"Let me see generation times, will we hear children singing rhymes? Sweet memories gone by..."

14 May 2013

"Little Duck"

D'fhág mé slán ag na daoine 'tá fágtha
I said farewell to the people left behind
'San talamh a rugadh mé
In the land where I was born
D'fhág mé slán ag daoine istigh i mo chroí
I said farewell to the people in my heart
Sin mar a bheas chóiche
I'll never see again

--"Sailing Away" by Moya Brennan

I remember someone once telling me that between Picarello and
Paparella, one meant "Little Lamb" and one meant "Little Duck" in Italian, but they couldn't remember which was which.  Well, according to Ancestry.com, Paparella is the one that means "Little Duck".

Today marks the 129th birthday of my great-grandfather, Raffaele Paparella.  Just recently, I found a copy of his Italian birth record from Corato!  I've had a fun time trying to decipher it, though, and I'm still missing some of the names.  Old-style handwriting is hard enough to read in English.

A very rough transcription and translation:

L'anno milleottocentottantaquattro, ad di diciasette di Maggio, a ore antimeridiane dieci e minuti quindici, nella Casa comunale.  Avanti di me ___Antonio___, Uffiziale dello Stato Civile del Comune di Corato è comparso Paparella Domenico, di anni quaranta, contadino domiciliato in Corato il quale me ha dichiarato che alle ore pomeridiane sei e minuti ___, del di quattordici del corrente mese, nella casa posta in via ___ al numero sette, da Bucci Peppa di Michele, sua moglie, contadina, seco lui convivente è nato un bambino di sesso maschile che egli mi presenta, e a cui da il nom­e di Raffaele.  A quanto sopra e a questo atto sono stati presenti quali testimoni ___ Francesco, di anni quaranta, contadino, e ___, di anni sessanta, contadino, entrambi residenti in questo Comune. The year one thousand eight hundred and eighty-four, on the seventeenth of May at ten-fifteen in the morning, in the municipal House.  Before me ___Antonio___, Officer of Civil Status of Corato appeared Domenico Paparella, age forty, a peasant residing in Corato who told me that at six in the afternoon of the fourteenth day of the current month, in the house placed at number seven ___ Street, by Peppa Bucci di Michele, his wife, peasant, living together with him, was born a male child that he introduces to me, to be named Raffaele.  To the above and to this act were present as witnesses Francesco ___, age forty, peasant, and ___, age sixty, peasant, both residents of this municipality.

From Raffaele's Social Security record, I had his parents' names as Dominick Paparella and Josephine Bucci.  Domenico and Dominick obviously match up, but his mother's first name is different.  Perhaps a nickname?

Going back through the records for Corato, I found the marriage record for Raffaele's parents, dated 1872.  As this one is entirely handwritten, it'll take me a lot longer to transcribe and translate, but it confirms that Domenico's wife's name was Peppa Maria Bucci.

Raffaele arrived in New York on October 23, 1920.  He had left behind his wife and two young daughters, who would follow him to the U.S. seven months later (see earlier blog).  According to his immigration record, he was joining his cousin, Luigi Maldera, who was living at 128 Nott Street in Trenton, New York.  I guess Raffaele was still working on his U.S. geography.  Under identifying marks, it says that he had a "mark on the face."

From Aunt Jo's memories of her father Raffaele:
"My father was a hard worker also.  He worked at the Crane Co. where they made tubs, sinks and toilets, when the depression came the factory closed, and it wasn't easy, he then found a job on a farm, picking beans and other vegetables, for 15 cents an hour 10 hours a day for $1.50.  He would ride his bike to Morrisville bridge then picked up by the farm truck, to PA farm. ... My father would bring vegetables home that were not perfect to sell, it was good because we had no money to buy them.  He always made wine every year.  We wanted to help him, but we helped by eating the grapes. ... At night after supper around the table, he would tell us stories of Italy and teach us Italian songs we all enjoyed."  

Raffaele and his wife Maria would have three more children born in the U.S. before Maria died from pneumonia on March 2, 1932.  According to Aunt Jo, Raffaele needed help with his young children, and so he was married again in November of 1932 to Maria Luisa Mangione, a widow with a daughter of her own - Aunt Mary.  The couple had two more children together, Marie and Joseph.

Some of Uncle Joe's memories of his grandfather Raffaele: 

"Grandpop was much more approachable and friendly than Grandmom ever seemed.  And he could converse in English, albeit with a heavy accent.  We would go over on Sunday afternoons to visit, and to visit them was to visit the whole neighborhood...  The Busulieri's, the Petroni's, the Lamarca's (sp?) etc.  Everybody sat out on the front porch on Emory Avenue.  Other Aunts and Uncles were always there visiting too.  I remember that Grandpop always sat at the head of the kitchen table and had a bottle of his homemade wine on the floor alongside his chair.  He would always offer a glass of wine to us kids, too.  And we always drank wine out of little plain juice glasses, no fancy wine glasses for our family.  My Dad always talked about how Grandpop tested him on one of his early courting visits to see if he could handle the wine, but he didn't realize that Dad was the designated refiller of the wine bottle for his own father and had plenty of experience."
Raffaele Paparella passed away at the age of 82 on June 29, 1966 at his home in Trenton.

P.S.:  I've also been searching for a birth record for Raffaele's first wife, Maria Lotito, so far without any success.  There are two girls of that name in the records for 1889 in Corato, but the dates and parents' names didn't match.  I've checked the years before and after, but still no luck.  The next step is try searching other places near Corato, so that might take a while.

02 May 2013

Statesman, Lawyer & Soldier

I know in my bones, I've been here before
The ground feels the same though the land's been torn 
I've a long way to go, the stars tell me so 
On this road that will take me home
--"Going Home" by Mary Fahl

Today marks the 168th birthday of my 3rd-great-grand-uncle Henry Aaron Atkinson, born on May 2, 1845 in Richmond, Virginia, three days before his father's 30th birthday.  Henry was the third child of my 4th-great-grandparents, Henry Allen and Grace Elizabeth Atkinson, and used "Junior" to distinguish himself from his father, even though their middle names were different.

On March 14, 1862, just a few weeks shy of his 17th birthday, Henry enlisted in Captain Parker's Company of the Virginia Light Artillery - with his parents' consent, according to his muster-in roll.  He was discharged in October of that year "by reason of ordinary disability," and received $63.20 in payment for his service.

Capt. Parker's Company
Light Artillery

Company Muster-in Roll

"with parents consent"
Henry then enrolled at the University of Virginia for two years, before dropping out and reenlisting on March 1, 1864 - this time in Company F of Virginia's Third Cavalry Regiment.  Two months later, at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, he was shot in the left thigh and captured by Union forces.  He was first sent to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, DC, and transferred to the federal prison in Elmira, NY in July of 1864.  He was held there until being paroled in February of 1865.

3 Cav. Va.

Company Muster Roll


"In hands of enemy since May 8th 64"
Henry returned home and resumed his studies at the University of Virginia law school, where he was a member of the debate club and the president of the Jefferson Society.  He graduated in 1866, and first worked in a partnership with B. H. Berry.  About two years later, their practice was dissolved, and Henry began to practice law on his own.

On November 4, 1868, Henry married Belle Virginia Dobson (possibly his second cousin) at Waterview Plantation in Gloucester County, VA.  The couple had five children:  Margaret Belle, Henry Dobson, Lucy Clair, Ethel Walker, and Marmaduke.  His youngest son was likely named for well-known defense attorney Marmaduke Johnson, with whom Henry worked on several cases, including the murder trial of James Jeter Philips.

In 1870, Henry was elected Commonwealth's attorney for Henrico County, a position he held for four years.  One interesting tidbit from the Richmond newspapers in 1872:

Difficulties at the County Court-House. - On yesterday, as we are informed, a personal difficulty took place at the county court-house between Messrs. Henry A. Atkinson, Commonwealth's attorney, and W. F. G. Garnett, Esq., a lawyer.  From the best information we can obtain, Mr. Garnett approached Mr. Atkinson and spat upon him, telling him at the same time that he meant it as an insult.  Both gentlemen retired to the court-house yard, and were preparing for a fight, when the sheriff interposed and prevented hostilities.  Subsequently, as we are informed, Mr. Atkinson visited Mr. Garnett at his room, and producing a cowhide, inflicted upon the latter several severe blows.

The next paragraph in the article relates how Mr. Garnett also got into a fight with the Henrico County sheriff.

In 1880, Henry was elected to the Virginia State Senate, where he served for two terms.  During his tenure, he was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and of the Yorktown Centennial Committee.  Along with William Mayo, Henry represented Virginia when establishing the Potomac River's dividing line with Maryland.

In 1884, Henry established a new law practice with S. D. Davies.

He was also involved with several fraternal societies for a time, including the Masons, the Royal Arcanum, and the Knights of Pythias, of which he was a Grand Chancellor.  Eventually, he left the Masons when he converted to Catholicism.

His son Henry Dobson Atkinson became a dentist, and Marmaduke became a doctor, serving as a surgeon with the British Royal Navy during World War I.  His daughter Lucy was a writer for various newspapers, and was Richmond's first woman reporter.  She was also a regent for the Old Dominion Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the oldest chapter in Virginia.

Henry Dobson Atkinson married Mary Goodwin on May 29, 1901, but tragically, both contracted typhoid fever, and passed away within days of each other in November of 1902.  Their 7-month-old daughter, Mary L. Virginia Atkinson, was then adopted and raised by her paternal grandparents Henry and Belle.

Henry passed away on May 29, 1914 at the age of 69.  His wife Belle survived him by four years, passing away on March 2, 1918.  They were interred in the historic Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, marked by a beautiful angel monument.  The Atkinsons' family plot faces the grave of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and both share a lovely view of the city of Richmond over the James River.

We have loved them during life, let us not abandon them until we have conducted them by our prayers into the house of the Lord.

Statesman, Lawyer & Soldier