Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolution - Research Log

I have enjoyed reading the blog conversation discussing the paradigm shift taking place in genealogy in the last couple of weeks.  Michael Hait began the discussion with The Genealogy Paradigm Shift: Are bloggers the new "experts"?.  There was a wonderful discussion that followed in the comments section.  Marian Pierre-Louis wrote a great reply in Are Bloggers Really the New Experts? , Are Bloggers Really the New Experts Part 2 and Genre and Genealogy

The discussion really got me to thinking about how I fit into this picture.  I am a thirty three year old mother of two young children.  I have been researching my family since my junior year of college.  I am a member of my local genealogy society.  And I have been writing this blog for about 10 months.

I consider myself to be an intermediate level researcher.  I do not have aspirations to become a professional genealogist.  I am just as comfortable on the internet as in an courthouse or archive library.  I have taken a genealogy vacation and believe in the importance of correctly citing your sources.

One of the biggest points I have taken away from the discussion is the importance to be aware that others are reading my blog.  I know that the list of people on my blog as followers are not my family so I am assuming that you are a fellow genealogist.  I do not know why you have chosen to read my blog but I would like to keep you as a reader.  I do not plan on my blog being written at a professional level.  My style of writing is basically the conversation I have with myself in my head.  If you want to know more about my research, including citations, I would love for you to email me.

I have mentioned several times this year how this blog has changed my research.  Some of the changes have come from the focus writing brings.  Other changes have come from being a part of the blogging community and reading other genealogy blogs.  Genealogy blogs have opened my eyes to the educational opportunities out there.  In the last year, I have learned from individual blog posts, watched genealogy webinars, listened to genealogy radio and to genealogy pod casts, and read case studies that are posted online.

I do not consider myself perfect by any means.  In fact, I have a dirty little genealogy secret.  While I am careful to cite everything, I have never really kept a research log.  I have kept some to-do lists but they in no way cut it.  Over the years I have read over and over that research logs are one of the fundamentals of genealogy research.  I have always looked at a research log as an extra step that just takes too much time and impeds any forward momentum when pausing to document the steps.  I am learning this is not so.

I have recently watched Research Logs: Part 1 and Research Logs: Part 2 available on  I have also looked at the research logs available on Google Docs in the forms section.  I have taken parts of each to create my own digital research log in excel.

So by this time I am sure that you are wondering how on earth this is all going to tie in to my New Year's Resolution.  I just want to say that I am listening to the call to "lead by example" as Marian Pierre-Louis says or "put your best face forward" as Michael Hait commented.  I am going to start keeping a detailed research log as my New Year's resolution.  I am going to be a better genealogist and hopefully help influence someone else who is reading my blog to be a better researcher too.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!

This holiday season has been very busy for us. I am loving every minute watching Christmas through my 3 year old's eyes.  I see Christmas lights in a whole new way this year.  The Christmas House in our town is so decorated inside and out that the family lives in their RV in the driveway.  It is definitely one of my daughter's favorite things this year.  Every time we are in the car, she asks to drive by.  I should also mention that any house with lights elicits a "O Wow!" as we pass.

I am promising myself to sit down and write all of the great memories down the day after Christmas.  It is so important to take a moment to document our own personal histories to share with future generations.  I know how I treasure any personal stories I find about my ancestors.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  

Friday, December 16, 2011

An Early Christmas Present For A New Friend

A couple of months ago, offered free access to their immigration files for free.  I downloaded any and all possible records related to my Italian roots.  I noticed on one passenger ship record that my great uncle traveled to the United States with several people with the last name Avetta.  What caught my eye was that they were from the same small town.  

As mentioned in prior blog posts about my paternal grandfather's Italian roots, my family comes from a small town outside of Torino, Italy.  I knew that the chances were small that multiple people traveled from the same small town to the the area around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania without knowing each other.  I did a search for the Avetta surname and found a family tree on 

I emailed the owner of the tree who replied that she did not have any Ciardonei's or Siletto's in her immediate family tree but we should keep in touch because Cossano is a small town (At its height, it boasted a population of 1000).  We have been emailing back and forth all Fall with encouragement and research ideas.  I even received a photo of my g-g-grandparents that my new genealogy friend found in a book about Cossano.

I found church records on microfilm for Cossano Canavese, Piedmonte, Italy on and have been busy combing though them the last couple of weeks.  After several emails, I convinced my genealogy friend to send me a couple of name to look for.

I blocked off Tuesday night on my calendar to just research the names I had received at my local Family History Center.  I found baptism and marriage records for several generations.  I had so much fun!  I was giddy every time I found a new record because I knew it was another piece for an early Christmas present.

I scanned all of the images and came home to organize my findings. I was able to fill out a 4 generation chart for each of the names that were sent to me.  I stayed up late so that I could upload the files and pedigree chart to a share website on Sugarsync.  My new friend was so excited to get the images that she even wished she could stay home from work the next day to check them out.

It was such a great feeling to find and send these images knowing what excitement they were going to bring.  I think that even though I have not met this new friend in person, this will probably be one of my favorite Christmas gifts I give this year.  I am also convinced that we will find a common ancestor as I see some common surnames so this research friend might also turn into family.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Another Self Addressed Envelope

That tingle of excitement is back!  There was a self addressed envelope in the mail today.  I want to repeat just how much I love these envelopes. 

I now have a death certificate for Salvatore Siletto.  To refresh your memory, Sal Siletto is my grandfather's, Celio "Jay" Capelli's, uncle.  His wife, Anne, was a witness in my grandpa's naturalization paperwork.  Since Siletto is the maiden name of my great-grandmother, I asked family if there was a connection.  My grandmother confirmed that Sal was the younger brother of grandpa's mother, Adele.  I now know that Sal immigrated to the United States in March 1921, he became a naturalized citizen, and was a baker in Pittsburgh.  Sal's passenger manifest listed his mother as Dominica Brunero.  I also found a 1938 passenger manifest entry for a Lucia Siletto Brunero who was going to visit her son, Salvatore Siletto in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Sal's death certificate confirms most of the information I have already found.  His wife was Anne Bordone.  He was born 17 December 1900 in Italy.  He worked as a baker and lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

The death certificate also lists some new information.  Sal died 27 July 1967 of carcinoma of the lung.  He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The best part is that Sal's parents are listed as Joseph Siletto and Lucia Brunnero.

I now have indirect evidence that proves Salvatore Siletto is my grandfather's uncle.  I am so excited that I have made so much headway in researching my grandfather's family.  I have another piece of the puzzle since Sal was not listed in the baptism records from Cossano Canavese, Italy.  The church records only went through 1899.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Follow Friday - Fancy Nancy: My Family History by Jane O'Connor

Books are a big deal in my house.  Everyone in my family, including the 6 month old, loves to read.  Earlier this year, I was excited when my mom gave my toddler a book that included genealogy. (You can never start them too young!) 

Fancy Nancy: My Family History by Jane O'Connor is an I Can Read Level 1 book.  It tells the story of Nancy's school project to write an ancestor report.  Since all of Nancy's ancestors are deceased ("That is fancy for dead."), she interviews her grandfather to learn about his dad.  Nancy gathers facts, writes her report, and then rewrites her report.  The re-write is necessary to eliminate the embellishments Nancy included the first time around to make her "ordinary" ancestors more exciting. 

I love to read this book to my daughter.  It gives me a chance to connect my daughter with my favorite hobby in a way that an almost three year old can understand.  I also like that it has lessons for adults.  The best place to start with your family history is to interview the living.  You should always gather facts.  You should write a research report for the information you find.  All of us have ancestors who are considered "boring" and it is okay.  

I definitely recommend this book to any geneamommy out there.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sorting Saturday - How Do You Save Email Correspondence?

My husband is giving me a few hours today to get some genealogy organizing accomplished.  I have a bunch of emails that have been sitting in my inbox that have photos attached.  Today I am saving those photos to my hard drive and adding citations. 

I have decided that I also want to save the emails in my surname folders.  I currently keep all of my email in genealogy folders in my Gmail account.  While this is available to me anytime I wish to take a look, this correspondence will not be available to others in the future if something should happen to me.  By saving the emails to my surname folders, I will also be keeping up with my new organization scheme to have everything genealogy saved to one area of my computer.

I am not sure what is the best way to save the emails.  Do I copy and paste the text to a new document? Is there a way to PD the email with the sender information included?

How do you save electronic correspondence?  I would love to hear your ideas.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday - What Are You Thankful For?

Happy Thanksgiving!

One tradition of my favorite traditions occurs on Thanksgiving in my family.  Instead of a traditional grace, each person at the table says what they are thankful for.  It is always heartwarming, fun, and hilarious at the same time. 

One of the best "Thankfuls" I have ever heard happened while we lived in Rhode Island.  My father was stationed in Newport, Rhode Island for four years.  My father's cousin, Dave, and his family lived nearby in Warwick.  We were about half way around the table giving our thanks when it was Dave's turn.  He simply stated, "I am thankful for whatever Sheryl (my mom) is thankful for."  Everyone burst into laughter because it was not her turn yet.  We had no idea what my mom was thankful for.

To this day, when my family is together at Thanksgiving, someone always throws a "Dave Thanks" into the mix.  It has to be explained most years since we love to include friends at our Thanksgiving table. 

This year I am thankful for my family, my health, the wonderful trips we got to take, in-laws that legally joined the family, my new genealogy blog friends, and whatever Dave is thankful for.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Open Thread Thursday - Newly Minted Blog Educator

Last night was the monthly meeting of my local genealogy society (Marin Genealogy Society).  The meeting was a round table where everyone brought brick walls and success stories to share with each other. 

The topic of genealogy websites and blogs came up as a way to connect with others.  While I was not surprised that only a few of us at the meeting regularly read genealogy blogs, I was taken aback that many did not know genealogy blogs exist. 

Many people were excited and asked how to find genealogy blogs.  I pointed everyone in the room towards as a great place to start.  Thomas MacEntee has set up a wonderful resource on all things genealogy blog related (including this Open Thread Thursday).

Although I have been writing my blog since March, I have not shared that information with my fellow society members until last night.  I was very nervous when I  realized on the drive home that everyone is going to go home and read my blog.  Part of my fear is that I know these people face to face.  Most of the feedback that I receive on my blog comes from other bloggers I have not met in person or family members who really aren't that into dead people.  There is comfort in that safe place.

Today, I commit to being a blog educator.  I  pledge to put my own fears aside and advertise my blog more.  I will also talk about blogs more around the members of my genealogy society.  We need to let others know about this great community and all of the wonderful resources it has to offer.

Sweet 16 Success!!

This blog post is being posted a couple of weeks after the fact.  I found this information a couple of weeks ago but life and some medical issues got in the way and I was not able to share this great information with you until today.  Please enjoy because I am still as excited today as I was on Tuesday, November 1st.

My grandfather is Celio "Jay" Capelli.  He was born to Matteo Ciardonei and Adele Siletto.  I have chronicled my grandfather's story in several posts this Summer and Fall (an american dream, new documents add to the story of my grandfather, those places - cossano canavese, piedmonte, italy, and finding all 16 g-g-grandparents).  My grandpa's family are the last hold outs in my quest to find the names of all 16 g-g-grandparents. 

When we returned home from our wedding adventures (wedding wednesday - creating genealogy), I immediately logged on and ordered from the microfilm that contains the church records from Cossano Canavese, Piedmonte, Italy.   The Family Search index shows that the records contain baptisms from 1858-1899, marriages from 1651-1899, and deaths from 1669-1899.

The microfilm has arrived and I got a chance to look at the baptisms.  I am very happy that I did my homework and showed up with a cheat sheet of words in Italian.  It saved a lot of time in acclimating to another language.  I had great success!  I found the names of my missing g-g-grandparents! 

I started by scrolling through the microfilm to see how it was organized.  Quickly, I found that for each year there was an index of names, birth dates, and certificate number that showed up at the end of the year.  In this small town there was anywhere from 10 to 43 baptisms each year.  There are about 10 main surnames that appear in the baptism records.

Working backwards from 1899, I found Adele Siletto first.  Her baptism record says that she was born 10 January 1892 to Guiseppe Siletto, son of Stefano and Ana Maria Maglione, daughter of Giarindo.  I was really excited to see that someone in the church had added additional information to her baptism record by hand underneath Adele's name.  It also stated that she married Matteo Ciardonei on 25 December 1913 and died 18 January 1919. 

I found Matteo's baptism record next using the index of names for 1889.  Matteo Stefano Luigi Ciardonei was born 12 February 1889 to Pietro Ciardonei, son of Matteo and Antonia Ciamporeero, daughter of Stefano.  Again, additional information was hand written in stating the same marriage date and confirming the date of death as 14 March 1921.

I still can't believe it.  I only wish that my grandfather was still alive to hear all about it. 

I am excited to get back to the library this week.  My plan is to create an Excel sheet and transcribe the index pages for the baptisms.  Since this is a small town, it will not be too much work and will hopefully help untangle the web of families later.  I can then go through the baptisms for the Ciardonei, Siletto, Maglione, and Ciamporeero families to identify any siblings for Matteo, Adele, and their parents.  I will tie in the marriage records as I identify parents for each family group.  I do not plan on looking at the death records until I am done looking at the baptism and marriage records.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What Ailments Did My Ancestors Suffer From?

Last weekend was not very enjoyable.  I spent the weekend in a opioid induced haze at my local hospital suffering from kidney stones.  Luckily, I had a great Urologist who performed surgery on Monday and removed those painful boulders.

One of the first questions my doctor asked was "Do other members of your family suffer from kidney stones?"  Luckily, for my immediate family members, they do not. 

The question stuck with me this week.  I thought a lot about my ancestors and what types of ailments stopped them in their tracks.  Most of the medical history I have about my family has come from death certificates.  It is interesting to see what a wide range of reasons my family listed as cause of death but this is a very limited picture into their medical lives.

I wonder what else happened while they were alive.  Any broken bones? How did they cope when they had a cold or the flu.  Kidney stones?  Heart attacks that they survived?  Bad knees?  Cancer?

I will probably never know these kinds of details about my ancestors lives.  The best I can do is to document the medical histories of the living to pass their stories on to future generations.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday's Tip - Verify You Have The Right Vital Record

Yesterday I was so excited to see an envelope in the mail with my handwriting on it.  Self addressed envelopes always get opened first!  I tore open the envelope with excitement at what new information may be waiting inside for me.

Due to budget constraints, sending off for vital records is not an everyday occurrence in my house.  This makes them even more special.  I am always very careful to fill out request forms with all of the information I have about my ancestor.  I have found that sometimes even with the information listed, I receive a record that is NOT my ancestor. 

Last year, in preparation for my genealogy vacation to Kansas, I followed up on missing information.  I ordered several vital records and updated my searches on Internet sites.  I received a death certificate for Mary Switzer.  I had used a date range for her death in my request using dates my grandma vaguely remembered.  When the certificate arrived I was so excited and immediately jumped onto the Internet to see what else I could find using the new data.  After about an hour of finding lots of new information, I realized there were also lots of inconsistencies.  After some analysis, I found that there are two Mary Switzers who were married to a Frank Switzer around the same time and same area of Kansas.  The death certificate was not my 2nd great grandmother.  Thankfully, I was able to obtain the correct death certificate before my trip.  The correct death certificate led me to the cemetery in Halstead, Kansas.

I learned an important lesson that day - always take a moment to check your records and see if the vital record you received is really the ancestor you are looking for.

Yesterday, that self addressed envelope was a bright light on a difficult day with my almost 3 year old.  I have been waiting about 3 months for a response from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  After opening the death certificate for Edward D Lahey, I went to my computer to verify that it was my Edward.  Almost immediately my spirits fell.  This was obviously not my Edward.  This Edward died in 1973.  My Edward died between 1910-1920.  I am going to see if I can find any further information narrowing down the date of death before attempting to order this death certificate again. 

After some irritation at the Department of Heath for not looking the details listed in my request, I poured myself a glass of wine and got over it.  I decided instead that the next time I go to Northern Virginia to visit my parents, we will just have to take a mini genealogy vacation to Pittsburgh.  We still have some relatives living there to visit, cemeteries to document, and prove the parents of Edward if we can.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful Thursday - I am now Cousin Bait

When I began writing this blog earlier this year, my intention for the blog was to share stories with my family about our ancestors.  I did not realize that the wonderful geneabloggers community would quickly outnumber the number of family members who actually read my blog.  In fact, I think the only family members who read my blog consistantly are my mom and husband.  In fact, the blog has served a much different purpose for me so far.  Writing has focused my research, organization, and goals for my continuing hunt for ancestors.

Last week I received an email from a cousin who found my blog by googling a family name.  It was so exciting to receive that email!  I had read about other genealogy bloggers who use their blogs as 'cousin bait' but never thought that it would apply to me.

This person is a cousin on my husband's side of the family and has emailed with me several times.  I cannot thank him enough for sharing his story and family photos with me.  I look forward to more communication with him and hopefully a fuller picture of the life of my husband's great grandfather, Charles Frank Gingg.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday - Catharine Offerman Pope Death Certificate

Catherine Offerman in my husband's 2nd great grandmother.  She was born in Germany in 1865.  She immigrated to the United States in 1887 or 1888 with her husband, John Pope.  They lived at 3335 26th Street in San Francisco.  Catherine died a horrible death.  She received 2nd and 3rd degree burns on her body after gas on the floor of her home caught fire.  I am told by my husband's grandfather, who was 5 at the time of the accident, that Catherine was cleaning the floor with the gasoline.  The house burned down and was rebuilt.  I scanned the copy of the death certificate (below) from the genealogy stash at my husband's grandfather's house.  I plan on visiting the San Francisco Library to see if there were any articles written in the newspaper about the fire.  Hopefully, I will be able to add more to this story at a later date.

3335 26th Street, San Francisco, CA
Left: in 1989. Right:early 1900's before burning down.

State of California, Department of Public Health, Vital Statistics, Standard Certificate of Death # 32-005460

1. Place of Death: Dist. No 3801, City and County of San Fransisco, Franklin Hospital
2. Full Name: Catharine Pope
3. Sex: Female
4. Color or Race: White
5. Single, Married, Widowed, or Divorced: Widowed, wife of the late John Pope
6. Date of Birth: August 27, 1865
7. Age: 66 years, 4 months, 24 days
8. Occupation: At Home
9. Birthplace: Germany
10. Name of Father: C.H. Offerman
11 Birthplace of Father: Germany
12. Maiden Name of Mother: Anna Hink
13. Birthplace of Mother: Germany
14. Length of Residence: 45 years, in California 45 years
15. Informant: Per Mr C H Offerman, 547 Guerrero Street
16. Date of Death: January 21st, 1932
17. Cause of Death: Second and third degree burns of body. (One half body area) Accidental ignition of gasoline.
18. Special Information, Former Residence: 3335 26th St.
19. Place of Burial: Cypress Lawn Burial
20. Date of Burial: Jan. 23, 1932
21. Undertaker: H F Suhr Co, 2919 Mission Street

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

No Longer a Posting Virgin

So I have done it.  I have posted my first photos to tonight.  As I was working on adding photo citations (and correctly filing the digital files) to pictures from a genealogy trip last fall, I randomly decided to look and see if the tombstones were listed on  Sure enough, there were no photos for Dudley and Opal Mitchell who reside eternally at Memorial Park, Hutchinson, Kansas.

I am sharing this here on the blog because I am not sure that my husband will be able to relate to my excitement about posting gravestones of dead people to the Internet.  I am so glad that my mind could not stay on the task at hand (citations and filing).  It was really easy to add the photos and I will definitely be adding more in the future.  Hopefully, my small contribution tonight will help another researcher down the line.  Okay, so now that I have slid even further off track by stopping to write a blog post, back to the trenches and citations.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Yosemite Cemetery

We are very lucky that my brother-in-law and his wife work and live in Yosemite.  They live in a small house in between Yosemite Village and Yosemite Falls.  We got to spend a long weekend with them in July.  Our older daughter was in heaven since her favorite book is "Ty Cooney and the Big Yosemite Race."  She was so excited to see all of the landmarks (El Capitan, Half Dome, etc) that are chronicled in the book.

I, on the other hand, was excited to take a few minutes to walk through Yosemite's Pioneer Cemetery and pay my respects.  It is a small cemetery that is sandwiched between Yosemite Village and some of the park housing.  I always enjoy walking through the cemetery because it is not typical at all.  There are a wide range of markers in the cemetery including stone monuments, wood markers, and names carved into large rocks. 

There is an excellent website ( ) that is a digital copy of a booklet called Guide to the Pioneer Cemetery by Lloyd Brubaker, Laurence Degnan, and Richard Jackson.  This website includes all of the names found on markers in the cemetery and short notes about each person. 

Here are some photos from my visit this summer:

Friday, October 14, 2011

You know you are a genealogist when...

Last night my husband and I were catching up on some of our shows that DVR each week.  With two small children it is nearly impossible to watch some shows when they are on.  Last nights lucky winner was NCIS: Los Angeles. 

The main character in the show, G Callen, has had a storyline about his family over the last couple of seasons.  What the G stands for is one of the mysteries, everyone just calls him Callen. In the last couple of episodes, most of his family history has been revealed.  He found out that his mother was killed in Romania when he was a young boy and that her name was Clara.  Clara had been born in Romania to a Romanian woman and a U.S. CIA operative after WWII.  She had immigrated to the United States with her mother after the father was killed in Romania.  Clara had been recruited by the CIA and returned to Romania as a young woman.  She had two children in the 6 years she was in Romania.  At the end of the episode we watched last night, Callen was asking his boss, Hettie, how he and his sister arrived in the United States after their mother was killed in Romania.  She replied that no one knows.  All she knew was they appeared 2 years after the mother was killed.  Callen then asked Hettie if she knew who his father was.  Hettie replied that the CIA was unable to answer that question when they tried to find out.

My genealogy brain immediately said "Well, they did not do a very good job then.  There are so many record types that they probably missed.  You don't just have two children and leave no records during 6 years that might indicate who the father was.  I would have started with finding Clara's address and interviewing her neighbors.  There also had to be hospital records, civil registrations, etc.  I bet they did not use the A to Z method of breaking brick walls."

I know it is a TV show but part of me wanted to jump on the Internet last night and see what types of records are available in Romania.  I can't wait to see what NCIS: Los Angeles comes up with down the line.  I am sure there will be some small piece of information that appears to start a story arc about finding Callen's father. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday's Tip - Review your previous work

I was doing some work on my re-organization of digital genealogy files yesterday.  I found a digital census image that was not added to my genealogy software.  It was the 1900 Federal Census for James Dempsey in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

I printed a census form and transcribed the image.  I also added the citation to my genealogy software and to the digital image.  I was reviewing the transcription and realized that I had no note of James Dempsey being a naturalized citizen in my software.  I was so excited to find a new piece of information! 

I quickly felt like a fool when I took a look at the 1910, 1920, and 1930 census images for James.  I already had this information and had missed it. 

I did not understand the importance of those two little letters "Na" when I started researching my family.  I am sure that I was in such a rush to find more census images that I did not follow up with the information that I had.

So learn from my mistake.  Review the research you have already completed.  There might be a little gold nugget hiding in what you have already collected.  I am adding to my goal list to do a complete review of the documents I have when I finish my organization project.

I ordered the naturalization paperwork for James Dempsey from NARA.  I am hoping that this will lead me to information pinpointing exactly when he immigrated to the United Stated from Scotland.  It might also have information about where in Scotland he is from.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - Creating Genealogy

Wikipedia defines genealogy as:
Genealogy (from Greek: γενεά, genea, "generation"; and λόγος, logos, "knowledge") is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members. The results are often displayed in charts or written as narratives.

This summer has been been very busy for my family.  My sister and my husband's brother and sister have all gotten married in the last 8 weeks!  We are so happy for all three of them and their new spouses.  They have chosen wonderful life partners and we know that they will be very happy.

The genealogist in me is excited too.  We have been creating genealogy this summer.  All of these weddings have created a whole new set of records to demonstrate my new extended kinship.  The genealogy geek in me has asked all of our siblings for copies of their marriage licenses to add to my collection.  I need these to correctly add a citation to their marriages in my genealogy software.  I am also going to create a document for each wedding that describes the day and all of the fun details.  This will also be added to my notes for future generations to get a glimpse at what weddings were like in the early 21st century.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thriller Thursday - Falling down an elevator shaft

Dudley M Mitchell is my mother's maternal grandfather. 

Dudley was born October 20, 1875 in Valley Fall, Kansas.  He was child number 7/8 born to Mary Frances Coffey and Moses Mitchell.  He had a twin sister name Mary (aka Dolly).  She passed away between 1895-1900). 

I heard this story last October from my mother's Uncle Raymond.  He is Dudley's second child. 

Raymond remembers his mother being pregnant with his younger sister, my grandma, when this incident took place.  Since Raymond was born in 1921 and my grandma is 10 years younger, it was approximately 1930. 

His father worked as a laborer in a cold storage unit in Topeka, Kansas.  The cold storage building did not have lights in it because they created heat.  There was an elevator that ran to the second story of the building.  The men were supposed to ride the elevator one at a time.  Someone had used the elevator while Dudley was on the upper floor.  They did not return the elevator to the second story when they were finished.  When Dudley completed his task upstairs, he worked his way back to the elevator in the dark.  Not realizing the elevator was gone, he stepped into the elevator shaft and fell.  He badly injured his back. 

Dudley did not return to the cold storage unit after he recovered.  He opened a grocery store in Topeka.  Because of his generous nature, the grocery store would eventually fail during the Depression.  The family moved to Hutchinson where Dudley found a job in another grocery store. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sorting Saturday - Organziation Update #1

When I started this blog back in April, it quickly became apparent that I needed to do some organizing of the research I have completed.  My old filing system was okay but it sometimes took a while to find what I was looking for.  It is just time to have a clean slate!

My plan has several avenues of attack:

  1. Reorganizing my digital files
    1. creating a new library to put all files into so they are no longer separated between documents and photos
    2. having a standard naming convention
    3. adding citations to the comments section of the properties for each file
    4. checking that the digital files are referenced in my genealogy software
  2. Adding information to my genealogy software
    1. taking all of the paperwork that is in a box and adding it with citations
    2. going through my 3 ring binders to find any information that I have missed adding to my software
  3. Scanning
    1. Everything that is added to my genealogy software needs to be scanned and added to my digital genealogy folders (with citations of course)
    2. Again, going through the 3 ring binders to identify any documents that have not been scanned and get it done
I knew that this was going to be a HUGE project.  My original goal was to have this all done by the end of the year.  HaHa!  It has been a very busy summer (a new baby and 5 weddings) so things are not as far along as I would have wanted at this point.  I have moved and added citations to almost all of my census images, most of the transcriptions, and most of the vital records that were already scanned.  This is almost 500 files!  I was even more surprised to find out that I still have just over 1000 files to move to their new homes!!  I was a bit disheartened to see that I had some research in digital files that was never added to ancestors as citations.  Glass half full - I did find them and they are now added to help paint a fuller picture of my ancestors.  I have not started any of the scanning that needs to be done.

I need to start attacking these for 15 minutes a day if it is ever going to get finished.  Not too likely to happen since we have been so busy but it is a good goal to hit at least a couple of days a week.  I am hoping to have a little more time starting in October. 

All in all, a decent start to a HUGE project.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Those Places Thursday - 2 Wright Street, San Francisco, California

This is the house that my husband's grandmother, Shirley Gingg, grew up in.  She was raised by her grandmother, Wendla Botmaster.  Wendla married twice, first to Charles Mattson, and then to John Long.  All of the stories I hear about her refer to her as Grandma Long. 

2 Wright Street is located in the Bernal Heights neighborhood.  The picture above looks from Bernal Heights towards Potereo Hill.  It now lies very close to the intersection of Cesar Chavez (Army Street) and Hwy 101.  Here is a Google Maps satellite view of the area today.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Workday Wednesday - Dudley Moses Mitchell

Dudley Moses Mitchell was my maternal great grandfather (1875-1957). 

1895 Kansas Census - Farmer - Arkansas City, Cowley, Kansas
1900 Federal Census - Farm Laborer - Bolton Township, Cowley, Kansas
1905 Kansas Census - Teamster - Arkansas City, Cowley, Kansas
1910 Federal Census - Teaming Flour Mill - Arkansas City, Cowley, Kansas
1918 WWI Draft Registration - Grocer at Scott Grocery Company - Topeka, Shawnee, Kansas
1920 Federal Census -  Overseer Cold Storage - Topeka, Shawnee, Kansas
1925 Kansas Census - Laborer - Topeka, Shawnee, Kansas

I know that Dudley owned a grocery store at the end of the 1920's in Topeka.  He lost the store during the Depression.  The family moved to Hutchinson, Kansas where Dudley worked as a Grocer in the Save You More Market.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Funeral Card Friday - Claus Alfred Pope

Claus Alfred Pope died at Sonoma Valley Hospital on 23 June 1971.  He had been sick with heart problems for the two weeks leading up to his death.  He was born 19 September 1901 in San Francisco, California to John Pope and Catherine Offerman.  He was survived by his wife, Althea (Austin) Pope, son, John A. Pope, daughter, Joyce (Pope) Hunter, and sister, Elfrieda (Pope) Fancher.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Surname Saturday - Dean Lawbaugh Family

This is my first Surname Saturday post.  I have decided to start with Dean Lawbaugh's family because I have a wonderful photo of the family.  Dean Russell Lawbaugh is my great grandfather on my mother's paternal side.

top: Eugenia, Bill, Clemmie
bottom: Effie, Dean, Eddie
1. Dean Russell Lawbaugh was born 15 December 1888 in Wellington, Kansas to William Henry Lawbaugh and Clementine L Hudson.  He died 30 May, 1950 in Los Angeles, California.  He is buried in Wellington, Kansas.  Dean married Effie Bender on 12 May 1912.

2.  Effie Mae Bender was born 30 December 1892 in Halstead, Kansas to William Henry Bender and Mary Eugenia Bradley.  She died 15 march 1974 in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  She is buried in Wellington, Kansas.

i.  Eugenia Beryl Lawbaugh was born 23 February 1913 in Wellington, Kansas.  She died 11 July 1995 in McMinnville, Oregon.

ii. Clemedean Lawbaugh was born 7 January 1917 in Wellington, Kansas.  She died 23 June 1996 in McMinnville, Oregon.

iii. Edna Mae Lawbaugh was born 11 May 1921 in Wellington, Kansas.  She died 28 August 2001 in  Topeka, Kansas.

iv.  William Henry Lawbaugh was born 12 September 1923 in Wellington, Kansas.  He died 14 October 1965 in Lake Isabella, California.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Documents Add to the Story of my Grandfather

I have written a couple of times about my grandfather, Celio "Jay" Capelli.  He was born Celio Ciardonei in Cossano Canavesse, Turino, Italy on December 31, 1914.  His parents were Matteo Ciardonei and Adele Siletto. 

On March 22, 1920, Celio (5 years old) and his father, Matteo Ciardonei, arrived in the United States on the SS Dante Alighieri.  According to the ship's manifest, Matteo was deported March 31st because he had been diagnosed with tuberculosis.  This information came from the passenger manifest found on almost 10 years ago.  I got a printed copy for my Grandfather for Christmas about 8 years ago.

Yesterday, with the free access to immigration records at, I found another piece to the story.  Since I do not have a digital copy of the passenger manifest, I did a search for the last name "Ciardonei."  I was surprised to see several entries for both Celio and Matteo.  When I opened each digital image, I realized that they had been included on additional lists in the ship's paperwork.  Specifically, the Record of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry and the Record of Detained Aliens. 

The Record of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry states that 31 year old Matteo was hospitalized upon arrival and given a "tuberculosis cert" designation.  He was deported on April 12th at 1:45 pm on the SS Guiseppe Ver??an.  Celio was admitted to the U.S. on March 31st at 10:55am. 

The Record of Detained Aliens lists my grandfather being held with other passengers from the Dante Alighieri.  He was fed 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 8 dinners during his detainment.  He was released on March 31st.  The Disposition column for the other passengers lists the addresses of where they were going.  My grandfather's entry is blank.  It is interesting to note that almost everyone else on the list had a Cause for Detention listed as lack of funds.  My grandfather's Cause for Detention is "father in hosp."

These documents made me very sad last night.  I had known that Matteo was brave and left his son with his sister-in-law when he was deported.  I had never considered what had occurred between the time Matteo and Celio arrived and when Matteo was deported.  It must have been so scary for a 5 year old to be separated from his sick father and be detained for a week.  He did not know any English at the time so communication must have been difficult. 

The only glimmer of hope that I see in these documents is that my grandfather was detained for only 8 days (as indicated by the number of meals).  His ship arrived 10 days prior to his release leaving us with a 2 day difference.  I am hoping that he got to spend the time with his father in the hospital during those 2 days.  It would have been the last times they would see each other.  Matteo died in his hometown in Italy just under a year later on Mar 14, 1921.

I will end on a positive note.  I also found a Lucia Siletto Brunero on a passenger manifest in 1938 last night.  She listed that she would be visiting her son, Salvatore Siletto.  I have previously documented that "Sal" is my grandfather's uncle.  So it seems that my grandfather got to visit with his grandmother when she came to visit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  It would have been the first time he saw his grandmother in at least 18 years.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Troops Photograph Every Arlington Grave

There was an article in Time on Friday regarding Arlington Cemetery.  It describes the huge effort by the Army to photograph every marker in Arlington Cemetery.  By huge, it took 60 soldiers every night for three months to accomplish the task of photographing more than 219,000 graves and 43,000 sets of remain in the columbarium.

The Army will be using the photos to create a digital map of the cemetery.  This project is part of the records cleanup mandated by Congress.  It was acknowledged last year that there was mismanagement of records including mismarked and unmarked graves at the cemetery.  It is possible that the photos taken this summer will eventually be included in an online database for the public.

Here is the link to the article: Troops Photograph Every Arlington Grave

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Those Places - Cossano Canavese, Piedmont, Italy

I have written a couple of posts about my paternal grandfather, Celio "Jay" Capelli.  He was born Celio Giuseppe Ciardonei on December 31, 1914.  His parents were Matteo Ciardonei and Adele Siletto.  They lived in Cossano Canavese.  It is a small town northeast of Torino in the Piedmont region.

In May 2006, I got the chance to drive through the town that my grandfather was born in.  Unfortunately, the visit was not a research trip.  We drove through on a Sunday and everything was closed including the local cemetery.  I hope to spend some time in Cossano Canavese one day.  Here are a few pictures from that trip.

Entering the town from the North.

Outside the town hall

The main street through town is very narrow.

A plaque honoring those who died in WWI.  I have several
Ciardonei's listed.

The church is the tallest building in town.
View of town from the South.
These stones lined the road leading to the cemetery.  All of the stones match the names listed on the plaque in town.  I believe that this stone is a memorial for my great grandfather, Matteo Ciardonei. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Motivation Monday - Ancestor Bias

Since starting this blog, I have been trying to spread the posts around different branches of my tree.  I do this so extended family will see things that pertain to them.  I want to keep everyone interested.

Unfortunately, some branches are more difficult than others to write about.  I have noticed that I prefer some families to others.  I have guilt about liking some of my ancestors more than others.

I have noticed that this bias has effected my research in a not so good way.  I have spent more time researching the families that I prefer.  The positive is I have filled in more stories and have researched more generations for these branches of the tree.  The negative is I have not filled in the stories and continued my research to further generations for the families that I don't have much interest in.  There are stories out there waiting to be found.

My bias does not have a rhyme or reason to it.  There are just some ancestors that I find completely boring or am not so crazy about the way they lived their lives.  My Mom always tells me that you cannot change people.  You need to accept them for who they are to fully enjoy them.  So today I am making a commitment to stop judging my ancestors and enjoy them to the fullest!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Modern Conveniences

I consider myself a pretty active person. Last year, I trained for and completed two triathlons.  Apparently, John and I are very good at having babies who are on the top end of the growth chart.  I have been pushing my 2 1/2 year old in the stroller and carrying the baby in a Bjorn the last couple of months.  It is already getting hard because Mia is gaining weight like a champ. So today, I purchased a double jogging stroller to
make my walking/running trips around town much more comfortable.


This purchase triggered a brainstorm on all of the items I appreciate that make life easier that my ancestors did not have.  My 3rd great grandmother had 15 children between 1812 and 1837.  I know that the family traveled from Tennessee to frontier Kansas  about 1835-1836 in a covered wagon.  I am guessing that Polly did not have any sort of stroller with all terrain wheels to help her around the farm. 

Here are a couple of other items that make me appreciate living in the 21st century:

Skype: We live in California and my parents live in Virginia.  Skype lets my kids video chat with their grandparents.  This is so awesome because my kids get to see and talk with their grandparents instead of just pictures between visits.  One of my family lines moved from Virginia to Kansas in the 1870's.  The only way to communicate then was by letter which took a long time to get to where it was going.  I bet those ancestors would have loved Skype.

GPS:  My car has a map in the display.  This function is so convenient when going to places I have not been before.  You can even look up hospitals, restaurants, etc. to choose as a destination.  We go to Tahoe a lot and stay in Truckee, California.  There is a state park in town at Donner Lake that has a museum about the infamous Donner party.  I am sure that the Donner party would have loved to have a GPS on their ill-fated trip to California.  If they did, they would have known that the shortcut they took was really a long cut.  If they had not taken a longer route, the Donner party would have been over the mountains before the massive snows in November 1846.  Beating the snow would have meant that the entire party lived and no one had to resort to cannibalism to survive. 

Tractors:  My father-in-law has a tractor.  He loves to find any excuse he can to get on it and "play."  This usually means starting some new construction project or taking the tractor up to Hopland to his dad's ranch.  Most of my ancestors were farmers.  I am sure that they would have loved to have a gas powered tractor to help tend their farms in the mid-west!
I have thought of one thing that we have today that I am sure our ancestors are happy to have missed out on - TSA lines at the airport.  Could you imagine our ancestors getting patted down before getting into their wagons to travel West?!   

My list could be very long of all the things we have today that have profoundly changed the way we live.  What are some of your favorite things that make life just a little easier?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Finding All 16 Great Great Grandparents

I have been researching my family history since 1998.  That year was my third year of college and I picked up my new hobby out of curiosity.  My parents helped me get started in my climb up the family tree.  My Dad had in his desk a set of stapled sheets that outlined some of his family.  The typed family history had been put together by my grandmother with birth and death dates she knew.  My Mom helped with as many names as she could and also sent me in the direction of her cousin.  My Mom's cousin was wonderful and sent back a long letter that detailed many generations and included family stories from the Mitchell branch. 

I did not have any research goals when I started filling my tree with names and dates.  I just went where the information sent me and kept trying to identify new families and their stories.  My time spent researching has been fairly limited lately with the addition of our second child in the middle of May.  Writing this blog has been so helpful in many ways including but not limited to trying to scan more information, a new digital organization of my files, actually keeping a to-do list, being a part of the genealogy community, and deciding what goals I have for my family history.  One of the top goals on my list is to find the names and information about my 16 great great grandparents.

I already know the names of 13 of the 16.  My Mother's side of the tree is completely filled in with birth dates and death dates for each g-g-grandparent.  My Father's side is a bit trickier since my grandfather (Celio Capelli) came to the United States from Italy when he was 5.  I know his father's name (Matteo Ciardonei) and approximate birth date.  I also know his mother's name (Adele Siletto).  My grandfather was raised by his Aunt (Mary Siletto) and Uncle (Alfredo Capelli) in Pittsburgh.  On Mary's death certificate, I found that Mary and Adele's father was named Joseph Siletto.

Recently, I ordered a copy of my grandfather's Naturalization paper work from NARA.  One of the big finds in the paperwork is that a woman named Anne Siletto was one of the witnesses listed in the Petition for Naturalization.  Seeing a familiar name gave me the excited rush that I was onto something.  After asking my family about Anne, I found out that she was married to Salvatore (Sal) Siletto.  Sal was the younger brother of Mary and Adele.

I have since found a possible match for Sal in the Ellis Island records and ordered his Naturalization paperwork.  The copies I received confirmed the ship and date of arrival I had found in the Ellis Island records.  I have gone back and transcribed what I could decipher in the ship's manifest.  The manifest states that Sal was going to his final destination "Pittsburgh, Pa" to join his "sister Maria Siletto."  The first page of the manifest states that his nearest relative is "mother Domenica Brunaro" in Cossano.  Yeah!! I have possibly found the name of one of my missing g-g-grandparents.  Now I just need to prove it.

I already know that my grandfather came from a very small town named Cossano Canavese just outside of Torino.  I had the chance to drive through the town on a trip to Italy about 5 years ago.  Unfortunately there was no time to research and it was a Sunday so everything was closed anyways.  I did find a memorial in town that listed three Ciardonei's.  The plaque appears to be a list of soldiers who died in WWI.  I also took pictures of what I could see inside of the locked gates of the cemetery.  In reviewing those photos, I have just noticed that one of the only family crypts I can see has the name "Brunero Maglione" across the top.  I think that I am definitely on the right track!

My next step is going to be to order the microfilms containing the church records from Cossano Canavese at my local Family History Center.  Luckily, this is also the site of my local genealogy society.  The Family Search index shows that the records contain baptisms from 1858-1899, marriages from 1651-1899, and deaths from 1669-1899.  Hopefully this gives me more information.  I would love to find the birth date of Matteo Ciardonei and the names of his parents.  It will be interesting to see if the names on the memorial in Cossano Canavese are brothers (Part of me hopes this is not true.  It would be horrible to lose 3 children!). 

I do not know if Mary and Adele Siletto were born in the same town as Matteo.  Sal's Naturalization paperwork says that he was born in Cossano Canavese in 1900.  It would be pretty cool if Mary and Adele are also listed in the baptism records along with their parents names.

I will keep you posted as my climb up the tree continues.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mystery Monday - Mary Bradley Update

Mary Bradley is my 2nd great grandmother.  She was born 18 December 1867 in La Salle County, Illinois.  Her father was Charles Bradley.  Her mother is up for debate.  The death certificate for Mary states that Catherine Carey is her mother.  Stories passed down in my family state that Catherine is not her biological mother.  The story continues that Mary was forced on Catherine by her new husband, Charles.  I have written a blog post Mystery Monday - Who was Mary Bradley's mother? to summarize what I already know.

I sent an inquiry to the Catholic Church, St. Columba to see if they had any birth or baptismal records for Mary Bradley.  This is the church that Charles Bradley and Catherine Carey were married at 31 days before Mary was born. 

In my email inbox on Tuesday was a reply!  I was excited to hear a response since I sent my letter several months ago.  Unfortunately, there are no records of Mary Bradley.  The wonderful woman who assisted me looked in a multi-year range from 1865-1874 but was unable to find anything.  She did confirm the 18 November 1867 marriage of Charles and Catherine.

So there is still on answer to who is Mary Bradley's mother.  I need to make a plan of attack for further research.  First, I need to look into what other records are available in La Salle county, Illinois.  There may be something I missed the first time around.  I also want to find the death records for Catherine (Carey) Bradley in Chicago.  This includes her death certificate, obituary, and any probate records filed in the county.  Also on the list is more research on Mary's brothers, Walter, Norbert, and Charles.  It might be wise to move sideways instead of up in this case.  I may also do a search to see if anyone with the last name Udell was living in La Salle county in or around the 1860's.  That is a shot is the dark so it is low priority.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Dudley Mitchell & Opal Strickler

Dudley Moses Mitchell and Opal Blanche Strickler are the parents of my maternal grandmother (great-grandparents).  They were set up on a date by Lawrence Elliott.  Lawrence was Opal's brother-in-law and Moses' nephew. Despite a fifteen year age difference, Opal and Moses fell for each other and were married December 20, 1916 in Topeka, Kansas.  They raised five children together, two daughters and three sons.  To find work during the Depression, the family moved to Hutchinson, Kansas.  They remained there the rest of their lives. 

Opal and Moses are buried together at the Penwell Gabel Cemetery in Hutchinson, Kansas.  I got the chance to pay my respects last October on a research trip to Kansas.  The morning we visited Hutchinson was a brisk 30 degrees and windy.  These photos were taken very quickly before returning to the warmth of the car!

Opal B Mitchell Mar. 1, 1891 - Dec. 2, 1970

Dudley M. Mitchell Oct 20, 1875 - Mar 10, 1957.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - John Bender "Found Dead In His Bed"

John Bender is my third great grandfather on my mother's side.
(William H. Lawbaugh -> Effie Bender -> William H. Bender -> John Bender)

Another Pioneer in the Person of John Bender Has Been Taken.

John Bender, one of the old settlers in Lakin township, where he had lived since 1876, or for the past forty-nine years, has answered the final summons, he having been found dead in bed by members of the family about seven o’clock Sunday morning.  The end had come peacefully, as he was lying in a natural position and it was thought he was asleep as the son tried to awaken him at the usual hour.
While he had not been in good health for many years, being a sufferer with stomach trouble and its attendant ailments, it was only a month ago that he had a severe attach of neuralgia of the heart and it was another spell that kind which took him away, according to the decision of the attending physician.  He had been up and about the house the day before and after eating a hearty supper retired at the usual hour with no indication that the early morning would record the time of his death.  It is thought he must have passed away about four o’clock from the condition of his body when he was found.
 John Bender was born in Lyconing County, Pa., Feb. 28, 1845 and died at his home Feb 15, 1925, at the age 79 years, 11 months and 14 days.  He was married to Miss Matilda Sherman[sic] on August 8, 1867.  To this union 8 children were born, four of whom preceded the father to the other Land.  Those surviving are Mrs. Nora Bastin, Irvan [sic] and Lewis Bender, who lived at home and Oliver Bender, of Sedgwick.  He is survived also by the widow, one sister, Mrs. Maggie Garnhart, of Williamsport, Pa., eight grand-children and six great grand-children.
At an early age he united with the Lutheran Church and upon his coming to this vicinity in Feb. 1878 he united with the United Brethren Church at Pleasant Valley and where he had been a regular attendant all of those years when health would permit.  Upon coming to Harvey county he located on a farm five miles south of town and had continuously lived within on half mile of the original home for forty-seven years.
He was one of the oldest and most highly respected residents of Lakin township and his taking away from the scene of an active career is deeply mourned by all who came in close contact with him during that period.
The funeral was held Tuesday afternoon from Pleasant Valley Church and was largely attended by old friends and neighbors.  The service was conducted by the Pastor, Rev. Sill who paid a fine tribute to his memory.  Burial was made in Pleasant Valley Cemetery, where so many of his old friends are taking their last long sleep.  The close relatives have the sympathy  of their many friends over the grief which has entered into their lives.

John Bender Obituary, Halstead Independent, Halstead, Harvey County, Kansas, Volume XLV, No. 8, 19 February 1925, page 1, column 6.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Martin Strickler's Will

Martin Strickler is my 4th great grandfather (Roberta Mitchell -> Opal Strickler -> Abraham Strickler -> David Strickler -> Martin Strickler)

Martin Strickler 1781 - 1852 

Martin Strickler Will
Page County Court House
Book D, Page 208-209
Photos taken 20 November 2007 of Will Book D by Sierra Pope.

I Martin Strickler of the County of Page and State of Virginia do hereby make my last will and testament in manner and form following that is to say.
1st: I give and bequeath unto to my wife Anna Strickler during her life all of my house hold and kitchen furniture of every due scription (sic) and after her death I direct that the said property be sold at public sale and the money rising from the sale of said property is to be equally divided between my two daughters Rebecca Keyser the wife of Reuben Keyser & Nancy Foltz the wife of George Foltz.  I also give and bequeath unto my wife Anna for and during her life one third of the farm I now reside on.
2nd: I give and bequeath unto my son David Strickler and his heirs for ???? the farm I now reside on subject to the third I have allready (sic) given to my wife Anna during her life after her death, my son David Strickler is to have the whole farm containing three hundred and fifty acres by survey be it the same more or less being the land I purchased of I Strickler by my son David Strickler paying out to my daughter Nancy Foltz the wife of Geo. Foltz five hundred dollars to be paid in two annual payments two hundred and fifty dollars to be paid in and one year after the death of my wife Anna and the remainder in one year after as ???? the above named five hundred dollars is intended to make my daughter Nancy  Foltz equal with my daughter Rebecca Keyser which I have heretofore give my daughter Rebecca Keyser eighteen hundred dollars and my daughter Nancy Foltz thirteen hundred dollars.
3rd: I desire and direct that my land lying on Stony Run shall be sold on the following conditions.  Each tract shall be sold separate One tract I purchased of Jacob Aleshire containing on hundred acres be it the same more or less.  One tract I purchased of George Aleshire containing forty eight acres bit it the same more or less.  One tract I purchased of Emanuel Comer containing twenty five acres be it the same more or less I direct that my Executor hereafter mentioned shall sell as soon as convienent (sic) after my death the above named tracts of land on the following condition. One third of the money on each tract to be paid down and the remainder to be paid in three annual payments.  And the money arising from the sale of the above named tracts of land it is my desire shall be divided equal between my two daughters Nancy Foltz & Rebecca Keyser.
4th: I give and bequeath unto Martin Propts the farm purchased of James Hollensworth containing one hundred and forty acres be it the same more or less I give the above named farm to Martin Propts even for a bond he holds against me for six hundred and sixty dollars (or perhaps over that amount) But if the said Martin Propts is not willing to take the above named tract of land for the above named bond I then direct that the land shall be sold by my Executors hereafter mentioned upon the same terms of the  other above named lands. And after paying all of my just debts & expenses of settling my estate should there be any bonds left I desire and direct the remainder to be equally divided between my daughter Nancy Foltz and my daughter Rebecca Keyser.
5th: And lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my son David Strickler and Wm M Dorrough Executors of this my last will and testament hereby revoking all other former wills made by me in witness  whereof  I here unto set my hand and seal this 4 day of September 1857.
                                                                                                                                Martin Strickler

Signed sealed and delivered by the aboved (sic) named Martin Strickler as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us who at his request has hands subscribed our names as witnesses:
Moses Hent???, Henry Comer, Daniel Kite
Page County Court
At a court here foresaid county on Monday the 27 day of October 1857.  The last will and testament of Martin Strickler was presented to the court and proved by the oaths of Moses Hent?? And Daniel Kite two of the witnesses thereto and is ordered to be bound and on the motion of David Strickler and Wm M Dorrough the Executors therein named who made oath thereto and together with James Kibler and Chesebim (sp?) Hershman as their securities entered into and acknowledged on bond in the penalty of $5000 conditioned according to & in a certificate is granted the said David Strickler and William M Dorrough for obtaining a probate of the said will and testament. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

An American Dream

Today is the 4th of July.  The day to celebrate the independence of this great country.  The most common ways to celebrate are barbecues, fireworks, and parades with lots of American flags.  I would also like to celebrate by telling you a little about my paternal grandfather.  Celio "Jay" Gordon Capelli lived the American Dream.   

Jay Capelli, March 1942

Jay was born in Cassano Canavesse, Turino, Italy on December 31, 1914.  His parents were Matteo Ciardonei and Adele Siletto.  On March 22, 1920, Celio (5 years old) and his father, Matteo Ciardonei, arrived in the United States on the SS Dante Aligheri.  According to the ship's manifest, Matteo was deported March 31st because he had been diagnosed with ttuberculosis.  Matteo was a strong man because he left his young son in the United States with his sister-in-law, Mary (Siletto) Capelli. 

Jay grew up in the Capelli household in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with his 3 cousins, Mabel, Bruno, and Elsie and his aunt and uncle, Mary and Alfredo (Fred) Capelli.  Jay became a citizen of the United States on February 25, 1937 when he was 22 years old.  He also changed his name at this time to Capelli.  My grandfather attended Duquesne University, majoring in accounting.  He also served as a Quartermaster in the Army during World War II. 

My grandfather met my grandmother, Mary Dempsey in Pittsburgh and they married February 15th, 1947.  Later that year,  they migrated out west to California with my grandmother's brother.  They settled in Los Angeles and had three children.  The oldest boy being my dad.   The kids grew up in Anaheim and my grandparents moved to Mission Viejo during the 1970's. 

Jay & Mary Capelli, 40th Wedding Anniversary, February 1987

Jay was ninety four when he passed away just over 2 years ago.  He was a hard working man who loved his family deeply.  I remember being in high school when he finally retired from being a CPA at 80.  He loved to go bowling and did so until his late 80's.  There are many family photos of Jay camping with his family. 

He was hard of hearing in his later years.  I will never forget the first time I visited him after he got his hearing aids.  There was a look of astonishment on his face when I spoke to him.  I realized that my voice had been out of his hearing range for years and he was excited to hear what I sounded like.

One of my most favorite memories of my grandfather is from Christmas about 7 or 8 years ago.  I had found the passenger manifest for his arrival in the U.S. on and ordered a copy of the manifest and a photo of the ship to give to him for Christmas.  He was so amazed by the gift!  It made me so happy to be able to bring a piece of his past to him. 

It is amazing to think that my grandfather did it all in this country.  He immigrated here as a young boy, learned a new language, grew up in a loving family, attended university, became a U.S. citizen, served his country in war, found the love of his life, followed his dreams out west, and raised a family.  He really did live the American Dream.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Charles F. Dempsey & Josephine A. Gamble

Charles Francis Dempsey was born September 1, 1894 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Josephine Amelia Gamble was born May 18, 1894 in Pennsylvania.  They married about 1920 in Pittsburgh.  Their marriage produced a son, William James, and a daughter, Mary Elizabeth (my paternal grandmother).  

The family lived in Pittsburg for a time before moving to California in the late 1940's.  Josephine passed away in Burbank, California on September 26, 1976.  Charles died in Burbank, California on February 13, 1986.

They are buried together at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in San Fernando, California.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - The many husbands of Agnes Mattson

Agnes Mattson is my husband's paternal great-grandmother (Shirley Gingg -> Agnes Mattson).

From the stories I have been told, Agnes Mattson is one of those people you wish you had the chance to know.  She was born May 1, 1909 in San Francisco, California to Charles Mattson and Wendla Botmaster.  She was the middle child of five, having two older brothers and two younger brothers.  The eldest son died an early death and Agnes never knew him.  She worked in the Talmage State Hospital for many years and also owned 1000 acres in Hopland at one time. 

Agnes is a woman who never gave up on love and kept trying her had a marriage.  She has 7 documented marriages and a deathbed confession of an 8th marriage.  We have not located any information about the 8th marriage.   

Here is a peek at Agnes' many husbands:

1.  Charles Frank Gingg.  Agnes and Charles married September 5, 1925 in San Francisco.  Charles was 22 at the time of the marriage.  The marriage certificate indicates that Agnes was 19 but she lied.  She was only 16 when she married the first time.  They had one daughter, Shirley Marie Gingg.  Shirley would be Agnes' only child.  Charles and Agnes were divorced October 10, 1934.  The reason for the divorce was Charles having been sent to San Quentin Prison for his involvement of a burglary/murder in Santa Rosa, California in 1933.

2.  William Earl Hines.  Agnes married Bill Hines June 15, 1936.  The wedding was witnessed by Edwin and Sylvia Mattson, Agnes' brother and his wife.  They lived in Napa, California.  Bill died in 1945 of a heart attack.

3.  Andrew A. Hooks.  Agnes married a third time to Andy Hooks on November 3, 1950.  Andrew was in the Air Force and stationed at Travis AFB in Fairfield, California.  There is a family story that this marriage ended in a quickie divorce in Mexico.  I do not know if this is true or not.  But I have no other knowledge of how the marriage ended.

4.  Daniel M. Williams.  Dan and Agnes married March 3, 1953.  Their marriage was annulled in the first two weeks of February 1955.

5. Donald Edward Frazier.  As soon as her previous marriage was annulled, Agnes married Don Frazier on February 14, 1955 in Reno, Nevada.  They lived in Talmage, Mendocino, California.  Don was Agnes' favorite husband and they are buried next to each other in Colma, California.  He died in May 1958 from lung cancer.

6.  Peter Klick.  Agnes went back to Reno for her next marriage to Pete Klick.  They were married may 18, 1963.  They lived in Hopland, Mendocino, California.  Pete died June 4, 1975 of cancer.

7.  Patrick O'Malley.  Pat O'Malley was Agnes' last husband.  They were married in Reno, Nevada (do we see a pattern here?) on March 31, 1978.  My mother-in-law remembers being pregnant with my husband as she traveled to Reno to witness the marriage.  Agnes had met Pat in the mobile home park she was living in Cloverdale, California.  The story is that she broke many of the other single women's hearts when she married Pat, one of the only single men in the neighborhood.  Pat outlived Agnes.  She passed away March 22, 1982 in Cloverdale. 

Agnes did have a family bible that she kept written notes about births and deaths in her family.  She wrote information about Don Frazier's family in the back pages of the bible.  On random pages, she wrote the first names of all of her other husbands in the bottom margins except for Frank Gingg and Dan Williams.  Her many marriages were "hidden" inside of the bible.

Unfortunately, we do not have any information about the name of the mystery 8th husband or the year she may have married him.  I am considering doing some searching in the Reno marriage registers to see if any of her married names show up.  The time frames which Agnes could have married an 8th time are limited as the time periods between marriages were generally only a couple of years apart.