Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Visiting Madison's Forest Hill Cemetery, Part Three: Bagpipes and German immigrants in Madison

Wednesday, May 24, I went back to Forest Hill to photograph graves of people you might not have known were buried there, but whose names you'll probably recognize. They'll be the subject of another post.

During this visit, I met and talked to several people who come the cemetery fairly often, but not to tend to graves. I wasn't really expecting to meet and talk to more people, so I wasn't prepared to take notes. As a result, what you'll find below each photo is not a full profile, but a brief sketch, based on notes scribbled on the back of a cemetery map.

This bagpiper was standing at attention, waiting to received the signal to begin playing for a funeral taking place across the road. He agreed to let me photograph him, but it was clear he didn't have time to answer questions. Fortunately, his wife had accompanied him, so I was able to talk quietly to her for a few minutes before the plaintive bagpipe music filled the air.

Jim Curley is a professional bagpiper who plays at weddings, parties, and funerals. He was scheduled to play at several Madison cemeteries on Memorial Day. I was so excited to discover that Curley's wife had a Central connection, I neglected to make a note of her first name. What I can tell you is her father was Luin Hatleberg. She didn't know what year he graduated from Central, but said he was born in 1922, so he probably graduated around 1940.

If you'd like to hire a bagpiper, I have contact information. Send me an email and I'll be glad to help you make a connection.

When I first saw the man in the above photo, he was looking at gravestones and taking notes. Ever inquistive, and emboldened by my recent success at striking up conversations with strangers, I asked him who he was and what he was doing.

Andrew Chiello is a taxi driver, but he's also a professional genealogist who's undertaking an ambitious project: He intends to write a book about the history of German immigrants in Madison. And, having heard his surname, I had to ask, "Why Germans?" Turns out this Milwaukee native's heritage is Sicilian on his father's side and German on his mother's side.

By looking at groups of gravestones, Andrew is often able to determine relationships between various family members more easily than he might from pouring over printed records. He showed me some gravestones where the relationships were very clear because, in addition to a name, the stone contained additional information such as "son of" or "wife of."

While we were talking, I noticed a nearby gravestone with the name Sigglekow on it and asked Andrew what he knew about that family. I was particularly interested because I'd recently added an obituary for Central almuna Alice Siggelko Better, a fourth-generation Madisonian who worked as an air traffic controller at Truax Field during World War II, to the archives, and had done a bit of research to discover why the "w" had been dropped from her surname. Andrew knew a lot about the family and soon we were talking about when and why other families had emigrated from Germany to Madison.

Andrew told me he'd read and reviewed all available U.S. Census data about his subjects (about 78,000 pages). He also reads Old German and New German (as well as Italian), so he is able to translate documents when necessary. In addition to his own research and his job at Madison Taxi, Andrew undertakes private commissions to research and write family histories. If you're interested in his project or in hiring him to work on your family history, I have contact information for him. Send me an email and I'll help you get in touch.

Reminder: The reason I don't post email contact information is because spammers often try to harvest email addresses from blogs. I don't want to be responsible to subjecting these men -- or anyone mentioned on this blog to an onslaught of electronic junk mail.


D Strand said...

plaintive means sorrowful or mournful. I know a Jerry Hatleberg. Could she be Jim Curley's wife?

Susan Fivelstad said...

I would like to reach Andrew Chiello to purchase his book,The KoenigsKoenigKing family, circa 1678-1993, and their descendants : complete with pictures, sketches, biographies and the history of the family for over 300 years. Can anyone help me reach Mr. Chiello or a source for the book? Many thanks.