We received an excellent comment from Conrad Reich suggesting I check parish records for baptismal and funeral information about little Alessandro and Raffaele Jr. I agree with Conrad, this appears to be the most logical place to search. Many of you are probably thinking the very same thing. I thought I should explain why this genealogical direction contains so many roadblocks.
If we look at public record, the family of Raffaele and Lucia Genetti were living in North Union, Schuylkill County, PA in 1900. Matter-of-fact, they were living right next door to Raffaele’s sister, Angela Genetti Recla. Soon after the 1900 Federal Census was recorded, the young family moved to Weston in Luzerne County, but we don’t know the exact date. Since both sons appear to have died right around this time, the question is what parish did the family belong to? Did they attend church in Schuylkill county or were they members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Luzerne County? Without exact birth and death dates, or knowing the family’s parish during these transition years, makes it extremely difficult to locate records.
The next hurdle concerning parish records is accessibility. You may not realize this, but the Catholic Church simply doesn’t share their records. Although you will find parish registries for some Catholic Churches in Europe through LDS catalogs at FamilySearch.org, the church has completely cracked down on allowing access to their records through any genealogy data base. If you search for Pennsylvania church records on Ancestry.com, you will find many registries for various Protestant faiths – but absolutely none for any Catholic Church in the state. This means the only possibility of gaining access to baptismal records would be to go directly to the church (remember, we don’t know the specific church the family attended at the time of the two boys’ passing) and inquire with the local priest. You may also find that the baptismal records you are seeking are no longer kept at the church but archived somewhere else. Plus Catholic priests are notorious for not responding to genealogy requests!
Since I live in New Mexico, making personal contact with the priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Weston and tracking down the appropriate records is simply not feasible. Of course, if anyone else would like to undertake this task, I would be most appreciative!
Adding to this confusion is another issue. At our last family reunion I was told Raffaele had a discrepancy with the priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. As a result, Raffaele , Lucia and most of their family are not buried in Weston, but in Calvary Cemetery in Drums. Searching online cemetery records, it appears neither Alessandro nor Raffaele Jr. are buried near their family at Calvary. And I have yet to find an online grave listing for either of them in Weston or Schuylkill County.
FYI – this type of challenge is referred to in genealogy as a “brick wall” – and it can take years to break through!
However while I was conducting research about the family, I did stumble upon a series of notations published in the local newspaper containing enticing clues as to why Raffaele may have had a conflict with the priest in Weston. I’ll tell you all about it in our next blog post: Down the Rabbit Hole, Part 3!
St. Joseph’s in Nuremberg (now closed) is where my parents married and where I was baptized in 1952. It and Sacred Heart church in Weston have always been a joint congregation served by a single priest. I live two hours away but my twin sister is still in Zion Grove. Last time I talked to her about the parish she said the pastor Father McDowell is very much more open to access to Parrish records. But last time I was there for research you had to ask specific questions and they would look through the records and get an answer back to you.
As you said the Catholic church considers the records the property of the diocese (where protestant churches consider the records as belonging to the congregation and not to the minister).
Let me know what questions you want to ask. I’ll see if Father McDowell is still there and if he can do Email requests.
Hi Larry – thank you for your generous offer to help with our genealogy research! I guess the best thing to ask Father McDowell is if he has any baptismal or death records for either Alessandro Genetti or Raffaele Genetti Jr. between the years of 1895 to 1902. Since we don’t have exact dates for birth or death for either child, I can’t narrow the search down any further. It would also be nice to know if either child is buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery – it actually might be easier to find cemetery records if they are indeed buried in Weston.
If Father McDowell is OK about searching through all of those records, please express our gratitude for his time and consideration in seeking the truth for our family. Many thanks – Louise
Thanks for all of your detective work.
It interesting to know what you have found as much of our side of the tree is not as well documented.
We are grateful.
Sent from my iPhone
Thank you Diane and Ralph! Watch for my next post on Friday. I’m sure it will contain a few surprises for you!