Featured Hero: Joseph N. Esposito (1938-2005) Veteran of the United States Army, as told through his loving daughter Elizabeth Esposito Campbell, genealogy advisor/owner of Roots & Branches
"My father, Joseph N. Esposito, was born on July 18, 1938 in Manhattan, New York," Elizabeth begins, eyes watery. She apologizes before continuing, but I understand her sadness as this coming Sunday, the 5th of May, marks the anniversary of his departure from her in the physical sense. Elizabeth quickly regains composure, however, and talks on like a proud daughter would; her words story-like yet matter-of-fact like that of a genealogy enthusiast. "He was the third of seven children born to my grandparents and, from an early age, had a knack for building and creating marvelous things.
Elizabeth and I sharing a good laugh.
"By the time he was 17, he'd built a hovercraft, a helicopter that really flew, and rigged up several different types of wires and radios that caught the "S.O.S.” signal of the Andrea Doria. Believe it or not, the FBI showed up at my grandparents’ front door!" she says, chuckling.
In August 1959, Joseph enlisted in the United States Army and was eventually sent to Korea.
"The peace treaty was already signed by the time my father arrived in Asia, but apparently no one told the soldiers because my father did see his share of gunfire and combat."
In 1960, Joseph participated in the Eighth Army’s rifle, pistol and automatic rifle matches in Hawaii. He was classified as a pistol Master by the NRA and won many medals for sharpshooting. He was honorably discharged after three years of service and married Elizabeth's mother in 1962.
"My father and I became closer in the summer of 1991 following his first of four heart attacks. He was unable to work and developed a passion for lighthouses. I would travel throughout New York and New Jersey with him to take pictures and explore these structures. He was so enamored with them that he built scale replicas and eventually asked the United States Coast Guard if he could be the volunteer Lighthouse Keeper of the Staten Island Lighthouse, Lighthouse Hill. He was instated Lighthouse Keeper from 1992-2001. Many of his scale models are displayed throughout Staten Island in such places as Fort Wadsworth, Miller Field, and the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences. On May 5, 2005, my parents’ 43rd wedding anniversary, my father succumbed to an abdominal aortic aneurysm." Joseph is survived by his wife, Anna, his daughters Joann, Ellena, and Elizabeth, his son Joseph, and four grandchildren.
Roots & Branches
Elizabeth's passion for family history developed as a child while sifting through old family photos at her grandmother's house. Her company, Roots & Branches, is a product of those childhood moments with her grandma. Like her kin, Elizabeth takes fragments of others' family history and pieces them together. "I am not a licensed genealogist, nor do I present myself as one, but I feel that I have a natural talent for research and want to help others solve the mysteries of their past."
Roots & Branches provides a preliminary search to make sure that efforts will be fruitful for the client in the end result. Elizabeth's fees are reasonable compared to that of a licensed genealogist. "I am charging for my time, and it does take time to provide accurate results. I make a point of being professional because customer service is the key to being successful. I spend a great deal of time conversing one-on-one with my clients to ensure that we are focusing on the same short and long-term goals." Browse the Facebook page for Roots & Branches. There, you will find some projects that Elizabeth created for family members as well as a pricing guide. For the sake of confidentiality, she is unable to publish anything discovered for clients.
"It is important to know whom we came from so we know where we’re going."