Monday, January 11, 2010


My neighbor's hobby is researching her family tree. Last week, she did some research on my father's family, and she came up with a 1920 census report that showed that my grandfather came to America from Italy in 1896. The house they were living in was at 1109 Wolf Street in south Philadelphia. I took a little trip there today. It's the one with the green awning.
Imagine 9 children (ages 18, 16, 14, 12, 8, 7, 3, 2 and 8 months - yes, they were Catholic) and two adults living in that tiny row home. Dad was 8 months old when the census was taken, so this is the house where he lived when he was born. I don't think it looked like this in 1920. It probably looked more like the ones on the left side of the photo.
My grandfather (also named Anthony) owned a barbershop, but I don't know where it was. Chances are it isn't a barbershop anymore. Two of dad's sisters were buttonhole makers (Makes buttonholes for shoes: Sets button fly of quarter against gauge of machine. Depresses lever which brings down knife to cut buttonhole and stitcher to automatically stitch all around buttonhole) and his oldest brother was a packer, which could mean a lot of things.
I'm not sure what I expected to find by going there, but it was pretty cool to be able to see where he lived. At some point, they moved to W. Ruscomb Street, which is where the 1930 census put them. I'd guess that house was a little bigger. That's a trip for another day.
Dad passed away in 1967 (when I was 9) so I never got to ask him much about his youth. The house on Ruscomb Street is not too far from where Shibe Park was, and I imagine he spent some time going to Phillies and A's games as a kid. Otherwise, all I know is that he joined the Army in 1941 and served in San Francisco during World War 2. My neighbor found his enlistment papers too. I'm not going to do that, just in case you were wondering.
That was my day. In addition to having my teeth cleaned, spending $750 on preventive maintenance for my car, having it washed and doing my spin class. I was kind of busy.


Firestarter5 said...

My cousin actually paid someone to make up a detailed family tree for him. I'm not sure where this person got all of his information from, but I found the results questionable at best.

Anthony said...

It's actually kind of simple, but I wouldn't trust someone without direct knowledge of my family to do any extensive research.
There are often several listings under the same name, and other times the names are misspelled. You need to know the circumstances.

In my case, I was able to verify my aunts and uncles (my dad's bros and sisters) on the census report. My grandfather's name was spelled differently on the 1920 & 1930 census, for example.

It's an interesting exercise. My neighbor pays $200 a year for the membership to and it seems like it's worth it when you see the amount of information that comes out.