Archive for March 23rd, 2011


Hunting Leonardo

March 23, 2011

When I first started my genealogy project, I never dreamed that I would spend so much time looking at other people’s families, but that seems to be how it’s panning out.  Sometimes, you have to work around the issue in order to get to the core, like digging up the roots of a tree (pun intended).  So, amidst all of the dirt that I am flinging, this way and that, in order to hunt down my daughter’s family history for her, I find myself embroiled in the hunt for Leonardo DiCaprio.

It has been a long-standing, oft told, and much-loved legend in my husband’s family that the DeCaprios are related in some way to Leonardo DiCaprio, perpetrated by my husband’s Grandma Mary.  The details of that yarn are murky at best, but I am doing the most difficult research of my life on this one because it’s just so sensational.  We all wonder if we might secretly be related to famous people, but wouldn’t it be awesome if we actually were and could prove it?

“So, old girl, what have you found so far?” you might be asking.  Well, it’s not going so well.  Every tidbit of information I have on the DiCaprio family is gleaned from newspaper and magazine articles.  Recently, I was lucky enough to find an English translation of  German interview with Leonardo’s grandmother Helene Indenbirken, a Russian immigrant to Germany who eventually moved to the United States with her husband Wilhelm and daughter Irmelin in 1955.  Here’s the website if you’d care to read the article.

But, that is Leonardo’s maternal line.  His paternal line is a little more illusive.  I know that George Paul DiCaprio was born in 1943 to George Leon DiCaprio and his wife Olga Anne Jacobs.  That much is well documented because George Dicaprio himself is a celebrity in that he is known for his involvement in underground comic books.  I also know that he is a third generation American which means that his grandfather and/or grandmother must have immigrated here.  Other than that, your guess is as good as mine because I am by no means a Leonardo DiCaprio expert.  I like his movies, that’s about it.

I’m pretty sure the DiCaprios are from New York because of the 1998 interview with his grandma Helene and because the Indenbirkens were living in the Bronx in 1964 (per a naturalization record I found for Irmelin and Helene) which would have made Irmelin around 19 and in college where she is purported to have met her ex-husband George.  So, that sets the stage.

Unfortunately, there are two George DiCaprios living in New York in 1930 (got this from census records) who are around the right age.  The difference?  In the one record, George already has an infant son called George.  That’s a problem because the George I am looking for won’t have a son called George until 1943.  The other problem is that folks back then were likely to have infants who died and then named a later child that same name.  However, I’m pretty sure that the infant George Dicaprio in that 1930 census record is still alive and kicking, or at least he was in the 1980’s which is the time period I found a record for him.  *sigh*  So, is that other family his then?  Was he really 27 and living at home in 1930?  I don’t know and I really have no proof.

I’m sure those of you who are experienced genealogists know exactly what I am talking about when I say that George Paul DiCaprio’s 1943 birth is what’s causing the problem.  For those of you who don’t, please allow me to explain.  There is a “sweet spot” in genealogy: a magic 90 year window between 1850 and 1930 for which detailed census records are available.  If your family member falls inside that window, awesome!  If not, you’re gonna have to work a little harder.  Since George Paul DiCaprio was born in 1943, no census records are yet available where he might have been living with his folks and this also means that his folks probably weren’t married yet in 1930.  I’m stymied.

If anyone of you Leonardo buffs out there has any info that you think I might not have, feel free to let me know.

In the mean time…the hunt for Leonardo continues.