Thursday, December 12, 2013

How You Can Help Families Find Their History

In the last post, Finding Oscar; A Case Study, I mentioned finding that there was a problem with the State of Maine's Vital Records prior to 1892. To recap the issue: 

Before 1892, records of births, marriages, and deaths were kept by the towns and cities of Maine. When, in the 1920's, the State requested copies of pre-1892 vital records from the towns, only about 20 percent responded.... During the 1950's, representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints microfilmed town vital records in Maine, although not all towns were covered. (Maine State Archives)

Having at least some of the records microfilmed in one place is good, because the microfilm can be borrowed and viewed without having to dig through every town's reports for vital statistics, but it would be so much more convenient to have all those records easily available and searchable online.

Every problem has a solution, of course (my sister says this attitude is why she calls me Princess Bluebird). All of those microfilmed records, along with other copies of handwritten and previously unpublished documents from all over the world, are being indexed and made available online by an army of volunteers called indexers

I just became an indexer, and you can be an indexer, too!

The FamilySearch website gives these statistics about the project: 

Total records indexed: 1,098,808,633
Year to date: 139,020,544
Total volunteers: 120,926

To become a volunteer indexer, go to the Worldwide Indexing page on the FamilySearch website. There you can read about the program, look at a list of projects, register, download the software needed, and get to work just as soon as there is a project that you are qualified to work on. Projects are in many languages, and are rated by level of difficulty. Records are downloaded in small batches, and there are tutorials and help available for when you get stuck. 

There's also a list of the published record collections so far, and it even includes some of the records for those Maine Births and Christenings, 1739-1900. My Oscar (Oscar Ellis, born 1853 in Smithfield, Maine) isn't there yet, but I'm hoping the army of indexers (me included) finds it soon and makes it available.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Finding Oscar; a Case Study

Genealogy 101, by Barbara Renick
I took so many notes when reading the library copy
that I ordered one of my own for reference
(Available as a paperback or in Nook and Kindle editions)

I've been reading genealogy books and studying about finding my family roots. Here are some of the things I've learned about the process of finding ancestors:

  • Organize and look over the material you already have 
  • Decide on what needs to be researched
  • Always be skeptical of published information
  • Use primary sources, especially those close in time to the event being described
  • Evaluate your results, then...
  • Go back to the beginning and follow these steps again (and again...)

All of these steps came into play when I looked for my great-grandfather, an ancestor previously known as Mr. "Unknown" Ellis. My family could tell me that my father's mother's mother was Ellen (maiden name unknown, according to my mother), and that she had married a Mr. Ellis, and that they had children named Eva (my grandmother), Oscar, Eddie, and Nellie.

That was it for Mr. Ellis--no birth date, no birthplace, and no parents. So I began learning about the people close to him in order to find out more about him, an approach called cluster genealogy. Here is what I found.

First, I discovered that Mr. Ellis' wife, Ellen, was born Ellen Healey. I found this information through some very fun detective work involving an inheritance, funeral home records, and probate files. That's a tale for another time.

By searching for Ellen Healey Ellis in census records, I found the entire household in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1900. Included were names (Mr. Ellis was actually Oscar J.Ellis!), ages (Oscar was 47), and birthplaces (Oscar was born somewhere in Maine, as were both of his unnamed parents). The census record also included Oscar's occupation ("Livery stable"), years married (15), children born/children still living (9/4), and Ellen's birthplace (England) and the birthplaces of her unnamed parents (father in Ireland, mother in England). It was a gold mine! Because of the numbers given, I could now estimate Oscar's year of birth (around 1853), as well as birth dates for everyone else in the family and an approximate date of marriage for Oscar and Ellen. I was really starting to be able to picture this family, and I had lots of leads for researching about them.

By using an estimated birth date from the census record, I found the birth record for Oscar's daughter, [another] Ellen M. Ellis. It gave Oscar's birthplace as Smithfield, Maine. So now I knew enough to do some good searching for a birth record for Oscar.

I looked and looked for an Oscar [J.] Ellis, born in Smithfield, Maine around 1853, plus or minus several years. No luck. Then I discovered that there was a problem with Maine vital records. According to the Maine State Archives:

Before 1892, records of births, marriages, and deaths were kept by the towns and cities of Maine. When, in the 1920's, the State requested copies of pre-1892 vital records from the towns, only about 20 percent responded.... During the 1950's, representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints microfilmed town vital records in Maine, although not all towns were covered.

So, I resigned myself to having to order either the LDS microfilm of the records, or another microfilm I found containing town reports, which contained vital records. BUT FIRST (as we like to say in our family)...

Having evaluated the research I had done, I thought I should go back to the beginning of the
process and look at my own file for Oscar again. And there it was--a single sheet of computer printout from 1999. Way back then, I must have looked for "Ellis" with a birthplace in Maine with some wildly estimated year (I can't say, because I didn't take very good notes back then) and found a record for an Oscar Ellis, born in Smithfield, Maine, in 1853, son of Robert W. Ellis and Eleanor Rankins. There were birth dates, birthplaces, and parent's names for both of Oscar's parents (my great great great grandparents)! At the time I originally printed out the page, it was only mildly interesting, because I had no idea this man was anyone I was looking for. However, armed with the new information I had about his date and place of birth, not to mention his first name, I could see that this was probably my Oscar.

My problem was now that I couldn't replicate the results of that search, and my piece of paper had no source or URL (another lesson learned!). It did, however, say that these were "IGI Records." I looked that up and found that the International Genealogical Index was a user-submitted family history database that came from personal family information submitted to the LDS Church, and vital and church records from the early 1500s to 1885. The Index was discontinued in 2008, but was still searchable online. My Oscar came right up when I searched for him in the IGI Archives online, along with a couple of generations of ancestors! Perfect. However, the source given for all this information was a rather unsatisfying and inexact phrase: "Parish Records." Whose? Where? When? Can I access them?

Well, I'm an amateur genealogist now, like it or not. I'll have to see the records myself so I can properly cite the sources and documentation for all these "new" potential family members. I'll still need to search census records and town reports and will probably end up borrowing some microfilm at a Family History Center. However, I just found out another way to access early Maine vital records. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Organizing Family Memories

This post was first published (in more or less the same words) over on my other blog, The Zees Go West. I hope that family members who are receiving duplicate notifications will forgive me. It's just a temporary situation.

Safe at last

As I mentioned in the last post, I have a large collection of family history "stuff"--photos, files of information about families and individuals, written and email correspondence about our history and our stories--just lots and lots of stuff.

Determined to share what I have with my family, back in 2010 I started this family history blog. At first, I just pulled out photos at random and wrote about them. I liked the result, but I could see that I was going to have to change my approach so that the results were more cohesive and organized and that each family was clearly delineated.

There's that organized word again. I thought that I might begin by sorting and labeling photos, a job that soon had me feeling overwhelmed all over again. I could still see those boxes of files of papers out of the corner of my eye. I wanted to go through everything once and have something to show for my efforts.

After a lot of thought, I finally came up with an approach that works for me. I hope that it might be of help (or an inspiration) for someone out there who is trying to organize their own family history chaos. I'll put the materials needed in bold type.

1. Get some great big binders and label each with a family name.

2.  Sort everything--papers, correspondence, photos--by family group. and put the materials with, not in each binder. Don't fasten anything in yet, this is a rough sort.

3. Get some dividers (this is so much fun if you, like me, like to shop for office supplies). Label them for individuals within the family, and start inserting everything into the binder in the order that pleases you. Punch holes in copies only. Original documents (like birth certificates) go into individual heavyweight non-acid sheet protectors.

4. Large photos can also go into sheet protectors. I heaved a sigh of relief when this step was done, because I knew these irreplaceable photos were safe at last. They can be scanned without any further handling.

5. Smaller photos can go into a large envelope (for now) labeled with the family name. Seal the envelope, cut off one end so it will go into the binder sideways, then punch holes into the edge of the envelope, being careful not to harm any photos, so it can be filed in the binder with the appropriate family. You can place a paper clip on the open end to keep photos from sliding out. Of course, after this step you will find a nice book or website about archival handling of photos and follow the directions to store these small photos properly. For me, having them safely in an envelope was better than loose in a box. One step at a time. 

Envelope for temporary storage of small photos, sorted by family

Now that I could see what information I had for each family, I wanted to put up some family trees on the Remember blog--my mother's, my father's, my husband's mother's, and my husband's father's, and one for my son's ancestors, since he comes from my former marriage to a Dutchman. Then, when I blogged about each individual I could start with a family tree to locate that person in the family.

While looking around for family tree templates, I found the perfect way to display my information by using the website WikiTree. WikiTree allows me to enter and save information about each person, link families together on a family tree, and add to any of my records when I have more information. Better still, they have "tree widgets" for my blog which will reflect any changes I make to any of my records on WikiTree. I also like how WikiTree will let me set privacy levels, and even allow trusted family members (or distant relatives) to make changes and additions to my records, but only if I want them to do so.

So, that's how I got things organized. As I continue the tale of our family history, I will tell you about a few surprises I came across along the way. For now, take a look at the beginning of my father's family tree. He is the mystery man in the family, so I really get excited when I find out any little thing about his ancestors. 

embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

Monday, December 9, 2013

Organizing My Family History

Note: This post was first published on one of my other blogs, The Zees Go West, as an explanation for the lack of posts there. I wanted whoever was still reading The Zees to know that I was busy on another project. 
Some came from Germany

If you've ever worked on your family's history, you'll know that it's hard to figure out where to start, especially if you are the holder of your family's documents and photos. I have piles of files of information, some inherited from my parents and some containing my own research from the last time I worked on the project in 1999. It's wonderful stuff--Birth/marriage/death certificates, probate records, and census sheets; and my favorites: Photos, interviews, letters, and stories. 

Did I refer to this project as huge? To give you an idea of the possibilities: If you wanted to go back as far as your great-great-great grandparents, you would have 16 pairs of ancestors. Now, here is where it gets interesting. According to an article (Ten Effective Strategies for Building a Family Tree) from GenealogyInTime Magazine: 
Assume each pair had three children, who in turn had three children, who in turn had three children. If we roll the clock forward, after five generations you appear. If you do the math, you will find this will produce 365 people down to your generation. But, wait a minute; you have 16 pairs of great-great-great-grandparents. This means your extended family tree has 16 x 365 = 5,840 potential people in it!
Of course, my mother's family never stopped at having a mere three children--that was for sissies. Her parents had 13 children, her dad was one of 13, and her oldest sister had 12 kids! The sheer numbers are overwhelming.

Complicating the project, just as with any else's family history project, I don't just have my mother's family (England, U.S., Canada) to document; there is my father's family (origins very mysterious), my husband's parents' families (Italy, Germany), and my son's family (The Netherlands). Add in the fact that our own is a blended family (his, mine, and ours) and the complications are endless.

Dutch boy with tulips (my son)

So, how did I find a way to start telling the family story? I want to share the process, the pitfalls, and the shocking surprises with you in the next few posts here. In the meantime, if you look at nothing else on this blog, I hope that you will read the story Mary and Amalio Talk About Life in an Italian Town in the 1920s, because this kind of record is why I wanted to make a family history blog in the first place.

Newly arrived in America

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Researching My Father's Life

embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

I've been reading lots of genealogy how-to books lately, and I'm learning more every day. I now know that ancestors need to be connected to their descendants by primary documents that record the events of their lives at the time of those events--birth, marriage, census records, and so on. Just because "Aunt Sally said so" isn't enough.

The beginning of the family tree for my father, Daniel L. Harris, appeared on this blog a couple of weeks ago. After much searching through U.S. Federal Census indexes, and some careful examination of the actual census pages, birth and death records, and family documents in my files, I have been able to officially add my father's grandparents--my great grandparents, at last!--to his tree.

As you can see, any changes I make on my WikiTree pages are automatically shown on the family trees here on the Remember blog. 

Using the information from all the documents, I was able to piece together a biographical timeline for my father's life. It's a dry outline, and really gives no idea of the personality of the man--his funny grin and the twinkle in his eye--but it does give a framework for his life that is a perfect start to further genealogical research. It also gives me a sense of how old he was when these events took place.

Here it is, complete with sources. Yes, I've learned to always cite my sources.

The twinkle in his eye...

My Aunt Faith; my mother, Elva; and my father, Dan Harris
Long Beach, California, some time in the 1960s

Biographical Outline:

Dan is born to Albert and Eva Ellis Harris, Aug. 2, 1907 in Worcester, Massachusetts. (2,3,4)

Albert, Eva, and Dan are shown as residing in Boston, Massachusetts in the 1910 U.S. Census. Dan is 2 years old. (5)

Albert, Eva, and Dan are shown as residing in Boston, Massachusetts in the 1920 U.S. Census. Dan is 12 years old. (6)

1928: Dan marries Marion Emily Foley in Boston, Massachusetts. Dan is 21. (7)

1932: Dan and Marion's daughter, Joan Patricia Harris, is born in Boston, Massachusetts. Dan is about 25 years old. (7)

Nov. 27, 1936: Dan applies for a Social Security Card [The Social Security Act was signed into law just the year before by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on Aug. 14, 1935]. He gives his address as 37 Snow St., Brighton, Massachusetts. He is 29 years old and working at the Copley Square Hotel, Huntington Ave., Boston, Massachusetts. (9)

April 15, 1937, Dan's occupation is Cabin Steward, according to his Continuous Discharge Book. Address is still 37 Snow St., Brighton, Massachusetts. Dan is 30 years old. (8)

Some time before 1940, Dan and Marion divorce. (7)

Dec. 21, 1940, Dan marries Elva Crabtree in Woodstock, New Brunswick, Canada. He is 33 years old. (1)

Daniel appears as Head of Household, age 32, in Boston, Ward 4 in the 1940 U.S. Census. He gives "Waterville, Maine" as his last place of residence. His occupation is "waiter." Note: Only head of household was named in this census, not every name in the household. (10)

Dan and Elva live in Massachusetts from 1940 to 1942 (see citation for Marital Property Declaration form). (12)

Dan and Elva move to Maine, where they live from 1942 to 1945 (see citation for Marital Property Declaration form). (12)

Nov. 11, 1944, Dan and Elva's first daughter, Clair Harris Zarges (that's me), is born in Biddeford, Maine. The family resides 25 Sea View Ave., Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Dan is 37 years old. (11)

In 1945, Dan and Elva move to California, where they will reside for the rest of their lives (see citation for Marital Property Declaration form). They live first in Hunter's Point (1945-1949), at 1323 48th Ave., San Francisco (1949-1955), in an apartment in San Rafael for a year (1955-1956), then at 2733 Heatherstone Dr., Marinwood, San Rafael (1956 until Dan's death). (12)

Aug. 19, 1949, Dan and Elva's second daughter is born in San Francisco. Dan is 42 years old. (1)

Sept. 22, 1972, Dan dies of heart disease at age 65. The death certificate shows him as retired, after 36 years working at Geary Auto Parts in San Francisco [incorrect--see occupational history below]. He died at his home at 2733 Heatherstone Dr., San Rafael, California, where he had resided for 17 years, having lived in San Francisco before that for 11 years. (12)

Oct. 24, 1972: On a Marital Property Declaration form (see source citation below), Elva gives the following brief history of Dan's occupational career: 
1940-1942: Waiter 
1942-1945: Shipyard 
1945-1947: U.S. Naval Shipyard 
1947-1949: Shell Oil [running a gas station in San Francisco, California] 
1949-1957: Carpenter 
1957-1964: Geary Auto Parts 
1964- 1972: Retired (12)

Dan is buried at Mount Tamalpais Cemetery, 2500 West Fifth Street, San Rafael, California, U.S. The plot is located in the Garden of Devotion, Lot 96, Grave 6. (14)


1. Family interviews.

2. "Massachusetts, Births, 1841-1915," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 04 Dec 2013), Eva Ellis in entry for Daniel Harris, 1907.

3. Copy of record of birth from City Clerk Dept. City of Worcester, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, No. 1215, copy dated Jan. 15, 1969.

4. True copy of record of birth, C82253, issued Apr. 30, 1999, from the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Reg. no. 1622, Vol. 568, Page 497.

5. "United States Census, 1910," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 Nov 2013), Daniel L Harris in household of Albert Harris, Boston Ward 19, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States; citing sheet , family 48, NARA microfilm publication T624, FHL microfilm 1374634

6. "United States Census, 1920," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 Nov 2013), Daniel L Harris in household of Albert Harris, Boston Ward 14, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States; citing sheet , family 162, NARA microfilm publication T625, FHL microfilm 1820736.

7. Information about Dan's marriage to Marion Foley, and the birth of their daughter: Correspondence with their daughter (my half-sister) Joan Harris Foynes.

8. Dan's Continuous Discharge Book #168249, Issued by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Machine Inspection and Navigation, dated Apr. 15, 1937.

9. U.S. Social Security Act Application for Account Number 028-10-5567, dated Nov. 27, 1936.

10. "United States Census, 1940," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 Nov 2013), Daniel Harris, Ward 4, Boston, Boston City, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 15-163, sheet 14A, family 288, NARA digital publication of T627, roll 1662.

11. Birth certificate for Clair Marie Harris, Biddeford, Maine, Nov. 11, 1944.

12. Certificate of Death, Certified True Copy, State of California, Dept. of Health 2100-1057/275. Copy issued Dec. 18, 1984.

13. Marital Property Declaration Form, State of California. Information on the form was provided by Elva Crabtree Harris Rodriguez after Dan's death. Dated Oct. 24, 1972. The form lists, among other things, real property, the states in which they resided, and occupations for both Dan and Elva.

14. Mt. Tamalpais Cemetery sales agreement, Sept. 23, 1972.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Miss Brown and the Cherry Brandy

This is the third part of an interview with Amalio Mallozzi, which took place in April 1999, and was transcribed by me, Clair Harris Zarges. You can see the first part here and the second part here.

Amalio has been talking about life in Stamford, Connecticut, once all the family had moved there from Pulcherini, Italy.

Amalio told how his sixth grade teacher came to visit the home and "got drunk as hell" on Mama's homemade liquor. It was during Prohibition, and she drank three or four glasses, and she was "eating those alcohol-laden cherries like they were peanuts." 

Mama made the liquor by using "oxblood cherries" and 40% alcohol in a sugar syrup. The cherries were stemmed and steeped in the liquid in a jar for four or five months. 

Miss Brown had a funny laugh like "hoo, hoo." They had to keep her at the house until she was sober enough to walk home. "Hoo, hoo, hoo."

Mama made anisette, grape brandy, red and white wine, and beer--both regular and root beer--all through the Prohibition years.

Amalio: "The law was against selling liquor, not making it for one's own use."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mary and Amalio: The Trip to America from Italy

embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

The Trip to America

This is continuation of the 1999 interview with Amalio Mallozzi and his sister, Mary Mallozzi.

Amalio: We (Amalio, Alesandra, Mary, Filippina, and Delia Mallozzi) went on the ship, Roma, from Italy to America [when Amalio was seven and a half, so about 1927-1928]. We all slept in the same cabin, with Amalio in the top berth.

On the ship he saw his first toilet, and didn't know what to do with it. He wondered if it held drinking water. (At home in Pulcherini there was no toilet; they had just dug a hole in the backyard, or used the stable. They would put a stone on each side of the hole to sit on, then wipe themselves with grass).

The Roma, which traveled from Italy to Ellis Island in the Twenties
Could this be the very ship they sailed on?

Amalio [back at the ship]: He "ate every day" on the journey. He didn't get sick. "Mary and Fil were sick the whole trip" - they couldn't eat at all. "Mama didn't throw up too much." He went up to the bow all the time. There was a "bald-headed guy from Rome," another passenger, who acted "like a father" to him during the trip. 

Amalio: The trip took eight days. John (Giovanni Tucciarone, born 1895, Frances Mallozzi's husband) met them in New York in his Model T Ford pickup truck. He "put the trunks and everybody in and went to West Main Street" [Stamford, Connecticut]. The kids rode in back with the trunks. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mary and Amalio Talk About Life in an Italian Town in the 1920s

embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

I asked Amalio (Uncle Mario) Mallozzi in April 1999 if he could share any memories. He did the talking at first, but eventually his sister Mary Mallozzi chimed in, too. In the first part of the interview they spoke of their life in the 1920s in the village of Pulcherini, a suburb of Minturno, Italy. I took notes and typed up a summary that afternoon while the experience was still fresh in my mind. The only direct quotes are those words in quotations.


Amalio and his younger sister, Delia
after their arrival in America.
Stamford, Connecticut, 1930

Amalio said he could only remember some of his sisters in Italy--Rose (born 1901), Filippina "Pucci" (born 1906), Mary (born 1912), and later, Delia (born 1922); but not Frances (Maria Francesca, born 1903) or any of his brothers. He "met" them when he moved to Connecticut at the age of seven and a half. He hadn't seen [or didn't remember seeing] Frances, Phil (Philip, born 1907), or Gene (Gennaro, born 1911) before then. 

Mary: Frances was 18 when she went to America. At that time, her son Jimmy (Jimmy Tucciarone) was crawling, and her son Phil (Philip Tucciarone) was two. 

Amalio: Papa (Vincenzo Mallozzi, born 1874) went to America in the 1890s when he was 16, and made eight trips back to Italy. He married Mama (Alesandra Poccia, born 1880) in 1900 on one of those trips. Amalio knows of eight children born who lived, plus two males who died; one a miscarriage and one who died in infancy. The kids hardly knew their father, as he could only stay with them a couple of months at a time. In America, he worked at digging ditches, in railroad construction, and landscaping for "rich people." Eventually, "Papa got disgusted because he had to keep going back to Italy to give away daughters at weddings," so brought the rest of the family over to the U.S.

See a satellite view of Pulcherini and surrounding areas.

Amalio: The house in Pulcherini had three floors and a cellar and was made of "dead stone," not brittle stone. There was a grape arbor across the front for shade, and a cement area for sitting during the day and evening. His father and compadre (Amalio's godfather) built the house around 1924 or 1925. The family had another house in the town that had been left to Vincenzo by his father. They kept animals there. When they lived there they kept the animals (sheep and goats) on the first floor and the family lived on the second floor. They rented the town house out after moving to the new house, and kept both houses until they left for America. Eventually, Tony Pellicione, Rose's son, bought the newer house from the other family members. He still rents it out. 

Mary interjected: He sold it three or four years ago. [Amalio expressed surprise at this].

...just like in Roman houses

Amalio [speaking of the house that Papa built]: There were marble steps inside to the upper floor, just like in Roman houses. Each floor had two big rooms. On the first floor was the kitchen. It had a fireplace, where the cooking was done. There was no stove, and no running water. 

Mary: There was a coal burner standing about as high as a stove along side the fireplace. The water came from a cistern in the cellar. There was a little room like a closet in the kitchen, with a hole down to the cistern. They got the water by letting down a bucket on a rope through the hole. 

Mary: Dishes were washed in a pan, usually outside. When there were a lot of clothes to be washed the laundry was done in the river. It was a forty-five minute to one-hour walk from the house to the river; they carried the clothes in baskets on their heads. The clothes were dried on bushes, then stretched and folded, because they weren't ironed.

Mary: The family's clothing was made by a dressmaker in Santa Maria. They each had two or three outfits, but only one pair of shoes.

A donkey in the cellar

Amalio [continuing the description of the house]: The cellar was divided into a room for the cistern and a room where the animals (a donkey, a couple of sheep, a couple of milk goats, a couple of pigs, some chickens, and pigeons) lived. On the first floor was the kitchen. It had a table and chairs and a closet for dishes. The next room on that floor was used to store hay (homegrown) and animal feed and tools. 

Amalio: The second floor had two bedrooms, and the top floor had two more. He slept in the room above the kitchen, in his parents' room. 

Amalio: The house was on four lots, two on each side of it. The land was probably about 800 feet or 600 feet square. There were prickly pears (cactus, which they also called India pears) growing there. It was a five minute walk to another plot of land owned by the family. It consisted of two acres and was located at the bottom of a hill on a plain with a large stream (but not large enough to use for washing the laundry; for that they had to walk all the way to the river) running through it. There they grew oranges, figs, pears, walnuts, hazelnuts, grapes, and olives. They also grew wheat, beans, and corn.

The snake

Amalio: There were a lot of snakes there. They killed any that they saw, but Mary and Amalio both reminisced about a particular snake with a bright mark on its head. No one would kill it, because they all wondered if it was someone in Purgatory, or someone reincarnated. They left that snake alone. Everyone in the neighborhood did.

Amalio: There was another piece of land owned by the family. It was about an acre and a half, about a three quarters of an hour walk from the house. There they grew wheat and corn. The corn was used for pig feed and some was ground into meal for cornbread. Near Santa Maria there was another plot of land that belonged to Alesandra, a "jardine" of about two and a half acres. There they raised apricots, peaches, lemons, oranges, "nespole" (loquats), figs, "suchel" (?), escarole, and beans. There was a well to water the crops.

Amalio: He also remembered going to "Uncle Louie's" (Luigi's) house, which was near Mama's acreage. Luigi was a "healer, a holy man." Uncle Joe (Giusseppe) lived across the street. [Alexandra "Mama" had brothers named Joe and Luigi].

Amalio [back to the house description]: The house was furnished with old-fashioned Italian furniture. Some of it was made by the town carpenter, who also made coffins. Some of it was bought in stores. All the floors in the house were tile. Everyone had his own bed.


Amalio: They were one of the better-off families in the town, mainly because Vincenzo was sending back money from America for them. They had enough animals and crops to supply their own food, because buying in the market in Minturno was expensive. They made their own olive oil, taking the olives to a place called "The Mounds," where the olives were crushed between stones turned by a horse. The owner of "The Mounds" took some of the olive oil in payment.

Mary: They made their own bread, taking the dough to the center of town where a woman had a wood-fired brick oven in her house that was large enough to bake three or four loaves at a time. She was paid for the use of the oven with some of the fresh bread. If someone needed some bread between bakings they could borrow a loaf from her, then repay it out of their next baking.

Amalio: The only cash used by the family came from Vincenzo, and it was used to hire people occasionally to work on the land. They were paid with their noon and evening meals in addition to the cash.

Mary: Rose and Fil [Filippina] worked on the land. They had also helped with the building of the house by carrying buckets with cement and stones.

"A pain in the neck"

Mary, remembering Amalio as a child and younger brother, when asked if he had gotten into mischief: "He was a pain in the neck. He was mean."

Amalio: He remembers a little tame white dove that he was chasing in the yard. He accidentally kicked it in the head and killed it. It was the "loss of a good pet." If he had admitted what he had done and how it had died, Mama would have cooked it. Instead, fearing punishment, he threw the body of the dove into the prickly pears and didn't say anything when Mama was looking for her pet. That's why "I love doves," he said.

Mary: "He used to do those things and say he was sorry when it was too late."

Amalio: Can't remember much more about living there...

Pulcherini today


Amalio Mallozzi died in 2005; Mary Mallozzi died in 2009.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Family History Book Says I Should Have Done This First

Now that I have been picking away at family history research for the last decade and a half, I have finally gotten around to reading some family history research how-to books. The first thing they say to do is to tell your own story. That makes sense, because who knows more about me than ME? 

I wrote this list of things about myself for my other blog, The Zees Go West. I think it tells the story of me as well as anything else I could tell you, especially since I've already written down the bare facts and statistics in My Own Genealogical Record, elsewhere on this blog. 

Too high up!

1. I have plumbing issues. I’m still afraid of the bathtub drain, and I secretly believe that one day a snake will swim up out of my toilet.

2. My father came from Worcester, Massachusetts and only completed 8th grade, making education for us kids of prime importance to him. We disappointed him a lot but he still loved us.

3. My mother came from a farm family with thirteen children and she didn’t want to talk about it.

4. My parents moved me from my birth state of Maine to California when I was three months old, thus making me officially rootless. I have lived in four other states and one Canadian province. I keep an atlas handy at all times and am always planning my next move.

5. I was born near the shore of the Atlantic Ocean and grew up in San Francisco, one block from the Pacific Ocean.

6. I learned many of the skills I needed from books.

7. I can make a blanket from the sheep onwards.

8. I used to have milk goats and that one goat, Lily, and I have been known to make a big ruckus out in the barn. She always waited until the milk pail was full before delicately placing her hoof right into it.

9. I believed that book about raising backyard goats and really thought they would weed around the fruit trees for me.

10. During the same period of my life, I once turned the geese into the strawberry patch because another homesteading book said they would clean the weeds between the rows.

11. I know to never turn your back on a gander and I didn’t have to learn that out of a book.

12. I once sheared a sheep by hand with manual clippers, but only the back half. My hand got tired. She looked like a lion.

13. I can give a sheep a shot, but it makes me nervous. It makes the sheep nervous, too.

14. I once owned a weaving store and taught spinning and weaving.

15. I think chickens are fascinating and I can sit and watch them for hours. Their behavior is a metaphor for something that I am still trying to figure out.

16. I once startled a skunk when reaching into a nest to get the eggs out.

17. I helped deliver a lamb in a dark barn while reading the directions, with a flashlight, from yet another homesteading book.

18. In my first garden I planted several rows of corn (reading the directions as I went along) with my little bantam chickens for company. While I was busy looking at the book, the banties were scratching up and eating the corn--another lesson learned about companion animals.

19. One of my favorite things to do (I have a quiet life) is to consider the alternate words offered by autocorrect. For instance, it wanted me to change the word “banties” in the previous sentence into “panties.” Imagine.

20. I honestly believe that I am psychic, but only with my sister, and only some of the time.

21. I used to live in a house that had four fireplaces and was built in 1770. All of the people who had lived there over the centuries had left some little part of themselves behind. There was always lots of company.

22. I hated swimming for years because I was sent to lessons at a vast outdoor unheated salt water pool in cold and foggy San Francisco. The thought of swimming made my teeth chatter.

23. I kind of like swimming now, but only where I can see my feet.

24. I went back to school to finish my bachelor’s degree when I was in my fifties. My father would have been proud, but it was too late to tell him.

25. I got my master’s degree when I was 56.

26. I’ve always had a secret soundtrack running in my head, describing my adventures as I was having them. (She leaned a little closer to the bathtub drain. What was that slithering sound? Something was coming…)

27. My first library job was driving a bookmobile.

28. My last library job was teaching information technology to reluctant 8th graders.

29. While skiing long ago in a headlong and out of control fashion down a bunny hill, I made a promise to myself to give up extreme sports.

30. I have a sister-in-law who once jumped out of an airplane. That’s extreme enough for me.

31. I once stepped on a snake while running barefoot down a California sidewalk.

32. I have never been bitten by a snake, but expect to be momentarily.

33. I have six dogs. I don’t even like dogs. I might be mistaken, but I thought I was a cat person.

34. Just in case, I have three cats.

35. In an unrelated development, I have had several husbands as well, nice men all. We are still in touch.

36. Beez and I have been married for 32 years and have forgotten to celebrate most of our anniversaries. We remembered the 25th because we were in Yellowstone with some of our kids and grandkids and they reminded us. The 30th was lovely because we went to France.

37. My children's and stepchildren's names are in alphabetical order, but not because of any planned cuteness. The blended family just turned out that way: Angelina, Becka, Ben, Chris, and Dee.

38. I only like to watch non-scary movies. Years ago I decided that life was scary enough.

39. I learned to knit from a book.

40. I have made 110 sweaters for Knit for Kids.

41. I learned how to bake bread from a book. It has taken me years of practice to make a nice light loaf. Ask my first husband, who used to say that one of his arms was longer than the other from carrying the sandwiches I packed for his lunch.

42. I once lived in Canada.

43. When I lived in British Columbia, my California friends believed that I was somewhere in South America. Others, who understood that I had moved somewhere up north, believed that I was living in an igloo.

44. Now that I live in New Mexico, some of my eastern friends believe I am in a foreign country where only Spanish is spoken.

45. I used to lie on a hill all night and take photographic time exposures of meteor showers.

46. A group of people entrusted me to develop their meteor shower photos. I switched the hypo and developer solutions by accident and ended up with clear strips of film.

47. I had a friend who traveled to Europe and asked me to water his plants while he was gone. I used the jug of photo chemicals that was next to the jug of plant watering solution by mistake.

48. I learned to make pies out of a book when I was 11. Once, when my parents were out, I baked ten apple pies for the freezer.

49. Another time when my parents were out, I ate too many home baked cinnamon buns and threw up. Good thing no one had thought of eating disorders back then.

50. I learned to make replacement cinnamon buns from a book.

51. Having political discussions gives me a stomach ache, not unlike the one I got from the cinnamon buns. I know what I believe and can’t understand that everyone else hasn’t gotten with the program. My program.

52. Long ago, I was sleeping naked when my apartment caught on fire. That was bad, but not as frightening for everyone concerned as it would be if it happened now.

53. My first car was a 1951 Chevrolet that my father sold to me for $200.

54. I always wanted to be a cowgirl, until I actually rode a horse and found out how high up I was. Another extreme sport given up.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Family Tree for Bill Zarges, My Husband

embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

This tree is dynamic and will change as I add more information to my WikiTree records. Please remember that this is very much a work in progress: I am adding missing dates, siblings, spouses, children, stories, and sources as I work my way through my boxes of written files. Click on any name for more information. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Father's Family Tree

                                      embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

This tree is dynamic and will change as I add more information to my WikiTree records. Please remember that this is very much a work in progress: I am adding missing dates, siblings, spouses, children, stories, and sources as I work my way through my boxes of written files. Click on any name for more information.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thinking About My Grandmother, Edith Rae Giberson Crabtree

embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

I've been thinking a lot about my grandmother, Edith Rae, since starting this family history project. I never got to meet her, as my parents moved from Maine to California when I was three months old, and Edith died two years later in Houlton, Maine, where she is buried.

She was the fourth child born to her parents, and she had three older brothers, Randolph, Hanford, and Stanley Giberson. According to a letter from my Aunt Alma in 1973, [Edith's] father was William Giberson, who left the family before my mother was born and she never knew where he went. My mother's mother [Martha Grant Giberson] died when [Edith] was 8 years old, so she was an orphan.

It was sad enough to think of little Edith and her brothers as orphans, but then I found that they were apparently sent out to different households. This comes from Wiley Waugh's book, John Giberson, Loyalist (Bristol, New Brunswick: Books of Waugh, rev. ed. Dec. 1999). Mr. Waugh notes that the entire family was found in the 1881 census in the Parish of Gordon, Victoria County, New Brunswick. He did not find William or Martha after 1881 but located the boys listed as servants in different households in the 1891 census, and didn't find a record of Edith after 1881 until her marriage in 1899.

I remember reading an account by one of Edith's daughters saying that her mother worked as a housekeeper in various places until her marriage. I will document the source as soon as I locate it.

After Edith's marriage to David, they lived in New Brunswick and Maine. Edith gave birth to 13 children starting in 1900 with Alma, and ending in 1928 with David Jewett, Jr.

I hope to be able to add more memories of Edith from various sources.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Little About My Grandfather, and a Surprise From Uncle Murray

embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

My grandfather was born in Greenfield, New Brunswick, Canada, one of 13 children. He and my grandmother (who was born in Lower Perth, New Brunswick) also had 13 children--you can see most of that family (there was one more to be born) in the header photo at the top of this blog. His siblings and their children are all listed below.

I never got to meet my grandfather, as my family had moved out to California from Maine shortly after my birth. When my mother and I went by train to visit the family in Maine (probably around 1947?), for some reason we didn't see see my grandfather. I know that my grandmother Edith had died by then, but my grandfather David was still living at that point. Perhaps he was up in New Brunswick and it was too far for us to journey.

I did, however, meet my Uncle Murray Victory (then married to Aunt Gladys, who later married a Hudgins) on his farm. Because Uncle Murray was the first person I had ever met who could take his teeth out I decided that he must be my grandfather. He further endeared himself to me by sending a stream of milk directly into my mouth as I watched him milk a cow. That was a big surprise to a San Francisco city girl!

Here are David's siblings and his children. All names are clickable for more information.

David Jewett Crabb (name legally changed to Crabtree in 1910)