Monday, October 27, 2014

Who Are Your Saints?

“Oh When the Saints Go Marching In” is one of my favorite songs.  I want to be in that number!  Who were the saints in your life?  I can think of several.  First and foremost are my parents.  Mom and Dad gave us lots of love that sustains me every day of my life.  All of my grandparents were saints to me and I had seven!  One died before I was born.  I knew the other six really well.   I was closest to Grandpa Dick, Grandma Macy, Gram Elaine, and Grandpa George  in Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.  I loved going to San Francisco to visit Grandpa True and Grandma Helen  as a young child.  Are you thankful for your parents and grandparents?  Were you lucky enough to have a great grandparent in your life?  All Saints Day is a good time to honor your parents and grandparents.

Left to right: My great grandmother- Mae Moss Coffman Forbes, my great grand aunt-Viola Coffman Hughes, my grandfather- George Kelly, my grand aunt- Vivian Coffman McGrath, her husband- Lou McGrath and my "Gram Elaine"-  Elaine Coffman Kelly.
Mary McCrory Cimino and husband, Richard "Sebastiano" Cimino 1950

I had other saints in my life.   All of my teachers encouraged me and broadened my horizons.  I took an Italian language class in high school with Mrs. Tornabene.  She told me that I had the “most beautiful American accent.”  Lon Eakes was my favorite English teacher.  We read “Native Son” by Richard Wright and “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”.  His class was transformative like no other.  Byron Clemons was our advisor for the Student Government class.  He complemented me on my contributions to the debates.  Did you have teachers that were saints in your life?  All Saints Day is a good time to thank them.

What about your leaders in sports or youth organizations?  My scoutmaster was Jack Myers.  He helped to instill the Scouting values such as trustworthiness, good citizenship, and outdoors skills, through a variety of activities such as camping, aquatics, and hiking.  He also encouraged me to be a leader and presented leadership training for our troop.  I will never forget the three steps for training fellow scouts that I learned in that class:  1) know your stuff, 2) show them how and 3) let them try.  What about your coaches and youth leaders?  All Saints Day is a good time to honor them.

I encourage you to comment on this blog or Facebook or Google Plus to remember the saints in your life.  All Saints Day is a good time to pay tribute to them.


Monday, October 20, 2014

All Hallows Eve 2014

Halloween or Hallowe'en, also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve, is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. [Wikipedia]. 

In the Methodist Church, the word "saints" refers to all Christians, so for me All Saints Day is a celebration of all the Christians that have profoundly affected my life with acts of charity and mercy.  My grand aunt Aline Mayne Cavanagh 1902-1995 was a genealogy saint.  By the time I began my genealogy quest in 1989, my maternal grandfather, True Mayne had been long gone having passed away in 1967.  Fortunately I was able to connect with his sister, Aunt Aline.  She had preserved so much of the precious family history and she was eager to share it with me.

Left to right: The Mayne Siblings: Aline, Virgil, Paul, True [my grandfather], Joseph and David

Aline had books, letters and photographs that have truly become treasures to me.  She lived in Wilmington, Delaware at the Methodist Country Home.   She was in her late 80s when I first was able to visit with her at her home.   I sat with her and identified all of pictures that she had not already identified.  I asked her if I could borrow her family heirlooms so that I could copy them.  Fortunately she said yes.  I was able to get copies made of all of the material and then sent it back to her.
Some of the treasures included:  tintype photographs from the Civil War, letters written by Aline’s mother, Anna Elizabeth Banford Mayne in the 1890s, a letter describing the death of Aline’s great-grandmother, Ann Nevin in 1878 and dozens more photographs of Mayne and Banford family members.

Here is a transcription of the text of one of the letters that I received from Aunt Aline in 1990. Aline's note in the margin indicates that the letter refers to the death of her great-grandmother, Ann wife of Thomas NEVIN.  The letter has many misspellings.  I have left the spelling, punctuation and capitalization exactly as the author wrote it.

 April the 4 1878 

Dear cousin it is with pain that I right this evning or with distress for I will halve to tell you that death has bin a mong us and taken hour Dear granma away from us to heaven.  We buried her to day.  She took sick monday march the 24 and died thursday april the 3.  I received your kind and most welcom letter and was glad to here from you all and it was the 29 of march and on saturday and I red it to granma and she was glad to here from you.  She was on her death bed.

I will right more in a few days for I was up all night last night and I don't feel like righting mouch.  The doctors said her disease was old age and the stopping up of her breath.  She choked to death for want of getting breath. That was what killed her.

In my next letter I will tell you as mouch as I can and send you some picturs to and you must send me your pictur to or I will not send you any more.  I will right soon and I want you to right soon as you can.

So I must close for I am offel sleepy and I feel verry bad this evning.  Some of the family are going to the post office tomorrow.

So good by from your affectioned cousin.

S. T. Ashworth



Ann Nevin 1804-1878 and Anna Elizabeth Banford 1860-1938
Taken at J.P. Ball's Photographic Gallery, on 4th St. between Main & Walnut Streets, Cincinnati, Ohio.


After researching this letter for several years, I was able to discover that it was written by Stephen Thomas Ashworth 1859-1883 to his cousin [my great grandmother] Anna Elizabeth Banford.

Newspaper article describing the death of Stephen Thomas Ashworth.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Italian Naming Patterns


In honor of Italian Heritage Month, I offer this little anecdote about the names of my paternal grandfather and his siblings.

Italy has a long standing tradition that determines how children are named:

  • The first male is named after his paternal grandfather.
  • The second male is named after his maternal grandfather.
  • The first female is named after her paternal grandmother.
  • The second female is named after her maternal grandmother.


One exception to this pattern is if the first son or daughter dies, the parents will give their next child the same name.  This happened in my family.  My Cimino great grandparents named their first child, Carmela after the paternal grandmother, Carmela Grasso.  The first Carmela was born 28 April 1903 in Carlentini in the Siracusa province of Sicily. She died 14 October 1903 in Carlentini.  The second child was also a daughter and she was born 8 August 1904 in Carlentini and again this child was named Carmela.

My grandfather was the third child and he was born 30 October 1906 in Lentini.    He was the first male child and he was named after his paternal grandfather, Sebastiano Cimino.  Sebastiano took the name Richard when he arrived in the U.S.  We always knew him as Grandpa Dick.   His father arrived in the U.S. for the first time in April of 1907.  He was working in Omaha, Nebraska but returned to Sicily in the fall of 1908.  He returned to the U.S. in February of 1909.  On the 3rd of July 1909, Uncle John was born in Lentini.  Since he was the second son he was named after the maternal grandfather, Giovanni Ossino.

The other exception to the Italian naming pattern is the impact of immigration.  By April 1911 the entire family had arrived in Omaha, Nebraska.  Shortly thereafter they moved to Sioux City, Iowa.  The next child, Sarah was born 28 Mar 1912 in Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa.  She should have been named Concetta after the maternal grandmother, Concetta Bruno.  Concetta may have been her actual birth name, but we always knew her as Sarah.

Uncle Fred, Uncle Sam, Aunt Josie and Aunt Rose were the next children born in 1913, 1915, 1917 and 1918 respectively.



Wedding of Carmela Cimino and Pasquale Defazio. My grandfather, Richard Sebastiano Cimino is seated on far right and my great grandfather, Antonino Cimino is in back between the bride and groom. Jean Defazio Hewitt believes that the man on the far right is John Giudice and the one directly behind the girl with the flowers is, Frank LaScala.  The rest of the people are unknown. Please contact Nick Cimino at AncestorPuzzles@gmail.com if you know their names.
The second Carmela died in childbirth on the 1st of June 1920. On the 29th of August 1921, the last child Camilla Cimino was born to Tony “Antonino” Cimino and his wife Mary [Maria Ossino].  Even though the spelling is slightly different, we think that the naming tradition insisted that this child should be named after the paternal grandmother.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Analyzing Biographical Evidence in a Timeline


One of my “to-do” list items is to scan all of my paper files and post the scanned documents to genealogy websites.  While reviewing an old file on the Newman Family, I found a paper copy of a biography of my 3rd great grand uncle, Thomas D. Newman. 

Biographies of our ancestor’s siblings can be extremely useful especially if they say something about the parents or grandparents.  I like to transcribe biographies and obituaries because it helps me to analyze them.  Often there are inaccuracies in these biographies so it is worth the time to carefully evaluate the statements and try to corroborate them with other records.

THOMAS D. NEWMAN is a pioneer of Linn County, and resides in Washington Township, on section 27. He is a native of Bourbon County. Ky., where he was born May 26, 1829. His parents were Thomas and Nancy (Johnson) Newman, the former a native of Maryland and the latter of Kentucky. Thomas Newman was born Feb. 22, 1788, emigrated to Hendricks County, Ind., and died there March 1, 1848. He left his native State in the year 1836, whence he emigrated to Indiana and pursued the occupation of a farmer all his life. Nancy, his wife, was born Oct. 4, 1795, and died in this county, Feb. 24. 1874. She was born on the banks of a small stream in Kentucky called Boone's Creek, where the brother of Daniel Boone was murdered by the Indians. The place where he was buried was called Buffalo Lick…
Mr. Newman emigrated from Kentucky to Indiana with his parents when he was but a child of eight years. He was reared on his father's farm, and began and completed his education in the common schools. He continued under the parental roof until his twentieth year, when his attention was turned toward the young and rapidly growing State of Iowa. He determined to seek it, with a purpose of establishing a home there, and accordingly, bidding a temporary farewell to old associations, he turned his face Westward. Being pleased with the appearance of the new territory, he at once purchased 104 acres of land on section 28, Washington Township, this county, which tract he still owns. To this tract he added 161 acres, and has made a fine present of land to each of his children..
Thomas D. Newman came to this State in 1854…
A fine view of Mr. Newman's residence appears in this work.

Sometimes it is helpful to break down each statement in the biography and put them in chronological order. I have added names, dates places and clarifications in brackets.  Here is how the above paragraphs would read in a timeline:

  • 1788 Thomas Newman [Sr.] is a native of Maryland, [born Feb. 22, 1788].
  • 1795 Nancy (Johnson) Newman is a native of Kentucky. She was born [Oct. 4, 1795] on the banks of a small stream in Kentucky called Boone's Creek, where the brother of Daniel Boone was murdered by the Indians. The place where he was buried was called Buffalo Lick… [An online article about the the Life and Death of Edward Boone places this site in Bourbon County, Kentucky.]
  • 1813 [From other records I know that Thomas Newman, Sr. and Nancy Johnson were married in Bourbon County, Kentucky on the 9th of August 1813.]
  • 1829 THOMAS D. NEWMAN is a native of Bourbon County. Ky., where he was born May 26, 1829. [He was the seventh of ten children born in Bourbon County, Kentucky.  The last child born in Bourbon County was his sister, Elizabeth Sarah Newman.  Their brother Aquilla Newman was born in Hendricks County, Indiana in 1838.]
  • 1836 [Thomas Newman, Sr.] left his native State [Maryland???] in the year 1836, whence he emigrated to Indiana and pursued the occupation of a farmer all his life. [It is more likely that he left Kentucky in 1836 and moved to Indiana.  This is supported by the birth information on his last two children described above.]
  • 1837 Mr. [Thomas D.] Newman emigrated from Kentucky to Indiana [Hendricks County, Ind.] with his parents when he was but a child of eight years. [1829 + 8 = 1837]
  • 1848 Thomas Newman, Sr. died [in Hendricks County, Ind.] March 1, 1848.
  • 1849 [Thomas D. Newman] continued under the parental roof until his twentieth year, [1829 + 20 = 1849] when his attention was turned toward the young and rapidly growing State of Iowa. He determined to seek it, with a purpose of establishing a home there, and accordingly, bidding a temporary farewell to old associations, he turned his face Westward. Being pleased with the appearance of the new territory, he at once purchased 104 acres of land on section 28, Washington Township, this county, which tract he still owns… 
  • No date  THOMAS D. NEWMAN is a pioneer of Linn County [Iowa].
  • 1854- Thomas D. Newman came to this State [Iowa] in 1854 [There appears to be a gap or inaccuracy in the story here based on the 1849 note.]
  • 1874 Nancy Johnson [wife of Thomas Newman Sr.] died in [Linn] county, Feb. 24. 1874.




Hopefully this illustrates the value in reorganizing biographical information in a timeline. When the information is presented chronologically, it is much easier to see the patterns of residence and migration.  The timeline is also very helpful in identifying additional records which can be inserted into the chronology such as census, vital records, land, taxation, probate, etc.

See my other articles at AncestorPuzzles.com.