Heart of a Southern Woman

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Italian Cousins through DNA and Genealogical Research

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San Colombano Certenoli GE, Italy By Davide Papalini (mio lavoro) [GFDL Commonshttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Val_Fontanabuona-IMG_0568.JPG

I suspect I am not alone in being surprised, when we have researched for years already, that breakthroughs in our genealogical research bring us exciting new family information, and if we are really lucky, new cousins! Especially, when it is not really due to our own work, but a gift of someone else’s hard work! That happened to me in just the last three weeks when a woman named Karen Migliori got in touch with me on ancestry to tell me that my DNA matched her husband’s Italian line of ancestors whose DNA and family tree she administered. I was so excited, because I knew very little about the Italian line of my mother’s family except for those who had lived in Richmond, Virginia, USA where I was born and raised. My DNA results said I was 5% Italian, and I was so happy to learn that. My mother often talked of her Italian grandmother, Mary Catherine Botto, who married her grandfather James Henry Kearse, who was Irish. Even though I am 15% Irish, I have always felt an affinity and affection for the Italian passions I inherited.

When I started my family genealogical research, I was thrilled to get my Italian line together, even if only through my second great grandparents who immigrated from Italy to America, settling in Virginia. Lewis Botto, 1831- bef. 1866, of San Colombano Certenoli (GE), Italy, married Catharina Revaro, 1825-1903 of Genoa, Genova, Italy. They married in Richmond, Virginia in 1853. Notice that from this marriage record, I learned the names of Lewis’s parents, my third great grandparents, Lawrence and Mary Botto (Lorenzo and Maria Rosa Costa Botto).Louis Botte (Lewis Botto)

_______________________________________
In the Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940

Name: Louis Botte (Botto)
Gender: Male
Age: 21
Birth Date: 1832
Birth Place: ItalyMarriage Date: 3 Sep 1853
Marriage Place: Richmond, Virginia

Father: Lawrence Botte (Lorenzo Botto)
Mother: Mary (Maria Rosa Costa)

Spouse: Catharine Rivers (Revaro)

FHL Film Number: 31855
Reference ID: P1 #39

_______________________________
Together, Lewis and Catharina Botto had two children, James Lewis Botto, 1857-1923, and Mary Catherine Botto, 1858-1906. Mary Catherine as I said before, married James H. Kearse and they were my great grandparents, making Lewis and Catherine Revaro Botto my second great grandparents.. On the 1860 census, Lewis appears as a confectioner in Richmond, VA. and is living with his wife and two children.
________________________________
1860 United States Federal Census
Name: Lewis Batto (Botto)
Age: 28
Birth Year: abt 1832
Gender: MaleBirth Place: Italy
Home in 1860: Richmond Ward 1,Virginia, USA
Post Office: Richmond

Family Number 207

Household Members:
Name                    Age
Lewis Batto           28
Catharine Batto     20

James Lewis Batto  4
Mary Catherine       3
________________________________
However, I have not yet been able to discover for sure what happened to Lewis Botto. I do not know if he died in the Civil War, if he and Catharine got divorced, or just why he disappeared, but I do know that in 1866, Catharine married her second husband, Nicholas Raffo, 1837-1873, also born in Italy. Together they had one son, John Francis Raffo, 1867-1951. On the marriage record of Catharine Revaro Botto to Nicholas Raffo, I finally learned that Catharine’s father’s name was Anton Revaro, sometimes seen as Andrew Rivers. At last, I knew the names of my third great grandfathers.
______________________________________

Catharine Botto

Name: Catharine Botto
[Catharine Revaro] 
Gender: Female
Age: 43
Birth Date: 1823
Marriage Date: 7 May 1866
Marriage Place: Richmond, Virginia, USA
Father: Anton Revaro
Spouse: Nicholas Raffo
FHL Film Number: 33620
Reference ID: p 90
Catharine Revaro Botto Raffo had three children altogether, two sons and one daughter. James Lewis Botto married Margaret Slattery and had six children. Catharine’s daughter Mary Catherine Botto married James Kearse and had four children, including a set of twin girls and two boys. Catherine Botto Raffo’s son John Francis Raffo , 1867-1951, married Mary Margaret “Minnie” Finnegan and had eight children! Blessed to have three children, Catharine had 18 grandchildren! Lewis Botto had ten grandchildren. What a legacy!
James Lewis Botto owned and operated a nightclub in Richmond called the St. Helena. Mary Catherine B. Kearse was a business woman like her mother, collecting rents from rental property they owned, and she was also a jeweler, the co-owner of a well known jewelry store in Richmond. John Francis Raffo was a firefighter who became the Chief of the City of Richmond Fire Department with a career that spanned fifty years! Teachers, Police Officers, Firefighters, and a Catholic Priest. the caretakers of Richmond, Virginia, USA were some of my own family! Previously, I had met, through ancestry, some of my living Raffo cousins, in California, Virginia, and right here in North Carolina, only about an hour away!

That was about all I knew until two weeks ago. Even though I had met and become friends with another Botto cousin through our own DNA match- Eric Dimiceli from New York, he only knew that he had a second great grandmother named Catarina Botto, 1837-1913, who was born in San Colombano, Certenoli, GE, Italy also! She had married a Carlo Molinari. We knew they were related, but could not determine how for lack of records.

Then two weeks ago, I got a note on Ancestry from Karen about her husband Tom Migliori and his cousin Raymond Malispina. She and Ray are the genealogists of the family. Raymond had been to Italy at least five times, and had a cousin who did original research there. Ray sent me this lovely note for my records just a few days after we met:

“Good morning cousin
Amen to that!
One piece of new news you might want for the records is the church containing the data on Botto, Cuneo, et. al. is S. Maria Assunta in the town of S. Colombano Certenoli. It is just about a mile or so southeast of the wonderful city of Chiavari, on the sea some 40 miles south of Genoa and just below Portofino (the Cinque Terra is just a short train ride south of Chiavari). We’ve used Chiavari as our base city on five visits to Italy. Ray”

Raymond shared his own genealogical research and family tree with us, which gave us more ancestors! It also let us know that the four of us descended from siblings! Lorenzo (Lawrence) Botto, 1801-1860, married Maria (Mary) Rosa Costa, 1806-1883. I checked my DNA for matches to the surname Costa, and there they were, I matched Eric, Ray and Thomas–Karen’s husband. In fact, Ancestry has now put the four of us in an ancestry DNA circle! Lorenzo and Maria Rosa had six children, and now we know descendants from three of them! Ray sent this information to Eric Dimiceli and me:

“Botto Family Records S. Colombano Certenoli

As promised here is the information found in the records of the church in S. Colombano Certenoli.

Lorenzo Botto (son of Bernardo) was born in the town of Rapallo in 1801 on July 19 1826 he married Maria Rosa Costa (daughter of Luigi) at the church in S. Colombano. Lorenzo died November 14,1860.They had six children:


-Angela Maria born October 16, 1827, She married Bartolomeo Daveggio on February 5 1845 This is my second great grandmother!!!!
-Giacomo Luigi was born July 23, 1831. No record of marriage in S. Colombano.

-Maria Teresa was born October 13. 1834. She married Antonio Raggio May 2, 1859.

-Caterina was born April 17, 1837. She married a Carlo Molinari (no date). She died July 25, 1913.

-Rosa was born October 19, 1841. She died October 9, 1842.

-Bartolomeo born October 9, 1845. Married Angela Cademartori December 31, 1865. Died February 18, 1906.”

How exciting to discover that our second great grandparents were siblings! Eric descends from Catherina Botto;  Ray and Tom descend from her sister Angela Maria Botto; and I descend from their brother Giacomo Luigi! Giacomo Luigi, I was so happy I could hardly stop saying that name. I had only known him as Lewis who married Caterina Revaro, and had a son named James Lewis Botto and daughter Mary Catherine Botto! Giacomo Luigi translates to James Lewis also, the name of his son! Live and learn! It was so much fun! I immediately sent out an email to all of my Kearse/Botto first and second cousins to introduce Ray and Eric, and give them the information! I also learned the names of two of my fourth great grandparents! Lorenzo’s father was Bernardo Botto, and Maria Rosa Costa’s father was Luigi Costa! There it was, Luigi, a family name.

Since Ray, Eric, Tom, and I are fourth cousins, we should share a third great grandparent, and indeed we are all descendants of our third great grandparents, Lorenzo and Maria Rosa Costa Botto! Ray and I share 13.1 centimorgans of DNA across one DNA segment! Eric and I share 12.0 cM’s of DNA over one DNA segment and Tom and I share 22.5 cM’s over 2 DNA segments.  Below are our relationship charts, detailing our kinship.

What a blessing from DNA and genealogical research to find three new cousins from California, to New York to North Carolina, USA–from Italy with love!

Genealogy Quotation-Lawrence-Dillard-friends-best-Meetville-Quotes-152308
Sono cosi felice! (I am so happy!)
Fino a quando ci incontriamo di nuovo, benedizioni  (Until we meet again, blessings)
Helen
Relationship Charts:
Raymond (Ray) Malispina (1935 – )

father of Raymond (Ray) Malispina

Louisa Cuneo (1888 – 1953)

mother of Elvin George Malispina

Jennie Deveggio (1867 – 1932)

mother of Louisa Cuneo
mother of Jennie Deveggio

father of Angela Maria Botto

Giacomo Luigi (James Lewis) Botto (1831 – )

son of Lorenzo (Lawrence) Botto

Mary Catherine Botto (1858 – 1906)

daughter of Giacomo Luigi (James Lewis) Botto

son of Mary Catherine Botto

Margaret Steptoe Kearse (1918 – 1980)

daughter of Thomas Philip Kearse
Helen Spear Youngblood Holshouser
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kearse
____________________________________________
Eric Dimiceli
4th cousinPrivate Silvinsky 

mother of Eric Dimiceli

mother of Private Silvinsky

Francesco Molinari 

father of Catherine C Molinari

Caterina Botto (1837 – 1913)

mother of Francesco Molinari

Lorenzo (Lawrence) Botto (1801 – 1860)

father of Caterina Botto
daughter of Giacomo Luigi (James Lewis) Botto

son of Mary Catherine Botto

Margaret Steptoe Kearse (1918 – 1980)

daughter of Thomas Philip Kearse
daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kearse Youngblood
_____________________________________________
Thomas Migliori
4th cousinDora Pedrucci (1916 – 2012)
mother of Thomas Migliori

Della Catherine Cuneo (1891 – 1944)
mother of Dora Pedrucci

Jennie Deveggio (1867 – 1932)
mother of Della Catherine Cuneo

Angela Maria Botto (1827 – )
mother of Jennie Deveggio

Lorenzo (Lawrence) Botto (1801 – 1860)
father of Angela Maria Botto

Giacomo Luigi (James Lewis) Botto (1831 – )
son of Lorenzo (Lawrence) Botto

Mary Catherine Botto (1858 – 1906)
daughter of Giacomo Luigi (James Lewis) Botto

Thomas Philip Kearse (1883 – 1939)
son of Mary Catherine Botto

Margaret Steptoe Kearse (1918 – 1980)
daughter of Thomas Philip Kearse

Helen Spear Youngblood Holshouser
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kearse

__________________________________________
This blog post was originally  written for  the blog entitled “Worldwide Genealogy –A Genealogical Collaboration”          http://worldwidegenealogy.blogspot.com/                   `

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How the American Civil War Affected This Southern Woman and Many of Us–150 Years Later!

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–This blog post was originally written for and published on the blog “Worldwide Genealogy~A Genealogical Collaboration,” which you can access at: http://worldwidegenealogy.blogspot.com/2015/03/how-american-civil-war-affected-this.html

 

–from ancestry.com depicting Rebel vs. Yankee in Civil War

At my current age of sixty-six years, it was mostly my 2nd Great Grandfathers, eight in number, who fought in the Civil War. That whole generation was affected–those born in the 1830’s and 1840’s and dying in the war or after 1880. I remember how surprised I was to look at my family tree and realize that. I had put a little picture beside all the folks who fought in the war, and when I looked at my pedigree, there they were, all lined up–my 2nd Great Grandfathers!  One young 1st Great Grandfather lied about his age and entered the war early, and a couple of elderly 3rd Great Grandparents served as well, but mostly this was a tragedy for my 2nd Great Grandparents, who, thank heavens, had children before the war, or after, so that here I am, a product of all eight of them.

“The Civil War” as we call it in America, was fought between April, 1861 and April 1865. Many issues entered into the conflict, but the overriding matter of the day was slavery, especially the expansion of slavery into the western areas of the growing United States. Altogether, eleven  Southern States of the United States seceded, decided they no longer wanted to be a part of the United States of America, but wanted to join together as the Confederate States of America, often called the Confederacy, the South, or the Rebels. The United States forces were called the Union, the Yankees, or the North! After four years of battles, burning, and destruction, Wikipedia reports http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_War that there were an “estimated 750,000 soldiers and an undetermined number of civilian casualties. One estimate of the death toll is that ten percent of all Northern males 20–45 years old, and 30 percent of all Southern white males aged 18–40 died.” We genealogical researchers in America have all probably noticed the many, many widows and fatherless families on the 1870 and 1880 censuses due to this terrible war. 

The Confederacy lost, the slaves were freed, and the South had to slowly rebuild and learn a new way of life.  After the war, almost everyone in the South was poor, their confederate money was no good.  Even the plantation owners were “land poor,” unable to afford to hire their former slaves or other workers to work their large fields!

This is the world in which I find my 2nd Great Grandparents living. For some reason, this was a shock to me. Until I started my genealogical research in 2012, I cared little for history, I am sorry to admit.  A person with a Master’s Degree, I did poorly in history classes, as they only meant dates and event names to memorize to me. Why didn’t someone ever explain to me that my family was there? It wasn’t just the movie “Gone With The Wind” that I should have modeled my scant knowledge of the Civil War upon–of all historical events. Did my parents really not know that their 1st Great Grandparents fought in the war, or was it that they were so busy surviving the depression and World War II, that history paled in comparison. Now that I am more aware, I am trying to correct that situation by writing stories of our ancestors and how they participated in and were affected by historical events. Now I know, that their participation in those events, affected me and my family’s choices in life, experiences in life…let me give you some examples:

Robert_E._Lee, public domain Wikicommons (1)

Robert E. Lee, public domain, Wikicommons

Growing up in Richmond, Virginia, the former Capital of the Confederacy, with statues of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and JEB Stuart adorning our major thoroughfare, Monument Avenue, one could not help but feel a sense of pride in being “Southern.” Stories were everywhere, and the pride of being Southern lay not in the reality of the war, but in little girls’ visions of verandas and sweet tea, white gloves and hoop skirts! It had nothing to do with slavery, especially since even in 1960, when I was eleven years old, blacks were pretty much completely segregated from whites.  As a white child, I didn’t know it should be different, I am sorry to say. By the time I was six, I knew the “Rebel Yell,” which we used to summon our playmates when we went outdoors to play. The South was highly glorified of course. As I grew up, I learned that there was so much more to the story, of course.  My genealogical research helped me truly understand.

One of my four maternal 2nd Great Grandfathers  was Robert Kerse, an Irish emigrant arriving in America in  1850 at age 18.  He married and had three of his ten children by 1861, then fought in the Civil War as a Confederate, protecting his own city of Richmond, Virginia.  His one and only horse was shot out from under him! Right on Fold 3, a genealogical site for military research, I can find his muster roll sheets, and letters from his superiors attesting to the fact that his horse was shot out from under him in battle, and that his claim against the US government after the war, to get a new horse, should be honored.  Oh my gracious!

Robert Kerse– in the U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865
Name:
Robert Kerse
Rank at enlistment:
Private
State Served:
Virginia
Service Record:
Enlisted in Company B, Virginia 2nd Infantry Regiment.
Sources:
Index to Compiled Confederate Military Service Records

Another maternal 2nd great grandfather, James Steptoe Langhorne, called Steptoe, was blind, but owned a huge, 13,000 acre plantation in Patrick County, Virginia. His family stretches back to Jamestown. He did not fight in the war obviously, but he did have the experience of having the Yankee forces steal his horse! The story, involving Steptoe and his daughter Fannie  was originally told to me by my cousins. (cousins found through genealogical research) brothers, and Fannie’s grandsons: Harvey Langhorne Spangler and Dr. Daniel Patrick Spangler, PhD)     

“At the time Miss Fannie Langhorne was ten, and the Civil War was being fought, Stoneman brought his Yankee army from Tennessee down what is now the J.E.B. Stuart highway. In passing they annexed one of Mr. Langhorne’s horses which happened to be his favorite. He, though blind, accompanied by his small daughter Fanny, insisted on following the army to Stuart in search of his horse. There the captain agreed to allow him to retrieve his horse if he could recognize him. Mr. Langhorne set Fanny to hunt the animal. After walking down the long line of horses hitched to the racks along the road and back again, she was unable to find him. On her return, however at one side, away from the rest, she saw her father’s mount and immediately squealed in delight. Mr. Langhorne was led over to a tall roan mare, not his, but near the one Fanny had discovered, and told to see if that were his. Fanny squealed to the contrary, but Mr. Langhorne turned to her and said, “You don’t understand the joke”. Then his hand was placed on another, his own; this time he said, “This is my horse, but not my bridle”.   (If you’d like, you can find this story here: http://www.mtnlaurel.com/mountain-memories/406-fannie-langhorne-spangler-an-interview-from-1935.html) That took courage and audacity, on his and young Fannie’s part!   

My third maternal 2nd great grandfather, William W. Stoops also served in the Civil War. He served in Company G, 21st Regiment, Virginia Cavalry.  It was made up of older men who could not do the long marches so it was a cavalry that stayed close to home to protect railroads, bridges, and mines.

My fourth maternal 2nd Great Grandfather was an Italian Immigrant, Louis Botto. It looks like he arrived in America perhaps about 1844, and he and his wife, my grandmother, Catherine Revaro Botto, had their first child in Richmond, Virginia, in 1857. I believe he had a brother named Frank Botto, and we can clearly see Frank registered to fight in the Civil War. Unfortunately, although I can find Louis Botto in the 1860 census, I’ve yet to find him anywhere else, except that his wife is listed in the phone book as the widow of Louis Botto and by 1866, she has remarried.  I wonder if Louis was killed in the war? Did he get sick and die? Did he leave the family, as I find Louis Bottos in several other areas of the country? I still have a ways to go in my research to prove this.

While part of my mother’s family traces back to Jamestown, the founding colony of America, as you can see, my family is a melting pot of nationalities. So as I grew up “basking in the glory” of being a “Southern Belle” (not really, not from age 12 on), what about my paternal side?  I did realize, as I grew older,  that my father’s side of the family were Yankees.  Not only that, when I started doing my genealogical research, I discovered that my father’s  Grandfather, my first great grandfather, Lewis Jacob Youngblood, 1846-1919, fought in the Battle of Petersburg,Virginia, as part of a New Jersey Cavalry Regiment!  After the war, he came back and lived in Petersburg where he had fought, because supposedly he “thought it was such a beautiful area.”  This past year, one of my cousins’ found Lewis’s discharge papers from the Civil War!  I got to see them as well as his sword, and his gun, all owned now by different cousins!  Kay Youngblood Fuller, my cousin, owns not only his discharge papers, but found his own journal which explains that he was an IRS tax collector for the Federal Government, and that he readily foreclosed on farms, and often bought them himself–farms in the Petersburg area– when recovering Confederates were unable to pay! What a way to get revenge on your enemies! He was a carpetbagger! My own Great Grandfather was a carpetbagger! “In United States history, a carpetbagger was a Northerner (Yankee) who moved to the South after the American Civil War, especially during the Reconstruction era (1865–1877), in order to profit from the instability and power vacuum that existed at this time.”   –http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/carpetbaggers-and-scalawags–also the source for this illustration below:

carpetbagger-AB

One cousin told me that when Lewis moved to Petersburg, he joined the local Methodist Church, Gary’s Methodist Church.  They say he was so hated, that when he came into the church and sat down, the whole congregation stood up and moved to the other side of the church! My poor grandfather and his siblings had to grow up this way! How would Lewis Jacob  feel to think that 100 years later, he had a great granddaughter who prided herself in her Southern heritage!

Youngblood, Lewis Jacob, discharge papers from Civil War

-for pictures of Lewis Jacob Youngblood’s rifle and sword from the Civil War, see my blog post at https://heart2heartstories.com/2014/11/05/lewis-jacob-youngblood-1846-1919-52-ancestors-in-52-weeks-44/

 

Hugh Jackson Hogue, 1825-1870, Pennsylvania is my 2nd great grandfather on my father’s side, and is of Scottish descent. He, along with his son, my great grandfather, Robert Fulton Hogue, 1850-1924, also fought at the Battle of Petersburg, and Robert came back to settle there as well! Robert was underage, only 15,  when he joined his Dad in Petersburg, and served as a bugle boy, a water boy, and took care of the horses. In later  years,  Robert’s daughter, Helen Blanche Hogue married Edwin Spear Youngblood, son of Lewis Jacob Youngblood, both children of Yankees who relocated to Petersburg, Virginia, both families members of Gary’s Methodist Church.  Had the fathers met in the war, or did they meet in church when being shunned by others?  What would it have been like to grow up in a small southern town, a yankee revenue agent for a father, just after the Civil War? How is it that Edwin  and Helen’s son married a Southern girl from Richmond, Virginia? Of course, she was only partially a  “Southern girl”–she, my mother, was Irish and Italian also, and proud of those heritages.

My other two paternal great grandfathers did not participate in the Civil War, one, Edwin Speer whose ancestors hailed from the Netherlands and Germany,  was too old, with the next generation too young. The other was a German emigrant, Gustavus Voelkler who only arrived in America about the time the Civil War was ending. Lucky them.

Again, the melting pot is evident. Dad’s family includes Scots, Germans, and Netherlanders mostly. Mom’s English, Irish, and Italian mostly. It always amazes me! The Kerse’s of Ireland, were originally the DesCearsais family of France!

One hundred fifty years from now, 2015, will be the year 2165. It’s possible I will have a 2nd or 3rd great grandchild who is my age by then. What will I have done that they might discover that will affect the way they think of me, or the way they think period, the way they regard history? Wow, that’s a humbling thought, yet now I know that my ancestors affected history, they fought, they struggled, they were there. They have affected me by sharing their beliefs, their courage and strong wills, their desire to make a difference–traits I feel in myself today!  

Would I have been a Confederate or Yankee if I were alive during the Civil War?  If I were a child, of course, I’d have done whatever my family did, and possibly been a southern Confederate. However, after all these years of being proud of my Southern heritage, I could never support slavery…so I suspect I would have been a Union sympathizer if not an outright flag waving Yankee! I see this same type of civil strife continuing everyday of my life. Our country in 2015 is about as polarized between the Democrats and Republicans as it was in 1861! Some even think we’re moving again towards a Civil War! While I feel very strongly about my political views, would I pick up a gun and shoot someone over it? I can’t imagine!  I might get angry at a neighbor or family member who believes so very differently from me– that doesn’t mean I don’t respect their right to have those views, just not to force them on me. Having strong beliefs can lead to conflicts, broken families, even wars, I see it in my own family, and in our world.

What might your descendents think of you, of your lifetime? –our lifetime? It’s a lot to consider, but our genealogical research leads us to these questions.

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Marie Botto Kerse Maher- the Magnificent Musician–52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #39

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Ali and Annie Colage of Marie B. Kerse Maher's studio and Ali and Annie for boog post

First photo is from the Richmond Times Dispatch showing Marie Kerse’s music studio in the year 1909, second shows sisters left to right, Ali Holshouser Orcutt and Annie Holshouser in 2014, talented musicians themselves who might have inherited their talents from their great-great Aunt Marie! Ali and Annie play piano, percussion, violin, saxophone, bells, and they both sing beautifully.

Marie Botto Kerse Maher was a twin and my great-aunt. I wrote about her twin sister Kate who died at age 17 week before last and you can find that story at this link to the post titled Kate Kerse, Twin and Young Artist Dies at 17 –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #37. What a duo they must have been growing up! Think of all the passion and joy such talented artists would bring to the family. They must have been recognized in their church and community as well, as the stained glass window depicting sisters was dedicated at their church when Kate died. Apparently Marie played the organ there at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on a regular basis. Now, a hundred years later, I  am thinking about them and trying to preserve their stories for our family.

Marie, 1878-1961, was the daughter of James Kerse, a Sergeant on the Richmond City Police force and his wife Mary Catherine Botto. I have written of these families before and you can find links to them and others about the family below. This post is about Marie, one of four children, whose baby brother Andrew Leo Kerse died  at age one when she was 9, and whose twin sister died when they were 17. She was no stranger to death when her mother died and Marie was only 28 years old. She married Joseph Franklin Maher in 1913, when she was 35, had one child, Joseph Jr. at 36.  Both of her parents were gone by her age 43. That is a lot of loss in a lifetime. I wonder if her music sustained her, or just kept her so busy, that she didn’t have time to think! 

I know her music kept her busy, because I have found a treasure trove of information about her on genealogybank.com from the Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper in Richmond, Virginia. The picture of her studio in 1909 shown above was one of the treasures found there!  I never met this great Aunt of mine and it was so much fun to get a glimpse inside her home and studio! 

Marie Kerse Maher ad for music lessons

I found an interesting pattern when searching for articles about Aunt Marie. From 1903, when she was 25, until her death in 1961, she operated a music studio out of her home!. Granted, she had a nice home in downtown Richmond, but it is reported that she had over 100 students some years! Every Fall you could find an article about her school starting and the need to register. Every June, you can find an article in the Richmond Times Dispatch about her recitals! She awarded medals and recognized her students liberally. Many were recognized for their talents in the newspaper. As I perused the articles, I was interested to see  pupils from some families I recognized. In 1903, she was teaching two of her own Botto nieces, Kate and Marguerite. There is also a Josie Clements in this article. One of my  genealogy researching cousins is Elizabeth Clements Mims, I suspect this student was in her family. Another family connection is the Bickerstaffs, and there in the review for 1912, you find students named James and Anne Bickerstaff! There are Spindle and Hancock students as well, all names I recognize. How much fun is that! There are other names I took note of. One name that was very interesting to see, was in 1905, Joseph Maher was Marie Kerse’s student–ten years later he became her husband! Took him long enough!

The recitals were obviously elaborate.They were held at venues like the Thomas Jefferson Hotel in downtown Richmond, and other Halls around town.  There were all kinds of performances as you can read in the articles below, it was amazing. My sister Anne remembers attending one of the recitals when she was a young child of six, shortly before I was born. She remembers that it was held at the luxurious Women’s Club in Richmond, and that our Aunt Gwendolyn Youngblood Tucker took her to the recital, my father’s sister! (the other side of the family, seems curious?). She also remembers something I find amazing, that our mother made her a coat and bonnet out of a wine red velvet! Anne still remembers Mother talking about what an important event the concert was. Anne was the first of four children born to our Mom who worked full-time–I don’t remember her ever sewing! Anne remembers Aunt Marie fairly well, and says Marie was always good and kind to her. I found this picture of a coat and hat very similar to that which Mom made for Anne in 1947. 

velvet coat, marron

I never met our Great Aunt Marie, and was surprised when my research showed that I was 12 years old when she died! She was well known in my home town, why had I never met her? In fact, my sister and I both took piano lessons, but not from her. My older brother and sister sang beautifully! Musical talent apparently runs in the family. It didn’t take much asking around until I began to hear that of course, once again there had been a split in the family! I am genuinely surprised, because I had always thought it was only my father’s family that did that, not my Mom’s. It seems they were just quieter about their estrangements! I learned there were several “incidents” that played into the split relations. I found one in the newspaper archives!In 1915, Marie apparently sued her brother Thomas P. Kerse, my grandfather (my mother’s father) and the courts made him sell some land I assume they had inherited from their mother Mary Catherine Botto who died in 1906. She had inherited the property from her mother, Marie and Thomas’ Grandmother, Catherine Botto Raffo who died shortly before her in 1903– she was a business woman who owned several properties around Richmond. Earlier I had learned that Mary Catherine’s brothers, Marie and Thomas’ Uncles, had sued each other over the property they had inherited,  forcing the sale of  five prime properties in Richmond.      

Kerse lawsuit bet. Marie and Thomas

Apparently there was another reason for the falling out, so much so that Thomas forbid his children to have anything to do with their Aunt Marie or their cousin, her son Joe, how very sad! Or maybe Marie is the one who did the forbidding, I really don’t know, all I know is that we didn’t know each other. Anne says she does not remember seeing Aunt Marie after she was about 7 years old. The other story that I have been told by several family members, is that when James H. Kerse, my great-grandfather,  father of Marie and Thomas, died in October, 1921, even though Thomas, his wife Kate and their six  little children  had taken care of him for many years, Marie inherited the house.  James probably thought Thomas and Kate would be fine on their own and thought he should take care of his daughter. According to the story, Marie  demanded that they move out  even though they were living there one year after James’s death when their own 8 year-old son Thomas Jr. drowned in October, 1922.  Kate was pregnant with their seventh  child by January 1923, when Marie made them move. So much stress, it had to have compounded the emotions.

Regardless of the cause of the split in the family, Marie was obviously a very talented musician. Perhaps she was temperamental and high-strung like many artists are. She was also a very busy business woman when few women were professionals! She was an entrepreneur who ran a music studio out of her home, and had over 100 students enrolled year after year! I find it very interesting that we come from a long line of professional women. In this line especially, Catherine Botto Raffo, born 1825 in Italy,was a professional businesswoman, owning property and collecting rents. Her daughter Mary Catherine Botto Kerse, b. 1858, took over for her. Mary Catherine’s daughter Marie,b.1878,  is the talented musician and business owner herself! Kate, b. 1883, Mary Catherine’s daughter-in-law, Thomas’s wife, was a professional nurse, and before 1915 had a business where she and her partner sold jewelry and did watch repairs. All six of her daughters were educated and worked as realtors, teachers, and social workers! Our generation of women has continued this professional  identity as teachers, financial advisors, psychologists, nurses, etc. We have been told women didn’t work until after WWII and the 1950’s. Well, in our family, we come from a long line of women intrinsically motivated towards professions which makes me proud. 

Besides having her elaborate recitals covered in the newspaper,  Marie placed regular  memorials to some of her loved ones in the newspaper on the anniversary of their deaths. She wrote them poems as you can see in my post about her grandmother, Catherine Revaro Botto Raffo. She posted for her mother as well. But one amazing thing I found, was a memorial she published for her twin sister. It was amazing because the name we had from the records at St. Patrick’s Church were different from the name published in the newspaper, given by Maire.  The church said her sister Kate was named Kathleen Kerse. the memorial left by Marie for her sister, named her as Katherine Vernoica Kerse! I wonder if the middle name was a typo on the part of the newspaper. But my sister nor myself ever heard the name Veronica or even Victoria being in our Kerse  family, much less Vernoica!  Katherine however, is a popular name in our family, every generation has one or more, and I’ve never known anything but good things about any and all of our Katherines, Kathryns, Catherines, Kates and Katys! I’m going to have to do some more research for Kate.

Marie Kerse remembers twin sister

 

I am including articles from the Richmond Times Dispatch archives from Genealogybank.com, although I know they are hard to read.  I believe some family and friends will be interested enough to be thrilled to find these clippings here. They are much easier to read on genealogybank by the way, the problem is in my photography of the articles! Thank you for joining me in my family reminiscing, please share yours with me. 

 

 

 

Former blog posts about the Kerse and allied families:

1. Kate Kerse, Twin and Young Artist Dies at 17 –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #37

2. Catharina Revaro Botto Raffo–My Italian 2nd Great-Grandmother–52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #36 

 3. Kerse (Kearse, Kierce, Kearsey) James H. — Irish Cop, Yachtsman, Animal Lover– 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge

 4. Thomas Philip Kerse– Irish Cop like his Dad–52 ancestors in 52 weeks!

5.    Thomas Philip Kerse Captains the Lady Jane! 52 ancestors in 52 weeks

6.    Five Generations of Women, Daughters, Mothers, and Grandmothers   (About Katherine Steptoe Kerse, Thoma’s wife)

7.   Eight-Year-Old Drowns! 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks #4

8.   Margaret Steptoe Kerse Youngblood, My Mother, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #33

9.    Janey Bell Kerse Sommers, 1923-2002, Brillance and Joyfulness Dimmed by Altzheimers-52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #23

 

 

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Catharina Revaro Botto Raffo–My Italian 2nd Great-Grandmother–52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #36

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Mirror from Revaro family in Italy

“Mirror, Mirror, on the wall…tell me your stories, tell them all!”  (by Helen Y. Holshouser with prompting by sister Anne) This beautiful mirror hangs in my sister’s home today in 2014.  It has been in our family for  almost 200 years, maybe more. It belonged to my second great-grandmother, Catherina Revaro, born about 1825. I do not know where Catherina got the mirror, or how long it might have been in her family, but we are told it is a family piece from Genoa, Italy where she was born.  We have an oral history story passed down in our family about Catharina.  Mother always said that Catherina, called Catherine in our family, was the daughter of a wealthy family in Genoa, Italy. They had a large department store there and in Rome perhaps. Catharina was a student in a private girls school, located  in a convent. However, she had fallen in love with a boy named Luigi Botto!  They supposedly left Italy together, coming ultimately to Richmond, Virginia where they married and had two children, James Lewis Botto 1857-1923, and Mary Catherine Botto, 1858- 1906, who married James Kerse and became my great-grandmother.  Catherine married a second time to Nicholas Raffo in 1866, and had another son named John Francis Raffo, 1867-1951.

I have always loved all things Italian, perhaps this line of relatives explains that trait or propensity! In fact, it was pursuit of knowledge of this, my Italian heritage which originally got me started in genealogical research! I quickly learned that they were not easy to research, because a lot of the records were written in Italian and/or Latin! However, after many years of working on this effort, and help from other researchers, I have put together this picture of the Italian branch of our family. 

My first effort was to prove just how my great grandparents came into the country! My first find was a family of Bottos (I did not have her maiden name Revaro at the time.) who arrived on July 18,1844, on the ship Constantine in the port of New York from Genoa, Italy! I was so excited! On board you can clearly see the family with Joseph Botto, 38, Marie, 36, Luigi 12, Catharina 14, Benedict 10, Maria 8 and Giacomino! Wow, what a family! Luigi at 12, matched the 1832 birthdate I had. But weren’t they very young to be marrying? And the whole family was with them! Hmm, didn’t quite jive. But it was all I could find, in this my first week of ever doing genealogical research! I still thought this must be my family. Maybe this was Luigi, and Catherine was elsewhere, or maybe the other way around. Or maybe they were already married, a shotgun wedding?! LOL Obviously, I needed more information. This is the Constantine’s passenger list for you to see:  

Botto family on ship Constatine, July, 1844

source: ancestry.com

 

I decided the family above could not be my Bottos, when I followed them to Kentucky, then when I actually met on ancestry some of their descendants, living in Boston, Massachusetts, I learned  this was their family, not mine!  Back to the drawing board, I found many Louis Bottos,  and few Catherines. But finally, I found this document, and I believe it fits better than most, the ship’s passenger list includes both a Luigi Botto age 26 and a Catharine Botto age 20, on board the ship Switzerland, arriving in 1855! That would be perfect timing for them  to get to Richmond,Virginia and have two children in 1857 and 1858!  However, if the marriage certificate below is correct for them, they should have been in Richmond by 1853! Oh dear, this is the way genealogical research works, just search, and search, and eliminate and search some more! 

Botto ,ship passenger list with Luigi and Catherine

source: ancestry.com

source infomation for passenger list for Luigi and Catheribotto

source: ancestry.com

 

Keeping this, I went on to research more and see what I could find.  I knew that Catherine had married a second time because she had a son named John Francis Raffo that I could see on the censuses. So I searched for both Raffo and Botto information. Finally i found a marriage certificate on ancestry.com for Nicholas Raffo and Catharine Botto also Catharine Revaro, father Anton Revaro! There was her maiden name! Alleluia!  

Name: Catharine Botto
[Catharine Revaro] 
Gender: Female
Age: 43
Birth Date: 1823
Marriage Date: 7 May 1866
Marriage Place: Richmond, Virginia, USA
Father: Anton Revaro
Spouse: Nicholas Raffo
FHL Film Number: 33620
Reference ID: p 90

 

It wasn’t long before I decided to take my DNA through ancestry.com, which showed I was 5% Italian in my ethnic makeup. Cool! That combined with knowing Catherine’s maiden name, helped me learn much more about my family, including meeting  cousins and other people researching them! One of those folks was a researcher who spoke Italian and Latin and researched original records even from the Vatican! I was very impressed! Diane ended up finding the birth certificate of  my great, great grandparents, Louis Botto and Catherine Revaro. On the certificate you will notice that her name had been anglicized to Rivers, and his was written as Botte, typo or a name change, I am not sure. I already had the date of the Raffo marriage from censuses, and the date on the Botte marriage certificate agrees. However, the Botto name appears on censuses and many other records. the ages and dates of birth don’t match for Catherine, but this doesn’t overly worry me as I find this often the case.  This gave me his parents names as well! My Italian roots were growing! 

Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940 about Catharine Rivers

Name: Catharine Rivers
Gender: Female
Age: 22
Birth Date: 1831
Birth Place: Italy
Marriage Date: 3 Sep 1853
Marriage Place: Richmond, Virginia
Father: Andrew Rivers
Mother: Mary
Spouse: Louis Botte
FHL Film Number: 31855
Reference ID: p 1 # 39

 

So, we have Catherine Revaro coming to Virginia from Italy and marrying Lewis Botto in 1853,  naming their children James Lewis and Mary Catherine Botto.  In 1866, Catherine married for the second time. I have not been able to ascertain what happened to her first husband, however,  no death notice, find-a-grave document, no military record that I can find! There are other Louis Bottos in the United States as well.  In the Richmond City telephone directory of 1876, Catherine is listed as Catherine Botto, widow of Louis Botto! In 1876, she was a widow all right, but the widow of Nicholas Raffo who had died in 1873! Catherine ‘s first husband must have died, besides being listed as a widow in the phone directory, when Catherine herself dies in 1903, we can find an obituary in the Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper that states that a “solemn requiem mass” was said at her funeral at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, the church where the family attended for years. She would not have been thus honored if she had divorced. The Catholic Church would not have allowed it. 

 

Obituary

Mrs. Catharine Raffo

Mrs. Catharine Raffo, mother of Mr. James L. Botto and Mr. John F. Raffo, of the fire department, and Mrs. Mary C. Kerse, wife of Sergeant James H. Kerse, of the First Police Station, died Saturday morning.  Her funeral will take place Monday morning at 10 o’clock from St. Patrick’s church. The interment will be in Mt. Calvary.

The following gentlemen will act as pall-bearers:

Honorary-Richard M. Taylor,

H.M. Smith, Junior

Dr. David Coleman

Dr. W. H. Scott

John Frischkorn

John Mann Jr.

Joseph H. Webb

Edgar Shine

Active:

F.J. Purrater,   Anthony Griffith,

Claiborne Epps,  Andrew Donald,

Frank Overman,  Peter Gonella,

Captain W.B. Whitlock,

James Burke

Raffo died April 25, 1903, at the residence of her son-in-law, James H. Kerse.  2612   East Grace St.

MRS. CATHARINE RAFFO

The funeral will take place Monday morning, April 27th,  at 10 o’clock, from St. Patrick’s Church with a requiem mass.

Friends invited to attend Interment Mt. Calvary.

Washington and New York papers please copy.

 –published in the Richmond Times Dispatch, April 26, 1903

_________________________________________________________________

 

 

Catherine Botto Raffo's funeral announcement, Apr. 28, 1903, The Richmond Times Dispatch

–published in the Richmond Times Dispatch, 1903 

 

Five years after her death, her granddaughter Marie Botto Kerse, my Great Aunt, wrote this tribute to Catherine which was published in the Richmond Times Dispatch as well, in 1908:

In Memoriam

In sad but loving remembrance

of my devoted Grandmother,

Catherine Botto Raffo

who died five years ago. 

April 25, 1903.

Every year the good God calleth

some loved one to endless rest,

and our hearts, though filled with anguish, 

can but cry, “He knoweth best.”

But a year and distant cometh,

when we tread the vast unknown, 

we shall find our ransomed loved ones,

seated ’round the great white throne.

Marie B. Kerse–genealogybank.com, Richmond Times Dispatch

“Loving remembrance of my devoted Grandmother”! Those words say a lot about Catherine Botto Raffo! How interesting. I’ve been thinking of her children. James Lewis was born in 1857, his sister Mary Catherine in 1858, they were only 9 and 8 years old when their mother remarried. Had they known their Dad at all? Then their stepfather dies when they are 15 and 16! After her marriage in 1866 to her second husband Nicholas Raffo, her son John Francis Raffo is born in 1867. His father dies in 1873–at six, he probably only had hazy  memories of his father. Those are rough  events in young lives. The Civil War was waged during their childhoods, Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy! What must they have seen and heard! 

Yet, we know that John Francis Raffo grew up to become a firefighter, then chief of the Richmond City Fire Department, spanning a fifty year career with them!  One of John Francis’ great, great-grandchildren sent this picture to me, which I treasure. Yes, his descendants are alive and well and going strong.  I am regularly in touch with one of them on facebook, and another I have met in person. (more of that at a later time) Among them are soldiers, a priest, and many other s including genealogists. This is a line of descendants any mother would be so proud to call her own! 

Raffo family

left to right in this photo of the Raffo family taken on their front porch in the Churchill area of Richmond, Virginia: 1. John Francis Raffo, Jr. (Jack) 2. Nicholas Coleman Raffo 3. Frank McLaughlin Raffo 4. John Francis Raffo 5. Mary Margaret Finnegan Raffo (Minnie) 6. Anita Raffo 7. Catherine Raffo Beaty 8. James Coleman Raffo 9. Anna Raffo Eagle 10. Mary Margaret Raffo (Minnie) abt. 1918 Churchill, Richmond, Virginia, USA, given to this author by Coleman Raffo, 2014

Catherine’s daughter Mary Catherine Botto married James Kerse and became the mother of my grandfather Thomas Philip Kerse.  She had four children in fact,  but two of them died young, Andrew Leo in infancy and  Kate, the twin of Marie, died at age 17 of a burst appendix.  In fact, because Kate died of a burst appendix,  when her brother Thomas Philip came down with appendicitis in his early twenties, the family hired a private duty nurse to take care of him. That nurse turned out to be Katherine Steptoe Kerse,  who married Thomas Philip and became my cherished grandmother! They went on to have seven children, twelve grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and so far, 4 great- great- grandchildren!  We have several college professors, lawyers,  building contractors, teachers, and firefighters! Catherine can be proud of this line of her daughter’s.

Now James Lewis Botto was very different from his sister and half-brother it seems. He was a local politician, and owned a night club in downtown Richmond called  St. Helena’s.  He was married with six children, four sons and two daughters. Both daughters married men of excellent standing from great families in Richmond. The father and two of his sons went to jail. The father, James Lewis,  for only 3 months for bringing illegal liquor into the state to sell at his club during prohibition! A rum runner in the family! The other son, William Joseph Botto, a policeman forced to resign, went to jail only 30 days on this same charge, but then he was charged with domestic violence in 1914, assaulting his wife!  He left his wife and disappeared. She had him declared dead after several years! In 1930, he disclosed who he truly was, just  before he actually died in a hospital in New York! It is hard for me to believe this happened in my own family! Another son,  John Francis Botto went to the penitentiary for 15 years for attacking a 13-year-old girl! Good gracious–what happened in this line of family?! As bad as this seems, we must remember that four of the six children in this family turned out to be excellent citizens, it is not right to judge them poorly  on the merits of their father and two brothers! However, it is curious, just how is it that some siblings make such bad choices with their Dad, and most make great choices. The heirs of this family were all female, so the Botto name from James Lewis’s line died out, there are descendants, just not with the Botto name. Since he was the only male heir of Luigi Botto, his line of Bottos did not continue. 

I knew we had Italian ancestors, my mother talked about it a lot. But I did not know they were alive and that I could have gotten to know them while growing up!  What a shame to miss knowing family until you are in your sixties! I have a clue as to why this might have happened .  Catherine Botto Raffo died in 1903, having outlived both husbands by many years. We were told that Catherine was an excellent money manager, and indeed, when she died several things were published in the Richmond Times Dispatch giving us a glimpse into her business acumen. As a successful business woman, she had amassed  a fair amount of property. I don’t know how she left it, or if she even had a will, but according to the paper, in 1907, John Francis Raffo sued his half-brother James Lewis Botto et al (did that include my great-grandmother Mary Catherine Botto Kerse? Probably.)  I don’t think that is all that unusual however, heirs who inherit equally–one or more want to keep the property, others want their money for their share perhaps. Whatever the situation,  John Francis Raffo sued and the court ordered that the lots in downtown Richmond be sold, and the money divided.  I imagine that caused great division within the family. Perhaps the Raffos and Bottos no longer spoke, how sad. What would Catherine think? Would she focus on the positive, the many descendants who’ve done well, been responsible and active citizens. Or would she just be devastated about her one son’s family and the  two of his sons who got in so much trouble! What an interesting family, wish I knew more, perhaps I will learn more one day.  Finding interesting stories like these, and meeting living cousins, discovering lines of relatives you didn’t even know existed, that’s what makes genealogical research so exciting!  

Che cosa hai intenzione di fare sulla famiglia ? Loro amore ! What are you going to do about family? Love them! --Helen Y. Holshouser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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