February 19, 2011

Lena LoSchiavo

This story begins in the previous post....

The photo of Lena  LoSchiavo taken in August of 1908, intrigued me.

11 years old, a bit of my own little darling  reflected in her face, she sits smiling in a torn and tattered dress.
Shorpy's site did not have too much information on her except for a caption.
The person taking the photos, Lewis Wickes Hine was doing so for the sake of research on child labor at the turn of the previous century. Hines was a photographer and sociologist.
Child labor laws were nothing in those days.

I enlarged a photo from the Library of Congress and then hand colored this portion of her photo to bring her to life a bit again. She is not finished yet.
Those old photos do very little to show a person's "light" and soul.
From a close up I took from  another photo of her, her eyes appeared light, not dark.
So using the coloring of my 'famous anonymous kid', I gave Lena coloring.
Her eyes may have been blue, I used a dark brownish green with violet rings, as per the "kid" . Her skin and lips are also  from the "kid".
This is not done with photoshop tricks but by hand and needs more work, but I was anxious to put it up.     I spent some time on it Friday and will do more as time allows. As you can see the hands are far from done.

At the Shorpy website, which features old photographs, people were discussing how old Lena looked. Well, not now I think.
It was late at night according to the information known about the photo and the poor kid was over tired. 
Also, they were wondering what had become of her. This lovely  eager faced child demands attention  as there is , to me at least , something intriguing about her.
When I find old photos like this I just have to color them.
To see the original photo in high definition you will need to see it on the website. I took this from a smaller photo and enlarged it myself.

It can be hard tracking people down because spellings vary from site to site. Immigrants were often misunderstood when telling their names to officials and so there are various spellings used in documents and records.
A name like LoSchiavo can become variously Loshavo, Lochiavo, Lochavo , depending on who heard it and how they wrote it down. Since different languages say the letters of the alphabet differently, asking someone to spell it was not always an option.

If I am correct in my research, Lena was born in 1898 in America to Italian immigrants Charles Loschiavo and his wife Mary Gentile Loschiavo. There were 4 children, Giusippi who died 9 days old, an unnamed infant who died at birth , another girl, Petrina who was a few years older than Lena and passed way in 1962 at the age of 67.
Petrina had married John Mercurio.

Charles Loschiavo, Lena's father,  passed away at age 34, when Lena was 10 or 11. This may well be why she was selling on the corner to add to  the family income. Mrs. Mary LoSchiavo had lost a son  in February at 9 days old and her husband in July of the same year.

Lena seems to have married Charles Mercurio at age 16 or 17(?) and had a little girl , Terita, who passed away at age 84 in 1999, 11 years after her mother.
Lena, passed away in 1988 at the ate of 90.

She and some of her family are buried in the St Joseph New Cemetery in Cincinnati. I found all this in their interment records.

I also Googled the site of the  corner where Lena sold pretzels and baskets from 11:00 AM  in the morning til Midnight in front of the 6th Street Market 'saloon' entrance  at 209 West Sixth Street in Cincinnati.
You can compare it with the corner that you see in the photo of Lena in the previous post.

I  dubbed it
"Lena's Corner"

“Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” 

Lena worked hard to  help support her mother....
Rest peacefully Lena.


  1. What a wonderful post !
    Leave it to you to bring recognition to a quiet soul...to tenderly "restore" her face so we can glimpse a bit of her devotion to family , her grace and beauty . How kind to bring her history to light so she is not forgotten . All the Lenas of the world thank you !
    Be well , my friend , Spring is coming !

  2. You did an incredible job. What a lovely face she has.

  3. Wow Annie!

    I love this post! What a beautiful way to remember the history of a forgotten child. Your restoration of color is simply fantastic. I think it was so kind of you to delve back in Lena's past history and bring it to light.

    I can attest to the wrong spelling of names as my ex's grandfather when coming over from Italy to Ellis Island wrote his last name as Lena, the "a" was mistaken for an "o" and they were forever after known as Leno.

    Have a lovely beginning of the week my friend. Hugs

  4. Hi Annie,
    What a great post. You did a great job on her photo. Is this your family?? I have looked up the Lowenthal's online and found a lot of interesting facts dating back to Germany and the town named "Lowenthal" and followed them here when they arrived at Ellis Island. Lena's story is a great one. I have to go check her site out. Have a wonderful day!

  5. No Dru, not my own family. Just fell in love with the photo of little Lena and had to do some digging.

  6. Another fascinating entry, Annie!
    You are doing a great job on her photo, too. She has a beautiful smile. :)
    You are so right about the wrong spelling of names. And most of the time it was easier to give an American name to the immigrants. Lena was probably a "Lina", her father "Carlo", her mom "Maria" and her brother "Giuseppe". :)
    Have a lovely evening!

  7. Great job on the eyes especially! My mom used to hand color old photographs because they were in black and white or sepia. She'd always put a little lipstick and blush on the women. Great detective work on the corner, too, Sherlock! Enjoy the week ahead! (((Hugz)))

    PS. Oscar hosts- Anne Hathaway and James Franco. Quite a departure from previous hosts. My favorite was always Billy Crystal.

  8. I enjoyed reading this and the prior post, Annie. You did such a wonderful job bringing Lena to life!

    When I was researching my post about Oysters a few posts ago I came across many child laborers in the 1800's, as young as four years old, shucking oysters. Mostly immigrant children whose family desperately needed their income.
    My maternal grandmother came as an indentured servant at age 18 from the Ukraine in the early 1900's and could neither read or write but she made sure her children went to school.

    I hope our country will always remain a land of opportunity!


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