Our next translation is an entry by Addolorata (Dora) Genetti, Tillie’s older sister. After reading this sweet thank-you letter addressed to Dora’s godmother, I went to work searching through Castelfondo records and the references I had saved to my Ancestry.com tree. Using various dates and documentation, I pieced together a background story to go with our translation. It’s truly incredible the family history that can be constructed from clues in a thank-you note penned over a century ago!
Here is Loretta Cologna’s translation, followed by my family history information. I hope you enjoy the read!
Page 12, left side and top of Page 13
I received your present with great pleasure yesterday night. A pair of golden earrings! It is too much for me, I surely did not deserve so much.
I will send you a present too, it as a bunch of forget-me-nots made of canvas which I made myself. Every leaf tells you that your goddaughter loves you. I did not know what other gift I could send you.
Thank you, thousand times thank you.
I am your goddaughter,
Castelfondo, 17 March 1902
Addolorata (Dora) Genetti was born on August 12, 1889. Her parents Damiano and Oliva, had just returned to Castelfondo from Latimer, Pennsylvania early in 1888. They brought with them their infant son, Leone, who was about eight months old at the time they traveled.
According to baptismal records, Dora was born a triplet. Unfortunately her brother was still-born and never named. Her twin sister, Angela Cattarina, lived until the age of two. Dora was the only surviving child from this pregnancy.
Her baptismal record is somewhat complicated due to the triplet entry. Dora’s godparents are listed as Sisinio Genetti (Damiano’s older brother) and Erminia Erica Genetti (Damiano’s youngest sister). Dora’s twin, Angela, also has Erminia listed as her godmother, but a different godfather, Clemente Dallachiesa.
It is interesting to note that Erminia was just thirteen years old at the time of Dora’s birth. However, if we look at Dora’s full name, Addolorata Erminia, we now understand that she was her Aunt’s namesake.
Soon after Dora was born, her godmother left for the United States. According to the ship’s manifest, Erminia was escorted by her big brother Damiano, sailing on the ship La Bretagne out of the port at Le Havre, France. She arrived in New York City on March 10, 1890. After seeing his little sister safely to her new home, Damiano returned to his family in Castelfondo.
From her marriage certificate, it appears that Dora lived in Weston, Pennsylvania where she met her future husband Emanuel Recla. The young couple soon married in 1893. It is interesting to note that Erminia’s older sister, Angela Maddalena, married Raffaele Recla (Emanuel’s older brother) in 1887. So again, we see two sisters marrying two brothers. Thus the children of Erminia and Angela were double first cousins!
Returning to Dora’s thank you note of March 1902, we see through birth records that Erminia already has four children and is living in Crystal Falls, Michigan by this date. Within a few years, the growing family moved again and settled in Spokane, Washington. Erminia and Emanuel had a total of eleven children, with eight surviving to adulthood. Today you can still find many of their descendants living in Washington State.
As for Dora, she soon left for America with her father Damiano and little sister Esther, probably sometime in 1903. Big brother Leone, followed in 1904. The family set down roots in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where they established a meat and butchering business. The three siblings and their father moved into a home on Cedar Street. Their mother, Oliva, along with the remaining five siblings (Ottilia, August, Albino, Erminia, Constante and Angela) joined them in 1906.
We still are uncertain if this entry in the 1902 notebook was written by Dora, or penned by Tillie as a copy of an existing letter by her sister, possibly as a school exercise. We will have to wait and see what answers are found in future translations of the notebook.
One last side note: Dora’s godfather, Sisinio Genetti, died of tuberculosis in Castelfondo in 1908 at the young age of forty-four. However, Dora’s godmother, Erminia Genetti Recla, lived to a very old age of ninety-six, passing away in March of 1972. Erminia outlived her goddaughter by six months, as Dora died in October of 1971 at the age of eighty-two.
So that is the family history contained in Dora’s innocent little thank-you note to her godmother. I hope you enjoyed my diversion into family relationships and our recent ancestral past.
Find all previous translations from this series by scrolling through our earlier blog posts.