We were all surprised at what the article in The Johnsonburg Press revealed. Under the glare of a streetlight, ten yards from his Ford Coupe – engine still running – my great uncle’s body was riddled with bullets while fireworks from the town’s 4th of July celebration exploded in the sky above.
It was a mafia takedown, though the article takes pains to avoid calling it that directly, blaming “business rivals and not gangsters or racketeers” for the murder. (One presumes that the scribes of the local newspaper were not immune to the menace of organized crime themselves.)
The newspaper article is a genealogist’s dream — even if having a mob-slain relative is not. It is full of rich detail that includes Joseph Zampogna’s home address, military duty, profession and comprehensive lists of eyewitnesses, police officials and funeral attendees. I had so many questions beforehand, and this information made it easy to investigate other areas of his life in U.S. Census, Immigration and Naturalization, Military and local records.
Interviews with our family’s oldest relatives brought forth long-buried secrets that it was indeed gangsters and not mere “business rivals” who orchestrated the killing, which took place because Joseph Zampogna refused to pay protection money for his construction business. We could also now link other well-known pieces of family lore to this event, giving us a better understanding of the motivation and experiences of other relatives who were impacted by the death. For example, my late grandfather (Joseph’s brother) always refused to go anywhere on the 4th of July. Now we know why.
I couldn’t wait to find out more about my ancestors and the times in which they lived. This curiosity led me to pursue the past with a passion, and I’m eager to help others explore their own hidden histories. My qualifications: I hold a B.A. in History, a Masters in Library Science, as well as memberships with the Association of Professional Genealogists, the National Genealogical Society and the Daughters of the American Revolution.
As a librarian, I enjoy researching a wide variety of subjects and launched Girl Friday Genealogy to help others discover new facts about their own history. If you’re interested in tracing your family’s backstory, please see my list of client services and submit a request for a free estimate.
Additional questions? Feel free to drop me a line.
Welcome to Girl Friday Genealogy!
So what's my story? Well, I've always been a bit of a research nerd and became interested in genealogy when family members on my mother’s side discovered a 1933 newspaper article about my late great-uncle, Joseph Zampogna. My mom and her siblings knew little about this relative (an anomaly given their passion for storytelling and family history) except that he had immigrated from Italy to Western Pennsylvania around the turn of the last century and died many years before any of them were born.