his special and unique gift — to our parents, and especially my grandfather — to sleep in, with no kids around. Grandpa was Uncle Hank’s best friend, and he wanted to give his brother the gift of peace. They were the closest two brothers in the family with many shared enthusiasms, one being Chicago Cubs baseball.

It turns out, the best gift he ever gave to me, he’d reclaimed from a junk pile. A 4-transistor radio, rare back then, was a treat few other kids had. It allowed me to listen to Cub games after school and on Saturdays. Cousins and school chums would crowd around me to hear Lou Boudreau’s shouting and the crowd going wild at Wrigley Field. Later he replaced it with a 6- and then a 9-transistor model, which allowed hands free listening while you rode your bike. The early models had to be held close to your ear.  

Uncle Hank also taught me how to keep score with an official baseball scorecard, which made following the game on the radio a real-time experience. Not only was I more involved in the game, it taught me to envision things out of my range. It encouraged me to use my imagination. And to appreciate some of the special joys that only kids growing up in Chicago would.





Francesco Nova

by  Phyllis Zeck

Frank was the youngest of Pietro and Elvira’s sons, he was born in 1908.  His middle name means New.

 Elvira’s second child was born in 1889 and named Francesco.  He died as an infant in Pescasseroli, Italy.

Frank married Edith Veronica Vitullo and they had two children Muriel and Frank “Luke”.  

Frank worked for his brother Tony at the accordion store on Wabash Ave, in the Loop in downtown Chicago.  When Tony died from his injuries after a fall off a ladder, Frank took over the store.  Tony’s wife Margaret became Frank’s business partner.  Frank later moved the store to Cicero Ave & Madison St.

Luke’s daughter Lisa remembers the music stores well.  Her brothers took drum and guitar lessons and she used to listen to all the 45 records.