Italian Immigrant Ancestor Helped Carve Mount Rushmore!

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this guest blog post, Scott shows what he found in newspapers about a friend’s ancestor who helped carve Mount Rushmore.

Almost all of us have stories of immigrant ancestors who came to the United States and toiled to make a better life for themselves and their families. Many, like mine, did so in relative anonymity. However, not too long ago I came across one immigrant to America who did his toiling in plain sight…and I mean really in plain sight!

photo of Luigi Del Bianco carving the left eye of Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore

Luigi Del Bianco carving the left eye of Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore. Photograph credit: Windows Live Photo Gallery.

A few weeks ago I was working on my wife’s Italian ancestry, especially her immigrant grandparents who came to America from the Molise district of central Italy. As I was working on this, I received an email from Lou Del Bianco. Lou’s family also came from Italy to the United States in search of the proverbial “better life.” While my wife’s ancestors were miners and agricultural laborers, Lou’s grandfather, Luigi Del Bianco, was different. He was a classically-trained sculptor, who as a young man studied in Austria and Venice.

Lou had quite a story to tell and he was interested in having it promoted on my website (http://OnwardToOurPast.com) and on my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/OnwardToOurPast). Once I heard the basics of Lou’s story, I was hooked!

So naturally the first thing I did was click over to GenealogyBank.com to see what I might find on Lou’s grandfather, Luigi. As usual, I was not disappointed and I was able to add to Lou’s knowledge about his grandfather and his work.

The first story that I found was an article explaining Luigi’s arrival on his job: as Chief Carver on Mount Rushmore! Yep, the Mount Rushmore! As I said, this story is about one immigrant who “did his toiling in plain sight”!

According to the newspaper article, Luigi was the right-hand man to Gutzon Borglum, the driving force and lead on the Mount Rushmore project.

Borglum Aide Arrives to Assist in Rushmore Work, Aberdeen Daily News newspaper article 4 May 1933

Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota) 4 May 1933, page 10

While there were over 400 men working on the giant carving, Luigi was one of only two trained sculptors, and as a result was named as the Chief Carver by Borglum. He spent an amazing seven years carving on the Mount Rushmore monument from 1933 to 1940.

As I continued to search in GenealogyBank.com’s online newspaper archives, I found some great stories about the carving of the Mount Rushmore memorial. I enjoyed an old news article published in the Tampa Tribune from 1927, when the Mount Rushmore project was still little more than an idea in Borglum’s head.

Start Soon Carving Head of Washington on Mount Rushmore, Tampa Tribune newspaper article 31 March 1927

Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida), 31 March 1927, page 23

The following historical newspaper article reports the hilarious exchange of telegrams between Borglum and President Calvin Coolidge regarding the history that President Coolidge wanted carved on Mount Rushmore, and Borglum’s attempt to cut the wordy President’s text down to size.

For Intimate Correspondence, Seattle Daily Times newspaper article 29 May 1930

Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, Washington), 29 May 1930, page 6

Here is an old news article reporting that Luigi kept a life-size cast of the fist and arm of famed Italian heavyweight boxing champion Primo Carnera in his studio—a  model which folks often mistook for a sledgehammer!

Hills Sculptor Knew Carnera as Youth in Italy, Aberdeen Daily News newspaper article 29 June 1933

Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota), 29 June 1933, page 2

I have since learned even more about Luigi Del Bianco, this amazing Italian American immigrant, who—although  not well known—accomplished some of the best known work in our entire nation, artistic carving that millions of tourists have viewed with awe and wonder.

In addition to reading about Luigi on GenalogyBank.com you can also discover more about his life and work at http://www.luigimountrushmore.com, or you can see how the hit television show Cake Boss recently baked a Mount Rushmore cake in honor of Luigi on Lou’s website at http://www.findlou.com.

Handy Quick List: 35 Nebraska Newspapers Now Online

GenealogyBank has Nebraska covered with 35 online newspapers. That’s a lot of local and city papers for your ancestry research in the “Cornhusker State.”

Here is the complete list of NE newspapers currently available in our archives. Easily search newspapers online from Lincoln, Nebraska City, Omaha, and more popular Nebraska cities to discover your family history.

collage of Nebraska newspapers available in GenealogyBank's online newspaper archives

Collage of Nebraska newspapers available in GenealogyBank’s online newspaper archives

Dig in and start searching our Nebraska newspaper archives now and trace back your genealogy:

City Newspaper

Coverage

Collection

Ashland Ashland Gazette

2/3/2011 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Beatrice Beatrice Daily Sun

6/10/2002 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Bellevue Bellevue Leader

2/27/2009 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Broken Bow Custer County Chief

10/2/2009 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Columbus Columbus Telegram

9/19/1999 – Current

Recent Obituaries

David City David City Banner-Press

9/13/2011 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Fremont Fremont Tribune

8/16/2000 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Gering Gering Courier

11/6/2008 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Grand Island Grand Island Independent

12/1/1997 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Gretna Gretna Breeze

2/23/2011 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Hemingford Hemingford Ledger

11/7/2008 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Kearney Kearney Hub

5/30/2005 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Lexington Lexington Clipper-Herald

6/23/2005 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Lincoln Lincoln Journal Star

6/1/1996 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Lincoln Lincoln Journal Star: Web Edition Articles

11/4/2003 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Nebraska City Daily Nebraska Press

8/6/1868 – 12/28/1876

Newspaper Archives

Nebraska City Nebraska City News-Press

2/9/2005 – Current

Recent Obituaries

North Platte North Platte Telegraph

5/3/2004 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Omaha Afro-American Sentinel

2/22/1896 – 3/25/1899

Newspaper Archives

Omaha Danske Pioneer

10/17/1895 – 10/10/1901

Newspaper Archives

Omaha Enterprise

8/10/1895 – 7/3/1897

Newspaper Archives

Omaha Omaha Herald

10/30/1878 – 6/30/1889

Newspaper Archives

Omaha Omaha World Herald

8/24/1885 – 12/31/1983

Newspaper Archives

Omaha Omaha World-Herald

9/4/2005 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Omaha Progress

3/22/1890 – 3/7/1891

Newspaper Archives

Papillion Papillion Times

1/27/2011 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Papillion Suburban Newspapers

6/29/2005 – 1/29/2009

Recent Obituaries

Plattsmouth Plattsmouth Journal

5/2/2007 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Ralston Ralston Recorder

5/6/2009 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Schuyler Schuyler Sun

10/20/2011 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Scottsbluff Star-Herald

4/20/2005 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Syracuse Syracuse Journal-Democrat

3/6/2009 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Wahoo Wahoo Newspaper

2/1/2007 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Waverly Waverly News

4/21/2009 – Current

Recent Obituaries

York York News-Times

3/8/2000 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Obama & Romney Are Related! Genealogy Infographic

In time for the 2012 election countdown, I recently did some genealogy research to learn more about the background of both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, and guess what—they’re related!

What’s more: they’re also related to several former U.S. presidents, English kings, outlaws and celebrities. This is really huge! So huge in fact that our team at GenealogyBank decided to create this Infographic to show many of these surprising genealogical findings.

Click the image for the even bigger full-size Infographic version.

Obama & Romney - Who Knew? We're Related! Genealogy Infographic

Obama & Romney Are Related?

Yes. Obama and Romney are both direct descendants of King Edward I of England, who was the eldest son of King Henry III and himself a father to numerous children by his two wives, Queens Eleanor and Margaret. King Edward I was perhaps the most successful of the medieval English monarchs. Known as “Longshanks” due to his great height and stature, King Edward I stood head and shoulders above other men of his time, towering at a height of 6’2. Romney and Obama are chips off the old block, both over six feet tall. Romney measures in at 6’2 and Obama at 6’1.

Several U.S. Presidents as Cousins-in-Common

The 2012 presidential candidates not only share a royal ancestor, they also have many distant cousins-in-common. These distant relatives form the impressive lineup of United States presidents featured in the White House Family Reunion photo in the Infographic above.

Obama and Romney’s U.S. president distant cousins-in-common include:

  • James Madison – 4th President of the United States
  • William Harrison – 9th President of the United States
  • Zachary Taylor – 12th President of the United States
  • Ulysses S. Grant – 18th President of the United States
  • Benjamin Harrison – 23rd President of the United States
  • Grover Cleveland – 24th President of the United States
  • Warren G. Harding – 29th President of the United States
  • Calvin Coolidge – 30th President of the United States
  • Richard Nixon – 37th President of the United States
  • Gerald Ford – 38th President of the United States
  • Jimmy Carter – 39th President of the United States
  • George W. Bush – 43rd President of the United States
  • George H.W. Bush – 41st President of the United States

Early American Presidential Roots

Obama and Romney also have deep early American roots in their respective family trees. Mayflower passengers Edward and Samuel Fuller are both direct ancestors of Mitt Romney. They were part of the group of Pilgrims who founded Plymouth Colony in 1620.

Romney is also a distant cousin to the early American President Thomas Jefferson, and Obama is a distant cousin to President George Washington.

Wild West Outlaw Kin

Another interesting ancestral find was that each of the presidential nominees is a distant relation to notorious American Wild West gunslingers. Wild Bill Hickok is a distant cousin to Obama, and William H. Bonney a.k.a. “Billy the Kid” is a distant cousin to Romney. Also noteworthy is that Romney is a relation to famous American actor Clint Eastwood, who has starred in many hit Western movies such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Star-Studded Family Trees

Both of the 2012 election candidates share their family trees with Hollywood megastars, as well as other celebrities ranging from renowned American artists to British royalty.

Obama is a distant cousin to the following celebrities:

  • Brad Pitt – Hollywood Megastar
  • Elvis Presley – King of Rock & Roll
  • Georgia O’Keeffe – Famous American Artist & Painter
  • Robert Duvall – Hollywood Actor

Romney’s family tree also has many movie stars and famous people. His distant cousins include:

  • Clint Eastwood – Hollywood Megastar
  • Alec Baldwin –Hollywood Actor
  • Princess Diana – Former Princess of Wales
  • Katherine Hepburn – Earlier Hollywood Megastar
  • Julia Child – Famous Chef, TV Personality and Author

Both Have Foreign-Born Fathers

President Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to parents Stanley Ann Dunham and Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. The Infographic features an old photo of Barack Obama II as a child with his mother Ann.

President Obama’s father was born in 1936 in Kanyadhiang Village, Kenya. The Infographic features an old picture of President Obama’s dad Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., as an infant with the president’s paternal grandmother Habiba Akumu Obama.

Governor Romney was born in 1947 in Detroit, Michigan, to parents Lenore and George W. Romney. The old family photograph in the Infographic shows the governor as a baby with his mom and dad.

Mitt Romney’s father George W. Romney, the former governor of Michigan, was born in 1907 in Colonia Dublán, Mexico. The old picture in the Infographic shows Romney’s father as a child with Mitt’s grandma Anna Amelia Pratt Romney.

Who knew the presidential candidates shared so many family connections? We’re continuing our ancestral exploration into the 2012 U.S. presidential candidates’ family trees. Make sure to stay tuned by following us here on the blog and on Facebook, Twitter or G+ to get more Obama and Romney family history.

It’s a great day for genealogy!

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Colonial Fire Tally: Genealogy Records Saved, Wines & Liquors Lost

On 13 December 1747 a “most terrible Fire” broke out in Boston, MA.

It was just after six o’clock in the morning when the “Watch” spotted the flames at the Court House. The building was a total loss: the “spacious and beautiful Building, except the bare Walls, was entirely destroyed.”

It was an intense fire that lit up the skies of Beantown that cold winter night. “The Vehemence of the Flames occasioned such a great Heat, as to set the Roofs of some of the opposite Houses on Fire, notwithstanding they had been covered with Snow, and were extinguished with much Difficulty.”

All was not a total loss, however.

newspaper article about a fire at the Boston Court House, New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy 04 January 1748

New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (New York City, New York), 4 January 1748, page 2

“But thro’ the Mercy of GOD, the County Records…and part of the Province Records…as also Copies of the Minutes of Council from the Beginning to 1737…were happily saved.”

The survival of these important genealogy records is good news to genealogists today who are researching their Colonial ancestry, and no doubt was a relief to government officials at the time.

There was one loss from the historical Boston fire, however, that likely was particularly painful to more than a few:

“In the Cellars which were hired by several Persons, a great Quantity of Wines and other Liquors were lost, to the amount of several Thousand Pounds.”

More 20th Century Newspapers Going Online!

GenealogyBank is expanding its online archives to include more 20th Century newspapers for genealogy research. We’re adding the Boston Daily Record (Boston, Massachusetts) as well as expanding twentieth century newspaper coverage in Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

front page of an issue of the Boston Daily Record, a newspaper newly added to GenealogyBank's online archives

Front page of an issue of the Boston Daily Record, a newspaper newly added to GenealogyBank’s online archives

GenealogyBank keeps growing and growing, adding more newspaper articles to our historical newspaper archives every day to help trace your ancestry. Dig in and see what you’ll find about your family history.

State City Newspaper Start End

Issues

Pages

District of Columbia Washington (DC) Evening Star 2/11/1902 6/19/1903

425

8,453

Illinois Rockford Register Star 8/25/1995 9/30/2007

46

2,725

Kansas Wichita Wichita Eagle 2/6/1968 8/8/1968

7

304

Massachusetts Boston Boston Daily Record 12/4/1951 2/15/1952

189

3,022

Massachusetts Boston Boston Herald 10/16/1961 4/30/1985

5,146

126,616

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Daily News 9/1/1934 11/30/1937

42

950

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro News and Record 12/25/1984 12/17/1987

25

1,934

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Record 11/1/1948 11/11/1948

6

182

Virginia Richmond Richmond Times Dispatch 7/17/1954 7/31/1970

431

22,658

Millions More Historical Newspaper Articles Going Online Soon!

Did you realize GenealogyBank adds millions of digitized newspaper articles every week?

This month we’ve added over 21 million records to GenealogyBank, including the following ten newspaper titles from seven states and the District of Columbia, spanning a date range of 1898 to 1988.

Here are just a few of the newspapers we are adding in the next few weeks to our online newspaper archives.

State City Newspaper

Issues

Pages

Start End
Illinois Rockford Morning Star

1

20

3/23/1957

3/23/1957

Louisiana Baton Rouge State Times Advocate

77

7,730

7/11/1971

5/10/1977

Massachusetts Boston Boston Herald

3,442

79,106

8/13/1967

12/21/1983

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Daily News

389

9,017

4/1/1924

6/30/1938

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro News and Record

14

2,036

8/20/1984

4/28/1988

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Record

5

143

7/24/1953

2/28/1964

South Carolina Charleston Evening Post

3

44

11/9/1918

1/9/1920

Tennessee Memphis Commercial Appeal

5

846

12/8/1968

9/14/1969

Virginia Richmond Richmond Times Dispatch

513

26,216

9/21/1953

12/31/1969

Washington, DC Washington (DC) Evening Star

865

14,184

12/24/1898

2/10/1902

You will want to return and search GenealogyBank every week to find and document your family. Visit our New Content Page where you can find a list of our most recent newspaper additions.

Recent Obituaries Coming Online for 25 Newspapers!

GenealogyBank is constantly expanding, putting more newspaper records online to help with your family history research.

screenshot of GenealogyBank home page showing link to obituaries search form

Screenshot of GenealogyBank home page showing link to obituaries search form

Over the next week we will be adding more coverage from 11 states, with 25 titles ranging from Alaska to Florida, adding these newspapers to our Recent Obituaries collection. Michigan will expand by a whopping 8 new newspaper titles and Pennsylvania by 6 titles, significantly increasing our obituary coverage for genealogy researchers exploring their ancestry in the U.S. Midwest and Northeast. Here are the details of our recent obituaries additions:

Cordova Times (Cordova, AK)

  • Obituaries:  04/27/2011 – Current

Juneau Empire (Juneau, AK)

  • Death Notices:  03/03/2011 – Current

St. Augustine Record (St. Augustine, FL)

  • Death Notices:  02/16/2002 – Current

Chicago Journal (Chicago, IL)

  • Obituaries:  09/30/2009 – Current

South Bend Tribune (South Bend, IN)

  • Obituaries: 1/1/1994 – 1/1/2006

AnnArbor.com (Ann Arbor, MI)

  • Death Notices:  08/05/2012 – Current

Bay City Times (Bay City, MI)

  • Death Notices:  7/17/2007 – 1/31/2012; 8/10/2012 – Current

Flint Journal (Flint, MI)

  • Death Notices:  9/5/2007 – 1/31/2012; 8/5/2012 – Current

Grand Rapids Press (Grand Rapids, MI)

  • Death Notices:  5/12/2010 – 2/1/2012; 8/2/2012 – Current

Jackson Citizen Patriot (Jackson, MI)

  • Death Notices:  9/11/2007 – 2/1/2012; 8/5/2012 – Current

Kalamazoo Gazette (Kalamazoo, MI)

  • Death Notices:  08/05/2012 – Current

Muskegon Chronicle (Muskegon, MI)

  • Death Notices:  08/07/2012 – Current

Saginaw News (Saginaw, MI)

  • Death Notices:  7/30/2007 – 1/31/2012; 8/8/2012 – Current

Columbus Packet (Columbus, MS)

  • Obituaries:  12/12/2010 – Current

Citizen (Auburn, NY)

  • Obituaries:  07/09/2002 – Current

Daily Reporter (Columbus, OH)

  • Obituaries:  01/09/2002 – Current

Bridgeville Area News (Monroeville, PA)

  • Obituaries:  09/06/2012 – Current

Murrysville Star (Monroeville, PA)

  • Obituaries:  09/20/2012 – Current

Norwin Star (Monroeville, PA)

  • Obituaries:  09/20/2012 – Current

Penn Trafford Star (Monroeville, PA)

  • Obituaries:  09/13/2012 – Current

Sewickley Herald (Sewickley, PA)

  • Obituaries:  09/13/2012 – Current

Signal Item (Carnegie, PA)

  • Obituaries:  09/19/2012 – Current

Valley Voice (Hellertown, PA)

  • Obituaries:  07/13/2012 – Current

Uintah Basin Standard (Roosevelt, UT)

  • Death Notices:  04/03/2009 – Current

Bainbridge Islander (Bainbridge Island, WA)

  • Obituaries:  11/11/2006 – Current

Has Anyone Ever Used These ‘Farm Work’ Records from Portland?

A 1918 Oregon newspaper has an interesting article about an effort in Portland, Oregon, to enlist farm worker volunteers to help save that year’s crops, due to the labor shortage caused by WWI.

500 to Push Hoes, Oregonian newspaper article 14 July 1918

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 14 July 1918, page 14

The old newspaper article reads: “Vacation helpers are going to have a big part in saving the Oregon farm crops this year.” People from all walks of life volunteered in this area-wide effort to assist local farmers in saving that year’s crops.

As the historical newspaper article reports: “More than 500 have signed up the enlistment cards volunteering to devote their vacation time to beneficial service at going wages for the kind of work they may be assigned to do.”

Hmm…those enlistment for farm work cards would be a handy genealogical resource for family historians researching ancestors from the World War I era.

illustration of farm work enlistment cards, Oregonian newspaper article 14 July 1918

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 14 July 1918, page 14

The Oregonian’s article showed the above illustration with the caption: “Facsimile of enlistment cards actually signed by well-known citizens.”

One question on the “Enlistment for Farm Work” form was: “Would you ‘rough it’ with other help on [the] farm?”

A volunteer named A. Earl Kenworthy, a 31-year-old undertaker, answered: “You bet your boots.” He was all-in to help.

Did these Portland farm work records survive? Has anyone used them for genealogy research? Where are these old farm work records now?