History of the Christopher Modesto Cunico (Frederick)

Christopher Modesto Cunico (Frederick) was born September 15, 1894 in Pana, Christian County, Illinois. Chris was the fourth child of Antonio and Nathaline Bianchi Cunico. He was one of nine children, only four lived to maturity. Five died within one year of birth. Chris went by the name of Christopher Frederick Cunico. At birth Chris was given the name of Christopher Modesto Cunico. Speculation is he may have wanted to be named Frederick after his Uncle Fred. His sisters would call Moses when they got mad at him. In Italian Modesto means Moses.

As a child Chris lived in many different places: Iron Mountain, Michigan; Pana, Illinois; Minook, Illinois; Mystic, Iowa; Ironwood, Michigan, Marseilles, Illinois; Bessemer, Michigan and Davenport, Iowa. His father was an iron ore Worker, so they moved where the work took him.

Besides himself Chris had a sister, Angeline, born April 22, 1896 in Minook, Illinois, another sister Ambrogine Eleanora, born October 14, 1897 in Mistick, Iowa and a third sister Mary Fortunata, born October 28, 1899 in Ironwood, Michigan. These are the four that lived to maturity.

This part of their life as children was extracted from a letter written by Chrisís youngest sister Mary Mairet.

"We were a typical small town family. We were brought up to fear God -believe me we did. We were all baptized, had our first communion and our confirmation. We fought ...we played ...we schemed and we were mischievous just like any other children.

New Years was celebrated at home staying up late and enjoying a special hot wine and roasted chestnuts. On Good Friday we weren't allowed to raise our voices, sing, or eat meat. That was the day Jesus was hung on the cross. Easter was no different than the traditional £aster Sunday. Christmas, was the birth of Christ. Toys were not in abundance. We had fruit, nuts and candy in our socks. One Xmas I can remember uncle Fred came over from Germany, without his family, we three girls had a doll each and our brother had a steam engine of some kind.

Picnics were every day in a mining town. Every time a circus would come to town our father would take the whole family to town rent a room in a hotel so we could clean up and our mother could rest. Then we would continue on with our fun.

We were poor but we never went hungry and we always had clean clothes. When we had bad electrical storms, mother and us four kids would sit with her on the davenport or sofa or what have you. We weren't afraid because mother was there. One storm the lightening struck a corner of the house and tore a hole in the wall. There was a picture of Jesus hanging on the wall. The lightening came within inches -part of the picture frame was lapping over the hole. Nothing happened to the picture - was it a miracle or was it our belief in God. We were happy in our childhood. -Mary Mairet

When Chris's mother was dying Chris was sent to get the Priest. The priest told him he couldn't come right away. Chris's mother, Nathaline died without the last rights. Chris never believed in the Catholic religion after that.

 

  Chris joined the United States Navy, June 10, 1918, at Chicago, Illinois. World War I ended in November and Chris was released to go home but he recunicoed in the reserves until September 30, 1921 when he was released at the Great Lakes Naval Station.

Louella's sister Mary introduced Louella to Chris. Chris was Mary's boy friend. No doubt Mary had met him on his many trips to Marseilles, to visit his favorite Uncle Fred.

Chris and Louella were married March 1, 1919 in Marseilles, lllinois by the Reveend George Bradfield, Minister of the Gospel.

See the marriage license here.

 

 

The happy couple lived in Davenport, Iowa the first few months of their married life. Louella was so homesick they decided to move to Marseilles. The fall of 1919 they moved back to her home town. Chris got himself a job at the National Biscuit Company where his father-in-law worked. He worked there until one day he blew his stack at the foreman and quit. He left the plant and walked down the street to Hunter and Allen Lumber Yard "asked for a job got it."

Their first child was born Dec. 24, 1919. He was named Charles Christopher Cunico, the other children are as follows: William, Barth Cunico, October 10, 1921; Thomas LaVerne Cunico, July 6, 1925; Robert Walter Cunico born July 25, 1926; Barth Phillip Cunico born January 6, 1928.

Chris continued working for Hunter and Allen Lumber Co. and when I and R Beatty bought the lumber yard he recunicoed there to work for them. Being down on cunico street Chris was close to the fire department, so he joined as a volunteer fire department for the city of Marseilles.

On December 7, 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The United States went to war so Chris went to work for DuPont, in Seneca Illinois as a security guard. Chris and Louella also had five sons that served in the armed services. After the war Chris went back to work for I & R Beatty Lumber Company.

When Chris would visit his sisters Mary, Angeline or Ambrogine that was the only time when he would speak Italian. One time Chris and Louella went to Davenport to visit Mary. Chris took the kids into the house, Louella stayed in the car. Chris and Mary were talking in Italian, Chuck ran out to the car and told his mother that his dad and Aunt Mary were talking funny. Of course, when Chris got mad he would swear in Italian. All the boys grew up knowing these words best.

Chris had a real Italian temper, but most of the time his bark was worse than his bite. Guess he was a typical Italian with a terrible temper and a great lover, so they say.

All thru the years Chris would pick up every nickel, dime or penny or more. He could spot them long before anyone else could. When he died he had a hundred dollar bill saved in the secret compartment of his wallet.

Chris never complained about health problems that he had. He was always afraid that when something was wrong it would lead to cancer. Both his parents had died from some form of cancer. In 1956 Chris went to the doctor and was diagnosed as a diabetic. Shortly after this, his grandson, Chris, son of Barth and Elsie also was found to be a diabetic.

Chris's sores didn't heal very well, after having a sore on his foot for quite a while he went to the Dwight Veterans Hospital in Dwight, Illinois. They found he would have to have his leg amputated.

While there his sisters and their husbands came to visit him. Mary and Art Mairet and Ambrogine and Frank Gheller were with Chris to help him through this difficult time of his life. Chris later was fitted for a wooden leg, which he handled very well.

After his retirement he went to Utah to fish for a couple of months in the summers of 1960 and 1961. While there his grandkids Bob, LuJean and John got a big kick out of him. He'd get Chuck to take him to the 5 & 10 cent store so he could buy a sack of candy bars for the kids. They were brought home and put in the refrigerator. Maybe the kids got one and maybe two, but Grandpa devoured most of them when no one was looking. Being a diabetic this certainly was a no-no.

The day Chris died he had been to Ottawa and bought a new lawn mower. Barth came out and was going to help him start it. Chris started into the house to get a drink of water, as he took hold of the railing to go up the steps, he had a fatal heart attack, May 17, 1962. Passing away the way Chris did was really a blessing. The Good Lord knew Chris was afraid of dying so it happened the best way possible for him.

Grandpa's Obituary

 

 Last updated 03/12/13 - (c)2007 - Barth Cunico - All rights reserved