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 Ellisisland.org 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 Ancestry.com, 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.