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?

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.

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.

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’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)
FOUND DEAD IN HIS BED
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.

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. 

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 tuberculosis.  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 EllisIsland.org 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.

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.

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.

Twice Related

Lawrence Elliott has the special distinction of showing up in two different family lines in my family tree.  Here is how:

Lawrence was born Feb 26, 1892 in Hoyt, Kansas to Lewis Elliott and Melinda Mitchell.  On December 12, 1912 he married Ruby Strickler in Fall River, Greenwood, Kansas.  Ruby Strickler was born May 28, 1894 in Narka, Kansas to Abraham Strickler and Effie Amner Flock.

Ruby was the middle daughter in a family of 1 son and three girls.  The brother died as an infant. Opal was born second on March 1, 1891. Emerald was born last on April 1, 1902.  After Lawrence and Ruby were married, Ruby set her older sister up with her husband’s uncle, Dudley Moses Mitchell.  Dudley Moses is the younger brother of Melinda Mitchell, Lawrence’s mother.

Despite a fifteen year age difference, Opal and Dudley hit it off and were married on December 20, 1916 in Topeka, Kansas.

After the marriage, Lawrence became twice related.  He shows up in both the Strickler family line and the Mitchell family line.  Lawrence was related to Dudley Moses as his nephew and brother-in-law at the same time.  He is my 1st cousin twice removed and the husband of my great great aunt.