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

Mar29th2019

Aerial View of Pescasseroli & Opi

by  Phyllis Zeck

Pescasseroli Italy Del Principe

Pescasseroli, Italy

This winter I was looking for some images to purchase for the walls of our new home. I bought these panoramic photos of the towns of Pescasseroli and Opi. After having 11×14 prints made I bought new frames and hung the photos in my bedroom. They look wonderful. The photo on the left is the birth town of my great grandparents Cesidia Elvira Tranquilla Ciolli (1867-1939) and Pietro Giovanni Del Prinicipe (1853-1922). The photo below is the town of Opi where my great great grandmother Filomena Ursitti was born in 1837.  Filomena married Don Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli and they raised their family in Pescasseroli. 

Opi Italy

Opi, Italy

While I was looking for photos I came across the website Life in Abruzzo. If you plan to visit Italy this site has some info about the community of Pescasseroli and things to do in the town. The writer mentions Salvatore, the owner of the B&B via Della Piazza, at the end of the article.

 

 
 

Apr7th2018

Chicago Panhandling in 1914

by  Phyllis Zeck

del principe, ciolliI have a subscription to Newspapers.com and every so often I jump onto the website to search for articles about our Del Principe and Ciolli relatives.  I found a very interesting one page article from the Chicago Tribune dated Sunday April 19, 1914 which contained my great grandfather Pietro (Peter) Del Principe’s name. The photos are amazing however the author’s writing skills are certainly different from what we would read in todays news stories. There are 2 photos of the author playing Pietro’s hand organ.

You can read the whole article by clicking the pdf here Chicago Tribune Apr 19, 1914 however it can be hard on the old eyes. Zoom in to read the text.  

This is what the author wrote about my great grandfather. The section titled No One Cared for the Music says: “There are several reason why hand organ begging has its drawbacks. In the first place it is hard to get hold of a hand organ in Chicago. The art seems to be passé. Finally I got a tip through one of the big music houses that an Italian over at Harrison and Jefferson streets might have one of the instruments.  Peter del Principe had one, I found, and he promised to loan it to me. But when I went back the next day, dressed for the job (as a begger), there was nothing doing. He merely shook his head and muttered. It took a $20 deposit to get hold of a the battered affair. Afterward, when I asked Signor del Principe to explain, he grunted, “No lika da elo’s!”  

The author continued “I located in front of a saloon on the west side with a “please help the blind” sign pinned to my coat and placed my hat on the wheezy organ to catch the flow of gold.  Peeking out of the corner of one eye, I could see that I wasn’t “making good” at all. It seemed so easy for the pedestrians – men, women, and children, old and young – to pass me by. Every third note on the organ was flat, and the tune was of the “Don’t Turn Away, Madge, I am Still Your Friend” vintage. Just about when the thing was repeating the chorus for the fifth time the owner of the saloon came and tapped on the window. When I tried my luck farther up the street two Italians came along and one of them bent over me with a gutteral something about “Americano” butting in on somebody else’s trade.”

The rest of the article is interesting and I was able to create a visual for myself of what downtown Chicago was like in 1914 based on the photos and the authors narration. This was a fun find for me and I hope I can turn up more newspaper articles about our ancestors.

 
 

Dec16th2017

Digital Gifts from Francesco Gentile

by  Phyllis Zeck

The last 7 years of genealogy research have bought so many wonderful new relatives and friends into my life. Thanks to email, the internet and facebook I’ve been able to deepen these friendships and I  hope that one day I will meet these wonderful people in person. This year  Francesco Gentile was kind enough to send me some amazing images and a genealogy pedigree PDF chart that I want to share with family today.

Non Solo Pizza

Francesco and his wife Hala live in Pescasseroli Italy, the birth place of many of my ancestors. Hala and Francesco own a restaurant called Non Solo Pizza. The photo above was taken of Francesco and Hala by my cousin Joe Del Principe when Joe and his wife visited Italy in 2011. I have a few ancestors with the last name of Gentile in my family tree and although we are related, I have not yet found my genetic connection to Francesco. Antonio Gentile born in 1753 is my 4th great grandfather and his daughter Maria Domenica Gentile born in 1780 is my 3rd great grandmother.

The jpg images below are official birth records from our family church in Pescasseroli. I was thrilled to find among them for the first time a record of my maternal great grandmother Elvira!  Perhaps the reason that I have not been able to find the record in the past is that her full given name was Cesidia Elvira Tranquilla Ciolli which I did not know until Francesco generously supplied the record. 

I have tried to piece together the full given names and correct birth year for the children of Filomena Ursitti and Don Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli (my great great grandparents) and have listed them below.  If you are researching your family trees I hope these records will clarify names and birth years.  Please email me if your records do not agree with the labels I’ve given to the images below.

Click below to download a file of my genealogy research from Ancestry.com of Filomena Ursitti’s descendants.
Descendants of Filomena Ursitti Dec 17, 2017

Click below to download a pdf file of Francesco’s family tree. There is a treasure trove of information in this document.  You’ll have to put on your detective hat and use google translator to figure out the clues if you don’t speak Italian though.  For starters, it looks like Pietrantonio Amabile born in 1830 had a brother named Belissario Fedele born in 1834 (see page 10). 
Francesco Gentile Ciolli Family Tree

Below are Francesco’s digital records of what I decipher names and birth years for Filomena and Pietrantonio Amabile’s children to be.  Click once on the image to view it, then click on it again to enlarge it.  Thank you so much Francesco for these priceless family records!

 
 

Apr25th2016

Mending A Broken Heart

by  Phyllis Zeck

Auntie Phyllis  and her great grandchild

Auntie Phyllis and her great grandchild

This weekend I edited more of the three interviews that my brother Rob and I recorded with Auntie Phyllis in 2011.  Auntie was my mother Corinne’s older sister. You can listen to the first interview by clicking here. I’ve skipped ahead to our third interview but will be editing the other two interviews as time permits. In this discussion we asked auntie what has given her the most pleasure and satisfaction in her life. “My children”, she told us. Phyllis and Richard had five children; Mark, Toni, Ricky, Gina, and Michele.

We also talked about my genealogy research and how pleased auntie was to begin correspondence with her first cousin, Joe Del Principe.  Rob then moved the discussion to God, faith, miracles, and Heaven. Auntie Phyllis encourages her descendants (in 2011 she had 14 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren) to follow their dreams. We ended with a story about how Auntie “calmly” explained to an aide in her assisted living center the difference between spaghetti and macaroni.

Auntie’s daughter Michele shares a memory below about her mother, thank you Michele!

“My First Broken Heart. I suffered my first broken heart at the age of 15 and I’ll never forget how my mother helped me get over it. After I had been lying in my mother’s bed crying for a couple of days, my mom came home from work one day with a little pink and white heart shaped pillow about 6″ x 6″. Coming from a family of five children, we didn’t often get spontaneous gifts so it meant a lot to me and I knew it was an effort to help me get through my first broken heart. The pillow itself was nothing special but for some reason I kept it in my cedar chest for years. When I’d see it, It would remind me of my first love and my first broken heart.

Auntie Phyllis & Michele (appor 2010)

Auntie Phyllis & Michele (approx 2010)

Fast forward many years, and my grown daughter is lying on her bed crying her eyes out over her first broken heart and suddenly I understood. My heart was breaking watching my daughter with her first broken heart. I wanted so badly to help her get through it. I so wished there was something I could do or say to help her and I felt helpless. My heart hurt. I went to my cedar chest and picked up the pink and white heart pillow. It no longer represented my first broken heart. I now understood that when my mother gave me this heart pillow, it was because her heart was breaking and she wanted to do something, anything, to help me. It was now about my mother’s love for me. I knew what I had to do. I handed the heart pillow to my daughter and told her about my first broken heart and how my mother helped me get through it.”

Click on this button below to listen to an excerpt from our interview with Auntie Phyllis in 2011.

 
 

Mar28th2016

A Chance To Hear Auntie Phyllis Laugh Again

by  Phyllis Zeck

Phyllis Vincent

Phyllis, Gilbert, & Corinne

Gilbert Del Principe and Bertha Reher married in Chicago on 27 Nov 1926. Phyllis Elvira was born in 1927 and my mother Corinne was born in 1931. I now realize that Auntie Phyllis was named after my 2nd great grandmother Filomena Ursitti.  

Mom and Auntie suffered some traumatic events early in life. They were both with their grandmother Elvira at Christmas Eve Mass when Elvira passed away in 1939. And they were both with their mother Bertha when she passed away at home in 1947. Auntie Phyllis was 19 and mom was 16.  Auntie Phyllis would soon marry Richard and leave Chicago to settle in Connecticut. Auntie had 5 children and mom had 8 children. This equaled plenty of grandchildren for Grandpa to spoil.

Mom and Auntie tried to see each other often and I have such fond memories of vacations with my cousins. Calling each other on the phone was a luxury for mom and Auntie that our children would not be able to comprehend. Long distance calls were very expensive and once the sisters started chatting there was no stopping them. When my aunt and mother got together those two ladies laughed and talked non stop.  I can still hear them as if it was yesterday. 

Phyllis Vincent Corinne Winike

Sisters

In 2011 my brother Rob and I recorded an interview with Auntie Phyllis. I had just begun my genealogy research and knew Auntie Phyl had some great stories to tell. I recently played those files and found myself laughing out loud and smiling. What a great idea we had and why hadn’t we thought of it earlier so we could have recorded our mother!? Click the link below to listen to part of the interview. This is the 1st audio clip in our series. To listen to the other interviews, click on the box titled “Vincent Family” in the categories box to the right.

Click below to listen to Auntie talk about how her older cousin Elvira (Snookie) gave Auntie Phyllis a bike she had outgrown. She tells us how grandpa taught her to ride it. We also discuss childhood illnesses (my mother had scarlet fever) and a lesson auntie and mom learned about washing the dishes in a timely manner.