Author: L.Roach

I'm a photographer and digital artist. My passions are reading, traveling, art, hiking and genealogy. Between excursions to explore other countries and cultures, I spend most of my time building my family genealogy blog and creating digital art.

New Book in the Genetti Shop

TheHiddenFrontierWhy not stop by our Book Shop to peruse our sampling of personally selected books about the Tyrolean culture? If you are interested in learning more about your roots or are planning a future trip to Trentino-Alto Adige, you’ll find just the right book to help you in your adventure.

Today I added a new book that was suggested by Chiara Dalle Nogare, one of our Genetti cousins who lives in Trento, Trentino. “The Hidden Frontier: Ecology and Ethnicity in an Alpine Valley” is a fascinated study of history and culture in the Val di Non. Well worth the read if you really want to understand your Tyrolean roots!

Click here to visit the Book Shop!

The American Immigrant Wall of Honor

EllisIsland-1For the past month, I’ve been having a wonderful email conversation with Regina (Jean) Branz Daly. Jean is the daughter of Erminia (Erma) Genetti Branz, (Born: 1896 in Castelfondo, Austria; Death: 1971 in Freeland, PA). Erma’s parents were Damiano and Oliva Genetti and she was one of five daughters. As it turns out, Jean is my first cousin, once removed (or in other terms, my father’s first cousin).

Jean has been writing of the many memories she has of her mother, her grandmother Oliva and other family members. She was close in age to my father and they actually played together as children!

EllisIsland-2In her last email, Jean shared something about Ellis Island that I found intriguing. In 1982 Lee Iacocca (the Founding Chairman of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation) was raising funds to create The Family History Center and The American Immigrant Wall of Honor. Many grandchildren of Oliva and Damiano Genetti were contacted and asked to make a donation. This would entitle the name of a family member who had immigrated to America to be inscribed on the stone wall memorial. Jean believed many of the grandchildren had contributed and knew her mother’s name was there, since two of Erma’s great-granddaughters had visited the wall and taken a photo of the inscription.

I was curious about this wall! What other family names were inscribed there? And did their descendants even know of the memorial?

A visit to the Ellis Island website offered answers. The American Immigrant Wall of Honor contains over 700,000 names “representing all ethnicities, all years of arrival, all points of entry, and all modes of travel … The common element that ties these names together is the celebration of American immigration.” Wow! I had no idea there was a memorial to immigrants. What an incredible tribute since the modern United States was built by our ancestors, who were all immigrants.

Next I did a search for “Genetti” to see who was inscribed on the wall. Here’s what I found:

  1. Albert V. Genetti
  2. Angela Genetti McNelis
  3. Damiano Genetti
  4. Dominic Genetti
  5. Dora Genetti Bott
  6. Enrico Genetti
  7. Erma Genetti Branz (Jean’s mother)
  8. Esther Genetti
  9. Frank and Erminia Yanes Genetti
  10. Gus Genetti
  11. Oliva Zambotti Genetti
  12. Stanley V. Genetti

Almost all of my family – great-grandparents, grandaunts and granduncles – were there plus several Genettis from other families. But I was a little disappointed not to see my grandfather’s name, Leon Genetti, on the list. Then it occurred to me, my grandfather had been the only member of his family who was actually a natural America citizen. Leon was born in 1887 in Lattimer, Pennsylvania. Damiano and Oliva returned to Tyrol when he was still an infant. The rest of their children were born in Castelfondo, Austria. My grandfather had spent his youth in Castelfondo, then returned to the United States with Damiano as a teenager. He could not be a part of the wall since he was officially a US citizen returning the country of his birth – not an immigrant. Another mystery solved!

If you would like to know more about The American Immigrant Wall of Honor, go to: https://www.wallofhonor.org/wall_of_honor.asp

To do a search for a family name, go to: https://www.wallofhonor.org/search.asp

 

 

Filo: A Journal for Tyrolean Americans

FiloIf you are Tyrolean American and would like to learn more about your heritage, you need to subscribe to Filo Magazine. First published in 2011, this quarterly magazine is available as a paper version or online – both are free. Filo (pronounced fee-lo) was the Tyrolean word for the daily gathering in the stables of the Trentino. Each day after work and chores, villagers would come together to tell stories, sing and socialize. Filo Magazine is published in the United States, but has many ties to Trentino. Their goal is to reach as many Tyrolean Americans as possible “to provide you with the background of your roots and ancestry.”

I have been receiving Filo since 2012. Through the magazine I have learned so much about our culture, food and language, as well as been intrigued by family stories that are publish in each issue.

To receive the free magazine, simple register at: http://filo.tiroles.com/registration.html.

Or to browse their extensive site, go to: http://filo.tiroles.com. If you are interested in learning more about dialect and in particular, the Nones language of the Val di Non (which is what the Genetti ancestors spoke), check out their dialect section. Quite fascinating!

In closing, here is a bit of dialect from Filo: ‘sa fente, nente o stente? Which translates into: What should we do, stay or go?

 

Why am I a genealogist?

Family1916

The family of Raffaele and Lucia Genetti,
circa 1916.

Many people find my hobby of family genealogy interesting – but exceedingly tedious when they learn how much research is required to accurately compile all of those names and dates. Often they ask “Why do you spend so much time digging into the past?”.

So here are a few musings as to why I am a family genealogist.

Whenever I pass by an abandoned home, usually sitting isolated and alone on an old farm or open prairie, I wonder who once lived there. What memories were created in this house with peeling wallpaper and shutters hanging askew? Why did they leave?

Or who are the long-gone people in period dress peering out from a sepia photograph that I found at the flea market? And who once cherished this memento, but now they are gone too.

Like the vacant home or the family portrait, people are also forgotten. It only takes three or four generations before an ancestor passes from living memory. And truly the only thing that is left after we pass is our memory. As a genealogist, I try to capture and preserve the memories of those who came before me. My charts and trees, names and dates are to honor the ancestors in an attempt to keep their memory alive. In some small way, I hope someone in the future will do the same for me. We all want to believe that our life counted for something, that it had purpose and enriched those we came in contact with. I believe every ancestor created a stepping-stone for the next generation. Their knowledge, courage and life choices made each of us who we are today. Shouldn’t we in the very least remember their names?

The pursuit of genealogy is an awe-inspiring calling and one that I don’t take lightly. The Genetti clan was very fortunate – many relatives throughout the centuries took up the task of recording our ancestry. I am just one in a long line of family historians preserving the memory of past ancestors by compiling a family tree generation by generation. For in remembering and sharing a family’s genealogy, you join the lives of the past with those living today and those to come in the future.

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!

 

What Is a Sopranome?

GenettiLanci1

The grave marker for Famiglia Genetti Lanci in Castelfondo’s San Nicolo cemetery.

During my visit to Castelfondo, Italy in 2011, I had the good fortune to meet a distinguished gentleman by the name of Andrea Cologna. Born in the village, Andrea had left as a young man, living most of his adult life in Canada. He had recently returned to his childhood home of Castelfondo. Luckily Andrea was fluent in English, Italian and the local dialect of Nones. He was the perfect guide, telling me stories of the old days, explaining important village landmarks and helping me walk in the footsteps of my ancestors.

When we visited the small cemetery next to San Nicolo church, there were many surnames I recognized … of course among them, many Genettis. Andre brought me to a very specific part of the cemetery and pointed to several grave markers. “These are your family, the Lanci. The other Genettis aren’t from your branch. Damiano (my great-grandfather) was a Lanci,” Andrea said.

I was mystified, what was a “Lanci”? I had never heard this name before. So I took a few photos of the stones that read “Famiglia Genetti Lanci” and decided to look into this odd name later. About six months after my trip, I began researching the old church documents. And there it was again! The name “Lanci” was attached to Genetti in most birth, marriage and death records of my branch of the family, but not to other branches. It appeared in different forms such as Lanchet, Lancia and Lanci. Andrea wrote that he had done a little research on his own and found that the original form of the name was “Lanchet” which was Old German for the word “Lance”.

After a bit more research into Trentino history, I soon learned this “second name” was commonly used by large Tyrolean families to designate different sections of the family. It was called a sopranome or nickname. The sopranome had several purposes. It helped delineate close blood relatives so you didn’t accidentally marry your cousin, which could happen in a small, isolated community. It also identified a specific person. At any one time there could be five or six men named Giovanni Battista Genetti living within the village, as children were often named after parents, grandparents or other relatives. By adding the sopranome to the surname, one could tell the difference between Giovanni Battista Genetti Lanci and Giovanni Battista Genetti di Raina. Besides Genetti Lanci, I also found Genetti Onz, Genetti di Ovena (of Ovena) and Genetti di Raina (of Raina). These seemed to signify the main branches of the Genetti family tree.

Closely examining each generation in the ancient ledgers, I discovered the first ancestors in my direct line to have Lanci documented in a birth record was Pietro Genetti born in 1650. Most likely his father, Georgio Genetti (born 1623) had begun using it during his lifetime and passed it on to his children. And so this sopranome continued through at least eight generations, but was not used by the families that emigrated to the Americas. When my great-grandfather returned to Castelfondo to live out his later years, he was known in the village as Dominic Lanci. With the passing of three generations, the tradition of the sopranome has faded from our memories. What a shame! I rather like the idea that my Italian name could have been “Aloisia Anna Genetti Lanci”.