A month ago, I received an email from a sharp-eyed visitor to our website named Arleen Dallachiesa. She had spotted an error on our Photograph page. The labeling of one name on the large group photo taken in front of the old hotel in Weston, PA was incorrect, since it happened to be her great-aunt. She also remembered the hotel from her childhood.
Arleen wrote to me: “It is my understanding that my grandfather Fortunato (Tuno) Dallachiesa and Gus Genetti were cousins.” Since I knew Dallachiesa was a common family surname in Castelfondo and that the family had emigrated to the same area of Pennsylvania as the Genettis, I was fairly sure Arleen was correct in her assumption. But neither Arleen nor I new the common link between our families.
When I arrived home from my travels, I went to work sifting through family trees. Arleen had provided me with the names of her great-grandparents, Clemente Dallachiesa and Maria Zambotti. It only took a moment to find the connection through the Zambotti family. Arleen’s great-grandmother, Maria, and my great-grandmother, Oliva, were sisters. That would make Maria and Oliva’s children first cousins. Arleen’s father, Fred, was Maria’s grandson. Therefore, yes, Fred Dallachiesa and Gus Genetti were first cousins, once removed because Gus’s mother and Fred’s grandmother were sisters.
Then I had another surprise for Arleen – she was also distantly related to a different branch of the Genetti tree! Here is my email to Arleen explaining the results of my research:
Louise to Arleen, July 12, 2015 – I have a number of surprises for you. Yes we are related, but not how you think. Your great-grandmother Maria Zambotti Dallachiesa and my great-grandmother Oliva Zambotti Genetti were sisters. Oliva married Damiano Genetti who was the founder of the Genetti Markets. Maria and Oliva had another sister, Lucia, who married Damiano’s brother, Rafaele. “Ralph” and Lucia were the owners of the hotel located in Weston pictured on our Photo page! That means you and I are cousins through the Zambotti family. Our shared relatives are Alessandro Zambotti (1825-1906) and Maria Covi (1831-1900), our 2nd great-grandparents. That makes you and I – 3rd cousins! You are also 3rd cousins with the great-grandchildren of Ralph and Lucia Genetti (as am I).
Now here comes another surprise that is a little more confusing. Maria’s grandmother (Alessandro Zambotti’s mother and our 3rd great-grandmother) was Maria Barbara Genetti (1796-1844). She went by the name of Barbara and was the daughter of Giovanni Battista Genetti (1776-1811) and Domineca Corazza (1776-1854). The descendants of this branch of the Genetti family emigrated to Illinois, and many of them still live there today. So you (as well as I) are also distantly related to this branch of the Genetti family. I have been in contact with many of these descendants and my relationship to most of them is 5th cousin or 5th cousin once removed. Isn’t that a lot to wrap your head around! Therefore, you are related to both the Zambotti and Genetti family through two different lineages. (end of email text)
I then asked Arleen if she had a photo of her great-grandmother. Yes she did, and now we have the three Zambotti sisters together in one blog post! Arleen’s family portrait also brought up questions as to the exact date of the photo and who was the older woman seated in the middle. The answers took a few hours of digging through San Nicolo baptismal and death records, but I believe we came up with a plausible theory. Here’s what I wrote Arleen:
Louise to Arleen, July 13, 2015 – I believe the photo was taken between April 1887 and April 1888. Maria and Clemente’s daughter Angela died on 5 April 1887 at the age of 2 years old and is not in the photo. Also their son Valentino, who was born on 8 April 1888, was not in the photo. Therefore, the portrait was most likely photographed during 1887-1888 due to the absence of both children. Maria and Clemente probably wanted a portrait of their family since they had already lost two children by this time.
I believe the older woman is Clemente’s mother, Barbara Marchetti. Here’s why: both mothers of Clemente and Maria (Barbara and Maria) were alive at the time this portrait was photographed. There is no husband in the photo, so we can assume that he has passed away and probably the mother now lives with one of her children. Since Barbara’s husband, Pietro, died young in 1855, and Maria’s husband, Alessandro, was alive at the time this photo was taken, the logical conclusion would be that Barbara was a widow and living with her son Clemente and his family. And of course, a live-in Nona would be included in the family portrait. (end of email text)
Arleen agreed with my deductive reasoning. Although we didn’t have concrete evidence for our questions, I think we came close to the correct answers.
Another amazing cousin story! And here’s one more little twist to our tale: Arleen’s great-uncle Pietro (Peter) Dallachiesa (Maria and Clemente’s oldest son) is getting married in the group photo found on our Photograph page that originally caught Arleen’s attention. And my seventeen-year-old grandmother (Angeline Marchetti Genetti) is standing just two steps behind Peter in the photo! Such a small world – a hundred years later, descendants of the ancestors pictured in this photo have found each other and are now corresponding!
Thanks so much for writing to us Arleen. It’s always thrilling to discover a new cousin. Your small comment helped unlock more clues to in our ever-growing ancestral puzzle.
If you would like to read my earlier post about Barbara Genetti and the startling discovery of my 3rd great-grandparents, click here.
Have a comment, story or question about the Genetti family? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to reply. Who knows what secrets we will unlock together!
Until next time … ciao, ciao!