[APG Public List] Re: APGPublicList Digest, Vol 5, Issue 1

Craig Kilby persisto at live.com
Tue Mar 2 09:40:15 MST 2010

Claire, Thank you very much. You and others on this list have been most helpful with tips for finding arcane records like this. The date of death is not in question. It was widely publicized in American newspapers, especially St. Louis. Many are on line. My friend and shirt-sleeve relation had most of those, but did not have access to the Supreme Court lawsuits that another poster sent our way. (As you can expect, this family was not only extremely wealthy but extremely eccentric.)

What I think we really need is access to the Vatican archives. The Pope's personal physician attended Hester after she hot herself in the head that fateful morning. She was not yet dead but did not long survive. There was in inquest led by the Pope's physician.

What seems to have been going on is this. Hester was going insane (this was probably genetic). They called it a nervous breakdown in those days. When her husband Carlo went to war in 1912 to Tripoli (he was a naval officer) word came back to Rome that his ship had been sunk. This apparently set her over the edge. He was not wounded, but shortly after that he resigned his commission and arranged a job with an American Coal Company, and they were planning to move to America. This is one reason her mother was in Rome. The accounts about the gun vary. Some say she had found it in her mother's trunk, other accounts say she simply had it unbeknownst to either the mother or the husband. She had said that morning she wanted to go shopping for some last minute things before leaving the country, and asked her husband to wait for her while she got dressed. She went to her room and that is where she shot herself. She was 36 years old.

The mother had been there since August trying the nurse her daughter back to health. That is why they went to the Convent of the Blue Nuns in the mountains, where the change of pace apparently helped her for a short while.

An odd contradiction to the story is that the couple had just moved to very posh section of Rome (also in the newspapers). And, two of the many articles on this say that Hester was suffering from TB (or, "consumption") and that is why she killed herself. My personal thinking is that she was just losing it mentally.

With all that being said, we have still not found any Italian newspaper articles on this, nor have we found the inquest papers. A copy may well be at the State Department. I am wondering what the policy would have been in Italy in those days if the Vatican was involved, and where it would be best to look for them.  We will be needing a very good Italian researcher to help with this, so if any of you here are experts and working in Italy, please contact me off list. I would suspect there is mountains of material on these people, considering their high profile and well connected social circle. (They were favorites of the King of Italy, and personal friends of Teddy Roosevelt, for example.) We are also foggy on what became of Carlo Pfister. He did take a job representing an American coal company in Italy, but the last we know of him is in 1939 when he was working for an Italian cruise line.

Hester is but one star in a constellation of eccentric characters in this family. Her father the judge and his sons were all equally "colorful."

Craig K

On Mar 2, 2010, at 8:37 AM, Claire Bettag wrote:

> Craig,
> You could check two places in the State Department's records.
> 1. Consular records at NARA in College Park. Within RG 59 there is a series of records that might be helpful: "Death Notices of U.S. Citizens." The hard copy inventory says: "From a very early date, at least since 1835, one of the duties of consular officers has been to report to the Department of State the names of U.S. citizens who have died within their consular districts. According to the "General Instructions to the Consuls and Commercial Agents of the United States, 1838," it was the duty of the consul or vice consul to announce the death in one of the gazettes published in the consular district and to notify the Secretary of State. When received in the Department of State, such notice of death was forwarded to a newspaper in the State of which the deceased was a resident." 
> Entry / series 849: Notices of Deaths of U.S. Citizens Abroad, 1857-1922 (34 vols, arranged chronology). "copies of form notices sent by the Department of State to newspaper publishers in the United States informing them of the deaths of U.S. citizens in foreign countries and requesting that the notices be published. Each notice contains the name of the deceased, the place of death, the consul and consulate reporting the death, and the number and date of the despatch in which the death was reported. Each volume, except for 1865 and 1866 (for which there is a separate index volume) contains its own alphabetical index by name of the deceased."
> An online version of Inventory 15 (Inventory of the General Records of the Department of State, 1789-1949) discusses these records at: http://www.archives.gov/genealogy/vital-records/american-deaths-overseas.html
> 2. That online inventory also points to other records found through the decimal file. It says:
> Death Reports, 1910-62 
> Death reports were filed in the Decimal File (Inventory 15, Entry 205), arranged by time period, 1910-29, 1930-39, 1940-44, 1945-49, thereunder by file number (3**.113) with ** representing the number for the country of death; or 1950-54, 1955-59, 1960-62, thereunder by file number (2**.113) with ** representing the number for the country of death. 
> Finding Aid. There is a Name Card index to the Decimal File (Inventory 15, Entry 199) that shows the name of the deceased person and the decimal file number of the report. If there is no name card, there is no death report.
> Death Reports, 1906-10
> Death reports were filed in the Numerical File (Inventory 15, Entry 192), available on microfilm as NARA microfilm publication M862, Numerical and Minor Files of the Department of State, 1906-1910 (1,241 rolls), with 25,892 separate case files.
> Finding Aid. There is a card index for the Numerical File (Inventory 15, Entry 188). There is an index card for each deceased person for whom there is a death report showing the Numerical File case number.
> Claire
> Claire Bettag
> 1685 34th Street NW
> Washington, DC 20007
> 202-625-2598
> cell: 202-436-2121
> On 2 Mar, 2010, at 4:24 AM, apgpubliclist-request at apgen.org wrote:
>> lease tell me how to dig deeper into the State Department records. 

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