Family History Research

Sentimental Sunday – A Saturday Morning with my Son

In an effort to spend more one on one time with my son and expose him more to the family history and the thrill of the discovery, we went cemetery hopping again yesterday morning. The day began with the usual nine year old, “I don’t want to go…….” routine. I insisted he go anyway and that it would be fun. Once on the road for our roughly 20 minute drive to Mt. Carmel and Queen of Heaven in Hillside, the conversation turned to music then to what we would do on our outing. My son quickly forgot he didn’t want to go.

We arrived at Queen of Heaven and used the kiosk to look up some names. My son loves using the kiosk. Then we spoke to a man working in the office and were given section maps! I wish all the Catholic cemeteries in Chicago gave you section maps. He marked the map with a nice red X where our grave should be for the sections with which we needed assistance. This made looking for the graves so much easier. Next time we go to St. Adalbert’s, I will make the suggestion they give out section maps.

In addition to the new graves I wanted to visit, I took him by a few family graves he had only seen in photos. His interest intensified as he learned more about the people in our family.

My son was in charge of the camera again because I want him to learn to take good photos of the graves. Complete photos of the graves, not cutting parts off. Overall he did fairly well yesterday with the stones in the ground. The directions, “I want to see grass on all sides so I can crop the photo later,” seemed to help. He still needs to work on his monument photos because his skill at fitting the entire monument in needs additional practice.

After our visit to both cemeteries we stopped at Panera for a snack and to talk about who we found, what he thought was interesting, and what we could do for the next trip up there.  It was a great morning spent together and I think we are both learning a lot. He is learning more about research and photography and I’m learning to be a better teacher. I treasure these moments we have together because it seems like just “yesterday” he was born and “tomorrow” he will be going off to college.

These photos are of a Mary Fratto who died as a child. I am not sure if she belongs in my family but I wrote her information down and we photographed her grave just in case. I cropped her photo from a larger grave photo but my son took the other photos. He is getting better!


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Surname Saturday – Iozzo – Scoleri

I was recently contacted by someone researching the Iozzo line who lives very close to me in the Chicago burbs. We are trying to coordinate a meeting to go over all our notes and stop at the cemetery. We have a connection but trying to prove who the parents are and where they actually lived is another story. This is what I know from my research and what was told to me this week. If you have Iozzo family, please comment on what you know.

There are four Iozzo brothers that I am aware of:

Michael (my line) b. 1899, d. 1972; Vito Anthony b. 1895, d. 1943; Frank; and Nicholas. All were born in Santa Nicola, Di Crissa, Italy. Michael and Vito married Fratto cousins from my tree. You might need a giant piece of paper to map this all out. The relationships get messy. Are you ready?

Michael married Rose Fratto, daughter of Tomaso Fratto (my husband’s main line). Tomaso’s brother Fortunato had a daughter Jennie who married Michael’s brother Vito Anthony.  Now, Jennie had a niece, Josephine Tellerino, who was the daughter of her sister Rose Fratto Tellerino. Josephine married Nicholas (we believe). Frank, well he is a mystery right now.

We believe the parents of these men are Michael Iozzo and Theresa Scoleri.

If you are connected to these lines, please let me know. I would love to get you in on this meeting or email sharing of notes.

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Death Certificate Discoveries

Death certificates can contain very interesting causes of death, or the “usual” causes of death such as heart disease and cancer. I discovered two certificates for my husband’s Italian side that caused quite a stir in the family when I revealed how these men died.

First we have Fortunato Fratto. Fortunato was born about 1854 in Taverna, Italy. He immigrated to the United States 21 November 1890 and set his sights on Chicago. Fortunato died 31 January 1921 in Chicago, Illinois due to what the death certificated stated as “Hemorrhage due to gun shot wound. Inquest held.”  Wow! He was shot! After the initial shock of this discovery wore off I began to search for records.

Thanks to the work of Northwestern University, the Chicago Homicide records from 1870 – 1930, are in a database located at the Homicide in Chicago website. Their site contains historical background information, an interactive database, crimes of the century and much more. To find my Fortunato Fratto I searched the database. The search options include keyword search, case number, date of offense, victim name, address, circumstances, defendant and relationship between the victim and defendant. The database does include a note that all information was transcribed exactly as it appeared on the records with no corrections being made to the data input. And as we know when researching records, the data on the document isn’t always 100% correct.

The database shows under a search for Fratto, nothing. I had to search several different criteria in order to find his case. When I found it, the name was misspelled as Fortunato Fratts. Not Fratto. The blurb that comes up with the search states, “January 30, 1921 Fratts, Fortunato – Age 55 – Fatally shot 1/29/21 during an altercation with Guisseppe Tellerino, in the latter?s home at 230 W. 25th St. Tellerino escaped. 15 Pct., Case number: 5987, View case details.” Clicking on case details gives more information about the circumstances of the homicide, victim and defendant information.

Take a look at the Chicago Homicide Database. There are lots of interesting cases. You never know what you will find.

Now, on to our second Italian, Charles Murabito. Charles was born 14 February 1882 in Trecastagni, Italy. He immigrated to the United States 30 March 1903 and came to Chicago. He lived a full life, dying 27 October 1933 in Elgin, Kane County, Illinois. I looked for his death certificate on the Illinois State Archives death certificate database.  I searched by Cook County because that is where he resided. It was only when I opened the search to the entire state that I found a possible record for him, in Elgin. When I read the death certificate, the information matched and Charles had indeed, died in Elgin!

Elgin is a long way from Chicago, even by car in 1933, and there was a lot of farm land out that way, so what was a “city boy” doing in Elgin when he died? His death certificate stated the cause of death was, “General paralysis of the insane.” Huh? What is that? A little Googling brought me to understand this was Syphilis. My jaw hit the floor when I discovered this bit of information. Did my husband’s family know this? More Googling brought me information related to the old Elgin State Hospital that no longer exists. This was a mental hospital where the “mad and insane” where taken from all around the area.

My husband’s family found all of this information interesting but also a bit shocking. Can you blame them? I think it is all extremely fascinating. These are the things that make every family different and interesting in their own way.

What interesting Death Certificate Discoveries do you have?

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