Thursday, May 31, 2007

These roots are strong and deep

At least deeper than I expected. I've just been off playing with the wonder that is, and I've learned a lot about my father's side of the family tree. My mother's is easy, because both her parents come from Ireland, so as far as I really care that's where the story ends, but my dad's family is a different story. I've never known much about his mother and father's families, except that my grandmother's family objected to her marrying an Italian, even though he was a freaking doctor! Oh how times have changed.
The most interesting and mysterious branch was always my grandmother's, because everyone else is just European immigrants, Ireland and Italy, blah blah blah, while her family could go back to the Mayflower, for all I know. Well in act her father's parents were also immigrants from what he referred to on a census document as "Irish Free State". Her mother's parents, according to the same documents, were born in Pennsylvania and Maryland, making me at least a fifth generation American, which is a weird thing to me since the grandparents I was closest to were immigrants.
Other interesting things I learned in my research:
  • My paternal grandmother attained a rank of captain in the U.S. Army during World War II.
  • My paternal grandfather's father was a barber who owned his own shop despite being an immigrant from Italy. On his census the taker enigmatically filled in the language he spoke at home before coming to America as English, and yet it also indicates that he could not read or write, nor could his wife. Perhaps this is why their names on the forms were Frank and Mary.
  • Also, due to a strange document mix-up, indicates that the next person on the list, a black deckhand on a schooner from Florida, is a member of his family.
  • My grandfather Joseph Mondello's brother and sister were named Gustave and Katherine Mondello, less Italian names I can not imagine.
  • It seems my grandfather was arrested in 1926 for newsying in a no-newsying zone by the Soused and Be-'stached Brotherhood of Corrupt Irish Police.

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