Friday, April 27, 2012

Funeral Card Friday - Minnie Rosales

Last week I wrote about my mother's collection of funeral cards that I received after she died. She had saved the majority of funeral cards from every funeral she attended since 1948. I promised to feature a new one every week so today I have decided to share the funeral card of Minnie Rosales. Domenica (Minnie) Rosales was the sister of my "uncle" (we called him uncle, he was actually married to my father's cousin) Frank Yapelli. Both Minnie and Frank were born in Cortale, Catanzaro, Calabria, Italy. Minnie was an amazing woman who I will always remember for her acts of kindness to me (for now, that will remain between her and I) and she used to sing beautiful songs that she heard growing up in Cortale. In retrospect, I really wish I would have filmed her singing those songs. Often as she would sing those songs, she would get a far away look in her eyes, as if she was remembering her mother singing them to her, long ago in Italy.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Obituary Sunday - Dix Dewey, My Uncle

Pictured here is the older brother of my mother. I never knew him because he died long before I was born. But my mother, who had been very close with him, spoke often of him and I do not believe she ever got over his tragic death. At one time she had a small newspaper article in a scrapbook regarding his death. I remember seeing it when I was a child but somehow that article got lost. So, yesterday I decided to go to Elgin, where they lived, to look for the newspaper article at the Gail Borden Library. Since I had his date of death, it took no time at all to find the article on the microfilm containing the 1948 editions of the Elgin Daily Courier News. What surprised me when I found it was it was front page news. The article was quite lengthy and detailed. Located directly under the headline "Quakes, fire wreck Jap City" was an article "Elgin man drowned in quarry pool". I skimmed the article on the microfilm machine but was more interested in copying it rather than reading it. I wanted to read it alone at home. So I printed the front page article and it's continuation on page 3 as well as his actual obituary on page 2. Then I left to look at 3 homes my mother and her family lived in during her 30 years in Elgin. When I got home, I read the article and the obituary. My mother's memories were very accurate to the article, however, there were a few things in the article that I did not know. My uncle was an expert swimmer, this I knew but according to the article, at the time of his death, Dix and his friend were working on a clown diving act that was to be staged in Chicago the following month. A clown diving act?! I did not recall ever hearing that before! I also learned that emergency personnel had worked 2 hours to try to save the life of my uncle. Such valiant efforts which unfortunately, were in vain. Although there were several mentions of an "illness" and seizures, the name of that illness, epilepsy, was never mentioned. My mother had mentioned he was seen having a seizure and falling into the water and someone had tried to save him, the article mentioned the names and addresses of 4 people who had dived into the water to save him. Also in the article were 2 other things I did not know. Dix was "prominent in Masonic Lodge work, belonging to Elgin Lodge 117, A. F. & A. M. Bethel Commandery. 36 Knights Templar, Cryptic Council 46, R. & S. M. Royal L. Munn Chapter". I knew both his parents, my grandparents, were active in Masonic lodges but I never knew Dix was. I always had much compassion for this uncle I never knew. Mom told me many things about his life, most of which were tragic. Dix never married because of his Epilepsy. He left no descendants and all his siblings are now deceased. After reading this article, I have decided to tell his story in a future blog post. Perhaps there is no one alive that cares about his story since he left no descendants, however, mom cared deeply and his story deserves to be told. Perhaps this research will help me to know the uncle I never was able to know in life. This article gave me information I need to discover more of my uncle's story and I am aware of another newspaper article about the bus crash he survived, that left him with a severe head injury that mom believed also caused his Epilepsy. I will complete my research to learn more about Dix Darius Dewey Jr. and write my final story about the life of this uncle I never knew. Pictured here is Dix (far right) with his friends at the quarry where he lost his life on Sunday, June 27, 1948.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Surname Saturday - Maiuolo

My grandmother was born Caterina Maiuolo in Cortale, Catanzaro, Calabria. I was named after her. I am ashamed to admit that I have not done much with her family tree. I have done extensive work on the family of her mother, Natalina Scrugli and have gotten all the records will allow on her family in Tropea. Of course her husband's family in Montalto Uffugo is complete also. But the family of her father in Cortale, kind of got lost in the shuffle. Perhaps it was because when I began years ago, we knew the most about my grandmother's family, but that is no longer true. Some of my frustration is the records for Cortale were only microfilmed up to 1861. Although I know my great grandparent's names and am able to go back further in my ancestry, I would love to see family relationships of the next generation - my grandmother's cousins. So many people came to Chicago from Cortale, many of whom attended family parties and my father was never clear on who was related. I also need family records of death and marriage after 1861 on my great grandfather, Giuseppe Maiuolo and his wife's parents. My many letters to the Comune di Cortale have gone unanswered despite phone calls a friend in Italy made on my behalf. So, it is time to return to the microfilmed Cortale records to see what I can find. I have ordered the microfilms I am missing and will be documenting all the Maiuolo surname events along with my other surnames Frontera, Schinnea, and Parisi.

So far, this is what I know of my ancestry.

  • Giuseppe Napolitano and Caterina Maiuolo

  • Giuseppe Maiuolo and Natalina Scrugli
  • Domenico Majuolo and Maria Frontera
  • Pietro Majuolo and Rosaria Parisi

At most I will be able to get 2 more generations but it is possible since Pietro Majuolo and Rosaria Parisi were both born in the 1700's, I may get no further back than what I already have. Although I still have a few lines in my mother's family that I have not gotten to yet, this is the last of my Italian research. That makes me very sad. I will miss looking for my family in Italian records.

Funeral Card Friday - 64 years of funeral cards!

Shortly after my mother died my father gave me several bags full of mom's papers and books. In this bag was a small stationary box that I recognized. My mom was quite the letter writer so many times I had given her boxes of stationary as gifts. I fulled expected to see stationary in the box (silly me!) but when I opened the box I saw tied with gold ribbons 2 stacks of funeral cards! As I looked through the cards it became clear that in this box was the funeral cards of every wake or funeral she had attended since 1948! I had no idea she had kept them all. These treasures should be shared and my websites are not really the place for them so each Friday I will write a brief blog post for each card. For my first featured card, I will post her most treasured card. The funeral card of her brother Dixie. I remember mom kept this card with her a lot and often put it in her small bible she brought to church. Not a day went by that she did not remember her brother who died at the age of 30 years old Dix D. Dewey Jr. died on June 26, 1948 after he had drowned in a local quarry. He was an expert swimmer, however, he also had epilepsy. While sitting on the edge of a dock, he had an epileptic seizure and fell into the water. I don't think mom ever got over his death. I remember her telling me she had been on a date with my dad and he was driving her home. As they pulled up to the house she saw the police cars there and thought something had happened to her grandmother who lived with them. When she got into the house she was devastated to learn about the death of her older brother. This card is the most worn of all of them since she kept it with her a lot.

On the back of her brother's funeral card, my mother taped the newspaper clipping of her father's obituary.

Family Tree DNA

I had my DNA tested at both 23andme and Family Tree DNA. I don't normally do this sort of thing, but Family Tree DNA currently has a sale too awesome to ignore. For those of you on the fence about testing your DNA, now is the time to get off that fence! The more genes in the pool, the more we all learn! And don't forget to download your raw data when you get it and upload it (free) to for even more DNA matches and results. This sale ends April 21 at 11:59 pm so you had better hurry! I have listed below the pricing for this sale.

New Kit Prices

Y-DNA 12 $99 $59

mtDNA $99 $59

Y-DNA 37 $149 $129

Y-DNA 67 $238 $199

Family Finder $289 $199

mtFullSequence (FMS) $299 $249

Y-DNA 12 + mtDNA $179 $118

FF + Y-DNA 12 $339 $258

FF + mtDNA $339 $258

FF+ Y-DNA 37 $438 $328

FF + mtDNAPlus $438 $328

Comprehensive (FF + FMS + Y-DNA 67) $797 $657


Y-DNA 12 $89 $59

mtDNA add-on $89 $59

Y-DNA 12-25 Marker $35 $59

Y-DNA 12-37 Marker $99 $69

Y-DNA 37-67 Marker $99 $79

Y-DNA 25-67 Marker $109 $159

Y-DNA 12-67 Marker $199 $148

mtFullSequence upgrade (HVR1 to Mega) $269 $199

mtFullSequence upgrade (HVR2 to Mega) $269 $199

mtFullSequence add-on $289 $219

Family Finder add-on $289 $199

Orders must be in and paid for by 11:59PM on Saturday April 21st, to receive this offer.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sorting Saturday - Who Am I Missing Again?!

This week I have come to realize genealogically speaking, I am a mess! I have close to 3,400 names in my family tree and I have no idea which lines still need work! I was trying to find a name of a person for someone I was helping from my grandfather's town of Montalto Uffugo who should have been in my tree but was not. All those times I said, "I'll add that later" is catching up with me. So, how to get back on track? Over the past year, I decided to organize my Kent family because they have been the most difficult. I began using One Note which worked out so well, it has occurred to me to utilize that for all my family lines. That is a whole lot of data entry though! Then there is the problem of all the "stuff" I have. Original documents from both sets of grandparents, parents not to mention my own documents and that of my daughter. My grandmother Napolitano's sheet music, photographs and misc. items that belonged to her in my possession. I have my grandmother Dewey's fine china teacup collection, quilts she made out of her husband's old ties, photographs, hand made
handkerchief's and table linens not to mention my great grandmother's (Etta Kent Dewey) cedar chest and crystal set and jewelry. I have 5 large boxes full of photographs, many over 100 years old and are rapidly deteriorating. This is just some of what I have been given. I live in an apartment so at some point what do I do with all this stuff?! I cannot keep it all! I have come to the conclusion that I need lists to get myself back on track. It will take some time so I will have to be patient. I need to prioritize this list. #1 on the list has to be scanning all the photographs beginning with the oldest before time consumes them. Now would be a good time to order that "Flip Pal" I have been wanting! So here is my list: 1. Scan all photographs 80 years old and older and save them to my portable hard drive and 1 "cloud" location!!! 2. Scan all other photographs and save them to my portable hard drive and 1 "cloud" location 3. Photograph and document all objects I have inherited from my family and save them to my portable hard drive and 1 "cloud" location 4. Create a One Note notebooks to keep track of all lines that need to be worked on - One notebook for each main line 5. Organize notes and source documents on portable hard drive and on my web server 6. Take time somewhere in there for me!! This ought to keep me busy! My next question is, what do I do with all those photographs once they are scanned?!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thankful Thursday - Happy Birthday Mom!

Today would have been my mother's 93rd birthday. Today (and always) I am thankful for knowing this amazing wonderful woman who was a shining example of how to live, love and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. Not only did I have the privilege of knowing her but I was blessed enough to have her as the most wonderful mother on the planet! (I know, I am biased) Today would have been her 93rd birthday. So today, I will do something I have never done before. I will write something about the life of my mother, Dorothy Kent Dewey Napolitan. Mom was born on April 5, 1919, the second child of Dix and Myrtle (Schmitt) Dewey (another amazing woman!) in Chicago, Illinois. Some time between 1920 and 1927 the family moved to Elgin, Illinois. She had the most amazing red hair and beautiful green eyes that could see into your soul. During her youth, mom was very athletic and participated at school in volleyball, swimming and many other sports. Mom was always a caring and nurturing woman and she decided in high school that she wanted a career before marriage. A career that would allow her to help other people. So, mom went to Elgin's Sherman Hospital school of nursing and became a licensed professional Registered Nurse. Mom graduated from school in December 1940 and officially became licensed on January 24, 1941. This was an era when educated women with careers was very rare and most woman married right out of high school. Soon after Mom became a nurse she moved downtown to an apartment near the hospital she was employed with, Wesley Memorial Hospital (today it is Northwestern University Hospital). Mom's career in nursing was very interesting.
Back in the 1940's nurses were not paid very well. So, mom also began doing private duty nursing in addition to her job at the hospital. One of the jobs mom took paid so well she quit her job at Wesley hospital to do it. The famous Phillip K. Wrigley family hired mom to come to their summer home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to care for their son who had contracted a serious illness. This son was William Wrigley III, who took over the famous chewing gum/sports empire in 1961. She spent the entire summer there caring for him. Later, after William assumed the President role of the Wrigley Corporations mom had written him a letter. He wrote her a beautiful letter back in which he told mom how fondly he remembered her and her kindness and caring. Mom was always very proud of that. During this time Mom dated men, but was busy with her career and family life and was not impressed by most of her dates. When I was in 8th grade my dad finally agreed to allow me to wear make up so my mother and I went shopping for some lip gloss, mascara and blush. I choose a Revlon product and mom smiled at me and asked me, "Can you keep a secret between us girls"? I dated one of the Revson brothers! I was fairly shocked and I wish I could remember his name but that was a long time ago. I asked her about that several times over the years and each time she gave me a little more information. Around 1947 Mom went to work for a company that employed my father. Meeting him changed her life. My parents married at city hall on May 7, 1949. Mom was raised Protestant and Dad was raised Catholic so they could not marry in a church - yet. Sometime after the arrival of my brother and I Mom converted to the Catholic faith and was devoutly dedicated to her new religion. My brother, my mother and I were all baptized together in 1960. Mom taught me faith well. She also taught sewing classes after school at the local Catholic grade school. She had the patience of a saint, something she tried so hard to teach me. Mom and Dad spent 3 months during the winter months in Florida every year. Each day she would swim 100 laps in the pool. One day when I was in Florida with them, I asked my mom why she did not swim that day. She told me I swam 100 laps a day all those years and now I am done. She was in her late 70's at the time. My mother was an amazing mother and there was never a doubt in my mind about how much she loved me, even when I messed up. She loved my father's family with all her heart and often took me to visit my grandfather's cousins and their children (who were her age) whom she admired greatly. Her love for my father was so beautiful and I have never in my entire life seen anyone love the way my mother loved my father. Until the day she died she looked at my father as if she just fell in love with him. It was an amazing thing to see - that much love and admiration always. Her face literally would light up every time she saw him. After 61 years of marriage!! Mom had many heartbreaks and struggles but through it all she bore everything with dignity and grace. She taught me how to live, love and the lesson that took the longest for me to to stop and be thankful for the joy and beauty that surrounds us stop, smell and appreciate the beauty of a flower and each person in my life. To look deeper because everyone is so beautiful but some people you have to dig a little deeper to find that beauty and in the end, it is so worth it. If I could be half the woman my mother was, I would be proud and happy. Happy birthday Mom! I love you and miss you more than words could express.