Friday, July 24, 2009

Genealogue Challenge #145

Billie Joe Armstrong sings in the Green Day song "Before the Lobotomy," "Dreaming, I am only dreaming of another place and time where my family's from."

What were the names of Billie Joe's father's grandparents, and where were their families from?


Well, according to research on Rootsweb, his paternal grandparents were David Banks Armstrong and Frances Myrtle Marsicano (the maternal were Jay William Jesse Jackson and Alta May Hastings). Interestingly, Billie Joe is a Cherokee Indian through his matrilineal line (his great-great-great grandmother, Minerva Jane Tilson, is listed as Cherokee). Rootsweb has no more on his father's side, though.

Frances Marsicano's mother's maiden name was Mueller, according to the Cali Death Index. So, Billie Joe is only 1/8th Italian, not 1/4 like he claims. It also lists her full name as Myrtle Frances Marsicano, which helps me find her on the census, which lets me know that her parents were Andrew Marsicano and Lena Mueller. Marsicano's parents were Italian. Mueller was born in Mexico to a German father and Spanish mother. Very interesting.

David Banks Armstrong, meanwhile, died in March 1951 and was born in June 1890. I know it's the right one because one of the Rootsweb trees listed his mother's maiden name as "Edwards", which is what it says on the death record. If I've got the right David Armstrong on the 1900 census, and I believe I do, then his parents were Era Armstrong of New York and Evaline Edwards of England.

Drew Smith

We begin with an article about the Armstrongs.

So we have Billie Joe's father as "Andrew Marciano Armstrong", died 15 September 1982.

The California Death Index presents this as "Andrew Marsicano Armstrong", with a death date of 16 September 1982, and a birth date of 23 August 1928. The Birth Index adds his birth county as Alameda and indicates that Marsicano is his mother's maiden name.

The 1930 census gives us the Alameda County household of David B. (36) and Myrtle F. (33) Armstrong, with 1-year-old Andrew M.

22-year-old Myrtle F. Marsicano appears in the 1920 household of Andrew and Lena Marsicano, whose parents were from Italy (for Andrew) and Germany and Spain (for Mexico-born Lena). From the California Death Index, we have Myrtle Frances Marsicano Armstrong, whose mother's maiden name was Mueller. So we have that set of grandparents as Andrew Marsicano and Lena Mueller.

David Armstrong can be traced back to the 1920 census as born in about 1891 (with a wife prior to Myrtle and son or stepson Eugene). He is most likely the David Banks Armstrong that appears in the California Death Index as 5 June 1890 with a mother named Edwards.

The 1900 census for Alameda County gives us a David Armstrong, born June 1890. The head of the household (we'll hold the first name until we look at the 1880 census) was born in New York of New York parents (but...), but wife Evaline (presumably Edwards) was born in England of English parents.

1880 gives us the rest, as Edwin Armstrong and wife Evaline are living in the home of Evaline's mother, Mary A. Edwards. In this census, Edwin is given as born in Holland of Holland parents.

Steve Danko

Billie Joe's paternal grandparents were:

David Banks Armstong b. 05 Jun 1890 in California d. 17 Mar 1951 in Alameda, California. His father was Edwin M. Armstrong b. abt. 1856 in New York. His mother was Evelin Edwards b. abt. 1859 in Camberwell, Surrey, England.

Myrtle Frances Marsicano b. 09 Mar 1897 in California d. 04 Sep 1957 in Alameda, California. Her father was Andrew Marsicano b. abt. 1877 in Berkeley, California d. 27 Oct 1937 in Berkeley, California. Her mother was Elaine Lena Muller b. 07 Sep 1871 in Dubuque, Iowa d. 03 Oct 1937 in Oakland, California.


Yes, Billie Joe has Italian, Spanish, German, and British ancestors on the low branches of his family tree.

Despite what the 1880 census says, it is highly doubtful that Edwin M. Armstrong was born in Holland. He was the son of Bradley Adan Armstrong of Johnstown, New York, who "moved to California with his wife, daughter, and six sons in 1876 and settled in Oakland. He soon established a shop on the corner of Broadway and 14th Street where he made frames, served as an auctioneer, and exhibited paintings of local artists as well as his own." His son Edwin was himself a painter: a carriage painter.

Billie Joe's descent from Bradley A. Armstrong does bring a couple more European nationalities into the mix: the 1880 census says that Bradley's father was Irish, his mother French.

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