Geneablogy: An occasional Journal about our experiences exploring our heritage

Thursday, April 26, 2001

Time for more misspelled ancestors from the Ellis Island Records web site. I had found great-grandpa (Józef) Horbal's passenger record at the New York Public Library, but I looked over the site and realized I hadn't posted anything about it here. So I went to the Ellis Island site and found him there; they misspelled his name as Josef Horbel, so if you want to look for him, that's the name to use. He came to America on the ship Kaiserin Auguste Victoria, leaving from Hamburg on December 10, 1909, arriving in New York on December 20 of that year. 18 years old and single, he was going to join his father Pawel in Northumberland, Pennsylvania. He was listed on the manifest as being Polish. His home town and birthplace are listed on the manifest as Starebystre, which is reasonably close to the actual location, Stara Bircza. He left behind his mother, Justyna Horbal.

Interestingly, in looking through the database I found a number of men who left from Stara Bircza or Bircza on the same ship, so young Józef was not travelling alone. Among the travellers on that ship was 36 year old Mikolaj Horbal, who was also travelling to Northumberland to join his brother Pawel. In other words, he was Józef's uncle. Mikolaj had left his wife Carolina behind for this, his second trip to America. He had previously come to America, spending the years between 1906 and 1908 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He was listed on the manifest as being Polish. Also on the ship was Jedrzej Horbal of Stara Bircza, 43, travelling to Hudson, Pennsylvania to join his brother-in-law Michal Moroz (the name is unclear here; maybe it's even Mazur, so it's not clear what the connection is here, if he was Pawel's brother or cousin or what); there are two places in Pennsylvania named Hudson, one in Clearfield County not far from Altoona and right by Philipsburg (where I had my accident last summer), and the other in Luzerne County, not far from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He had previously been in Hudson from 1902-1906. His wife Marya Horbal remained in Stara Bircza. He was listed as being Ruthenian, the word used at the time for Ukrainian.

Józef's father, then, was clearly in America before December, 1909. So I went looking for him and found that he too had his name misspelled in the database. He's listed on the record I found for him as Pawel Horbak, a mis-reading that's very plausible when you look at the actual written record. Pawel came to America almost a year earlier, travelling on the Batavia from Hamburg, leaving on December 19, 1908 and arriving in New York on January 8, 1909. 48 years old, he was listed as Ruthenian, and was travelling on to Altoona, where he was to join his friend Michal Rabak, who lived at 3827 4th Avenue there. He left behind his wife Justyna. Pawel was one of the few people shown as having a defining characteristic, a mole on his face. He had previously been in Altoona from 1903 to 1906 according to the manifest, so that's another document to look for. I haven't found it in the Ellis Island database. It's probably misspelled in another creative manner. Apparently he couldn't find work in Altoona, because by the arrival of his son and brother almost a year later, he was in Northumberland, about 100 miles to the east. It's interesting that Józef eventually wound up back in Altoona.

Posted at 9:25:31 AM Link to this entry


Friday, April 20, 2001

I've been having fun with the Ellis Island Records site since it opened earlier this week (particularly at hours like 3 and 4 in the morning). Whoever put it together did them a horrible disservice by basing it on Windows NT and ASP, because at peak hours (which is to say every hour), it's not very usable because NT just isn't scalable to the level they require. I hope they're throwing more iron at it. And I really hope that they eventually rewrite everything to use a system that can handle the kind of load they're throwing at it.

The best thing that I've found is Busia Horbal's passenger list. They misspelled her name in the database, which made it kind of tough to find her, but by searching for everyone named "Mazur" who was female and one of Polish, Ruthenian, Galician, or Austrian, and who arrived between 1907 and 1912, I was able to whittle the over 2000 people of that name down to a more manageable 250 or so. When I found Wiktoeya Mazur (now that's an imaginative way to spell Wiktorija) listed as having come from Lipa, Galicia, I knew I had my woman. If you want to search for her, make sure you use the misspelling above, otherwise you won't find her.

Busia came to America on the Friedrich Der Grosse (Frederick the Great), departing from Bremen, Germany on the last day of the year, 31 December 1910, and arriving in New York on 11 January 1911. (I just realized that that date is 1/11/11!) She was 20 years old and single, and came with just $6 in her pocket and a ticket to join her uncle, Wojciech Podgorski, in beautiful scenic Scranton, Pennsylvania. She listed as her nearest relative back home her father, Josef Mazur, in Lipa, Galicia. She was declared to be in good mental and physical health, and stood a towering four feet, eleven inches. She was fair complected and had grey eyes. It appears to me that it says she had blonde hair, but I'm not sure about that. I only remember her with grey hair. Interestingly, the manifest says she could read but couldn't write. I knew she couldn't write because her marriage license has an X for her signature, but the combination of being able to read and not being able to write strikes me as odd. And finally, the manifest lists her nationality as Austrian, and her race as Polish. It's odd that all my relatives on that side seem to be listed as Polish, because I was always told that Busia was half-Polish and half-Ukrainian, and Grandpa (Jozef Horbal) was all-Ukrainian.

I've managed to pry some other information out of the Ellis Island site, but none of it is complete, so I'll wait until I can get through to finish looking up the people I've found before I go into any details. I will say that it includes more Horbals from Bircza and a number of Laura's relatives coming from Italy.

Posted at 8:23:40 PM Link to this entry


Thursday, April 19, 2001

The Polish Genealogical Society of America has a project where they translate town descriptions from an 1882 gazetteer called Slownik Geograficzny Krolestwa Polskiego, published in Warsaw in 1882. There's an entry for Lipa, the town Busia Horbal came from, which is interesting, considering that there seem to be at least a dozen towns in Poland with the same name.

Posted at 11:31:33 PM Link to this entry


Monday, April 16, 2001

Okay, I promised charts to summarize what I've found. Here they are.

[ Waterfall chart of Ralph A Brandi Sr.'s ancestors ] [ Left-to-right chart of Ralph A Brandi Sr.'s ancestors and other relatives ]

Waterfall chart of Ralph A Brandi Sr.'s ancestors, all from San Potito Sannitico

Left-to-right chart of Ralph A Brandi Sr.'s ancestors and other relatives, all from San Potito Sannitico

The waterfall chart is smaller, and shows only direct ancestors. The left-to-right chart shows all relatives that I've found, and highlights direct ancestors in bold type.

Posted at 10:48:10 AM Link to this entry


Saturday, April 14, 2001

Here's the last of the marriage records that I've found.

Filippo Brandi's parents, Daniele Brandi and Giovanna Cancello, were married in San Potito about March 2, 1810. Daniele, a 26 year old farmer born and living in San Potito, is shown as the son of the late Giacomo Brandi, a farmer, and Maria Vittoria Meola, who were married in Piedimonte. Giovanna Cancello, 27 years old, was the daughter of the late Dionisio Cancello, a farmer, and Mariantonia d'Orsi; it's not clear whether Mariantonia was still alive. The word before her name is faded, but might be fu, which would indicate that she was dead. The banns were posted on the 18th and 25th of February and nobody objected. Witnesses to the promise to marry before the mayor were Vincenzo Piazza, a 20 year old shopkeeper, Francesco Antonio Francomacaro, 22 and with no profession listed, Ermenagildo d'Amato, a 26 year old shopkeeper, and Antonio di Chello, 50 years old. No mention of which documents they consulted or of grandparents at this period, but three of the four parents were unknown before looking at this document.

The next two records are confusing. Domenico Rapa's birth and marriage records list his parents as Michele Rapa and Nicoletta Matteo. But I couldn't find any record of a Michele Rapa and Nicoletta Matteo marrying. I did find records of a Michele Rapa and Maria Cecilia Matteo marrying in 1817. That record mentioned that Michele was the widower of Rosa di Palma, and I found a record of their marriage in 1810. So I looked through the birth records of the time, hoping to perhaps find children born to two different Michele Rapas to show that the Michele Rapa in these records wasn't my Michele Rapa. But the information there didn't clear things up. Michele and Maria Cecilia married May 4, 1817. There was a child born to Michele Rapa and Nicoletta Matteo on March 11, 1818, about eleven months after the marriage. Interestingly, this child's name was Maria Palma Rapa, which maybe possibly indicates that she was named after her father's late first wife. Could be. I'm not sure. But it makes me think that Nicoletta and Maria Cecilia may very well have been the same person. Domenico came along on August 7, 1819, more than a year later. There are no children listed as having been born to Michele Rapa and Maria Cecilia Matteo in this period. The first child in the birth records to have her mother listed as Maria Cecilia Matteo is Concetta Rapa, born March 27, 1821, a good year and a half after Domenico. Marcellino Rapa followed to Michele and Maria Cecilia on November 10, 1822, and that's the last that's heard of Maria Cecilia Matteo as a mother in the birth records. There are no children listed as having been born to Michele Rapa and Nicoletta Matteo during this period from 1820 to 1825. In 1826, Nicoletta returns as the mother of Rosa Rapa, born January 8, 1826. Further children follow, with Pietro Rapa being born on July 26, 1829 to Michele and Nicoletta, and Raffaele Rapa coming on October 18, 1831. So there's absolutely no overlap between the two women. There's a gap between 1820 and 1825 for Michele and Nicoletta that's nicely filled by the births attributed to Michele and Maria Cecilia. And there were no children born to Michele Rapa and Nicoletta Matteo before the 1817 marriage. My next step here is to search the death records for San Potito to see if perhaps Maria Cecilia and Nicoletta both appear, or if there are more than one Michele of the appropriate age. Those are on order at the Family History Center, but haven't arrived yet. If both of them show up in the death records, it will prove that they were two different people (and I'll look for two Michele Rapas, too). If only one shows up, that won't prove that Maria Cecilia and Nicoletta were the same person, but it would be another piece in the puzzle. I don't know that I'll ever prove it conclusively, though.

So, given that I don't know for sure whether these are for my family or not yet, here are the marriage records for Michele Rapa and his two wives, Rosa di Palma and Maria Cecilia Matteo.

Michele Rapa and Rosa di Palma, were married in San Potito about May 17, 1810. Michele, a 29 year old carpenter born and living in San Potito, was the son of Antonio Rapa and Angiola d'Amato, married and living in San Potito. Rosa, 25 years old, was the daughter of Cesare di Palma, a farmer, and Maria Giuseppa Viceo(?) [name unclear]. The banns were posted on May 6 and 13, 1810, and nobody objected. Witnesses to the promise to marry before the mayor were Nicola Sanillo, age 47 and a shopkeeper; Pasquale Pietrosimone, a 22 year old shopkeeper; Giovanni Onoratela, a 27 year old shopkeeper; and Ermenegildo d'Amato, a 26 year old shopkeeper.

Michele Rapa and Maria Cecilia Matteo, were married in San Potito on May 4, 1817 after coming before the mayor to declare their intention on May 1st. Michele, by now the widower of Rosa di Palma, was 37 years old and now a farmer instead of carpenter. His father Antonio Rapa is shown as deceased, presumably having died between 1810 and 1817. Maria Cecilia, a 26 year old peasant farmer, was the daughter of Giuseppe Matteo, a farmer, and the late Francesca Riccio, whose death is documented in the records of the village. The banns were posted on April 20 and 27, 1817, and nobody objected. Witnesses to the promise to marry before the mayor were Daniele Riccio, age 23 and a shopkeeper; Saverio Cirillo, a 31 year old cook; Sisto d'Onofrio, a 22 year old farmer; and Giovanni Leggiero, a 34 year old shopkeeper.

Marriage records, 1810s

There, now I'm caught up on all the records I've found so far for Italian ancestors. I have some records for ancestors of my grandma Brandi who I haven't posted, but I actually haven't really looked at them, so I'll post them when I've perused them.

Posted at 2:55:26 PM Link to this entry


Thursday, April 12, 2001

More marriage records that I've (mostly) cleaned up. Some of these things can be pretty messed up and difficult to read; I've left one record in its original state so you can see what I mean.

Maria Domenica Rapa's parents, Domenico Rapa and Maria Pietrosimone, were married in San Potito on February 7, 1841, in the parish of Santa Catarina. Domenico, a 21 year old farmer born and living in San Potito, is shown as the son of Michele Rapa and Nicoletta Matteo, both farmers as well. Maria Pietrosimone, also 21 and a farmer, was the daughter of the late Angelo Pietrosimone and Antonia di Luisi; it's a little confusing whether Antonia was still alive, or whether the "defunto" in her listing refers to her parents. It looks on the top of page two like both Angelo and Antonia were deceased, as it refers to the "Atto di Morte" of both parents of the bride having been referred to, as well as the death certificate of her paternal grandfather (avo paterno), Giovanni Pietrosimone. So that takes us back two generations here on this one document. Among the other documents consulted were the birth records of both bried and groom and the banns, which were posted for three Sundays in January of 1841 and which nobody objected to. Witnesses to the promise to marry before the mayor were Agostino Cimaglia, age 27 and a waiter, Raffaele Antonuccio, a 48 year old farmer, Lorenzo Leggiero, a 23 year old waiter, and Giosue Leggiero, a 48 year old farmer. Witnesses to the wedding were Don Giovanni Onoratelli and Giosue Leggiero.

Vincenzo Brandi's parents, Filippo Antonio Potito Brandi and Maria Navarro, were married in San Potito on July 15, 1843, in the parish of Santa Catarina. Filippo, a 25 year old farmer born and living in San Potito, is the son of the late Daniele Brandi and Giovanna Cancello, both farmers from San Potito. Maria, 18 years old and also a farmer, was the daughter of Giuseppe Navarro, apparently still alive in 1843 and a butcher, and Pasqualina Melillo; there's a word before the usual "in questo commune" saying where she lives, but I can't tell what it says. Maybe she was from another village originally? Documents consulted included the birth records of the bride and groom, as well as the "Atto di Morte" of the father of the groom and of the paternal grandfather of the groom, Giacomo Brandi. Back two generations on this one, too. The banns were posted on June 11, 1843, and nobody objected. Witnesses to the promise to marry before the mayor were Pietro d'Amato, age 72 and a farmer, Giuseppe Collucio, a 27 year old tailor, Gennaro Riccio, a 44 year old farmer, and Pietro di Chello, a 30 year old farmer. Witnesses to the wedding were Don Giovanni Onoratelli and Filippo Torelli.

Filippo's sister Maria Giuseppa Brandi, 28 years old and a farmer, married Domenico Masuccio, a 37 year old farmer, on June 1st, 1844. Most of the rest of her information is the same as Vincenzo's, including the consultation of the death records of her father Daniele Brandi and grandfather Giacomo Brandi. Since she's not a direct ancestor, I won't bother going into all the details, but it's nice to have confirmation on another record of Giacomo's existence. This is the record that I didn't bother to clean up. You can get an idea of what some of these things, particularly from this era, look like before I go at them with Photoshop.

I've got some other records from the previous generation that I've cleaned up, but this post is long enough and it's late enough that I'll cover them in my next post. After I get that post up, I'll post a diagram of all of this for those of you who aren't keeping score so it's a little easier to understand.

Marriage records, 1840s

Posted at 10:07:19 PM Link to this entry


Sunday, April 8, 2001

This has nothing to do with my own family history, but it's a funny story, and illustrative of the dangers of relying on secondary sources....

Posted at 11:13:10 PM Link to this entry


Friday, April 6, 2001

You want to know how small the world has become? Back in October, I posted an item about finding an address for my grandmother's sister, Katarzyna Kaczmarska, in the town of Lemierzyce, Poland. I speculated that she was probably deceased, since my aunt and uncle hadn't mentioned wanting to get in touch with her to let her know that Grandma passed away. Well, this week, I got e-mail from a woman in Poznan, Poland, who comes from Lemierzyce confirming the fact that Katarzyna is no longer alive, but that her daughter still lives in the town, and her son in a village nearby. I never cease to be amazed at the things I find out just because I post things to this site.... (Thanks to my friend Rafal for helping translate the e-mail from Polish; machine translation still has a way to go before it's truly useful....)

Posted at 4:38:07 AM Link to this entry


Here are some more cleaned up birth records from San Potito Sannitico that have been sitting on my hard drive for a few months waiting for me to finish them up.

These three birth records are for siblings of Filippo Brandi, later to become Maria's husband and my 3G grandfather. The eldest was Dionisio Michele Arcangelo Brandi, born at 11 pm, July 21, 1813 to Daniele Brandi, age unclear, and Giovanna Cancello, age 30. This record had pretty serious print-through from the other side of the page, and was impossible to clean up completely.

Next in line was Maria Giuseppa Brandi, born at 6 pm, September 2, 1815. Daniele is listed as being 34 years old, and Giovanna as being 30. Both were peasant farmers. Witnesses were Giovanni Leggiero, a 32 year old farmer living on Strada Chiesa Nuova, and Angelo Santillo, a 21 year old farmer living on Strada Formose. Maria Giuseppa was baptized on September 4th. I guess the state's presses were broken in late 1814, as all the records from this year were completely handwritten.

Filippo was born on May 31, 1818, something I covered earlier.

Last of the three siblings was Giovanni, born at 6 pm, November 20, 1822 (two pages). Daniele is listed as being 35 years old, miraculously having aged only one year since the birth of his daughter in 1815. Giovanna was 39 years old, which squares with the 1813 record but not the 1815 record. In this record, they're listed as living at no. 18 Strada Chiesa Nuova. Witnesses were Michelangelo Seccia, a 45 year old waiter living at 21 Strada Chiesa Nuova, and Marcellino Fiordello, a 50 year old farmer living at house number 30 on the same street. Giovanni was baptized on November 21st.

Birth Records

Posted at 4:29:29 AM Link to this entry