This year on Veteran’s Day I remember my great uncle Colonel Gerard M. Leies, United Stated Air Force.
Air Medal with Two Oak Leaves
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Great Uncle Gerard attended the University of Chicago and University of California and received a master’s degree in physics after attending Loyola University.
He enlisted in the Air Corp on June 23rd, 1941. He served as a weather officer for the 13th Bomber Command and 13th Air Force supporting the Guadalcanal and Philippines Liberation campaigns.
He left military service at the end of the war and returned in 1948. From 1948 to 1950 he served as Special Projects Officer with the Air Weather Service in Washington, D.C.
In 1953 he was assigned to Aeronautical Research Laboratory at Wright – Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, serving as a physicist and then as Chief of the Modern Physics branch. He and Donald Reynolds developed a solar generator that ran through cadmium sulfide which the Air Force hoped would be used to power homes in the future. This headline news was picked up by the Associated Press and re-printed across the country in June, 1954.
Uncle Gerard did further work for the Air Force in nuclear physics, solid wastes physics, plasma physics, relativity, and nuclear engineering at the Air Force Technical Applications Center in Orlando, Florida.
In 1962 he was awarded a doctorate from Georgetown University and retired from the Air Force. He remained active in research for the Air Force as a civilian and expanded his research field to include nucleonics.
Uncle Gerard died in 2008. His obituary attributes him to being one of the nation’s first nuclear physicists. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Immigrant Elena Ferraro Scarnecchia was born in 1886 in Montecalvario, Naples and came to America in 1904 with her mother and sisters. She was my great grand aunt, for she was the younger sister of my great grandfather Carmen Ferraro. Carmen had five siblings: Antonio, Angela Maria Ferraro Valerioti, Gelsomina Ferraro Ciocco, Elena, and Giovania. Elena was the second youngest.
I found Elena on the 1905 Census in Brooklyn still living with her parents Angelo Ferraro and Filomena Napolitano. Neither she, nor her 3 sisters were working outside the home. Same for their parents.
By 1907, Elena’s parents Angelo and Filomena were living in Columbus, Ohio. Elena was also likely in Ohio, because by 1908, she had married an Italian immigrant Angelo Scarnecchia and had given birth to their oldest, Armando Scarnecchia.
Elena’s husband Angelo Scarnecchia, according to the 1900 census, came to the United States at age 7 around 1890 and worked as a clerk in his father’s confectionary store. His father was a confectioner in Warren, Ohio.
A Little Bit on Scarnecchia
Angelo Scarnecchia was born in 1883 in Barrea, L’Aquila, Abruzzo to Orazio Antonio Scarnecchia and Cleonice Santa D’Aquila. Because I love the Italian records site Antenati, I traced the Scarnecchia’s back to the late 1700s in Barrea, L’Aquila to the great grandparents of Angelo Scarnecchia named Clemente Scarnecchia and Maria Loreta Vecchione. They were farmers. I stopped there even though it could have been possible find two more generations.
Back to my great grand aunt…In 1909, Elena and Angelo had their second son, Orazio (John Horace Sargent) in Wheeling, West Virginia. Angelo’s parents were also living in Wheeling at the time. By 1917, Elena and Angelo had moved back to Warren, Ohio, and had their only daughter, Cleonice Elena (Henriksen). Angelo was working in his own company at this time, according to his World War I draft registration card – Foreign Exchange/Real Estate which also appeared on the 1920 census. They had two more sons, Angelo and Robert.
My great great grandfather Angelo Ferraro was living with the Scarnecchia’s in Ohio at the time of his death in 1926. In fact, Angelo Scarnecchia bought the plot to bury Angelo Ferraro in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Youngstown. He is the only person in the unmarked plot. Margerita Valerioti also lived with Elena (her aunt) and her family after her mother Maria Angelia Ferraro Valerioti died in 1918.
In the early 1930s, Angelo Scarnecchia was working as a clerk at Warren State Bank. I found a couple of newspaper references to Angelo Scarnecchia in Ohio. In this Akron Beacon clip from May 1930, there was a reference two incorporations bearing his money and name in Warren, Ohio:
I found another reference to these incorporations as Scarnecchia and Orlando. Angelo Scarnecchia died in Los Angeles in 1956.
When I was researching Elena’s children, I lost track of Armand after he appeared to marry in New York City to Ethel DeNaro. With the number of Angelo Scarnecchias living in the Warren area of Ohio, I also had difficulty tracing that son. Daughter Cleonice moved to New York City and was a singer like my great grandfather. I confirmed that sons Orazio and Robert used and/or changed their surname to Sargent. Robert and his wife Elizabeth were actors in Italian theater that toured the country and played to largely ethnic audiences.
BUT! Robert was also listed as Scarnecchia in the Social Security Death Index. Before he was in acting, he enlisted in the United States Navy as a junior grade Lieutenant during World War II. He died in Nevada in 1996. His son Bobby Sargent was a comedian who says he shortened his Scarnecchia name to Sargent when his surname got “too big for marquees” according to this clipped article I found from May 31, 1974 in the Reno, Gazette – Journal, in which he says Harpo and Chico Marx were his teachers:
Elena Ferraro Scarnecchia outlived all of the Ferraros in my ancestry that came to America from Naples in 1903 and 1904 and stayed. She died in Los Angeles in 1964, a few short months after my great grandfather.
Ellis Island Passenger Lists
New York State Census
New York City Marriage Index
Social Security Death Index
U.S. Navy Enlistment Records
Nevada Death Index
California Death Index
National Archives – CF files
Next immigrant: Great great grandmother Emilia Bold – the one with a German Junker ancestor, French ancestors, and Swiss ancestors.
My great great grandfather Fritz Eckebrecht had 5 siblings. Carl, Auguste, Wilhelm, Heinrich Ferdinand, and Eduard. His brothers Edward and Henry Ferdinand arrived in New York City on May 25, 1866 aboard the Jennie with him. Edward was the baby of the family. You can see him on the far left of this photo taken sometime between 1868 and 1875. Henry is likely the tallest pictured in the middle back OR the gentleman on the far right.
Edward was born in 1859 in Schwarzburg, Thuringia. He was only 6 or 7 when he came to America with his family. He looks very young in the above photo! By 1880, he was living with his brother Wilhelm and working as a harness maker because his mother Marie Louise, seated above – middle, was already deceased. His father Quirinus, seated above, was living with his oldest son Carl. On September 27, 1880, at the age of 21, Edward enlisted in the United States Army in St. Louis, Missouri. His profession was recorded as harness maker and he was listed as 5’5″, having blue eyes, light hair, and possessing a light complexion. He was put into the cavalry, naturally, because he was a harness maker. Of the 41 enlistments on the page I found him, he was 1 of 19 men born outside the United States.
Edward was part of a famous regiment – the 4th Cavalry Regiment, Company B. Edward would have enlisted at the time the United States was engaged in various struggles with Native American resistance in the West. In fact, Edward enlisted in the 4th Cavalry Regiment at the time they had been sent to Colorado to “subdue” the Utes and then to Arizona to “subdue” the Apache. In Company B he would have served directly under then Colonel Ranald S. McKenzie, aka “Bad Hand/No Finger Chief”. In October, the 4th Cavalry under MacKenzie was sent to New Mexico to “subdue” White Mountain Apaches, Jicarilla Apaches, Navajos, and Mescaleros. Edward deserted the United States Military on May 5, 1881. About 1/3 of the page of enlistments where I located his name had deserted.
I find it incredibly interesting this Eckebrecht tale was lost to my side of the Eckebrecht family considering the fact that about ten years earlier his brother, my great great grandfather Fritz, was a “captive” of the Comanche in Texas. Uncle John had doubts about the word “captive” too. See: The Multi-Faceted Life Of Fred Eckebrecht 1848-1920 If Fritz was a “captive” I never understood how he was allowed to visit a German family for Sunday dinner once a week. Don’t forget the tale about our Fritz… during a civil case before a judge he spoke with his thick German accent. A lawyer told him to speak more clearly – more “real American.” Fritz replied in Comanche. The lawyer asked him what he had said. Fritz said, “That was real American, from the people who were here before we came…”
Nobody views desertion positively, right? Since Edward was part of a military unit that at that time was forcing the Native Americans to reservations, there is no fault in his desertion… That being said, unless the digging pans out with the potential brother of Johann Schuttler, a.k.a. “The Gigantic Brick Wall” ancestor, Edward was the first of the first in the Ferraro ancestry that served in any capacity in the United States Military.* Edward Eckebrecht was an immigrant that enlisted to serve his new country. He deserted for a reason we will probably never know.
*My 3rd great grandfather Johann “The Gigantic Brick Wall” Schuttler made wagons for the Union Army but never served. I am on the trail of a potential close relation to him that served in the Civil War for Illinois as a wagoner.
After he left the army, Edward married Mary Ruebhausen, a German-American. They had two children: Loretta and Elmer. By 1900 Edward was a machine engineer for a bank. He had a stepdaughter through that marriage – Sophie Eckebrecht. Sophie married Gerald Brown. Edward died in 1926 in Chicago.
Henry Ferdinand Eckebrecht
Researching Fritz’s brother Henry Ferdinand Eckebrecht gave me a hint about the migration of the Eckebrecht family to Chicago. I always thought the Eckebrechts stopped off somewhere between arriving in NYC in 1866 and appearing in Chicago on the 1870 census. I found the confirmation of Henry Ferdinand in the St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church in Chicago with a date of April 5, 1868. So Quirinus and Louise Eckebrecht already had the family in Chicago by 1868. I believe at this point that our Fritz was wandering around the Post-War South picking crops.
Henry Ferdinand was in the medical profession, the only sibling of Fritz that didn’t work in a laboring capacity. He was a pharmacist. In fact, he was comfortable enough in the 1900 census to have a servant. Henry Ferdinand married a German-American born in Wisconsin named Theresa Louise Engleman. They had three children: Henry Frederick, Theresa, and Albert. Henry Ferdinand has many descendants on the West Coast today. Below is a photo of his son Henry Frederick that I retrieved from his Seaman’s Certificate application on Ancestry from 1918.
Researching Edward Eckebrecht was a surprise for me. You have to read everything on a military record! I have not found any biological descendants of Edward alive after 1920. I would like to research more about Edward’s time in the United States Army to find out what his Company did while he served.
New York Passenger Lists
Chicago City Directories
United States Federal Censuses
Chicago Birth, Marriage, and Death Indexes
United States Social Security Death Index
Chicago 1892 Voter Registration
National Archives, U.S. Army Register of Enlistments
Coming: Carmine’s sister Elena Ferraro Scarnecchia.
I do plan to do write-ups on the Gerbing immigrants (the family of my third great grandmother.) Her siblings had huge families, who had huge families, who are now allover the country. They may likely come last.
Immigrant Cesidio Marcella, my great grandfather, was born in 1895 in Case Bruciate, Farindola, Pescara, Italy. He came through Ellis Island in 1923 when he was 28 to earn money to send home to his family.
He was 1 of 15 children. His aunt, Maria Marcella, was the midwife that was present at his birth. He was the oldest child of his mother, Elisabetta Rossi. She was the second wife of his father, Filippo. Filippo had 9 children with his first wife, Maria Antonia Lacchetta, of which, the following, that I know of, survived to adulthood: Raffaele (father of Gabriele Marcella), Pasqua, Filomena, and Serafina. All of Filippo’s children to Elisabetta survived to adulthood. In order of birth, they were: Cesidio, Maria Domenica, Antonia Vincenza, and Andrea Antonio. Andrea greatly resembled his brother Cesidio.
At age 20, my great grandfather was made to perform military service during World War I in the 3rd Regiment Artillery.
The above photo is the physical description written down by the commander when he reported for his mandatory military service. His hair was straight and chestnut colored, his eyes were chestnut (we knew them as hazel) and his nose is described as greco for Greek. His hair would redden in the sun. At leggere/scrivere it says “si”, so he knew how to read and write. His profession is contadino.
I would like someone again to tell me the name of the place in the North of Italy where he had boot camp. After having served on the front line in the trenches in Austria, he was admitted to the military hospital in June 1916. In October 1916, he was released to go home on permanent leave. While he was away in the Army, his father had passed away in April of 1916.. I have the rest of his military record but some of the dates are so light I can’t make other things out. Is anyone willing to try?
A few weeks ago, I found the marriage record of my great grandparents at the LDS. Because of Italian privacy and contractual laws, this record is not available online for all to view, because it happened in 1919. At that time, my great grandfather was still a farmer. I will explore their marriage record later, on their anniversary. But for the purposes of this post, a written paragraph at the bottom stated the marriage legitimized the birth of a child born to a natural union, she was named Maria Battistisimi, and was born in 1916. Yes, it said 1916. Maria, according to the marriage record, was born October 29, 1916. When I first saw her birth date on my great grandfather’s petition for naturalization in the United States, I thought he misremembered the actual date. I will post the paragraph later and you can decide if I did indeed read her birthdate correctly. So how could she have been conceived while my great grandfather was in the trenches in Austria? He must’ve been on leave, right???? I COULD EASILY get her birth record from Farindola…you tell me what you think after you read about the marriage on their anniversary.
My great grandparents had four children: Zia Maria, Zia L. (who is still alive), my grandfather Biagio Filippo (who perished in World War II in the Alpini), and Zio Alberino (who died in the United States). Zia Maria married Iezzi. Zia L. married Fiore Generosi, son of Giuseppe Generosi (a foundling from Teramo) and Maria Di Gregorio. Alberino married another Farindolese who he brought to America, Gabriella Perilli, daughter of Angelo Perilli and Regina Colangelo.
After the birth of my grandfather, my great grandfather came to America. The previous post about his travel to America, Naturalization and time here can be found at this previous post: On this day in 1923….
I believe my great grandfather looked like this when he became a citizen of the United States:
I don’t care what anybody says but when I do a quick double-take, my brother resembles this photo, sans mustache. When his passport from 1929 becomes public record in a few years, we should have another young photo of him.
When I started genealogy, someone in my family said to me, “The Marcellas have been in Farindola for centuries.” It is simply true. I have traced back directly to Donato Marcella (my 6th great grandfather), born around 1700 in my paternal line who was likely born in Farindola because I still have not found Marcellas born in any neighboring Pescara towns.
Donato may be the son of Domenico based on the number of Domenico Marcellas that were alive at the same time as my 5th great grandfather Domenico. I think the wife of Donato Marcella may have been Domenica Cervo. Unfortunately, I have only found one record that says the mother of Donato Marcella’s daughter was named Domenica Cervo, and that is on the death record of one Giustina Marcella, #110 Morti 1816, the widow of Mattia Macrini. This is the link to her death at Antenati.
Through what is available on Antenati in Pescara, the earliest baptismal record I could find of any related Marcella in our tree was from Anna Saveria Marcella, sister of my 4th great grandfather Giuseppe Antonio Marcella, and is from her 1818 marriage to Vito Antonio Di Vico. Her baptismal extract is from 1773 and can be viewed at this link on Antenati. You can see her grandparents are listed as Donato (Marcella) and Giacinto (Ferri).
The earliest record I could find of a Marcella being born in frazione Case Bruciate was the brother of my 3rd great grandfather, Massimo Nicola Marcella, named Vincenzo, who was born there on April 2, 1812. Vincenzo’s birth record can be viewed here from Antenati on the right and continues to the next page. Massimo Nicola married Maria Carolina Colangeli and they moved to frazione Trosciano and then back to frazione Case Bruciate. It surprised me they lived in Trosciano, so perhaps any Marcellas there are relations of the Marcellas in Case Bruciate.
The Marcellas were farmers while their wives were filatrici (spinners) and levatrici (midwives). There was a branch of Marcellas in Farindola in the late 1700s and first half of the 1800s that were falegnami (carpenters). I have not been able to establish a connection between the contadini (farmers) and falegnami, even though they appeared in the same civil records as witnesses to each other’s life events.
Cesidio’s mother’s ancestry
While Elisabetta Rossi was born in Baccuco (Arsita, Teramo), her father Giuseppe Antonio Rossi was born in Penne, and her mother, Anna Antonia Ricci, was born in Castiglione Messer Raimondo, Teramo. However, all of Elisabetta Rossi’s grandparents were born in Penne and as you can see in Cesidio’s pedigree chart posted above, the tree is filled out to at least 6th great grandparents in most lines, and goes back further than can be pictured in one little snipping tool insert. Elisabetta also descended from filatrici from Penne and most of the males I found in her lines were literate. Penne, if I may compliment them, kept impeccable records and I am glad all of these records are available on Antenati.
A note about the Sciarras
Can you see Baldassare Sciarra in the pedigree posted above? He is the 2nd great grandfather of Cesidio, He was born in Fara San Martino, Chieti. He was a lanaro, which meant he worked with wool, and/or was a merchant of wool. Because Baldassare brought the surname Sciarra to Farindola, I am almost positive all of the Sciarra from Farindola today descend from him. He married a Farindolese, Angela Gabriele Dell’Orso. She was the daughter of Cinziarosa.
United States Naturalizations
United States Social Security Deaths
Arhives of Teramo (for military documents)
Archives of Pescara (Antenati.San.Beneculturali.com)
Comune di Farindola Anagrafe (our Colangeli cousin)
Zia C. in Canada
P. D’Angelo in Penne that assists with the Penne ancestry
Coming: The anniversary of the marriage of Cesidio Marcell and Serafina Merlenghi
Send me a message if you need an invitation to the tree on Ancestry.
There has been a thickening of the Ferraro plot upon the curious and research-provoking discovery of a new record. This is a follow-up to this written last week because he wasn’t Antonio Ferraro, he was Francesco Antonio Ferraro.
In 1824 Marcianise, Terra di Lavoro, Filippo Ferraro, Angelo Ferraro’s older brother, was born to Angela Maria De Cave, not Delle Cave, and the man that went by the name of Francesco Antonio Ferraro.
Filippo’s birth record
Francesco Antonio Ferraro stated he was 26, living in Marcianise, and at the time of Filippo’s birth was by profession Soldato del Terzo Cacciatori (Soldier of the 3rd Hunters). This is in fact the correct Filippo Ferraro because, on the second page of his birth record, the Cancelliere di Marcianise added a notation detailing his third marriage to Mationa Vitale in San Prisco to this original record.
Fanteria Leggera, Battaglioni Cacciatori Campani, Terzo
Now he goes from plain Antonio, the hired hand, to Francesco Antonio, soldier. Before 3 x great grandfather Francesco Antonio Ferraro moved to San Prisco and became a hired hand, he was in the Royal Army of an Austrian controlled Bourbon ruler, King Ferdinand IV of Naples as part of the Fanteria Leggera, Battaglioni Cacciatori Campani, Terzo or Light infantry, Campanian Hunters Battalion, 3rd Division. Royal armies at that time in Italy weren’t built from mandatory drafts. Those came in 1862 when his son Angelo joined the cavalry. Ferdinand’s new larger army was formed after he regained his crown in 1815 and when he combined Southern Italy and Sicily into the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It was made up of 57,000 men. 52 battalions of infantry made up 47,000 soldiers. 24 squadrons of cavalry made up of 4,800 cavalieri. Lastly, 5,000 men making up the artillery. (The italicized information was loosely gathered and translated from an Italian website obtained through google.)
King Ferdinand’s Soldier’s Uniform from the early 1820s
If Francesco Antonio Ferraro served from around 1818-1824 (making him age 20 to 26) he MAY have been involved in an 1820 military revolt in Naples against the Bourbon rule which was completely controlled by Austria. Or he MAY have been part of the Campani troops that were used to put down a Sicilian revolt for independence in 1820. Again, google was a friend here because, we do not have any military documents from Italy on Francesco Antonio Ferraro.
So Francesco Antonio Ferraro was in the Royal Army as was his son Capitano Angelo Ferraro as was his son Carmine Ferraro. Was Francesco Antonio Ferraro’s father also involved in the military?
How do you get a military record as old as at least 1824 from Campania? Where did Francesco Antonio marry? Marcianise?
Maybe…but now I must add a stack of Leies, Lais, Leis, Lays, Leys, and Leys into the tree, find information about Fritz Eckebrecht’s mother, locate Louis Kirsch’s origins in Germany, add another 100 ancestors into the Abruzzo tree, and research a Mistress of the Foundling Wheel.
On his military record from the Archivio di Stato di Teramo it is transcribed:
Chiarato allo armi e giunto 17 Gen 1942
Ca ned 9th Regiment Alpini Battaglione L’Aquila 143, 20440
Camp. PM 202 Russia ?
Era Ricoverato all ospedale di Karkov ?
Dichiarato disperse 6-1-1943 come da verbale
D’impossibilita rilasciato dal commando del
Distretto militare di Teramo in data 14-4-1948
Parificato a Teramo
Parificato a Teramo il 1-2-1985
Called to Arms January 17, 1942
9th Regiment Alpine Battalion L’Aquila 143, 20440
Camp PM 202 Russia Date?
He was hospitalized at hospital of Karkov Date? 1/6/1943 declared verbally missing on the impossibility of being found – issued by command Military District of Teramo on 4/14/1948
Equalized in Teramo the 1/20/1950 Equalized in the Teramo 2/1/1985
Caporale Antonio Merlenghi, 281 reggimento fanteria, nato il 6 dicembre 1887 a Farindola. Figlio di Cesidio Merlenghi e Maria Michela Cirone. Distretto militare di Teramo, morto il 27 ottobre 1918 nelle Grave di Papadopoli, Battaglia di Vittorio-Veneto per ferite riportate in combattimento. Decorato di Medaglia D’Argento al Valore Militare
Corporal Antonio Merlenghi (Great Great Uncle) 281 Infantry Regiment, born December 6, 1887 in Farindola. Son of Cesidio Merlenghi and Maria Michela Cirone. Military District of Teramo, died October 27, 1918 at Grave di Papadopoli, Battle of Vittorio-Veneto from wounds received in combat. Decorated with the Silver Medal of Military Valore
Soldato Alfonso Di Francesco, 156 reggimento fanteria, nato il 21 agosto 1892 a Farindola. Figlio do Biagio Di Francesco e Marianna Di Pendima. Distretto militare di Teramo, morto il 12 agosto 1915 sul Monte Cappuccio, Secondo Battaglio dell’Isonzo, per ferite riportate in combattimento.
Soldier Alfonso Di Francesco (Great Great Uncle) 156 Infantry Regiment, born August 21, 1892 in Farindola. Son of Biagio Di Francesco and Marianna Di Pendima. Military District of Teramo, died August 12, 1915 on Monte Cappuccio, Second Battle of Isonzo from wounds received in battle.
~and numerous other cousins deceased in battle in World War I and World War II in Austria and Russia…