Month: August 2014

Take a Walk with Google Earth

Castelfondo-6

View of the town’s fountain with the Genetti home in the background. Look for this landmark while you are walking around Castelfondo using Google Earth.

If you find genealogy a tad on the dry side, here’s a tech tip that will make it a whole lot more interesting. Why not take a walk through your ancestral village using Google Earth!

This is SO cool! You can be transported directly to a town in Europe (or anywhere else!) without leaving your home. I spend hours on Google Earth exploring places I’m going to visit on my next trip. So let’s zero in on Castelfondo, the ancestral village of the Genetti family and see what we can find.

If you haven’t already played with Google Earth, you will first need to download the basic software from the site. Go to https://earth.google.com. It’s free and only takes a few minutes to load. After you finish downloading you’ll see an icon on your desktop that looks like a blue marble with white swirls. Click on the icon and you are ready to explore!

Let’s get started. In the upper left corner you’ll see a search box. Type in Castelfondo, Trentino, Italy and hit the search button. In an instant you’ll be whisked to a small village in the Italian Alps. From this perspective you will see an aerial view of Castelfondo, the surrounding countryside and nearby villages. Zoom in using the “plus” sign found on the right side of the screen. Or for a lot more fun, grab the little orange man located on the right and drag him into the village. Now you are at street level and can take a stroll through town. Yes, really! You can walk the very streets your ancestors called home, all from the comfort of your desktop!

If you click and hold on the little orange man before you move him into town, you’ll see blue lines pop up on the screen. This tells you where you can and cannot walk. Once you are moving around town, just click on the yellow line to move forward. You can also click on the left or right of the screen to turn around and take in the surrounding view. To return to the aerial view, just toggle the button marked “Exit Street View” found in the upper right of the screen.

Of course, you won’t be able to adventure down every street, but you can maneuver around most of the town and see quite a few sites. Here are a few landmarks to look for: the castle on the edge of town (only seen from the aerial view), the town bar (right over the bridge and on the left side of the stream that runs through town), San Nicolo Church, the town’s central fountain, the village grocery store, apple orchards and vineyards that surround the town and Amici di Castelfondo (the local cultural and historical society). If you find the town fountain, look just beyond it and you will spy the Genetti homestead. Unfortunately you can’t walk right up to the house, but you can see the fresco that is displayed on the side of the home.

Have fun with Google Earth and happy exploring!

 

New Photos in the Gallery

FourBrothers-2

Four Genetti brothers at the opening of the Laurel Street market in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, 1939.

I just added new photos to the website Gallery section. Come by and take a peek, just click here!

Do you have old family photographs tucked away in a shoe box in the attic? Why not dust them off and send then to me via email. I’ll post them in the Gallery along with dates and details. Since I’ve heard from many of you, I know for a fact that other family members would love to see them too!

New Names on the Tree

Original Genetti Family Tree

The Genetti Family tree showing male lines of the family dating back to 1461.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Tom Genetti. His family had emigrated to Illinois around 1880 from Castelfondo, Austria. Tom was enjoying the new Genetti website, but did not find his family on the tree. He wanted to know what branch his ancestors had come from and if he was related to the Genetti family in Pennsylvania (my branch of the tree). Like most of us, Tom had grown up with various family stories, one being that he had cousins in Pennsylvania. Good questions that required research to find the answers.

Since different branches of the Genetti family had emigrated to different parts of the United States (Pennsylvania, Wyoming, California, Illinois, Michigan, Utah) and, for the most part, we are all related, it was a matter of tracing his ancestry in the Castelfondo church records to find the closest common relative.

Tom’s grandparents had Americanized their names, a common practice by many immigrants. This complicated the search because we needed his true name to continue. Since we knew his grandfather had lived and died in Illinois, it was easy to find details in the census and Illinois Death Index. That gave me a clue to his original baptismal name, plus his actual birth date and the name of his father. When I located Tom’s great-grandfather on the original tree (lower left branch of the tree shown above), I knew exactly what part of the family Tom was from and where to look in the records. It took about two weeks worth of digging to find the names and dates of his direct male ancestors. But they were all there.

And guess what … yes, Tom was related to my branch of the Genetti tree. Matter-of-fact, he was related twice! It turns out that Tom’s great-grandparents were Cipriano Genetti and Catterina Genetti. They were distant cousins from two different branches of the tree. Catterina was first cousins with my great great-grandfather Leone. OK – here is where it gets really confusing! This would make Tom my 3rd cousin twice removed (through Catterina’s line) and my 7th cousin once removed (through Cipriano’s line) with our closest shared blood relative being Pietro Genetti born in 1650!

Yes, I’m kind of a genealogy geek since I love figuring out family tree relationships. So far, I’ve located three marriages between distant cousins that have joined various branches.

With Tom’s line completed, I have added 26 new names to the Genetti online tree. Beginning with Pietro Genetti (1650 to 1706) and descending to Tom’s father.

There are many, many more branches of our tree to research and add. I’m sure my genealogy journeys through ancestral documents will keep me busy for years to come!