Trying to raise a young family and work full time does not leave much time for research. I read the newspaper articles over and over, trying to commit them to memory and find a hint as to where to find the next step.
At this point I had these three sources of information: very detailed (read: yellow journalism) newspaper reports of the murders which took place in July, 1912, a hastily put together will, dated the day our female victim died, giving her a name and an alias (why would anyone include an alias for a housewife?), and the coroner’s reports of our two victims (gee, there were a lot of bullets shot!). It wasn’t enough to answer my questions. But I had to put it on the back burner as family responsibilities took priority.
It was almost two years later when I had a chance to go back to Hartford for more work. More research for newspaper articles was first. I found nothing of significance. I turned my attention to another question: What happened to the children of our victims? We knew that the murderer certainly did not stay around to raise his own children after killing their mother. Where did they go? Before I could answer that, I chose to find their births and baptisms. I remembered the names of the children from family talk. Now I had to find proofs of their existence.
Calling the diocese chancery office, I found that the church where most Hartford Italians would have gone, St. Anthony’s, was no longer open for Masses. But the records of sacraments had stayed there. So, I had access to baptism files. This time with a friend, we went into the dingy, crowded storage rooms of the church basement. We were given free access to whatever was there. Large, hard-bound books filled with yellowed paper were arranged in chronological order along multiple shelves. I knew the birth date of only one of the six children. But I knew that child was the second oldest. So I began with the 1905 book.
As I opened the first book, I realized I had come across quite a find. Not only did I find the child’s name and date of baptism, they also listed the names of the godparents. This meant that not only could I identify correct names and dates of baptism of the children, as well as noting their birth order, I also had the name of two adults, not the parents, who had a relationship with the family. What struck me was the names as I knew them, were not the same as the names as recorded. For example, the child, Jimmy, was baptized Giuseppe Carmelo. And the child, Mary, was actually Maria Annunziata, because she was born on the Catholic feast of the Annunciation, March 25. Now I knew the correct names, dates of baptism (which was usually within days of the birth) and birth order.
I did not find the oldest child’s baptismal listing, which only meant she was not baptized in that church. But I did get six new names to add to the list of people of interest.
To be continued….