Friday, September 30, 2022

52 Ancestors Week 39: Road Trip

 From Amy Johnson Crow: The theme for Week 39 is "Road Trip." I love a good road trip! Have you ever taken an ancestral road trip? What did you discover? Maybe you have stories of an ancestor who took to the open road. Share the stories this week!

Ladies and gentlemen, Rascal Flatts!

  Road trips can be loads of fun because you get the chance to see just how large the country you live in really is. I've gone from New Hampshire to Virginia by car so many times that I've gotten a pretty good idea of what routes to take and what places to avoid. For example, you should never stop at the "Subways" in Pennsylvania. You ask for an Italian sub and they'll give you three pieces of salami and a bunch of lettuce for your trouble. I think that constitutes as a war crime. Sigh. Never again. Still, the route is amazing and you do get to see the purple mountains' majesty. 

    Of course my family and I have taken shorter road trips to places like Kennebunkport, Boston and Middlebury. Those don't really quite compare to the time my grandparents, my mother and four of her siblings went from Sacramento, California to Haverhill, Massachusetts and back! That's over three thousand miles!

You know I'd walk a thousand miles....

    The November of 1963 seems to be a fixed point in the history of the world because so many earth-shattering events occurred in just that one month alone! President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Doctor Who premiered in the United Kingdom. However, one event that month was probably one of the most important events in my family's timeline because it was the 50th wedding anniversary of my great-grandparents, Austin Felker and Henrietta Legault.

    Austin and Henrietta were married on November 29th, 1913 in the city of Haverhill and fifty years later they threw a massive party celebrating the event. Everyone was invited and my grandmother Natalie would never have missed it for the world! I suspect her siblings would never have let her live it down, either!

    In November of 1963, my grandfather Robert Hamel was stationed in Sacramento as part of his tour with the Air Force. He and his family had been there for two years at that point. My mother was a freshman in high school and her siblings were between the ages of two and twelve. Trust me when I say that they were a rowdy bunch! To this day I have no idea how my mother managed to wrangle them all. I suppose having two kids is a walk in the park compared to babysitting FIVE siblings. One more was added to the family in 1966.

    I think the road trip probably tested her resolve as she had to watch the kids and keep up with classes at the same time! My grandfather also wanted the family to see the country and planned two routes to take. Why not? It was as good a time as any for them to see the sights. They were supposed to camp in a random spot and head back out on the road in their compact Ford Falcon towing a trailer full of luggage for seven people and camping equipment. I never said it was COMFORTABLE!

My grandma, mom, Aunt Susan and Uncle Bob circa

    Overall, it took about a week to get from their home in California to Massachusetts and they were gone for about a month tops because of all the stops they took. They took one route to Haverhill and a different route back to Sacramento in order to maximize all the different sites they could see around the country. That's pretty efficient!

     My mother remembered one specific leg of the journey where they were going through Wyoming and they were caught in a pretty bad snowstorm! I think she remembered it because it was the only time my grandfather actually gave up camping overnight and settled on a motel somewhere. It was probably for the best. I wouldn't want to camp out in a snowstorm, either. I wonder if they put it to a vote. My mother probably voted with a resounding "YES!" Wyoming snowstorms are no joke.

    Snowstorms aside, they did get to see some historic sites like the famous Route 66! Now that "Cars" reference I made earlier makes sense, huh?

"Life could be a dream" intensifies.
    Route 66 is the famous route from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles California. It's famous for being one of the original highways that crisscrossed the continental United States and at the time of my grandparents' journey it was still operating!

    Can you imagine what they saw back then? At the time, Route 66 was known for many tourist destinations, motels and plenty of fun things to see. To list them all would probably make this blog run really long. I think this Wikipedia article would have to do. Check it out here!

   I really hope they saw places like some of the drive-ins. Imagine watching a movie while on the road. Then again what were they showing in the early 1960s? Well, aside from cheesy movies that would eventually be riffed by Joel/Mike and the bots on "MST3K".
    While Route 66 was probably the highlight of their adventure across the continental United States, they still needed to contend with a bunch of kids in the backseat. I'm sure my grandmother had tons of activities from them all to do. After all there were no screens to occupy their time. Still, can you imagine taking in the sights on their journey? It does sound like fun. Snowstorms aside!! They probably even have pictures somewhere. I'll have to locate them!

The Hamel clan circa 1969.
    The following year another road trip took place as my grandfather was transferred back to New England. The caravan was the same and they went on the same route that would lead them to their new home in Newburyport. 

    By then the historic Route 66 was in its waning days. Urban sprawl and new towns made large chunks of the highway obsolete. Times were definitely changing as the country plunged into the turbulent 1960s. My mother had transferred to Newburyport High school and the rest as they say is history. As for her siblings, I think they did alright because they all have fond memories of their amazing road trips!

   Traveling on the road can definitely heighten one's appreciation for the land they call home and growing up the road trips never really stopped for my family. I've been around New England a few times. My aunts Linda and Peggy have both competed in dog shows all around the country. Going out and seeing the world is something I highly recommend. It doesn't matter if you're crossing an entire continent or exploring another one. Go out there and see what adventures await you!

See ya next time!

Thursday, September 22, 2022

52 Ancestors Week 38: New to You

 From Amy Johnson Crow: Week 38

The theme for Week 38 is "New to You." Sometimes when a person buys a used car, they say that it isn't new, but it's "new to me." Do you have something like that? What about a "new" favorite resource to use? Or even a "new" ancestor!

ALL NEW FOR 2022! Offer expires while you wait!
Operators are standing by!

     My genealogical adventure has seen many surprises in 2022. I've already discovered how a DNA match I've been trying to figure out connected with my family as I discussed in last week's blog. I dove into the 1950 census in April and came up with all kinds of information on the whereabouts of my family. I've even eventually found where my mom and her parents were living in that census! It turns out they were on Marjorie Street in Haverhill! It's always the last place you look isn't it? The only thing that's been missing this year has been photos and you all know how much I love photos. The drought, my friends, finally came to an end about a month ago!

    This dashing young man in the uniform is none other than my great-grandfather, Giuseppe Carrabs. He doesn't have the same amount of swagger Alfred Hamel has in various pictures in my collection. However, it's still pretty cool and so is the story of how I acquired the photo.

    I want to say that the first time I saw this photograph was when I was a little kid and I was visiting my great-aunt Louise at her house on Bartlett street in Haverhill. It was in her living room in an oval frame and hung over her fireplace along with a ton of other old photographs. I didn't think much of it at first. I knew the man in the photograph was my great-grandfather and everything.  However, when you're a kid you don't really think much about the photographs you're looking at until you're much older. I think with age you come to appreciate older photographs more. Then again, I was always captivated by his brother Rocco and his amazing moustache. Don't lie. You would be too! Everyone loves a thick handlebar moustache. It's a shame I can't grow one!

    I don't remember the last time I saw the photograph. It must have been in 2010 because that was when Aunt Louise passed away and it was STILL on her mantle! along with photos of Rocco and Pasquale. Who knew that in just twelve years I'd be seeing it again?

Just a kid from San Pietro
a Maida.
    I was having dinner with my parents and I asked my father if we had pictures of Giuseppe in his uniform from World War 1 or World War II. I asked because we have pictures of Vincenzo Ferraiolo and Alfred Hamel in their uniforms. I wanted a complete set of my great-grandfathers in their uniforms because it'd be cool to see them in high quality sepia tones. And I know. I should ask my mother about Austin Felker's uniform. One thing at a time!!! We can't rush these things!

    So, my father said that there was a photo of him in uniform at aunt Louise's house. I said I remembered it. He said to me that he wasn't sure what happened to it because it's been about twelve years since he last saw the photograph, too. He told me to ask his cousin Bob on Facebook. Bob was the son of my great-aunt Eleanor.

   You might recall me talking about Bob. He was the guy who went with me to Saint Patrick's cemetery for a cemetery run. We should probably do another one at some point and then we take on city hall! For documents. No other reason. It's just fun to say "Take on City Hall." =)

    Taking on city hall would have to wait for another day. I asked Bob and he said to ask Dennis. Dennis is a son of Louise. Surely he would have the photo, right? RIGHT?! I sent him an e-mail with the same question.

So much swagger. Wow.

    Dennis didn't know where the photograph was. At this point I didn't know what else to do. This wasn't a life or death question or anything. I just wanted to know where the picture was and if I could take a look at it. Dennis said to send a message on Facebook to his brother Joseph. 

    As you can imagine I was getting a bit tired of going around the entire Carrabs family looking for what happened to one picture I saw years ago. This was turning into a weird game of telephone! The only other people I could have asked were Josephine's grandchildren. That was going to be the last place to go! Thankfully, Joseph came through!

    Joseph had the picture and told me that it was still in its oval frame. The odd thing was that I didn't see the picture when I was at his house in June. I'm sure I would have seen it in a place of honor. After all Joseph was Giuseppe's namesake. Joseph is the anglicized version of the name "Giuseppe" like how "Giovanni" becomes "John" and "Vincenzo" becomes "James". Don't ask about the last one. I wrote an entire blog about how "Vincenzo" became "James". It's a long story!

Joe wisely took a picture off the photo with his phone and that's when I went to work.

    I looked at the photo with my parents and right away they noticed how much Joe looked like his grandfather. Makes sense, I guess. It's all in the genes! To date that's the youngest I've ever seen my great-grandfather. I asked people in a genealogy Facebook group if they could possibly date the photograph and even figure out what war the uniform was from. I got some.....interesting responses.

    One person said that it was a Civil War uniform. I raised an eyebrow. Giuseppe was born in 1882 in Italy. That wasn't a Civil War uniform! The only wars I know he was involved in were the first and second World Wars! Could it be from those conflicts?

    It's hard to say. Someone in the genealogy group suggested a possible alternative.

    A user on the page thought that perhaps the picture was from Giuseppe's time in the service during World War 1 because the uniform looked similar to those worn by soldiers in the Italian army during that conflict.

    It's an interesting idea in theory. But, there are a few problems.

1. When World War I broke out Giuseppe was already in America and living in Haverhill. In fact, Clementina was  a couple months pregnant with Josie when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated.

2. Giuseppe registered for the draft on September 18th, 1918. The conflict ended two months later.

3.There's no proof that he ever even went back to Italy. Unlike his daughter's father-in-law, Vincenzo, Giuseppe was not a "bird of passage".

    With all this in mind one has to wonder what conflict was that uniform from. I don't think my great-grandfather was into cosplay. So, the uniform had to have come from some conflict! The relatives all suspect it is a World War I uniform. I'm unsure. However, I'd like to find out more. My next mission, should I choose to accept it, is to look for clues as to the origin of the uniform! The picture is a priceless piece of history and I am determined to seek out where it came from. I'm glad I got the picture because it had been a drought the past year. However, the picture has led to more questions than ever. Will I find the answers? Stay tuned!

See ya next time!

Thursday, September 15, 2022

52 Ancestors Week 37: High and Low

 From Amy Johnson Crow:

The theme for Week 37 is "High and Low." Life is rarely a straight line; there are highs and lows. Is there an ancestor who experienced both? You could also take a more literal interpretation of mountains and valleys, or even tall and short.

It's not Mount Everest, but Mount Washington's still cool. (Ouch.)

    Have you ever had one of those DNA matches where you've searched high and low for a possible connection? You've run every test you could think of JUST to find that one link and it drives you crazy because the solution was *JUST* out of reach! One vital piece of a puzzle was missing and for all you knew it was staring you in the face the whole time! Well, as it turns out a little tenacity can go a long way sometimes because searching high and low led me to discover an amazing third cousin and a story where not only did the skeletons come out of the closet, they were dancing to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" as well!

     My father and I both have a DNA match on Ancestry named Wendy and for years I've been trying to figure out how we could connect her with our family. Her half-brother has a tree on Ancestry as well and there were no Italians to be found on there. He also tested and is a high DNA match. I thought that was all odd because she and my dad both share 141 cMs with each other. That was not a small number and it's a very valid match. It didn't make sense. Why were we matching those two? I looked at the shared matches and they both seemed to match virtually everyone who descended from my 2nd great-grandparents, Vincenzo Carrabis and Maria Giovanna Capobianco.   

    This was pretty confusing. Vincenzo had four children who arrived in America in the 1910s. My great-grandfather Giuseppe and his siblings Rocco, Rosina and Pasquale all settled in Massachusetts. Out of the four Gesualdo natives, Rocco had the most children. He had eleven and so everyone I talked to about Wendy and her half-brother thought they descended from him. My family and I assumed this was the likely solution to the puzzle for a long time!

       Things got a just little bit more interesting when I saw Wendy show up as a match on MyHeritage. This was no mere fluke at this point! I had to message her and find out what exactly was going on!

    I messaged her hoping I would get a reply and all I got was a few more questions in response. She was just as confused as I was about about this whole thing. She too wondered what the connection could be and why she had Italian DNA. She told me a story about how her paternal grandmother had many husbands over the course of her life. So, I thought I'd let this simmer on the backburner for a while and get back to the case some other time. This was all back in 2018, by the way!

    As the years went by, I was still curious about the connection because more and more DNA matches showed up and there was still no solution to the puzzle. She was matching all these Carrabis cousins and there was not one clue to be had! Was I annoyed? You bet I was!  I still had my theory that she was related to Rocco somehow. That was about to change!

    Someone pointed me to the "What Are the Odds" tool on From there I could potentially see what was going on. I messaged the shared matches my father had with Wendy and asked them if they could tell me how much they matched with her. As you can imagine, the information slowly trickled in.

    Seriously. How do you ask someone "Hey. We match so and so. Could you tell me how you match her, please, so I can find the solution to the puzzle? Why are you looking at me like I'm crazy?" I swear I'm getting better at these awkward messages! REALLY! Yeah. You don't buy it, do you?

Rocco, Caterina, Vincenzo, Dolores and Pasquale.
    Eventually, I got the numbers in and one by one the possibilities of Wendy descending from one of the Carrabis siblings increased. I just needed to knock out some possibilities. Once I added my dad and his first cousins, Giuseppe was taken out of the running as a possible candidate. I asked DNA matches who descended from Rocco for help and HE Was taken out of the running, too.

    I sighed. This is why I don't go to Vegas, kids. I'd have put good money on Rocco! That just left Pasquale and Rosina as a possible ancestor. However, as I added more of the matches who descended from Rocco, Rosina was taken out of the picture. Curious. It might have something to do with the birthdates I added.

    That just left Pasquale Carrabis. Pasquale was married to a woman named Raffaela D'Adamo and they had six children together. Three boys and three girls. The game was afoot! Wendy HAD to descend from Pasquale! Call it intuition or call it luck because the other siblings fell out of the picture like a game of "Guess Who?".

  Last week, I had an epiphany. If I really wanted to see what was going on here, I'd have to see Wendy's results for myself and put in the matches that way. This way I wouldn't have to wait for any of the others to message me back. I only needed Wendy's help. After all this was her test and her relationship to everyone. I wanted her to be in the loop with all these crazy theories running around in my head.

    I sent her a message on Facebook to see if we could talk about the tree. We had been talking off and I and I would offer advice and she would tell me what I needed to know. I asked her if she could share the DNA match list with me so we could finally put the whole "How are we connected?" issue to bed.

She did and that's where the real fun began!!

        I logged onto Ancestry after accepting the invitation. Topping the list of matches after her half-brother, half-sister and a half aunt was a known second cousin to my dad who was the son of Vincenzo Carrabis. She shares a mighty 850 cMs with the man! I sat back in my chair and I messaged Wendy. I explained to her that 850 was not a small number! As you can see on the screencap from DNApanter, there are not many options here for a connection! The guy is not a great-grandparent or a great-grandchild. At this point it was clear that she definitely, positively, 100% descended from Pasquale Carrabis. There's no denying it. The evidence is clear, your honor. 

    However, there was another slight issue. Pasquale had six children. Three boys and three girls. Who did Wendy descend from? Well, at this point I did a little bit of a process of elimination.

    Wendy was born in Ohio and most of Pasquale's children lived in Massachusetts. I removed the women from the running since they had children who would have been way too young to be Wendy's father. One daughter, Theresa, was born in 1934 and died in 2020 and never married. This left the boys, Vincenzo, Enrico and Carmine. Wendy has a 651 cM DNA match who descends from Carmine. If she descended from him, the match would have been a LOT closer. Enrico suspiciously went out of the running when I added the birth dates of his children! That was odd. But, I don't look a gift horse in the mouth. I should also note that Enrico would have been thirteen years old when Wendy's father was born.

    That just left Vincenzo "James" Carrabis as Wendy's potential grandfather. All signs seem to point to him. However, there's a bit of a snag. James was born in 1918 in Gesualdo. At the time I only knew that he lived in Nevada with one of his wives, a woman named Dolores Washburn. They were married in 1967 and at the time he had several children with a woman he married in the 1930s when he was a young man.

    I was a little confused. So, I thought I should message the 651 cM match. She already knew who I was and the family in general. In fact, she told me to tell my father she said "hi". It turns out she was a little curious about this lady, too. And check this out. SHE said Wendy was probably from Rocco's side of the tree. I explained that wasn't the case and shared the WATO tree.

    So, she told me to send a message on Facebook to one of Vincenzo's daughters since she had no idea what was going on.

    I also sent a message to one of Wendy's other matches and he told me a very interesting story and it's one that really sheds some light on this whole situation. I like long stories. So, I told him to send me an e-mail with whatever information he could tell me.

    It turns out that the man is Wendy's half-uncle and that her father, Donald Dearth, may not have been a Dearth at all! After Donald passed away in 2018, members of the family thought they would take a DNA test. They were all surprised to learn that Wendy, her half-brother and half-sister all had Italian DNA and Italian DNA matches! At this point I was like "Oh, boy...."

    To make things even more interesting, Donald's mother was seven months pregnant with him when she married Harold Eugene Dearth, the patriarch of the Dearth family. Harold was the man who raised him as his own son and I wonder if he even knew Donald was his or not. This was in 1946. Edna likely kept it a secret and took it to her grave in 1997.

Harold and co living in Richland, OH in the 1950
    My brain started to hurt. This was turning into a soap opera of epic proportions. I had so many questions! How could Vincenzo be the father if he lived in Mass and Nevada? Was he stationed in Ohio during the war? His draft card would help with clearing that up. Then again Donald was born in August of 1946. The coupling had to have occurred in November of 1945. That was two months AFTER the end of the second world war!

    Now, he could have been stationed there during the war. We don't know and I'd love to find out. I've been searching high and low for any information which could prove or disprove the hypothesis. There's a GOOD chance Vincenzo was Donald Dearth's father, though. I've searched for the other possibilities and the wells ran dry pretty quickly. I would say that this has a 98% chance of being accurate. I could be wrong about this. However, DNA does not lie. Especially at 850 centimorgans! You can't fake that. You really can't!

    Obviously the next step would be to find his birth certificate. However, I've been told that Donald was born at his aunt's home in 1946. He still would have been registered at some point! I would love to take a look at the document if I could. The problem is that the document itself may list her husband and not the father. That would certainly put a wrench into the works, huh?

    Nevertheless, I searched high and low for this connection and I at least confirmed that Wendy is indeed a descendant of Pasquale Carrabis. She is a third cousin and is pretty cool to talk to. There might be some confirmation bias there. I don't know. I might have to recheck my facts. She said I was like "Dick Tracy". I'm not sure about that. I'd rather be "Batman" but without the breathtaking mommy and daddy issues. One thing I am sure of is that superhero landings are murder on the knees.

    I do hope that both families, Wendy's and the Carrabises, understand what's been going on. I explained the situation as best I could. There's nothing saying a relationship has to be made. But, now the skeletons are out. Where they go from here is all on them. I searched high and low for every clue I could find and presented the evidence. What comes next is their call.

See ya next time!

Friday, September 9, 2022

52 Ancestors Week #36: Exploration

 From Amy Johnson Crow:

The theme for Week 36 and September is "Exploration." Where did your ancestors explore? Who moved around a lot? You could also share records, libraries, or archives that you've explored in. Remember, there's no wrong way to interpret the theme!

It's a big world out there. Let's go exploring!

"We are all explorers, driven to know what's over the horizon, what's beyond our own shores. And yet... the more I've experienced, the more I've learned... that no matter how far we travel, or how fast we get there... the most profound discoveries are not necessarily beyond that next star. They're within us - woven into the threads that bind us - all of us - to each other. The final frontier begins in this hall. Let's explore it together."-- Captain Johnathan Archer, "Star Trek: Enterprise: Terra Prime"

    You know, I really need to give "Star Trek: Enterprise" some credit. The writers REALLY did try to make it a great show during its last two seasons. They worked with what they could and gave us some pretty good episodes. Back on our planet and in the really real world, the quote from Scott Bakula's Captain Archer has some resonance with me. When we're doing genealogy, we are all essentially explorers. We're not seeking out strange new worlds and exploring space or anything like that. We're really just exploring our past and perhaps even our own identities.

Birth records or time capsule? BOTH!
     This is especially true in my case. As you all know, I've been digging into the records in San Pietro a Maida in the hopes of finding my ancestors who were born there. I have found a good chunk of my father's paternal side hidden within centuries old documents. I started a one place study on the town, too! I've even found relatives and stories that seem to tell me more about the town where my grandfather Marco was born and the story of the people who lived there.

     In essence, the birth records have become a history of San Pietro a Maida from the early 1800s to 1861. Over time, I see the same families pop up time and time again. I've seen families grow and sadly lose loved ones. It's amazing because these records are in fact a window into the past! I know that the same could certainly be said for any town in Italy and elsewhere around the world. Maybe I just feel a connection because my ancestors were born there? It's a bit hard to explain. Maybe I should share some examples of why that might be the case.   

   When I started to look at the records, I looked for the last names on my father's paternal side. The names "Ferraiolo", "Coppola", "Tedesco" and "Gullo" were my top priority because those were the last names of my 2nd great-grandparents who were all born in the town. Naturally, I needed to find their families and their stories because those were my direct ancestors. In looking for those names, I've found a bit more than I bargained for. In a good way!!
Gullo family #1

    Of all the names that kept popping up in my exhaustive searches, this guy ,Domenico Gullo, showed up more times than I care to count.  Domenico here represents one of the many Gullo families I found living in San Pietro in the middle of the 19th century. From what I've been able to piece together, he married a woman named Elisabetta DeVito some time before 1850 and had at least five children with her that I know of. By itself this doesn't seem too remarkable. There are a ton of large families in the town! Look at the name again. Seems pretty close to my 2nd great-grandmother's name doesn't it?

    It gets better, my friends! Domenico worked at the commune office as a "civico" and on some other birth documents a "Domenico Gullo" was the mayor people presented their child to at ye old commune office. Coincidence? Eh....I don't know. It might be the same guy. It might not be. I'd have to do some more research. He might be the same guy! We don't know! There are ways to find out! Ask the commune office for a list of every single mayor the town ever had.

    Chances are good he is a relative of Domenica, though. He could potentially be the father of Domenica's father, Francesco. That would be amazing because I'd have a 4th great-grandfather who was a mayor! We can only hope.

Gullo family #2.

     Francesco's father could even possibly be this man, Nicola Gullo. That's to be determined. I'm not one to say "Hey! This guy might be your ancestor. Pick him and attach him to your tree! No one'll notice!" They'll notice on WikiTree. Trust me. We have "Source-a-Thons" for this reason.

    Since there are so many Gullo families in San Pietro, I decided to put many of them on WikiTree because I thought I might find the connection to them all one day. You never know. I may be connected to both families. Look at one of Nicola's children. See the name Domenico? Curious. Very curious. 

    That Domenico was born in December of 1857, a good nineteen years before my second great-grandmother was born. Could he be a relative too? It's possible when you consider Italian naming conventions.

This third Gullo family is where things really start getting interesting!

Gullo family #3!
    Smeraldo Gullo was born around 1816 and so far he has the largest number of children I have seen in any of the Gullo families in Sam Pietro and I've cataloged maybe five of them for my one place study. It seems Gullo is a very popular last name and I wonder if Smeraldo, Nicola and Domenico all had the same father. They could be brothers. You never know. More research is clearly needed because now I could make a one name study about these Gullos.  There's over one hundred of them now on the site!

    Smeraldo's father was a man named Giuseppe. I learned this from his son, Smeraldo Giuseppe's birth record. On it, it lists Smeraldo's father. It seemed to be a custom in the mid 1850s to list the father's grandfather on the document. That comes in real handy!! Going forward, the San Pietro a Maida records from 1855 onward all listed the grandfather of the man who is presenting the child.

    The reason why I feel a connection to these families is simple. They are probably all related to my second great-grandmother somehow and it's kind of obvious. They share her last name and in some cases some of the children have the name "Domenico". Like I said before this really can't be a coincidence! There has to be something connecting Domenica to these families. What I need to do is find Francesco Gullo's birth. That, my friends is where things get complicated.
     As you might imagine I've found several Francecso Gullos born in San Pietro like this guy.  Other Francesco Gullos appeared to have died young. However, this Francesco was born on March 25th, 1855 to Nicola Gullo and Vincenza Sonetto (See Gullo family #2). Could he be the father of Domenica? It's possible. Francesco was twenty-one when Domenica was born and that's assuming he survived childhood. 

    It's a possibility because Domenica could have been named after her uncle Domenico. I know it seems like wishful thinking. Cut me some slack. It's possible. I was actually all set to add him as a father to Domenica when I thought I found someone else with the same name.

    You can never be too sure about these things. I want to make sure I have the right one even though all of the signs are there. If I really want to be sure, I am going to have to ask the commune office for the marriage of Francesco Gullo and Caterina Butruce. Unfortunately there are many Caterina Butruces in San Pietro. I can't just pick one. That would be lame. So lame.

    So far I have a Caterina Butruce born on November 13th, 1857 making her nineteen when Domenica was born. One Caterina was born on November 26th, 1848 making her twenty-eight in 1876. A third Caterina was born on December 28th, 1853. That's quite a lot of Caterinas, huh? Each one had different parents! It makes my head spin!

        The Caterina Butruce who has an Azzarito for a mother is a bit of an interest to me because my great-aunt has DNA matches who has Azzaritos in their tree. Many Azzaritos moved to Haverhill in the early 20th century and many attended my great-grandmother Maria Tedesco's funeral. Hmm....Curious, no?

    With all the stories I can come up with, I would like some hard facts backing up the stories. You can't really blame me for that. Still, the more I look at these records, I'm finding more information about the town than I ever thought possible. For example, I've found one guy who was fathering children in his seventies! There's a story there and it's one that's just begging to be told.

    The whole Butruce/Gullo chapter in the San Pietro records is just one part of a greater story of the town. I've found other stories from possible relatives who share the names on my tree. For example, there's a Ferraiolo who worked as a nurse and delivered babies in the 1830s. I haven't found my connection to her, yet. But, it'd be cool to see if there is one!

    If you have the means, I highly suggest exploring birth records in the town of your choice. It'll transform you and you will undoubtedly become engrossed in the epic tales of tragedy and triumph. We really are just explorers of the past and learning about it can really help you understand more about it as you study your family's history. So, go out there and explore! You might like what you find. You might not. The point is you go out there. But, before I go, let me leave you with these inspirational quotes from Starfleet's finest.

"Let's see what's out there. Engage."--Captain Jean Luc Picard, "Encounter at Farpoint."

"It is the unknown that defines our existence. We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. We are explorers. We explore our lives, day by day, and we explore the galaxy, trying to expand the boundaries of our knowledge. And that is why I am here. Not to conquer you either with weapons or with ideas, but to co-exist and learn."-- Captain Benjamin Sisko, "Emissary".

"Set a course. For home."-- Captain Kathryn Janeway, "Caretaker".

See you....out there.

Friday, September 2, 2022

52 Ancestors Week 35: Free Space

 From Amy Johnson Crow: Week 35's theme is "Free Space." I intended for this to be a week for you to choose whatever you want to write about. (Though that's true every week!) But also feel free to riff off of the theme -- maybe an ancestor who went West for land, going to a family vacation spot, or a bingo-playing ancestor? Have fun with this theme!

Can't get more wide open than this.

    If you're following me on Twitter, you might see where this is going. "Free space" or "open mic" nights are where I tend to get more creative than usual. Whenever we would have a "#genchat" and an open mic night is the topic of the evening, I would offer up random topics and sometimes I would bring up superheroes. Shocking, right? Hear me out before you click away from the blog! Comic book characters and their stories have long been considered to be the modern mythology since their humble beginnings in the late 1890s/early 1900s. Since the 1960s, they've evolved into characters with faults and foibles thanks to the creative minds of writers such as Stan Lee and artists like Jack Kirby. Over time, many of these writers would develop extensive family trees for the characters in order to fill out the world in which they live and make it seem like our own reality. Other universes have dabbled into this idea too like Star Wars, Star Trek and especially Game of Thrones.

    For this week's blog, I thought I would transport ourselves into the world of comics and figure out how we might research one of the characters inhabiting the pages. In the real world, I highly advise against creating a tree linking yourself to the mighty Thor or someone mythological. The Allfather looks down upon false genealogy and may smite you! Big talk coming from him, I know. Wait. No. I'm confusing him with Zeus. You know. That OTHER thunderous character. Odin has far more chill. ;)

That's right. Hulk was GRAY
in his first appearance!
    There are literally millions of characters out there who we could turn our attention to. You could research the Kents and learn about how their ancestors were some of the original settlers of Kansas. You could research the parents of Bruce Wayne and learn about how they came into their vast fortune. You could even learn about the parents of Peter Parker provided you have a level nine S.H.I.E.L.D. authorization code and access to the C.I.A. database. Spidey's parents were really important. Whew knew? Let's make it simple on everyone and research Bruce Banner aka the Incredible Hulk.
    Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the pages of "The Incredible Hulk" #1 in May of 1962, the character has seen many iterations over the years from the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno television series to his appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe where he was portrayed by Mark Ruffalo. Like in the comics, Bruce is a charter member of the Earth's mightiest heroes, the Avengers. He was bombarded by gamma radiation when he pushed a teenager out of the way of a nuclear explosion and now whenever he got angry he would turn into a gargantuan green....well....hulk. 

    If you were a genealogist in the Marvel Universe and you were researching Banner, his superhero origin would be well known. It's not like he has a secret identity or anything any more. In fact, Bruce is actually considered to be one of the greatest minds on planet Earth. His intelligence matches those of his contemporaries like his science bro, Tony Stark, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four and noted geneticist Professor Charles Xavier to name a few. Not too shabby, huh? Marvel is not short on royal smart people. Benevolent or otherwise.

    Bruce was born in Dayton, Ohio to atomic physicist Brian Banner and his wife, Rebecca. Thanks to the Marvel sliding timescale, no specific date has ever been given. In the current comics, it's been almost twenty years since Reed and his family took to the stars and received their fantastic powers. Back to Bruce. This is where things get a little heavy.

    If you looked up newspapers in Dayton, you might find articles where young Banner was praised for his scholastic achievements. Since Brian was semi-famous, you could go to the Dayton city hall and libraries and research Bruce's birth, try to find his parents' marriage certificate and dig up all kinds of information about the Banner family. He had a grandfather who was also named Bruce and his ancestors worked with gamma radiation similar to how Marie Curie worked with radium. That's honestly an interesting spin on things and it's clearly a recent revelation as writers have spiced up Banner's backstory. Sometimes this works in a character's favor. Sometimes it just adds more confusion. Look up Wolverine: Origins for example.

    Banner's ancestor, Samuel Sterns studied the then unknown gamma radiation around the turn of the century (Again. Just like Madam Curie!) A crafty researcher would be able to dig up some information on him. There was apparently sordid affair involving him, his brother Robert and Robert's wife, Beatrice Banner. Gotta love all this alliteration, right? Information on the Sterns and the Banner families may be a little hard to come by because they haven't been too fleshed out in the comics so far. For example, there is a brief snippet about an ancestor who fought in the first world war.  You could possibly find that ancestor's draft card. Writers haven't given him a name. He was probably Brian Banner's grandfather. I really wish they had a link to Captain America and his adventures during the second World War. But, that would have been too convenient since a lot of characters already connect with Cap. Let's go back to Bruce because his life, was about to become anything but sunshine and rainbows. 

    Young Bruce was a victim of relentless abuse brought on by his own father who was actually jealous of his son since his wife showed the child more affection than she showed her abusive husband. To make matters worse, Brian felt that his work in radiation somehow made his son a mutant. (Oh, boy. THAT would take way too long to explain. Let's just say people born with their powers in the Marvel Universe are umm...looked down upon, hunted and feared just for being born different. It's an allegory for racism and prejudice in general.)

    Since Brian was a noted atomic physicist, that information may not be widely known and hidden in Bruce's S.H.I.E.L.D. file somewhere. His wife may not of filed for divorce or anything for fear of her life. However, this next part would have definitely made the papers in Dayton. In a fit of rage, Brian murdered his wife and was sent into an institution for his crime. Articles would be written and of course there would be court documents, and records at the institution where Banner would live for a good portion of his life. Yes, he was eventually released. This is comics. Everyone escapes from institutions somehow. I swear there's a revolving door at a few of them. Looking at you, Arkham Asylum

    After his mother's death, Bruce was sent to live with his father's sister, Susan. There's not much about her in the comics aside from her marrying a man with the last name Drake and eventually getting divorced from him. Chances are good those records would be available. She apparently never wanted to deal with Bruce's father after what happened in Ohio. She did try to undo what happened to Bruce and she was not alone!

   Brian's sister Elaine and her husband, L.A. Sheriff Morris Walters lived out in sunny California and did what she could to help young Bruce, too. Also helping Bruce to deal with his trauma was his cousin, Jennifer who would one day become She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. (Now playing on Disney +!).  Bruce's aunts did their best to help the young boy grow and even though he was withdrawn and angry it was found that he was in fact a child prodigy. 

    Bruce's scholastic achievements wouldn't be too hard to find. There's no stigma attached to success after all. So, you can bet the newspapers covered everything from his time at Science High School (Yes. That's the name.) to when he began studying Nuclear Physics at "Desert State University" in Navapo, New Mexico. At this point, a genealogist in the Marvel Universe could look up his yearbook photos if he or she desired. Just look for the nerdy looking kid with the glasses and the alliterative name.

    Young Banner still had unresolved issues from his childhood. So, chances are good that you would be able to find medical records as his aunt tried to help him cope with the years of abuse at the hands of his father. You would also find more articles about this next big milestone in Bruce's life. In fact, you could even argue that it was the one event that changed his life forever.
That's gonna leave a mark.
    After college, General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross recruited Banner as he saw potential in the young man as he excelled in the field of nuclear physics at CalTech, one of his many alma maters. Ross gave him command of a nuclear bomb testing facility and things were going well until teenager Rick Jones wandered onto the test site when a bomb was going to go off. (Rick actually went in on a dare.)

    Naturally, Bruce ran onto the site and pushed the teen into a ditch, saving him. However, his life was never going to be the same ever again. Banner was bombarded by what should have been a lethal dose of gamma radiation! However, something inside his body prevented him from dying and now whenever he got angry, he became the rampaging jolly green giant we all know and love. 

One of Smilin' Stan's final creations
for Marvel!
        From this point on a genealogist in the Marvel Universe would have no trouble looking up information on Banner and his alter ego, the Hulk. Bruce did not stay out of the news and honestly you can't really miss a seven foot tall fighting mad rage monster. It also didn't take long for the government to put two and two together and figure out Banner was the Hulk. It's hard to keep THAT a secret!
    The Hulk's exploits were common knowledge for the most part and Banner tried hard to live as normal a life as possible. All further information can be found in various newspapers. Banner even attempted to reconnect with his cousin, Jennifer at one point during his self-imposed exile. That event nearly turned tragic and Bruce had to save her life using his own blood.

   Thanks to Jennifer and Bruce sharing the similar "mutation" that saved Bruce's life when the gamma bomb exploded, she was transformed into the sensational She-Hulk!  I'm not sure if that story is widely known in the Marvel Universe. However, Jennifer IS a very famous lawyer  having been a member of the Avengers AND the Fantastic Four. 

    Though, as a researcher, you could conceivably use Jennifer's own interviews as a way to research her cousin. I think she even has an in-canon book about her life. She never lost control as a Hulk. In fact, she can control her Hulk form most of the time and embraced her "Gammazon" lifestyle as a lawyer and as an adventurer. That's something Bruce was not always able to do unless Hulk had Banner's brain in control. This is attributed to the abuse Bruce suffered.  This is a debate about that is best left to a psychology blog.

    Despite all of his adventures and wanting to be left alone, Bruce has found himself in many romantic relationships. From General Ross's daughter, Betty to even aliens from other planets. As a genealogist working in this universe, you probably would have no idea about that relationship or The Hulk's children. And man did he have many! You'd have to go into space to research those kids or other realities. These are his known children:

1. Skaar, a son he conceived on Sakaar while being a gladiator.

2.Lyra, a daughter from an alternate future. Comics have a lot of those types. A lot.

3. Two children who claim to be Bruce's. But, they haven't taken a DNA test. Of course they could just ask Bruce to administer it himself. I mean he IS qualified.

     If you really want to get down to it, researching Banner or any other superhuman would be no different from researching a celebrity. Information would be widely known and you could find various tidbits of information in newspapers, records, biographies and everything else. Comic writers have always strived to make their characters as human as possible and characters like Bruce Banner have decades worth of lore to dive into as different writers have added into the mythos. Some bits may have also been retconned. Some may have been added onto in order to spice up a character. It's all about how you can hook the reader in with the story and it's been working for over half a century at this point!

    Banner's family history is definitely not one for the faint of heart. But, it is interesting to see how a genealogist could find out information on how his family has always worked with gamma radiation. At the same time, you can only hope Bruce broke the cycle of abuse that plagued his family for generations. Of course that really depends on who is writing the Hulk at the time. Banner has gone into therapy for his issues and there have actually been different forms of the Hulk himself. It's complicated.

    I've only covered a small portion of  Banner's family history here. There are tales involving alternate futures and what happened with his offspring. Comics are weird. But, they have been entertaining us haven't they? Can't say they aren't creative!

    I've had fun delving into the genealogy of a character I sort of like. If I'm going to be honest, I like She-Hulk a bit more than Bruce. But, that's more because she tends to break the 4th wall and has been doing so for a decade before Deadpool came around. If you're going to do genealogy on fictional characters, I suggest you try it because it can be fun and you never know what amazing things you can discover when you look into a character's family story. The stories have been written and there are definitely more stories to come. So, pull up a couch and start reading, true believers!

See ya next time! Excelsior!

The Incredible Hulk and related characters are property of Marvel Comics.

(Man, this was fun. I hope we get a chance to do a free-space blog again. I want to tackle Captain Picard, next. I mean there is an autobiography of him....)

Friday, August 26, 2022

52 Ancestors Week 34: Timeline

 From Amy Johnson Crow: Week 34's theme is "Timeline." Timelines are a great research tool. What discovery have you made after putting together an ancestor's timeline? Have you thought about how everyday life changed for an ancestor during his or her life?

It really is a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff.

    I'm with Amy on this one. Timelines are unbelievably useful tools for genealogy and for getting a feel of who lived where during a set time period. For this reason alone, I created a sort of directory of where everyone was living in the various censuses from 1790 to 1940. I haven't updated it to include the 1950 census, yet. I will some day. When I have time. ;) *dodges tomatoes* Your groans give me strength, people!

    I don't think I'll be talking about the directory this week as there are tons of people to talk about as the families were QUITE large. Instead, let's narrow it down and create a timeline of when exactly people started to arrive in Haverhill and Newburyport and what was happening in the world around them at the time. This sounds like fun and it gives me an excuse to add a new page to this blog. I'm not going to lie. It does look kind of sparse at the top bar when you compare it to my comic site.

Ye Olde Red Sox Nation
    I'm not going to spend too much time on colonial New Hampshire and Massachusetts for obvious reasons. It would take too long to get into. For those who want to know, a quarter of my mom's tree had been in the area we now know as Massachusetts and New Hampshire since the 1600s. The rest of her tree at the time was located in present day Quebec. Eventually, the road they took would lead them to small farming towns on the banks of the Merrimack river called Haverhill and Newburyport.

    Haverhill, Massachusetts was founded in the 1640s and wouldn't be incorporated as a city until the 1870s for reasons that'll become clear in time. Among the many founders of the town was my 11th great-grandfather, Tristram Coffin.

      Newburyport was settled in 1635 and is situated at the mouth of the Merrimack. At the time, it was known as the smallest town in Massachusetts because the wetlands in the area was not conducive to agriculture. It was basically a fishing community where fish markets were common and where fish was sold at a fair price. Though, the mouth is considered one of the most treacherous due to its currents and everything. Look it up. It was also an important port known for its shipbuilding.

That and I'm willing to bet the colonists got eaten alive by the giant flies. Those things will kill you if you aren't careful. Why did evolution choose to give annoying flies SHARP FANGS?!

Eugene Hamel and
Celanise Lefebvre

    Two centuries pass and it is now the 1870s. The United States of America is recovering from a civil war that cost tens of thousands of lives. My third great-grandfather, Jeremiah Felker and my fourth great-grandfather, John Sargent Fisher were among the many Union soldiers who took part in the conflict. Jeremiah and his family settled in Haverhill on East Broadway and he likely witnessed a startling change in the valley! An Industrial Revolution was about to take place and a nation put out a call to workers from all over the world. Many would work in factories up and down the Merrimack or settled where they can find room.

    Several of my 2nd great-grandparents and a few of my third great-grandparents came to America from Canada at this time. Why? That's up for debate. Did they come to work in the mills? Did they come to make a better life for themselves and their families? Who can say? I'm not one to put words in peoples' mouths. But, I will say this. It was likely to make a better life for themselves.

    I really wish I could find naturalization papers or border crossing information which could help me figure out the reason why so many Canadians decided to leave their homes. That and I really want to know why my 3rd great-grandmother, Marie Eulalie Bibeau moved with her husband Pierre Cadran to Haverhill whilst her siblings went to Anoka county, Minnesota. Can you imagine the phone bill?! If they had a phone that is. =)

To put things into perspective, the population of Haverhill around the time of the 1860 census was exactly 9,995 people. By the time of the 1870 census, it jumped up to just over 13,000 thanks to mass migrations from all corners of the world. 

Gertrude Stevens and family.
    While the immigrants from Canada settled in, they found themselves interacting with the natives of the valley in a very positive way. It was common for Haverhill natives like Austin Felker, son of Wilfred Felker and Gertrude Stevens to marry a daughter of a French-Canadian immigrant like my great-grandmother, Henrietta Legault.

    That happened on November 29th, 1913. Other French-Canadians like Marie Eulalie Bibeau became known for being well-known figures in the French-Canadian community. It was at this point that communities of immigrants began to form in town. There was a French-Canadian quarter, an Armenian one and of course there was an Italian quarter.

    Newburyport was very much the same way. French-Canadians moved in, worked in the mills and even set up fix-it shops like my great-grandfather, Alfred Hamel did . At this point in time, he had married my great-grandmother, Clara Laplante on June 18th, 1916. Things were going pretty well in Newburyport. Minus the greenheads and the raging rapids. What was happening in Haverhill at this time? Well....

In truth, the town was about to get a whole lot bigger and a lot more uhh.....Italian. (And other nationalities were getting represented.)

Got a new pic of Giuseppe Carrabs this week.
     Italians had been in the Merrimack valley since at least the 1860s. However, it wasn't until the dawn of the twentieth century that things started to really move along. Italy had unified in 1861 and government policies that favored the north and left the south impoverished caused millions to flee Italy to the Americas, Australia and everywhere else on our small blue planet.

    Among the early arrivals in Haverhill were my great-grandfather Giuseppe Carrabs and his family and my 2nd great-grandmother Caterina Coppola's brother, Giovanni. They arrived in the 1910s and that point the population of Haverhill had swelled to over 44,000 people and it was then that the quaint little farming town on the banks of the Merrimack finally became a city.

    Haverhill and Newburyport benefited greatly from the influx of immigrants from all over the world. Mills needed workers. Workers needed places to live and the cities accommodated everyone who came on the boats and on the planes. They would bring their families over, have a ton of children and their children would have more children. Today we call this "chain migration". Back then? It was simply known as trying to help family find a better life.

       Over time, more immigrants arrived in Haverhill and many people like Giovanni sent for family members in the old country. People like my great-grandfather, Vincenzo Ferraiolo would arrive in America in the 1910s and return to Italy to marry. In Vincenzo's case, it happened in 1921, a year after my grandmother Olympia Carrabs was born.

"They're coming to America!"
    After five years living in San Pietro a Maida with his wife, Maria Tedesco, Vincenzo moved back to Haverhill and sent for his family who arrived in 1929. With her came my grandfather, Marco and my great-aunt Nicolina.

    At this point in time, Haverhill actually saw a sharp population decline. According to the 1920 census, there were 53,884 people in the city. By the 1930 census there were 48,710. What could have caused the decline? It could have been anything to be honest. I want to be positive and say that people were just moving out of town to the places around Haverhill like Lawrence, Salem and Plaistow. The decline could also be attributed to disease. It's honestly hard to say. It is worth looking up because Haverhill did have to deal with the "Spanish Flu" like every other American city.

    Unfortunately, the stock market crashed in 1929 and the United States plunged into the Great Depression. Like the rest of the country, the people of Haverhill and Newburyport has to struggle in order to make ends meet. The mills were in higher demand and the cities churned out more needed goods for the people in the valley.

   The Depression years saw many changes come to the Merrimack valley as mills started to close despite the demand for goods and services. Over in Europe, a war was brewing that would change the course of human history forever.

I swear he looks so dapper in this

     America found itself embroiled in the second World War in December of 1941 and as a result many natives of the valley found themselves drafted serve Uncle Sam. Men like my grandfathers, Marco Ferraiolo and Robert Hamel went on to serve with distinction.

    Upon their return home, they married their long-time girlfriends. Marco married Olympia Carrabs on June 13th, 1946 and Robert Hamel married Natalie Felker on June 5th, 1948. That's also the same day he was born! Coincidence? No. Not really. Knowing my grandfather he planned it all along. =)

    Haverhill and Newburyport in the post World War II era must have seemed more cosmopolitan than at any point in its prior history. Like many east coast cities, the city strived to be a representative of a rapidly changing world where people of many cultures lived and worked together. I'm not going to say there wasn't any conflict. Of course there were. BUT! That doesn't mean life wasn't getting better in the post-war years. Thank you, New Deal!

    As you can tell by the timeline, people started arriving in the Merrimack valley in the late 19th century and by the 20th, the area was dramatically transformed. New neighborhoods were built, people moved in by the thousands and the picture of Haverhill I have in my head was taking shape. The textile mills that dotted the river collapsed rapidly in the post-war era and eventually made way for office parks and apartment complexes.

Marco and Olympia!
    It's not hyperbole to say that immigrants changed the valley and made an impact on life in New England. They certainly did and their descendants thrive in the area today. I know because I'm one of them! But, just think about it for a second. Haverhill and Newburyport went from quaint farming communities to industrial powerhouses to cosmopolitan cities in just over a century. Can you imagine what it was like to see all of that?

    In my own lifetime, I've seen advances in technology and the rise of a communication tool we call the Internet. My grandparents have seen:

The rise of new modes of transportation.
Vaccines for diseases that would have likely killed their own parents.
New forms of entertainment in the form of television and movies.

My grandfather Robert always said it was amazing what we have now. And he's right. Up until the day he passed away he even had an e-mail address! Seriously. Sure his computer wasn't as advanced as mine. But, it got the job done! I think it just had e-mail and that was it.

And yes. I sent him an e-mail every once in a while.

    Time changes all of us and we're all witnesses to history whether we like it or not. That old Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times" happens all throughout our lives. That's why it's a good idea to sit back and look around because a moment won't happen again. A farm today may become a neighborhood tomorrow. Our ancestors knew that and they saw many changes come and go in the Merrimack valley. More changes are likely to come in the future.

Waiting for first contact on April 5th, 2063 in Bozeman, Montana.

See ya next time! And remember....Time may change you. But, you can't change time.