I thought the best way to introduce this story to you is to relate how it began for me in 1979.


Aunt Frances, a petite Italian woman, looked even tinier sitting on the upholstered rocking chair in her bedroom with a massive Bible dwarfing her lap. She was still wearing her mourning dress.

"Uncle Spike wanted you to have this after he died, Joanie. It belonged to your grandmother and contains the family's history . . . at least part of it. He told me it's up to you to find the rest."

She caressed the ornate detailing on the leather-bound cover for a moment before she looked at me and said, "By the way, your maiden name is not Elliott." I was thirty-five-years-old and realized, I had no idea who I was.

That was the beginning of this odyssey.


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