My half brother, 21 years my senior, is not well. We know our Italian ancestry (same father who was an Itailan American) but I am hoping to help my brother trace his birth mother's ancestry. Not really her ancestry but her. My brother was separated from his birth mother (our father's first wife) when he was 5 or 6 years old.
My brother was born in Mt. Vernon, NY in 1933.
His birth mother was Clara Fernandes, of Portuguese descent. We approximate her birth date as anywhere between 1913 and 1916. She most likely married our father, Edward Gardella, in 1930 or 1931. Divorced by 1938 or 1939. Remarried prior to 1970, died soon after. No other children but my brother.
Any advice anyone can give would be appreciated. Desperately trying to find Portuguese American sites to no avail.
Please help me to help my brother.
Just a few questions. You say divorced by 1938 or 39, remarried prior to 1970 died soon after. Who are you speaking of - your father or Clara? And do you know what her last known address was - city, state? Does she have brothers or sisters or relatives that you know of and if so where do they live?
The more complete you can be the easier it will be for someone on the site to help you.
Thank you for your response. I'm sorry my initial post was confusing. My brother and I know very little about his birth mother but here goes:
Born Clara Fernandes (or possibly Fernandez)
Circa 1913 Probably in Mt. Vernon NY (possibly Bronx, NYC)
Married Edward Gardella
Marriage probably took place in Mt. Vernon, NY
Had one child;
Emmanuel This is my brother whose name was changed to John sometime later.
Birth year: 1933 in Mt. Vernon NY
Divorced from Edward Gardella Circa 1938-1939
Remarried to unknown may have happened anytime after divorce from Gardella through early 1970s
Divorced from second husband, name unknown, circa 1970-1972
Divorce most likely occured in Mt. Vernon, NY
We believe that Clara died sometime in the mid 1970s. But my brother and I may be mistaken. I know she was very ill at that time and was thought to be dying but she may have recovered. But she is now known deceased.
My brother and I have no knowledge of Clara's siblings or even if there were any.
All of my relatives who knew Clara have passed on save for one who only remembers last seeing her in Mt. Vernon in 1959 or 1960. Remembers nothing more.
I have searched what I can of obits but have come up dry.
What a long shot this whole thing is! But I promised my brother that I would try.
Oh and another shot in the dark-
If anyone here has knowkedge of Mt, Vernon NY, Weschester County, just shy of the Bronx (NYC) and Westchester border, I am nearly certain that my and my half brother, John's, mother and our father frequented the Blue Mirror Bar and Grill in Mt. Vernon. The Blue Mirror has been at the same spot for generations. I believe it was a speak easy at one time. Was there throughout the War Years, was there when I was a young girl in the 1960s and is still there today. I think the only hope that my brother and I have to finding his birth mother, Clara's, final resting place will be with anyone who lives or whose family had lived in the Italian section of Mt. Vernon up the hill from the Blue Mirror. Please if anyone has knowledge of this, let me know.
Many thanks again from NYC-
1920 United States Federal Census
about Edward Gardella
Name: Edward Gardella
Home in 1920: Manhattan Assembly District 1, New York, New York
Age: 4 years Estimated birth year: abt 1916
Birthplace: New York
Relation to Head of House: Son
Father's name: Emmadelle
Father's Birth Place: Italy
Mother's name: Mary
Mother's Birth Place: Italy
Marital Status: Single
Able to read: Yes
Able to Write: Yes
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
Emmadelle Gardella 37
Mary Gardella 41
Sylvio Gardella 14
Lilly Gardella 12
Neta Gardella 10
Emyle Gardella 8
Anthony Gardella 6
Edward Gardella 4
Florree Gardella 2
How did you manage to conclude the info you have? Do you have records? These are some suggestions to start you off. I'm going to assume you have nothing at the moment just to get a feel for what could help you.
Can you provide the date of birth for Edward? Was this is real name or could it have been Eduardo? There is also a family in the 1930 census of a Gardella family living in Yonkers which isn't too far from Mount Vernon and still in Westchester County, but the Eduard is 16 years old at the time..I could provide that info if you think it would help. The parents names are Joseph and Mary. I chose this census because if your father followed Italian naming tradition then he named your brother after his father (possible thought).
Have you tried to get a copy of Clara and Edwards marriage certificate? This is provide you with Claras name and possibly her parents names. It might help you with writing away for a death certificate. Also, do you have your brother's long version birth certificate? This could also provide clues about Clara (like her full name and age).
Another place to try would be the hospital where your brother was born. They may have records..and your brother's baptism records could help. I know its sounds like a lot but all these documents can help.
I found several possible candidates that could be his mother but without the documents its jsut speculation and we need to know her actual name at birth.
I'll wait for your reply and we'll see what we can find.
According to the website of the Westchester County Clerk, marriages before 1936 can be found in the Westchester Archives. In Westchester County, birth & death certificates & marriage certificates after 1936 are held by the town in which the event occured. The Clerk's website gives a link to a list of towns and their contact info.
Maddalena570 wrote:Oh and another shot in the dark- If anyone here has knowkedge of Mt, Vernon NY, Weschester County, just shy of the Bronx (NYC) and Westchester border, I am nearly certain that my and my half brother, John's, mother and our father frequented the Blue Mirror Bar and Grill in Mt. Vernon. The Blue Mirror has been at the same spot for generations. I believe it was a speak easy at one time. Was there throughout the War Years, was there when I was a young girl in the 1960s and is still there today. I think the only hope that my brother and I have to finding his birth mother, Clara's, final resting place will be with anyone who lives or whose family had lived in the Italian section of Mt. Vernon up the hill from the Blue Mirror. Please if anyone has knowledge of this, let me know. Many thanks again from NYC- Madeleine
Hi madeleine, it is hard finding... only this record, maybe PERHAPS is your Edward:
1930 United States Federal Census about Edward Gardella Name: Edward Gardella
Home in 1930: Yonkers, Westchester, New York
Estimated birth year: abt 1914 Relation to Head of House: Son Father's name: Joseph
Mother's name: Mary
Yonkers is very near Mt vernon... no other data ...
the family members and ages in 1930:
54 Mary Gardella
48 Veronica Gardella
23 Marion Gardella
21 Dorothy Gardella
17 Edward Gardella
16 Rita Gardella
14 William Gardella
10 Russell Gardella
CLARA FERNANDES B. 10 Jul 1916 D. Nov 1987 SSN: 116-09-4921 SSN # applied for in: New York State. No guarantee that this is your Clara.
Clara remarried and then divorced. But she might not have changed her SS registration after her second marriage. Question: are you sure Clara really married a second time? Sometimes people set up house but skip the marriage step!
So, I would ask Mt. Vernon if they can search death certificates for a Clara who died in Nov. 1987. A long shot, but.... I think if you explain the circumstances, you may get help.
Clara might have resumed her maiden name a second time in 1970 and her death certificate might be under the name Fernades, but I wouldn't count on it.
I'm convinced that you must get Clara's birth certificate because you must establish her date of birth in order to identify her. And you must get your brother's birth certificate--he will need it to get Clara's death certificate.
Also, you report that she is now known to be dead. How do you know this? I'm not saying this is a false report, but I think you should go back to the source of this information and find out more and/or try to check it in another source.
I also think you may be right that the key to Clara's whereabouts is in Mt. Vernon. Have you considered writing a letter to the editor of the local paper (not the Gannet paper but the really local rag, whose name I don't know but which I'm sure can be discovered) and/or putting an advertisement in same asking for information?
You all are amazing. Thank you for responding to my post. I will try to answer your questions one by one but first and foremost, thank you all for taking the time to become involved in all of this. Okay, now let me go back to the responses.
I can't believe how perfect strangers are taking the time to help me and my brother!
Madeleine ( Maddalena)
Hello, Canada! We have many family ties in your great country. No, this is not my father's family. My father was born in Brooklyn, NY on July 25, 1913. His given name was Alessandro Eduardo-though my father always went by Edward Alexander Gardella. His parents were Allessandro Gardella and Maria Musa Gardella. In 1920, my father and three of his siblings resided at the New York Catholic Protectory in the Bronx (my grandfather had deserted the family and my grandmother could not support the children on her own).
I actually spoke with my brother's birth mother circa 1970-1972 when she was in the process of a divorce from her second husband. She called my home and asked to speak with either my mother or father. She was very gracious and cognizant of the fact that I was just a young girl. She didn't say that she was my father's first wife, rather she said that she was just an old friend. I knew of her though, becuase years earlier, I had found the divorce papers. This explained why my mother and brother were only 12 years apart in age.
Clara's second husband was trying to say in court that she had never been legally divorced from my father back in the late 1930s. I believe that my father had the papers copied and sent to Clara.
Let me re-read your post to respond in further detail-
Many thanks again to you!!!
Madeleine ( Maddalena)
I think I wll have to make a trip to Westchester-not too bad of a trip as I am in NYC. My brother is nearly certain that our father and his birth mother were married there and that he was born there. This makes sense to me too as our paternal grandmother, Maria Musa Gardella, moved from Brooklyn to Mt. Vernon after four of her children were placed in the New York Catholic Protectory. Again, our paternal grandfather deserted the family. Our paternal grandmother sought help from the Church and they did provide same. Four of the children went to the Orphanage in the Bronx, one remained at an orphanage in Brooklyn, the other, lying about is age, stayed in Brooklyn and worked. That would have been Uncle Pete, at 12 years of age he was on his own and working.
Our grandmother moved from Brooklyn to Westchester County to be near her four children who were placed at the Home. One of the four children, a beloved Aunt who recently passed away at the age of 97, confirmed all.
Thanks again for all your help.
I think you are correct on all accounts. I also remember many years ago hearing from relatives in Westchester County that Clara was dying and that her only wish was to see her son. My brother had been her only child. This would have been in the mid 1970s. Whether or not she actually died during that time, I can't say. She may have recovered and lived longer. But my brother and I now feel that she is most certainly gone.
You have to understand my mother. She wasn't evil per se, but she wasn't very kind, either. She always treated my brother with contempt.
She simply is not the kindest of people.
What I need to find out is her surname at the time of her death. With that, I can find her final resting place and give that info to my brother. That is all he wants. Oh gee, the folks are home and I have to put dinner on the table-my turn to cook. Thanks again to all of you. Be back as soon as I can.
Divorced from second husband, name unknown, circa 1970-1972 Divorce most likely occured in Mt. Vernon, NY
Clara may have been living in Mt. Vernon in the 1970's when she divorced. However, most likely the divorce papers are in White Plains at the Westchester County Clerk's office.
I'm guessing that a combination of the Mt. Vernon public library (checking old newspapers etc.), the town hall and the Blue Mirror will locate an informant who remembers Clara and knew her second married name and when she died.
As I see it, if Clara married in Mt. Vernon, then her surname before marriage was either Gardella or Fernandes, and the period to be searched is 1938 to 1970. Granted it's a big time period to search, but there can't be that many marriages in Mt. Vernon--this is assuming you can't find an informant.
Mt. Vernon Public Library has a local history room.
Local History Room The Mount Vernon Public Library Local History Room is the primary archival and research center for Mount Vernon History as well as one of the major historical collections of Westchester County. Among its resources are:
- Maps and atlases, including road, topography, farm, development and zoning maps, dating back to the mid-1800's. - Clipping files, starting in 1904, detailing the economic, political, social and cultural development of Mount Vernon. - Ethnic collections on Italians, Jews and African-Americans in Mount Vernon. - Newspapers, including bound volumnes from the 19th century. - Old photographs, post cardcs, posters, paintings and engravings. - Church and synagogue files. - City directories beginning in 1885 and telephone books beginning in 1933. - School yearbooks. - Information on individual houses. - Artifacts and mementos. - Genealogy and family history files. - City government reports.
Use of the Local History Room is available by appointment only. Please call Shirley Garrett at (914) 668-1840 to arrange for an appointment.
I'll bet Shirley Garrett can help you navigate the library's resources even if you don't need what's in the local history room. If she's a local history buff she might even be able to help you locate someone who knew Clara. Peg