Finding Goodies In What You Have (Part 1)

I try to be organized!  I have a pretty good structure set up for my electronic files.  I have been moving my digital images from my old filing system to the new one over the last couple of years.  I still have about 500 images to add information and citations to the metadata, make sure the information is in my genealogy database, and move the file to its new home.

One of the folders I have under my genealogy folder is called “to be processed”.  It is a holding place for files til they meet the steps listed above.  I try to keep up with this work but I am behind.  In a recent attempt to clean this folder out, I found the naturalization paperwork for my grandfather’s adopted father.  I knew that I had this paperwork.  What I did not realize was I had missed some great information contained in it.

The information I previously had told me that Alfredo (Fred) Capelli had been born in Como, Italy on 3 October 1878.  I know the family was dealt a devastating blow when they lost two of their children in a fire.  When my grandfather Celio “Jay” Ciardonei came to the United States at age 5, Alfredo and his wife, Mary (Jay’s maternal aunt) took Jay in as part of their family.  You can read more about my grandfather here and here.

One of the first things to stick out to me in the Naturalization paperwork was the locations of Fred’s children.  I ordered birth certificates for Mabel, Bruno, and Elsie early in my genealogy adventure.  Both Mabel and Elsie had No Record Certifications returned to me.  Bruno had a birth certificate that was filed in 1926 (he was born in 1909) stating he was born in Fayette, Pennsylvania.  Mabel’s SS-5 paperwork listed Mt. Sterling as her birthplace but this conflicted with the birthplace of Brownsville on her death certificate.  Elsie’s SS-5 paperwork listed Alicia as her birthplace but again conflicted with the birthplace as Pittsburgh on her death certificate.

Capelli, Alfredo nat kids birth


I now have locations from someone who was there for the birth! I quickly went to Google Maps to find these towns.  To my surprise the names brought up towns all over the state of Pennsylvania.  I know that the family only lived south of Pittsburgh and then in Pittsburgh.  I then tried a Google search of the town names and Fayette County, Pennsylvania.

I was surprised to be led to a website about the coal mines in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.  I have looked at this website before when researching where the Alicia Mine Works was located.  This was the mine that the family lived at when their two children died.  All three towns listed in the naturalization paperwork were not actually towns but the mining towns or ‘patches’ that sat next to mines.  Here is a map showing the locations of the places my grandfather’s cousins were born.

Alicia Mineworks, Tower Hill Mine Works, and Mt. Sterling Mineworks
Top to Bottom: Alicia Mine Works, Tower Hill Mine Works, and Mt. Sterling Mine Works


Using the available records I have reached the conclusion these are the proper places for the birth of Mabel, Bruno, and Elsie Capelli.  Alfredo Capelli was present for the birth of his children, making him a primary source.  The information on the SS-5 paperwork for Mabel and Elsie was filled out by them.  I believe the incorrect birthplaces listed on their death certificates is due to information being provided by other people.

If you have any relative who worked in the mining community, I highly recommend visiting the The Virtual Museum of Coal Mining in Western Pennsylvania.  The site was put together by Raymond Washlaski and Ryan Washlaski.  It includes information about coal mines in Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler, Cambria, Clearfield, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland counties in Western Pennsylvania.  In addition to some information about who owned the mines, I have found history of the mines, maps, and even photos of some of the mine patches (towns).  It is an amazing resource!!

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