approachingthehill

Focusing on Italian Genealogy and uncovering the testa duras in my family tree

Archive for the tag “family history”

Collaboration is Key

1923-frank-maiorano-and-grace-pepe-wedding-party

I grew up seeing the photograph of my maternal grandparents on their wedding day in 1923. Their wedding anniversary was celebrated by the entire family until my grandmother died in 1979. Through an earlier blog post, a cousin contacted me and invited me to join her family Facebook page. She then posted a photo of the entire wedding party! What an absolute treasure.

For whatever reason, my mother was of the mind set that genealogical research was a secret to be closely hoarded and rarely shared photos or information outside her immediate family. I’ve read that Italians harbor a suspicion of authority figures and are wary of outsiders. I think that is the view my mother grew up with too. I would have never broken through so many brick walls last year if I shared her attitude.

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Rosaria Cuba (or Sarah Cubba) – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week 2’s theme is King.  January 8 is Elvis’ birthday. January 15 is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Do you have a connection to royalty?

With my Italian ancestry completely filled with peasants, I can’t claim any connection to royalty. However, I have an aunt that shares a birthday with Elvis.

sarah cubba

Rosaria Cuba, was born on January 8, 1914 in DuQuoin, Perry, IL. She was the second child of Giovanni and Rosa Cuba and the first born in America. Rosaria, or Sarah as she was called, was listed in the 1920 census as Rosie Jr! Sarah married Piotr (Peter) Kuzdal on July 25, 1936 in Detroit, MI. Peter was 31 at the time and Sarah was 22. Peter Kuzdal worked on the Detroit to Cleveland boat and lived in Dunkirk, NY. Family legend says his boat caught fire in the Detroit River and he swam to shore and there after he lived in Detroit. Peter met Sarah when she worked in a restaurant at the foot of Woodward Ave called Eagle Cafe. Tragically, Sarah died on July 29, 1950 at the age of 36 during surgery leaving behind her husband of 14 years and 4 children. Sarah is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Detroit, Wayne, MI.

Just as I mentioned in my previous blog, sometime between the 1920 census and the 1930 census, the entire Cuba family changed their last name to Cubba! The confusing thing is that Sarah’s father, John registered for the World War I draft in 1917 as John CUBBA, but is listed on the 1920 census as John CUBA. Giovanni (John), Giuseppe (Joe) and Michele (Mike) all appear in the 1930 census and everything there after as Cubba. The brothers were all illiterate and signed their draft cards with an X. I haven’t been able to find out why the second B was added. I think perhaps because of prejudice and discrimination against Italians at this time. Or maybe because of trouble with the country of Cuba? Years ago, I asked my Uncle Angelo and he said he was told that it was changed at Ellis Island, which documents show, is not true. If I meet anyone with the last name of Cubba, I know I’m related to them. But like the Fiandacas, I have lost my Cuba paisans.

Picture from 1916.

It’s Too Late

I have been working on my family tree for over a decade now. I have always wanted to scan our family photos so that I have digital copies for archiving and sharing. However, my Mom would not let her precious photos out of her sight. If I did take a few, I had to return them promptly the next day or receive a reminder phone call every 12 hours until they were back in her loving care. These were obviously her most prized possessions and she guarded them intensely. She disdained technology and was loathe to share any private information with the world. She always promised to make copies for me, but never found the time to do so.

My Mom passed away last year. Recently, I was helping my Dad clean up the basement and found the old photo albums. “Can I borrow these for a few days? I promise I will bring them right back.” “Keep ’em,” was my Dad’s reply. He is not a pack rat like my mother and he saw no reason for them to sit neglected in the dark basement.

So I have been scanning, archiving and yes, sharing the old photos. Some have writing on the back so I know when they were taken and who the people in the photos are. The majority give me no clue as to why they were so precious to my mom, and their meaning is lost for all time.

To quote the Carole King song, “It’s too late baby, now it’s too late.”

1968 family

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