The Case of the Mysterious Birth Certificate: Mystery solved!
I have to say this story has me digging into families that I never heard of and are of no relation to me, however I am richer for it. It also has me day-dreaming and inventing stories of how Lulu MOSIER and Yolanda Rosa FRANCO parent’s paths may have crossed. And there is one thing that keeps coming back to me. There’s got to be a connection through farming or gardening. And then I remember a box of peaches. I had transcribed this part of Lulu’s diary back in 2017, so I went looking for the peaches and found it.
1914 “Thu July 23 Bought box peaches and spent day canning. Got letter from Eilene saying Dewey was sick in City Hospital in Minneapolis. Anxious and apprehensive time.”
So here is Lulu less than a year after she arrived in San Francisco and she is buying produce from her favorite seller Laura FRANCO. Laura arrived in San Francisco last year just like Lulu. Laura and her husband Giralamo were married on Valentine’s day earlier in the year and she still has the glow of new love. It lightens Lulu’s heart to talk to her even though she speaks no Italian and Laura’s English is poor. They chat and smile. Lulu is worried about her son Dewey in Minneapolis and she is struggling to make ends meet at home and her husband continues to be abusive. This is a brief respite from her day and she is grateful to Laura.
“A few days later she visits Laura again. Tuesday July 28 Bought nox tomatoes for 60 cents and made 17 qt chili sauce. ” Laura’s father has a produce company at 895 McAllister St called “A. Craviotto Company.” Note that it is owned by A Craviotto and B Vernazzo.
In 1915 we find That Giralamo’s draft card has him working as a farmer for G Gernazzo which I believe is Vernazzo at 27th Street and Stanford Heights. This is also listed as Giralamo and Laura’s address.
All the above—nice try Kelly but it’s not TRUE . So I looked at Lulu’s Diary again. Lulu was ill frequently—so I got to thinking—lots of folks came to St. Helena for health reasons. I went to the parts of the diary that are yet to be transcribed and there it was. At this point in the diary she is summarizing the last few months.
“In November 1921 I went to St Helena to nurse in a sanitarium for a few weeks.” Remember this all started with a Birth Certificate. My neighbor told me, at this time, most births were at home in St. Helena, so likely there was a complication and Laura Franco was hospitalized and gave birth to her daughter Yolanda Rosa at the hospital in St Helena. There she met my great grandmother Mary “Lulu” (PADEN) MOSIER while they were both convalescing. Perhaps they were even roommates. This birth certificate was filled out in error as the name should have been Yolanda Rose Franco, and not Giralamo. That is why the bottom was never completed. And this incorrect one perhaps was given to Lulu and she kept it in her diary to remind her of Laura and Yolanda and her time in St. Helena.
I spoke with my neighbor about my discovery and she thinks they both might have been at the St. Helena Sanitarium rather than at St. Gothards.
My neighbor was born in 1924 and she said her birth certificate was wrong as well. When she and her sister went to the County Clerk’s office her birth certificate could not be found and they wrote to Sacramento, which did find the birth certificate but she had been give the wrong last name! Although her father’s name was correct her name was wrong. She said that old Dr O’Connor had a “drinking problem!” And so perhaps that explains Yolanda’s birth certificate as well—Maybe a trip to the court house can confirm that!
Just to tidy up loose ends I will let you know that Giralamo Franco met an unfortunate end in 1933 when he and a 70 year old woman were struck by a drunk driver in the safety zone of a streetcar in Colma, CA. He died and is buried at the Italian Cemetery in Colma.
Laura and two children are in the 1940 census in Colma. Laura’s obituary mentions Yolanda and family in St. Helena. Apparently the children continued to visit St. Helena as they are mentioned in local newspaper articles for 4H in 1938 and 1939. Laura died in 1950.
In the process of trying to solve this mystery I dug into early histories of San Francisco and St. Helena. Explored families from Italy and births in the remote village of Murialdo. I have gained more stories from my neighbors and I think we all feel a bit closer after sharing this journey. Never underestimate where those rabbit holes lead. And now it is time for me to return to transcribing Lulu’s diary. I am sure she will be the source of future blog posts.
Kelly Wheaton Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved.