Geneablogy: An occasional Journal about our experiences exploring our heritage

Monday, July 24, 2000

The word "Lipa" means "linden tree" in Polish. No wonder there are so many places in Poland with that name.

Posted at 1:58:19 AM Link to this entry


One of the things we saw on Saturday was the Saracco gravestone at the cemetery in Paterson. It's huge. There's room for 16 people in the plot. I didn't think it would be appropriate to pull out the Palm Pilot and start writing down the dates, but now we know where the grave is, and it shouldn't be any problem to go by there some afternoon when we're visiting Laura's parents. Right nearby is the gravestone for Laura's Grandma and Grandpa Pantano, as well.

Posted at 1:52:25 AM Link to this entry


We went to Laura's Great-Aunt Jo's funeral Saturday morning. It was interesting meeting her Great-Aunt Vic. I just wish we had been a little faster off the ball and gotten to talk to Aunt Jo before she died. We both feel awful about that. One of the things she said when Laura's mom talked to her a couple of weeks ago when she called to ask some questions for us was that she knew more about the De Rosa side of the family than the Saracco side of the family. Now all that's gone. Laura's mom closed that conversation by telling Aunt Jo that she was going to send us down soon to talk to her. I never got to meet her. Aunt Vic was telling us at the wake after the service that Aunt Jo had told her she was excited about the prospect of talking to us, too.

Posted at 1:48:09 AM Link to this entry


This is kind of interesting: I was doing a search on Google for "Lipa, Poland", where my great-grandmother Victoria Mazur was born. One of the pages that came up was about a woman named Stefania Podgórska, born in Lipa near Przemysl, who saved over a dozen Jews during World War II (the page was from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum). Great-grandma's mother's name was Katarzyna Podgórska. I wonder how many Podgórskas there were in Lipa. I can't imagine there were too many; the town's just not that big. Great-grandma was born in 1890; Stefania was born in 1925, so she could have been the child of one of great-grandma's first cousins, or perhaps of a first cousin once removed. Just speculation, of course, but it's interesting to see someone with the same name from the same village as one of my ancestors.

Posted at 1:44:50 AM Link to this entry


Monday, July 17, 2000

A picture! I found a picture of San Potito Sannitico!

Posted at 11:52:08 PM Link to this entry


I found a website in English about San Potito Sannitico, amazingly enough. It really is a World Wide Web. :-) They celebrate Emigrants' Day on August 6th. Maybe we'll have to go there for that one of these years.

I also found a page that lists the population of towns and villages in Italy according to the 1991 Census. The page for the province of Caserta shows that San Potito Sannitico has a population of 1791, and the much larger Piedimonte Matese next door has 11237 people. The towns in Benevento province aren't much bigger; Faicchio's population is bursting at the seams at 3980, and a visitor to San Lorenzello can't keep from bumping in to their 2392 residents.

Posted at 11:47:55 PM Link to this entry


Here's something cool: Laura's great-grandfather, Filippo Saracco, was born within a few years of my great-grandfather, Ralph Brandi Sr., in a town about six miles away.

On our trip to the New York Public Library a couple of Saturdays ago, among the records we found was a ship's passenger list for Filippo Saracco. I wasn't sure it was the right person, though, because the record was for a trip in 1893 and the person in question was 26 years old, and Laura's mom had told us that he came to America before Ellis Island in his early teens. Still, I made a copy of the record, which showed that he arrived in New York City on the S.S. Alsatia, sailing from Naples and Gibraltar, arriving on June 16, 1893. He was listed as a laborer, able to read and write, with his last residence being San Lorenzello, Italy and his destination Patterson, NY (NJ?). He travelled on the 1 L Deck, whatever that means, with two bags of luggage, and had gotten on the ship at Naples. The more I thought about it, the less sure I was that this was Laura's great-grandfather, but we brought the papers with us when we went to Laura's parents' house the next day. They didn't know whether it was him or not, so Laura's mom decided to call her 96 year old Aunt Jo and ask where Aunt Jo's father (Filippo Saracco) was from. She told us that he was from Faicchio in the province of Benavento. We asked about San Lorenzello, and she replied that her father used to talk about San Lorenzo(sic) all the time, and that he had lived there, too. She also told us that he had originally come to America in 1881, but eventually went back, returning to America in 1893 at the age of 26. Bingo! So what we found was the record of his second trip to America.

Laura's mom closed the conversation by saying that she was going to send me and Laura down sometime (soon!) to talk to her. I hope we can still do that, but since that phone call, Aunt Jo has gotten very sick, and went into the hospital today.

Posted at 10:42:34 PM Link to this entry


Saturday, July 15, 2000

I think I solved the mystery of "Piedimonte Oliva", where my great-grandfather's and great-great-grandmother's shipping record said they came from. Piedimonte Matese is the somewhat larger town next to San Potito Sannitico, where my great-grandfather is from. On the Italian Genealogy Home Page's bulletin board, there's a page for messages with the subject "Piedimonte d'Matese formerly D'Alife". Did the town change its name? I went searching in the LDS catalog for the town of Piedimonte Matese, and came up with a page that says (Use for) Italy, Caserta, Piedimonte d'Alife. Drilling down a little further brings a page that says that Piedimonte Matese was known as Piedimonte d'Alife until 1970.

d'Alife would be pronounced roughtly "d-uh-LEEF-uh"; "oliva" would be pronounced "uh-LEEV-uh". Someone who wasn't familiar with the name of the town, for example, the ship's master, might mishear d'Alife as Oliva. Hence the reference to Piedimonte Oliva for people from Piedimonte d'Alife. QED. Well, kinda. It makes sense to me, anyway.

Oh, and interestingly enough, one of the postings on the Italian Genealogy Home page bulletin board, the one linked to above, says that people looking for more information about Piedimonte Matese should e-mail one Vincenzo Rapa. The plot thickens....

Posted at 7:06:41 PM Link to this entry


Thursday, July 13, 2000

I believe I've found the ship's passenger records for li'l Grandpa, Ralph Brandi Sr., and for his parents and brother, when we went to the New York Public Library last weekend. The record for Maria-Domenico Rapa shows that she came to America on the ship Gottardo, arriving in New York on July 6, 1885 from Palermo and other ports. She was 40 years old, which matches the Census records. Her occupation is listed as "Contadina", which one of my books about Italian records translates as "peasant farmer". Her country of origin is listed, oddly enough, as "Piedimonte Oliva". Now, San Potito Sannitico is right next to a moderately large town called Piedimonte Matese, so it makes sense that the word Piedimonte should be in there. Also, I see that in nearby towns, at least, there's a connection with olives (look at the listing for San Lorenzello in November, 1998). So I think it makes sense that she would be from San Potito Sannitico with that origin, but I need to do more research. I don't see an actual place called Piedimonte Oliva in any of my sources. There were a number of other people right above and below her on the manifest who were also listed as being from Piedimonte Oliva. Maria's destination is given as New York, but who knows what that means. Maybe they did live in New York for a while before moving to Saginaw. They had to be in Saginaw by 1890, though, when li'l Grandpa got married. She brought one piece of luggage, and her room was midship between decks.

Immediately below her on the page are Raffaele Brandi, age 14, and Giuseppe Brandi, age 10, which also matches the Census. They both have ditto marks under the occupation, meaning that they were also peasant farmers, and there's an addition marking of "S", which I think is an indication that they're Maria's sons. That would make sense, since li'l Grandpa's death certificate shows his mother's name as Maria Rappa. They're also from Piedimonte Oliva, took one piece of luggage each, and their room was forward between decks.

Vincenzo Brandi, li'l Grandpa's father and therefore my great-great grandfather, appears to have to come to America on the S. S. Galatia, from Bombay and assorted Mediterranean ports, arriving in New York on May 5, 1881. Unfortunately, this manifest is really short on identifying information; everyone on the ship is listed as being from Italy, and their destination listed as U.S.A., and only first initials are given. But the thing that makes me strongly suspect that this is my great-great-grandfather is the fact that immediately above him in the passenger list is one G. Rapa, presumably his brother-in-law or another relative of his wife.

Posted at 11:48:55 PM Link to this entry


I've found the missing Ralph.

The death records for Saginaw county that I needed came into the local Family History Center last Thursday, so last Friday I went in and had a look. Sure enough, there he was, dead on May 30, 1912, at the age of four months, of what appears to be "multiple convulsions". His parents names are given as Ralph Brandi and Anna Washnaski, near as I can decipher it. I suspect the person doing the records at that time didn't know how to spell Wisniewski, because Aunt Yola's mother's name is given as Anna Wisniewski. I've noticed in the county records that there are occasionally corrections made with notations that the correction came from the M.D.V., or Michigan Department of Vital Statistics (I think). So it's not unheard of for there to be mistakes in these records. So I'm going to order the death record from the state and see if I get different answers there.

Incidentally, Ralph's age at death would put his birthdate at about the end of January, 1912, and there was a baby born on January 31, 1912, to a tailor with the last name of Brandi and a woman with a Polish name that very well might be Washnaski, except that I can't decipher it in the shadow on the microfilm from the tight binding of the book. Oddly, though, that baby's name is given as Joseph Henry Brandi. I think it might be the same child; I've noticed other mistakes in the records, such as Bernice A. Brandi being recorded as Antoinette Brandi. Unfortunately, the state of Michigan won't send out birth certificates except to direct descendants for 110 years after a birth, so I won't be able to get his birth certificate until early 2022, twenty-two years from now. I'll have to mark the date in my PalmPilot. :-)

I also got the death record for Philip Brandi, the first child of Ralph Brandi Sr. and Helen Prillwitz. He died on April 18, 1898, age five-and-one-half (although the death record mistakenly lists him as six-and-one-half) of what appears to be tuberculosis (only the "culosis" part of the cause of death is legible in the shadow of the book binding). His mother's name is listed as Helen M. Wendt. Carol tells me that her great-grandmother Helen's mother's maiden name was Wendt. I wonder why they gave that name at the time. Probably just another mistake.

We (Laura and I) found a ton of other stuff last weekend between going to the New York Public Library on Saturday and visiting Laura's parents on Sunday, but it's taking time to put it all together in a format that works here. I hope to post about it in the next day or two.

Posted at 12:05:17 AM Link to this entry


Wednesday, July 5, 2000

Huzzah! I've finally found a listing of all the cities covered by Research Publications International's United States City Directories microfilm set. Looks like the New York Public Library has 'em all, God Bless 'Em. I saw a listing a few weeks back, but forgot to mark it, and have been looking for it ever since.

Posted at 11:07:14 PM Link to this entry


Monday, July 3, 2000

I got some very nice mail today: the National Archives of Canada answered my query from May about Grandma's immigration record with a copy of the passenger list page that lists her. There's some good stuff in there. She's listed as Josepha Zurbyk, single female, age 18, born in Liczkowce, Poland, a citizen of Poland of Polish race (that's incorrect, but it's probably because she was more literate in Polish than in Ukrainian thanks to the despicable policies of the Polish government in forcing Ukrainian children to go to school in Polish for most of the time). She could read Polish, and paid for her passage herself. She had worked as a domestic in her own country, and planned to continue working as a domestic in Canada (I guess she didn't realize she'd be picking potatoes). Her destination is listed as her uncle, Zurbyk Wawro (backwards), of Elphinstone, Manitoba. Her nearest relative in the old country is listed as her brother-in-law, Mr. Antoni Kaczmar, of Liczkowce, Poland. That would have been the "nasty Polack", in Grandma's indelicate phrase, that her sister Katherine had married. She was neither mentally nor physically defective, nor was she tubercular. She carried passport number 313, issued in Kopyczynce, Poland, on May 30, 1930, and had $10, which was probably the minimum amount of money you could have and still be allowed to enter Canada.

The ship, as noted before, was the Antonia, departing Liverpool, England, on June 20th, 1930, arriving in Quebec City on June 28th. There's a note scrawled on the paper that implies that she originally left from Danzig (later Gdansk, Poland) on June 12, 1930, but I can't make out the name of the ship. Most of the other people on the same page have the same notation.

The record came as two 11x17-inch photocopies, so I've had to do a little reconstruction in the scans, since my scanner doesn't scan pages that are that large.

Josepha Zurbyk, Immigration Record/Passenger List

Posted at 7:36:07 PM Link to this entry


Saturday, July 1, 2000

The Western Michigan Genealogical Society databases are back online (they seemed to be coming and going for a while, kind of unreliable, but hopefully they've got it sorted out now). The obituary database lists four people with the surname Brandi:

Now I'm really curious what a 23 year old did for his death to warrant a front page article. The WMGS offers a service where they'll provide photocopies of items listed in their obituary database for $5 a pop, so I've sent for all four. Joseph and Amelia are clearly the people who were in Saginaw in 1897 when their son Raymond was born. Clara isn't quite so clear. If I had to guess, I would say that maybe she was Raymond's wife/widow.

Adding credence to that possibility is the fact that in the other database available on the WMGS site, that of school records from Kent County, 1903-1925, there is a single person with the Brandi surname, Marie Brandi, who attended Huff School in Grand Rapids in 1925. Maybe she was Raymond and Clara's daughter? She doesn't appear in any earlier records, which would suggest that she was born around 1920. And Aunt Lonnie mentioned in her last e-mail that she found a couple of addresses in my grandfather's things for relatives, and one of them was a Marie Brandi, then living in Saginaw. (She also says she doesn't remember any relatives in Grand Rapids, but given when most of these people died, that's not really surprising.)

Anyway, this should all become somewhat clearer when I get the copies of the obituaries, particularly the two that are listed as "articles".

Posted at 10:43:43 AM Link to this entry


Well, things have been hectic around here with buying a new car and everything, so I haven't had much time to hang with the Mormons this week, but earlier this week (and like I said, it's been hectic, so I don't remember specifically which day), the government coughed up the Social Security application for Laura's Grandpa Lombardo. This is another one of those rare SS-5s that actually lists the town he came from, Sessa Aurunca, Italy, although we already knew that. Still, it's nice to have it on paper. There really isn't anything else here that we didn't already know, but it's interesting to note that while the application is filed under the name "Louis Lombardo", he signed his name "Lombardo Luigi".

Posted at 10:26:11 AM Link to this entry