Clementina Lenci was born in about 1861. I assume she was born in the Lucca area of Tuscany for reasons discussed later. Research done in Italy shows that her father's (Lenci) family was wealthy and her mother's (Petrini) family was noble.

The story passed from Clementina to her daughter, her grandson, and then to his daughter (Vicki).

During the late 1800's (about 1876), Clementina was preparing for her debutante ball. A gown was presented to her for the dance. It cost $900 at the time. It was hand beaded. But she didn't like it and said, "You expect me to wear this!?!?" and then she tore the dress to pieces with her bare hands.

But Clementina was in love--with a farmer from the Rome area. Clementina's parents forbid the relationship.

His name was Daniele Gini. When he came through Ellis Island, he listed his profession as "cultivator." First he came alone. Later, he came with his love. They married August 21, 1895, in Chicago. They joined Daniele's brother living at 33 Hope Street in Chicago.

The story goes that Daniele and Clementina were in business with a partner making ice cream. In a later census, it showed that their profession was "confectioner" and that they had two children born in Chicago. The first child was their daughter Lillian, and the second was born names Negri. The business was highly successful and they became wealthy in their own right. They decided to go back to Lucca to show off to Clementina's family.

Back in Lucca, they had a son and named him Frank (it could have been Francesco and been changed later). They lived in high style, spending money like there was no end to it. But one day, the money stopped coming. The family returned to Chicago to investigate, only to find the factory boarded up, the money and their business partner(s) vanished. They were destitute.

Negria had been the name of Clementina's best friend, but they had an argument that destroyed their friendship forever. After the fight, Clementina changed Negria's name to Mary Bernadette. Mary hated her new name. She was older than 8 when it was changed, and Bernadette was the name of the horse that pulled the delivery wagon from the factory. And now she was begging on the streets of Chicago while her parents raised enough money to move to San Francisco.

It was 1915 and the World's Fair was in San Francisco when Mary met Joe. Mary's father, known as Daniel Gini according to the census in 1920, was working in the San Francisco shipyards as a laborer. Clementina was home with her 3 children.

When Mary and Joe had their daughter, Evelyn, in about 1920, Clementina cared for the child while Mary helped Joe run the family grocery store in San Francisco.

By 1930, Daniel no longer appears on the census but no death records have been found in my searches so far. The 1930 census lists her as head of household and another person living with her at that time. Listed as her son, his name was Paul (Paolo) Martini. But that isn't possible--she had no such son. Paul Martini was 24, which matches the age of her son-in-law's nephew. Since that was likely a relationship too complex for them to explain to the census-taker, she probably just called him her son.

Do you have any information you can share about this mystery? Can you help with research in Lucca or San Francisco? If so, please Click Here for an e-mail link to help...and thank you! Do you have a mystery you'd like to see here? Send your information to this link and we'll post it here.