In my previous blog I talked about the discovery of my Grandfather’s twin sister. It became the newest mystery in searching for my families genealogy. A mystery I wasn’t willing to forget or push aside.

So…how do you find out what happened to someone you never knew about?  The only way is to search for them…over and over and over again.

I knew she was born in 1891…but I knew nothing else about her…except that we didn’t know she existed.  So I went back to my files and started looking at when the rest of the family came to the US.  I thought maybe I missed her on one of the ship manifests.  When I didn’t find her on my copies I took a trip out to the Ellis Island website.  I put in her info and crossed my fingers.  Of course there was nothing.  If there is one thing I’ve learned during my searching, its that you can’t rely on names being spelled correctly.  So the first thing I did was change to an alternate spelling of the last name…something I’ve been dealing with all my life.  BINGO!  Concetta Guidice, from Castrofilippo, Girgenti, Italy…Arrived 1907…that meant she was alive at age 16…IF it was her.  I pulled up the manifest to see who she might be travelling with…

Concetta Guidce Line 4 All family members crossed out...they never boarded the ship! October, 1907

Concetta Guidce
Line 4
All family members crossed out…they never boarded the ship!
October, 1907

OK…so the fact that the family names were crossed out at least told me they were still in Sicily.  Mom Giovanna, brother Alessandro, sister Rosaria, and Concetta never got on the boat to the US.  At least not that day.  I know Giovanna came to the US…I’ve visited her grave many times.  Alessandro I believe was known as Steve after he immigrated…and Rosaria I believe is Aunt Rose.  But that still doesn’t explain Concetta.  So I had to turn my attention back to Sicily.

This is where I absolutely love the http://www.familysearch.org website.  It’s one of my favorites…except when the films aren’t indexed yet.  If there is no index then you have to go thru the images one by one…looking at names, dates, etc. to find out if its what you are looking for.  It’s very time consuming…but can be VERY successful…if you have the patience!

Several times since I found the manifest, I searched for a marriage or death record on Concetta.  I never seemed to find anything useful….Until April 2nd of this year.  I decided to find out when Giovanna came to the US…and I found her manifest in March 1908… but Concetta was missing.  Alessandro and Rosaria both came over to the US with their mother, but Concetta didn’t. That meant one of 2 things….either she fell in love and got married (or was put into an arranged marriage), or she died.  But…now I knew the answer was somewhere between October 1907 and March 1908….5 months to search in.  That was VERY doable!

I started with the Marriage Records…that would’ve been a happy ending…or rather a new beginning.  But, unless she married in another village, she wasn’t there.  So I turned to the death records.  Every page I turned I hoped I wouldn’t find her name.  But…there she was.  Concetta Maria Giudice died at 10:15am, December 25, 1907….Christmas Morning.  She was 16 1/2 years old. The only puzzling item on her death certificate is that she is stated as being a “housewife” (if I have translated it correctly).

Concetta Maria Giudice Death Certificate December 25, 1907 Castrofilippo, Agrigento, Sicily

Concetta Maria Giudice
Death Certificate
December 25, 1907
Castrofilippo, Agrigento, Sicily

I still don’t know how or why she died. I don’t know if they delayed their trip to the US because she was ill or for a totally unrelated reason.  I do know that the more I find out about my family, the more I admire their courage and strength.

Imagine splitting your family up to be able to give them a better life in a new country.  Sending one or 2 family members overseas at a time, while leaving the rest back home.  Imagine not knowing if they all made it.  Imagine being the ones left behind until a future trip.  Imagine what my Great Grandmother felt burying her daughter just after Christmas and 3 months later leaving her behind to immigrate to another country…never to visit her grave again.  Imagine the letter the family here received, telling them their daughter/sister died on Christmas Morning…or worse yet, waiting for them to arrive in Chicago and only seeing 3 of them, instead of 4.  I think I understand a little better now, why we never knew about Concetta.  Talking about her must have been very painful for all of them.

My only other thought is what my Grandfather must have felt years later when he named his 4th daughter after his twin sister….only to have her die before her 2nd birthday.  I remember my dad talking about his little sister…who everyone called “Cookie”.  Now I wonder if my grandfather called his own twin sister “Cookie”…another mystery that will never be solved.

Advertisements