The Passing of Val Yackshaw Genetti

Valeria Elaine Yackshaw Genetti 1937-2020

With a heavy heart I bring the news that Valeria Elaine Yackshaw Genetti passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of December 22nd. It is always difficult to post news of this nature, but particularly hard when it is about a member of my Pennsylvania family.

Val was the wife of Gus Genetti Jr. and the mother of six children. Married for 60 years, Val and Gus lived the past 50 years in Wilkes-Barre, PA where they raised their family and grew a prosperous business. She was a beloved member of the Wilkes-Barre community and well known for her philanthropic endeavors.

For family and friends living in the Pennsylvania area, a social-distancing viewing will be held Sunday, Dec. 27th from 2 pm to 5 pm at the Daniel J. Hughes Funeral and Cremation Service, 617 Carey Ave, Wilkes-Barre (masks and social distancing required).

Funeral services will be held on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, with a Mass of Christian Burial at 9:30 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church of the Immaculate Conception, 134 S. Washington St., Wilkes-Barre. Interment will follow in Calvary Cemetery Drums, Pa.

We extend our love and sympathy to the family of Val and Gus Genetti during this difficult time. Valeria’s cheerful and exuberant nature will be missed by all.

To read Valeria Yackshaw Genetti’s complete obituary: Please click here.

Happy Holidays to All

Starry Night, White Trees – 2020 Louise Roach

Wishing all Genetti descendants throughout the world Merry Christmas – Buon Natale.

May we remember our many cousins and friends who have been affected by the pandemic this past year, especially those who have passed on. Let us hold them in our hearts, light a candle in their memory and send them our love. It has been a difficult year for many of our Genetti cousins. May we look towards the future with the hope of a better New Year for all in 2021.

Felice Anno Nuovo!

Anatomy of a Photograph, Part 7

Peter Dallachiesa and Virginia Fedrizzi

It has been awhile since we last visited our double wedding photograph and the stories it holds. Let’s look at the second couple who exchanged vows on February 13th, 1909 and what life had in store for them.

Pietro Simone Dallachiesa (Peter) and his bride Maria Virginia Giuseppa Fedrizzi (Virginia) became husband and wife at a joint ceremony with Virginia’s brother Richard Fedrizzi and his bride Angeline Cologna.

Peter was born September of 1876 in Castelfondo, Austria (now Italy), the son of Clemente Dallachiesa and Maria Zambotti. According to his birth record, Peter’s godparents were his maternal uncle and aunt, Simone Zambotti (brother of his mother) and his wife Catterina Dallachiesa.

A quick look at my family tree and I found that Peter’s mother was the older sister of Lucia Zambotti. Lucia and her husband Raffaele Genetti were the owners of the Weston beer hall where Peter and Virginia’s wedding reception took place. Therefore, Lucia was Peter’s maternal aunt. (Note: Peter was also the nephew of Oliva Zambotti, who was married to Raffaele’s brother Damiano Genetti, as Oliva was the sister of both Maria and Lucia Zambotti.)

Peter arrived in the United States on January 13th, 1907 at the age of 24. Like most of his friends and family, Peter found work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. Two years after settling in Weston, PA he married Virginia, who had also emigrated in 1907 at the age of 21.

His bride was born in 1886 in the town of Nanno, Austria (now Italy). The couple set-up housekeeping in Black Rock (close to Weston) and soon their first child, Esther Olivia, was born in December of 1909. One year later in 1910 a son was added to the family, Stephen Clemente.

By 1912, Peter was granted citizenship. His naturalization papers describe him as 5′ 5″, 155 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes (however Peter’s WW I Draft Registration states his eye color was “blue”). Peter’s occupation was listed as Miner. On the same day that Peter registered his Declaration of Intention for citizenship, his younger brother, Fortunato Dallachiesa, did the same.

The couple’s third child, Oliver Clement, was born in 1913. And their last child, Albert Fortunato, came along in 1916. It appeared the family was happily established within their Tyrolean American community and gainfully employed. Unfortunately this would soon change.

Peter Dallachiesa’s World War 1 Draft Registration. Note: Peter’s birth year is incorrectly listed as 1877 rather than 1876. He turned 42 years old three days after registering for the draft.

When war broke out, Peter was obligated to register for the draft. His WW I registration card is dated September 12, 1918. Just a few weeks later, on October 29th, 1918 Peter succumbed to the terrible influenza outbreak that was ravaging the country at that time. He was only 42 years old and left behind a wife and four young children. Pietro Simone Dallachiesa is buried in the little country graveyard where he lived, Sacred Heart Cemetery in Weston, Pennsylvania.

The 1920 and 1930 Federal Census tells us that Virginia continued to live in Black Creek with her four children. We can only assume that the tight-knit Tyrolean community helped her through the difficult time after her husband’s passing. From the census, we know that all four of the the Dallachiesa children reached adulthood.

By the 1940 Federal Census, Virginia is now 54 years old and living in Hazleton with her oldest son, Stephen, a self-employed truck driver. Sadly two short years later at the young age of 56, Virginia passes away as a result of kidney disease and anemia. Life had certainly been difficult for Virginia, loosing her husband after just nine years of marriage and having to raise four children on her own. Virginia is also interred with her husband at the Sacred Heart Cemetery in Weston, Pennsylvania.

Now let’s take a look at Peter and Virginia’s children. As of 1993, all four of the Dallachiesa children had passed away. But there are numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even great-great-grandchildren living in Maryland and New York State.

Their oldest child, Esther Olivia, married Albert Bonan in 1937 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Tyrolese Church in Hazleton, PA. Soon after the couple moved to Maryland and had six children. Esther was a school teacher prior to her marriage to Albert. Sadly, like her parents, Esther also passed away at the young age of 52.

Esther Dallachiesa Marriage License – 1937

Stephen Dallachiesa married Rena Corradini of Hazleton, PA. The couple join Esther’s family in Maryland. According to Rena’s recent obituary, she and her husband had three children, six grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Stephen passed away in 1990 at the age of 80, but his wife Rena died just this year (2020) three months shy of her 100th birthday.

The third sibling, Oliver Dallachiesa, lived in Shortsville, New York. He married and had two children.

Youngest brother Albert Dallachiesa also lived in Maryland, married and had four children. And like his parents and sister before him, Albert died at a young age in 1967 (51 years old).

As we all know, no life is perfect. Everyone maneuvers through highs and lows. There is a certain intrigue when viewing a moment captured in time such as the double wedding photograph of the Federizzi siblings from 111 years ago, then tracing the family history forward to present day. We can all learn something from researching our ancestry. Seeing the struggles and triumphs of our ancestors, offers a new perspective on the circumstances of our own lives and that of future generations.

I have come across a number of Dallachiesa listed within my personal DNA results, as well as this surname showing up in genealogy research from time to time. Since Dallachiesa does not appear in our original Genetti family tree, in the past I assumed the family was distantly related due to our shared family origin in Castelfondo. Now I understand through researching this photograph that Pietro Dallachiesa was actually much more closely related to me than previously thought. He was my first cousin, twice removed with our common ancestors being Alessandro Zambotti and Maria Covi (Pietro’s maternal grandparents and my paternal 2nd great-grandparents).

Simone and Catterina were the parents of Alessandro and Pietro Zambotti. (San Nicolo Cemetery in Castelfondo – marker no longer in cemetery)

And to confuse you even more about intermarriages between families, one of Peter Dallachiesa’s younger sisters, Maria Dallachiesa, married (Giuseppe) Alessandro Zambotti, son of her mother’s brother Simone Zambotti and his wife Catterina Dallachiesa. He was also Maria’s first cousin. Maria and Alessandro Zambotti’s children would have been cousins to each other as they were related through both their maternal and paternal lines.

Plus Alessandro’s brother, Pietro, married Ottilia Genetti, daughter of his Aunt Oliva (both pictured in our wedding photograph – but that’s a story for a future blog post!)

This means that within our wedding photograph the following people were all closely related: Silvio Genetti, Peter (Pietro) Zambotti, Dora (Addolorata) Genetti Bott, Tillie (Ottilia) Genetti Zambotti, and Peter (Pietro) Dallachiesa.

I’m sure we’ll find more close cousin relationships as we delve further into the wedding photograph of 1909!

New Books!

I fell in love with reading at the age of seven. To my young mind, books were a magical passport to far-off lands and cultures. They held knowledge and history, fantasy and fiction. Growing up, I fondly remember weekly excursions to our local library, where my check-out limit was ten books per visit. I always left ecstatic, my arms laden with the maximum allotment of titles!

I have never outgrown my appreciation for reading and always have a queue of ebooks on my Kindle, in eager anticipation of the next historical novel or genealogy publication waiting to be read.

Because I am a bibliophile, I take great pleasure in researching, curating and sharing books with family and friends through the Genetti Bookstore. Twice a year I update our ever-growing virtual shelves, adding or deleting titles and tidying up each listing’s description.

Just in time for holiday browsing, I have spent the past week dusting off current tomes and delightfully including a whopping eighteen new books to our selection! Yes, you read that correctly – I have located eighteen exciting new titles to join our list of must-reads! From fiction based on Trentini culture to true-life genetic genealogy stories, there is something for everyone looking for a good read or a special gift! I even stumbled upon another cookbook featuring recipes from the Tyrolean Alps!

And remember, every time you make a purchase from our Genetti Family Bookstore at Amazon, a small percentage of that sale supports this website and our ongoing genealogical research.

Come visit, peruse and do a little Christmas shopping for the booklovers on your gift list. Or treat yourself to a genealogy crime mystery series (I have several listed!) – the perfect guilty pleasure for a wintery afternoon inside with a cup of hot chocolate.

Click here to shop now!

Gift Giving Specials!

Family tree of Damiano and Oliva Genetti
Family Tree Branch Posters

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s time to think about our holiday gift list. Right in time for Christmas shopping, our supplier for the Genetti Family Shop is offering an amazing 4-Day gift giving special! From November 9th through November 12th, everything in our family shop is discounted between 20% to 60%! Wow – what a great way to shop for unique gifts right from the comfort and safety of your own home – plus save money too! (Remember – our supplier, Redbubble, is a global provider. So they ship anywhere in the world!)

Kiss Me I'm Tyrolean Mug
From our new collection: “I’m Tyrolean”

Here’s a list of holiday specials: (use the coupon code: GIFTS60 when you check out to receive your discount)

It's a Tyrolean thing T-shirt
It’s a Tyrolean Thing – T-shirt

And more big news: we now have lots more products available in the Genetti Family Shop! I have added a new collection called “I’m Tyrolean” with three fun Tyrolean designs – perfect for a T-shirt, mug, sticker, magnet or kid’s shirt.

And another new collection for all Genetti descendants called “Tyrolean Surnames”. Here I’ve highlighted 11 Tyrolean surnames featured on T-shirts, stickers, mugs, etc. Names in this collection include: Genetti, Marchetti, Zambotti, Yannes, Turri, Recla, Piazzi, Cologna, Dallachiesa, Fellin and Bott. (If you would like your surname included in this collection, just let me know. I can customize the design for any name.)

The Genetti Family Jigsaw Puzzle
The Genetti Family Jigsaw Puzzle

Come by for a visit and browse all of the new products now available in the Genetti Family Shop: coasters, magnets, button pins, jigsaw puzzles, socks, aprons, and a large selection of different T-shirt styles. I was thrilled to see jigsaw puzzles available to our subscribers! What a great gift this holiday when everyone is staying inside. I created a special design specifically to be printed as a puzzle featuring the family coat-of-arms.

It's a Genetti Thing T-shirt
It’s a Genetti thing …
you wouldn’t understand T-shirt

Here are a few tips to better navigate our Genetti Family Shop:

  • When you access our online store at https://genettifamily.redbubble.com you can shop by Collection or by Category. All 6 Collections can be viewed at the top scroll bar (Family Tree, Fine Art Prints, Fun Stuff!, Family Branch Trees, Tyrolean Surnames and I’m Tyrolean). You can also find Collections and Categories on the left hand side of the page under Filters.
  • If you want to view all products using a particular design (each design is featured on just one product), click on that design link and go to it’s first product page. This might be a button pin, sticker or t-shirt. To see the rest of the products for this design, scroll down the page until you see a link that says “Available on +50 products”. Click on this link and a pop-up menu will appear with the entire selection of available products.
  • To receive your sales discount, you must use your special coupon code at the time of checkout. Products will not show a discount until checkout.

This incredible sale began today and runs through Thursday, November 12th. To receive your sales discount, remember to use the coupon code: GIFTS60 at checkout!

Tyrolean aprong
It’s a Tyrolean thing – Apron

So if you have been holding off on buying a family tree print or just want something special like a Tyrolean t-shirt to put in someone’s stocking this year, visit The Genetti Family Shop for easy, safe, at-home shopping. Products in our shop have been designed specifically for our family and are not available anywhere else! Give a unique family gift designed by an artist!

And know that every purchase supports our family genealogy research and the upkeep of this website. We could not have this wonderful online family archive if it wasn’t for your ongoing support.

Affiliate Disclaimer: this blog post contains affiliate links and any purchase made through such links will result in a small commission to me (at no extra cost to you!). This allows me to do what I love to do, supports the costs involved with maintaining this website and helps pay the fees associated with genealogical research. Thank you to everyone who supports this family website by purchasing from the Genetti Family Shop.

On a Personal Note

Since the intention of this blog is to discuss genealogy, family history and Tyrolean culture, I usually keep my posts on theme and don’t relate anything of a personal nature. However the past two months have brought a number of unusual circumstances into my life and I want to share these with you. So sit back with a cup of coffee while I relate the trials and tribulations of my recent adventures during self-isolation.

In September my computer crashed and burned! Yep, I had a dead laptop and a big headache to go with it! Since I rely heavily on my computer for just about everything (including this website and blog!) I knew I had to meet the problem head-on and get through it.

After a few days of online research using a borrowed laptop from my husband, I decided on a new PC, ordered it from Amazon and a week later my shiny new computer was delivered to my door.

Then the fun began! Luckily all of my graphic and genealogy files were saved to external hard drives. No problem there – all of my precious specialized files were safe and sound. And I had automatic cloud backup for my main hard drive through Backblaze. However I soon found out – reloading all of my software and then restoring thousands of files from my old computer to my new laptop was a massive job! Thank goodness I had cloud backup or I would have been in real trouble. The annual fee to Backblaze was certainly money well spent!

Since I am also a graphic artist, there are hundreds of embedded files such as fonts, etc. that had to be located and reloaded into the correct program. It took almost three weeks to get my new computer in working order. Although I lost a few apps and files here and there, for the most part I was back to normal by the beginning of October. This is one reason why you have seen so few blog posts from me in the past two months.

The second thing to occur in my life during this time of isolation is an unexpected turn on the genealogy research path. Since March I have been actively helping NPEs (non-parental events, adoptees) along with others who have family members with questionable parentage, locate birth parents and solve family mysteries. This has taken up the majority of my time and I now consider myself a full-time “Search Angel” (someone who works pro bono in helping others locate family). Within the past seven months, I have solved six “cases”, found a number of unknown half-siblings, yanked a few skeletons out of dark family closets and thoroughly enjoyed myself!

Helping others in their life-long search for the truth is both thrilling and rewarding. I now consider this to be my life purpose. So – I am currently in the process of channeling my genealogy energy towards the goal of being a full-time “gen geni” (genetic genealogist). Although I’m not exactly sure how this pivot will occur, I am making tentative plans to proceed in this direction. I love being a modern-day detective, using DNA and genealogy to solve family mysteries. And believe me – I have found many strange and unknown events hiding in every family tree that I have researched!

In closing, I would say there is certainly a silver lining to this time of self-isolation. With no social engagements to contend with and quiet days allowing for deep research and concentration, I have found a rewarding direction that naturally utilizes my personal skills.

Thanks for listening to my private ramblings! If there are any folks out there with lingering questions about their family origins (unknown birth parents, mysterious grandparents or unexplained DNA matches) send me an email and I’ll see if I can be of assistance.

Farewell to John A. Genetti

We are sadden to hear that John A. Genetti of South Bend, Indiana passed away on October 6, 2020. John was the son of John Genetti and LaVerne Gonder, the grandson of John B. Genetti and Julia Rolando, and the great-grandson of Vigilio Genetti and Domenica Maria Dolzadelli.

Originally from Castelfondo, John’s branch of the Genetti family settled in Collinsville, Illinois and the surrounding area near St. Louis during the late 1800’s. His great-grandfather, Vigilio, had numerous descendants, many of whom still live near Collinsville.

To read John’s full obituary, please click here.

We send our condolences to John’s family. Your many Genetti cousins wish you peace during this difficult time.

Special Note: If you would like to visit our Tributes page for other obituaries and memorials, please click here.

Anatomy of a Photograph, Part 6

Richard Fedrizzi and Angeline Cologna, 1909

It’s time to research the individual lives of those who appear in our photograph. I am always intrigued by the stories that emerge when digging into the genealogical record. Even the most mundane life can be an interesting glimpse back in time, capturing a snapshot of our ancestors. One of my favorite research exercises is to gather all of the clues left behind by a person or family and compile them into a life story.

Let’s begin with one of our wedding couples from that momentous day: Richard Fedrizzi and Angeline Cologna.

“Richard” was baptized Riccardo Cesera Fedrizzi and this name appears on all of his official documents. However, he must have “Americanized” his name upon arrival in Pennsylvania and went by Richard in everyday life. I found several newspaper clippings for miscellaneous events and classifieds that all referred to Riccardo Fedrizzi as “Richard”.

He was born on December 15th, 1879 in Nanno, Austria (now Italy). Nanno is located in the Val di Non, not far from the city of Trento. Riccardo arrived in New York City on October 17, 1905 at the age of 26. He found work as a miner in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. His bride-to-be, Angeline Cologna, arrived soon afterward in December of 1906. Angeline was 22 years old at the time, having been born in Raina, part of the Commune of Castelfondo.

The young couple was married on Saturday, February 13th, 1909 in a double wedding with Riccardo’s sister, Virginia Fedrizzi and her groom Peter Dallachiesa. Most likely the ceremony took place at Sacred Heart Church in Weston, with the reception held at Raffaele Genetti’s saloon and boarding house located in the same village. The newlyweds setup housekeeping in Weston where they lived for most of their married life.

In December of that same year, Riccardo applied to become a naturalized citizen by filing his Declaration of Intention. It would take three more years before his Petition for Naturalization was filed and granted.

By February of 1910, the couple’s first child was born. Her name was Amelia. Two more children quickly followed in 1911 and 1912. As the years rolled by, their family continued to grow. Riccardo and Angeline became the proud parents of eight children. Sadly, little Amelia died in 1920 at the age of ten. Her death was attributed to tetanus. The rest of the Fedrizzi children all lived to adulthood.

Albert (1911-1998), Esther (1916-2001), Eugene (1919-2000) and Richard Jr. (1924-2000) moved to Niagara Falls, New York. Personally, I found the fact that four of the Fedrizzi children lived in upstate New York to be of interest as I grew up not far away in Buffalo, NY.  Since I was a wedding photographer between the years of 1980 to 1991 and often worked in Niagara Falls, there was the opportunity that I may have encountered one of the Fedrizzi clan at a wedding. Who knows!

The other three children: Edith (1912-2000), Albino (1914-1964), and Victor (1925-living) all made their home in California. Eventually Riccardo and Angeline joined them on the west coast, spending their twilight years in the sunshine state. They moved in with their daughter Edith and her family.

Angeline passed away at the age of 74 on December 30, 1958. Riccardo followed a few years later, with his passing on September 30, 1963 at the age of 83. The couple is buried in Los Angeles County at Resurrection Cemetery.

Their one surviving child, Victor, is 95 years old and still resides in California. Being a first born American with both parents from the Val di Non, Victor is certainly one of the last living connections to our Tyrolean heritage.

In our next blog post we will look into the life of Riccardo’s sister Virginia Fedrizzi and her husband Peter Dellachiesa.

UPDATE: Thank you to Giovanni Marchetti for spotting an error in our text. Angeline Cologna Fedrizzi was born in Raina, which is part of the larger village of Castelfondo – not in Ravena as I had previously stated. According to San Nicolo baptismal records, Angeline was born on October 11, 1884 to Urbano Cologna and Rachele Ianes. Later documentation from the United States contained the error stating that Angeline was born in a different village. I have corrected my original blog post to read “Raina”.

Thank you Giovanni for helping with this correction! We are extremely grateful to all of our Italian cousins for reading our blog and sharing their knowledge with us! Mille grazie!

Down the Rabbit Hole, Part 3

Raffaele Geneti (1867-1949) as a young man, photographed in Hazleton, PA. Raffaele is seated. The gentleman next to him is Pietro “Simone” Zambotti (1869-1939).

Remember our “rabbit hole”? Here is where my research took a new direction and like Alice in Wonderland, down I went into the ancestral void. Allow me to explain!

One of my favorite genealogy resources is Newspapers.com. Old newspapers can yield an amazing amount of information not found anywhere else. As I was scanning through local papers, searching for any clue to our missing children, I began seeing a pattern of references for Raffaele Genetti spanning about 35 years. Many of the clippings fell under the category of license submissions. Noting the dates, I realized they formed a chronological history of Raffaele’s business dealings.

I placed all of the clippings in order according to date beginning in 1895 and extending through 1923. Here’s what I found: Every February anyone involved in the food and liquor industry had to apply for a license to operate or continue operating a business. During the month of March, applications were reviewed and licenses granted at the end of that month. However, there seemed to be only a limited number of licenses available each year. Therefore a proprietor may be shut out of the process and not receive a license for the upcoming year.

The first year I found Raffaele referenced was 1895, applying for a liquor license in Black Creek Township, PA. It appears he was not granted a license for that year. In 1897 he applied again under a restaurant license in the village of “Hopeville”. The license was granted and we can assume that year was the beginning of his saloon business. But I wondered – where in the world was Hopeville? Although there are many little townships in the Hazleton area, I had never heard of this village. After a good bit of searching, I found an online history explaining that Weston was originally called Hopeville. Sometime after 1900 the village changed its name to its current moniker. One mystery solved!

So now we know Raffaele is attempting to establish a business in Weston around 1897. But it’s not until a few years later when he is finally granted a liquor license for his restaurant. We also see that in 1900 he has a license to operate a butcher shop in Union Township East, Schuylkill County. Raffaele’s sister, Angeline Genetti Recla, is the proprietor of a dry goods store in that township catering to miners in Schuylkill County. Since Raffaele and Lucia lived right next door to Angeline, we probably can assume he maintained a butcher business in collaboration with his sister’s store.

Considering these public records, this verifies Raffaele was attempting to build a new business in Weston while at the same time maintaining his original business in East Union before moving his family to his future boarding house establishment in Luzerne County.

From another article published in The Miners Journal dated July 1904, all did not go smoothly for Raffaele’s businesses. It reads:

WANTS $5,000 DAMAGES

Wilkesbarre, July 19 – An action for damage was yesterday commenced by Rafael Genetti, of Hazleton, against Anna R. Davis, of the same place. The plaintiff claims that owing to scandalous words uttered by the defendant about him he believes that his reputation has been damaged to the amount of $5,000 and he brings the suit to recover this amount.

The specific statement of which the plaintiff complains is to the effect that Genetti peddled meat that was not fit to eat and that he took some church money.

When I Googled the value of $5,000 from 1904 translated into today’s terms, I received the answer of a “relative inflated worth” of: $150,116. Obviously Raffaele was very serious about the claims made against him, so much so, that he brought a substantial lawsuit against the alleged defendant. And considering the woman’s claim that he had stolen money from the church, this was a direct personal attack against his reputation. If you remember from our previous posts, I mentioned a disagreement Raffaele had with the Weston priest. It’s a pretty good bet that this claim was the source of his anger! I could find no further reference in the papers for this lawsuit.  We don’t know whether the court ruled in favor of Raffaele or the lawsuit was dropped.

The bad luck streak continued, with Raffaele’s liquor license denied during the years 1905, 1906 and 1907. Perhaps the lawsuit and alleged claims had something to do with the denial of his license. By 1908 things turned around and he once again regained his license to sell liquor at his Weston saloon. And in 1910 Raffaele was granted a license to operate a hotel and farm in Black Creek Township, Luzerne County, thus expanding his business holdings.

Of course, everything changed in 1920 with passage of the Prohibition Amendment. And sure enough, in an article dated February 1923, we find the following incident reported: “… agents had raided the saloons of Raffaele Genetti at Weston and Andrew Enama at Nuremberg where he secured a quantity of whisky and wine.” The article describes how local constables had turned a blind eye for several years to illegal liquor sales as well as gambling taking place at neighborhood businesses. Not trusting the local police to uphold prohibition laws, federal agents descended upon the area in 1923, raiding many businesses in Luzerne and Schuylkill counties.

Raffaele along with 23 other local “speak-easy” owners were arrested for “manufacturing, selling and possessing liquor, stills, spirits, coloring extracts and mash”. The paper continued: “The defendants arraigned were all held under $1,000 bail for court.” And: “The federal authorities will attempt to impose jail sentences upon the principals in every case.”

Considering how many businessmen were hauled into court at this time, Raffaele was certainly not the only saloon owner attempting to keep his business open by selling illicit booze. We even see a reference about illegal alcohol in Stanley Genetti’s biography, describing his brief dealings in the early 1920’s with a local bootlegging gang (see pages 21 – 22 of Stanley’s biography).

On April 3, 1923, Raffaele went before the court accused of “selling high voltage beverages.” Unfortunately we don’t know the outcome of the trial as I can find no follow-up reports in the 1923 newspapers nor can I find any court documents from that time.

But all was not lost! We know Raffaele bounced back from this set-back.  From the memories of Raffaele’s granddaughter, Helene Smith Prehatny, we learn the former saloon/ dance hall was used from time to time for gatherings and events.  Newspaper advertisements from the late 1920’s and early 1930’s announce public dances held at Raffaele’s establishment, proclaiming the “Big Tyrolean Dance at Genetti’s Hall Weston. Everyone welcome – good music!”

Raffaele concentrated his business efforts on farming and raising chickens, with help from his sons, who were by now grown men.

In 1933, the Prohibition amendment was repealed, allowing saloon owners to once again provide legal alcoholic libations to the public.

From the photos we have of Raffaele, I always thought him to be a dashingly handsome man. But now I also knew him as an interesting and colorful individual! You have to admit, the Genetti family was never boring!

Read more:

Family Memories by Helene Smith Prehatny

Autobiography of Stanley Genetti

Down the Rabbit Hole, Part 2

Family of Raffaele (1867 – 1949) and Lucia (1865 – 1952) Genetti. Probably photographed in the mid-1940’s. Raffaele is standing in the middle, with Lucia seated. Their children from left to right: Mary Genetti Hudak (1901 – 1992), Elizabeth Genetti Smith (1904 – 1964), Silvio Genetti (1899 – 1982), Albert Genetti (1906 – 1990), Anna Genetti Nenstiel (1909 – 1974) and Leona Genetti Hayden (1903 – 1979).

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!

Grave of Raffaele and Lucia Genetti, Calvary Cemetery, Drums, PA

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!