Monday, June 20, 2011

A belated Memorial for John Baggiore

When my parents moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1972, they thought they were the first Baggiore's in the valley, pioneers of sorts. They didn't know that a distant relative of my Dad was actually a real pioneer in the Valley.
John Baggiore was a brother to my great, great grandfather Anthony Baggiore. Anthony was the eldest of 7 children, John was the youngest. He was born May 21st 1861 in Italy. He came to Phoenix in 1878 at the age of 17. He came looking for gold. He spent several years mining in Colorado and in Arizona. For 35 years he worked in real estate. According to his obituary, he was a "pioneer real estate dealer" who "saw the Arizona capital grow from a desert town to a modern city."
He and his wife Mary lived in what is now downtown Phoenix. I've driven by where they used to live. Their house is no longer there, it's been replaced by an apartment complex. I've driven by buildings that they as a couple used to rent out.
They had a son. Their only child. John Dominio Francis Baggiore (I believe they just called him John Jr.). He was born in 1896. He enlisted in the Navy in 1917 when he was 21 years old. In 1918 he was aboard a ship called the USS Cyclops. You can look here for a detailed description of what happened to the ship. Long story short, the ship was lost at sea and everyone aboard was declared dead on June 13th 1918. Here is a list of passengers and crewman aboard the ship. John Jr. is on the list of passengers. Here is a picture of the ship
My brother Bryan was the one who found John Jr. on a WWI memorial at the state capitol. He was fascinated with this relative that lived in Phoenix that no one had even known about! He did a little research and paid for John's military records. I did the rest of the research and learned about his mother and father. As a mother myself, it broke my heart to read the letters that Mary Baggiore wrote to the Navy officials, begging them for information about her missing son, her only son.
I wonder if when Mary died in 1967 if she thought that her family would be forgotten. Their line ended when John Jr. disappeared. I don't know why but when I was researching them, I felt (and still feel) a bond with them. I feel like I should make sure they aren't forgotten. Since we've figured out where they are buried, we try to go there once a year, preferably on Memorial Day, and honor the only relative we know that has died in the service of our country. This year we weren't able to make it to the cemetery on Memorial day but my sister and I went and took pictures of the memorial that Bryan found John Jr.'s name and of Mary and John Sr.'s grave with John Jr.'s memorial etched on the base of the headstone.
The WWI Memorial at the Capitol
John Jr's "memorial" at the base of his parent's headstone