Letter: Town Clerk goes above and beyond
Hello, my name is George De Melo. I am from Burlington, Ontario, Canada, a city located just outside of Toronto. Two years ago, my father Manuel De Melo passed away. It was then that I got myself wrapped up in a little bit of a project — my family tree.
I remember my father telling me that his grandfather, along with four of his five children, had left Portugal for Bristol, Rhode Island.
I tried to find some information by going on Ancestry.com, but I was unsuccessful. I couldn't find anything.
As I was doing my research, I came across the name of Louis P. Cirillo, Bristol's Town Clerk. I thought that I would email him, hoping that he would know something about my De Melo family that could help me. He mentioned to me that back in the early 1900s, most immigrants were illiterate. Their last name could have been changed from De Melo to Melo, Mello, Mellow or De Mello.
I started looking at Melo. I found the ship log (from 1916) with the names of my great grandfather and his family! I also found the U.S. census from 1920, 1930 and 1940, as well as many other important
documents. My great grandfather died in 1927.
Without Louis P. Cirillo's help, I wouldn't have found any information.
While in contact with Mr. Cirillo, I had mentioned to him that I have a distant cousin who lives in Bristol, by the name of George Cooper. It was to my surprise that he actually knew him! What a small world! With the help of George Cooper, I was able to find other distant relatives and also learned of many very interesting stories about my family. One of my dad's cousins — Vernard Mello — was a chief warrant officer of the United States of America. He now resides in Texas.
I was trying to locate a copy of my great grandfather's death certificate. My great grandfather's name was Manuel Melo. This seemed almost impossible as there were many, many Manuel Melos. With Louis P. Cirillo's help, we narrowed it down and actually found the correct death certificate belonging to my great grandfather. On the death certificate, it mentions the cemetery where he is buried. I also contacted that cemetery, and they located the section that he is buried.
In early August, my brothers and I are planning a road trip to Bristol. We are hoping to locate our great grandfather's gravesite. I am hoping to meet Louis P. Cirillo. I am so grateful for his help, that I would love to meet him and thank him personally. He has always been so generous with his time and replying promptly whenever I had a question. I truly appreciate all that he has done for me. He didn't have to go out of his way as I am just a stranger to him.
George De Melo
Burlington, Ontario, Canada