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The Cowhide by the Count: Alberto Alberti in 1883

I’ve been quiet on the blog front for a few weeks. I am waiting, not very patiently, for Laura Alberti’s patient records from the MO Department of Mental Health. My court order was issued two weeks ago, now the deep search of the MO state archives begins.This process takes 6-8 weeks. It is worth the wait. I feel there might evidence in those documents that will allow me to be more unbiased about the last decade of her life. For now, I am hitting the pause button on finishing Part 2 of her story. I want to present as full and factual a picture as possible.

In the meantime, as a research palate cleanser and distraction, I have been scouring old newspapers from St.Louis, MO. Why you ask? The early years of Alberto’s life in the US are still a bit hazy. His immigration paperwork states that he first came to America in 1877 onboard the USS Helvatia through Antwerp, Belgium. After that he bounced around South America and Italy, until finally resurfacing again in Saint Louis around 1883. We still don’t have any idea how he ended up there.

Unfortunately he lived there between census taking years so we don’t know where he lived in Saint Louis. The only paper proof that he lived there is the birth record of his first son, Wilford in October 1884. We know he married Charlotte Sarah Block in Saint Louis, however there are not records of the marriage. I am not giving up hope. It is a slow process reading the papers as they are not indexed very well. Searching the marriage license announcements day by day is tedious. I have a few more months of 1883 left to search. I assume they married before Wilford was born, but it is possible they married because she got pregnant in the winter of 1884.

I am quickly learning the genealogy research has more brick walls than I expected. While I don’t enjoy the frustration that comes with failing to locate a desired document, it is really really cool when you find something that you weren’t looking for. What I am sharing with you today is probably my favorite find to date. This article is about Albert Alberti, from the 1883 copy of the St.Louis Post Dispatch. It details our 28 year old great grandfather defending the honor of one of his “lady friends” by horsewhipping a well known Saint Louis businessman. I can’t do it justice, and you just need to read it for yourself. It paints such a colorful picture of our ancestor! 

I have so many questions after reading this. Who was this woman he was defending and refused to identify? Could it have be his first wife Charlotte Block? I did find a census record for 1880 showing that at age 16 she had moved out of her father’s house and lived with her sister Kezia on 12th street. This altercation took place on 17th street, but perhaps the sisters moved a few blocks over by 1883. Or perhaps these “lady friends” were prostitutes. If we know one thing about Alberto for sure, he was a bit of a ladies man. Probably no way to know for sure, but this article is fantastic! I love the quotes and being able to get a feel for what Alberto’s personality and temperament were like. Can’t you just imagine this mustachioed Italian Casanova creating a scene on the muddy Saint Louis streets 135 years ago?

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