About a week ago, I broke through a genealogy brick wall that had blocked my research for some time on a particular branch of my direct line. The results were a surprising discovery that shocked even me! Here’s the story.
For the past few months I’ve spent a lot of time researching the Genetti family that settled in Illinois. This branch of the tree has many unusual stories with plot twists that have captured my interest. The descendants I’ve worked with are distant cousins that I’m related to twice since one set of their Genetti great-grandparents were fourth cousins. Usually I’ve found our kindred relationship to be eighth cousins through Cipriano Genetti (1811-1890) and fifth cousins, once or twice removed through his wife Catterina Genetti (1812-1875). When you look at our family tree pictured above, their family is located on the far left bottom corner and my family occupies the far right branches located half way up from the bottom right corner.
As I sat at my desk last week, researching ancestors and checking against the tree hanging on the wall before me, something caught my eye and clicked in my brain.
To understand my discovery, we need to switch gears and talk about my great-grandmother, Oliva Zambotti. She married Damiano Genetti in 1886. I had worked on the Zambotti genealogy stretching back to the early 1700’s, but always hit a wall when it came to Oliva’s grandmother, Barbara Genetti (my 3rd great-grandmother) who married Alessandro Zambotti. Yes her maiden name was also Genetti! Up until this point, I had found no information on Barbara’s parents, Giovanni Battista Genetti (1767-1811) and Maria Domenica Corazza (1776-1854). Nor was I able to go back any further in this ancestral line. I assumed they were from the Genetti family with roots in the villages of Fondo or Dambel – a distant relation to the Castelfondo Genettis, with our common ancestor existing sometime before the mid-1500s.
As I studied the family tree that afternoon, I realized I had been looking for Barbara’s parents in the wrong place. There before me I saw their names. Giovanni Battista Genetti and Maria Dominica Corazza (my 4th great-grandparents) were ancestors of the Illinois Genetti family and on their branch of the tree! I had been researching Giovanni and Maria all along for their descendants and never made the connection. That means my 4th great-grandparents through my Zambotti great-grandmother were also the 4th great-grandparents for many of the Illinois Genetti descendants – they were the same people! My great-grandmother, Oliva, was first cousins, once removed with their Illinois patriarch in America, Vigilio Genetti. Oliva’s grandmother, Barbara Genetti Zambotti, was Vigilio’s aunt!
This changed everything! I was shocked at first, as I never considered that my Zambotti line had a Genetti ancestor from the 1700’s (although there have been four Genetti-Zambotti marriages in my family since 1886, including my great-grandparents).
Since Barbara Genetti’s parents (with their very long genealogy) were already part of my online family tree, I simple plugged in my great-grandmother Oliva’s connection and she instantly had Genetti ancestors going back to the 1400’s – sharing five ancestors from 1650 to 1491 with her husband Damiano. This means that my great-grandparents are 5th cousins, once removed – and Oliva is actually 6th cousins with her own children!
Getting back to the Illinois clan, I am related to Vigilio’s descendants through both of my great-grandparents – and through four common ancestors – Pietro Genetti 1650-1706, Giovanni Battista Genetti 1746-1807, Giovanni Battista Genetti 1767-1854 and Domenica Corazza 1776-1854. For many of Vigilio’s descendants, I am their 5th cousin (3 times!) as well as their 8th cousin. I wonder what our DNA results would look like? What kind of match could be determined by having so many common relatives? If anyone from the Illinois Genetti family would like to have their DNA tested through Ancestry.com (where my DNA results are based), let me know. I’m sure it would be absolutely fascinated to see the results!