Category: Ancestors

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 3

Here is our next translation of Tillie Genetti Zambotti’s notebook from our friend, Loretta Cologna. It appears to be a letter written by Tillie’s older sister, Addolorata (Dora). We aren’t sure why Dora’s letter is appearing in Tillie’s notebook, but since it is in the same handwriting as the first two pages, Loretta believes it could be an exercise in writing and copying various things. Tillie was simply copying a letter that Dora had penned.

Once again, many thanks to Loretta for her help.

Page 3:

Dear friend,

My heart was very sad hearing that your mother is ill again. But don’t despair, she will soon feel better. Go to the altar of the Virgin and pray, she will certainly help you.

I hope it will be a short illness. Even if the doctor said worrying things don’t be alarmed because just one being knows if she is going to recover. Don’t lose your courage, have faith in God and bear these sorrows patiently. I will visit you on Thursday (with?) something to strengthen your mother. In the meanwhile pray for her healing. And tell her to have courage because she will soon be better.

If you need something write me and I will help you as far as I can.

I am yours affectionately,

Addolorata Genetti

Castelfondo, 28 February 1902

Read past posts:

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 1

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 2

 

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 2

Sometimes the universe offers help when help is needed!

Last week I published my first post about Tillie Genetti Zambotti’s 1902 school notebook. Since I don’t speak Italian, I admittedly felt over-my-head in attempting to translate this beautiful family heirloom shared by Tillie’s granddaughter, Anne Marie Shelby. Never one to give up, I decided to do the best I could with my limited knowledge of Italian and the help of Google Translator.

On the same day that I published my post, it was shared by Giovanni Marchetti on the closed Facebook group, Chei da Chastelfon, of which I am a member and Giovanni is the Group Administrator. Within 24 hours I received a message from someone in the group, stating that she had read the post and would like to help with translation! I was overjoyed and responded immediately!

Yes, I thought, this is an angel from Val di Non who can help me!

Our Trentini angel is Loretta Cologna who lives in the city of Cles. Loretta grew up in Castelfondo (Cologna is a very old surname from the village). She is a retired school teacher and taught English in the Cles school system for many years. I couldn’t believe our luck! After several emails back and forth, I learned that we had at least three surnames in common from our family trees: Zambotti, Marchetti and Cologna. It’s probably a good bet that Loretta shares some DNA with our family line. She has generously offered to translate Tillie’s notebook in her spare time. Over the next year, we hope to work our way through the journal and publish a weekly post with a translation.

I am completely thankful, Loretta, for your kind and gracious generosity! Grazie di tutto!

Here is the next translation in our series courtesy of Loretta Cologna:

Bottom of page 1:

Castelfondo 24 II [February] 1902

Dear classmate, Genetti A.

While I was walking with one of my sisters on Thursday, she told me that you had told our teacher a bad lie. Bad my darling, very very bad my darling, this…(incomprehensible word) the good things that your teacher did for you.

(click on image to enlarge)

 

Page 2 (left side):

What I love

I love God, creator of a lot of wonders, beginning and end of all things, the greatest good. I love God because through holy Baptism he adopted me as his child among the many people he created.

I love the Holy Mary because through her we can get the favors of God.

I love my guardian angel because he is always near me and he defends me from dangers. I love my parents because they gave me life and because after God they are the greatest benefactors. Moreover I love my parents because they give me a lot of care and have a lot of expenses to support me.

I love my little brothers because they care about my troubles. I love my brothers.

Castelfondo 28 February 1902

(click on image to enlarge)

PDF file of 1902 School Notebook by Ottilia “Tillie” Genetti

 

1902 School Journal by Tillie Genetti

Ottilia Anna “Tillie” Genetti Zambotti
(1890-1985)

A few months ago I received a very special package from our cousin Anne Marie Shelby. Inside was an intact, but very fragile, school journal from 1902 by Ottilia “Tillie” (Genetti) Zambotti (1890-1985). Tillie was Anne Marie’s grandmother and the daughter of Damiano and Oliva Genetti. I was honored to be trusted with such a precious family heirloom and thrilled for the opportunity to share this treasure on our website!

I got to work carefully scanning each delicate page, aware that I was handling a 117 year old notebook! How amazing this little gem had not been lost to time; having traveled from Castelfondo to the United States, and eventually passed down to Anne Marie’s generation as a family keepsake.

After scanning the document, I assembled the digital copy into a PDF file. You can now view Tillie’s original 1902 School Notebook in our “Gallery” section, under “Biographies by Members of the Genetti Family”. For a direct link to the PDF document, click here – but be patient, it is a large file and will take several minutes to load.

The journal was most likely a school assignment given to Tillie’s class in Castelfondo, with the intention of notating her thoughts and ideas during the school year. Each entry is dated, starting on the first page with February 24, 1902. Her journal entries offer a glimpse into the family life of our ancestors at the turn of the century, before they left their mountain village to start a new life.

Tillie was about twelve years old at the time and probably in grade six. This may have been her last year of formal schooling, as she soon traveled to America with her  siblings and mother to join her father Damiano in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

I was especially delighted to view such beautiful penmanship from a young girl. Composed in Italian (and I believe with a few words of Nones, our ancestral dialect), you can see where Tillie’s teacher has made corrections throughout the text. Also interesting to note, the title of her notebook is “Tragedy of Ottilia Genetti”.

Over time, I hope to translate the entire notebook. However, I understand only a tiny bit of Italian, and no Nones at all! But by using Google Translator, background information that I already have, and a little intuition, I will attempt to offer the gist of each journal entry.

Of course, if anyone out there would like to help with translation, your assistance would be greatly appreciated! And if my translation is incorrect, please feel free to offer the correct meaning in the comment section of each blog post. Hopefully, over the next year, we will work our way through Tillie’s notebook and have a full translation.

Beginning with the first page, it appears Tillie is writing about her paternal grandfather, “my dear grandfather”. This would have been Leone Genetti (Damiano’s father). She says that on a summer evening, he is sitting by the window, looking out at the stars and beautiful night sky. After working with the “semola” (I believe this is a reference to wheat), her grandfather told her stories (or answered her questions and gave her advice) while sitting by the fire.

[As a side note, according to Tillie’s brother Stanley Genetti, their grandfather Leone was a baker, confirming the fact that he worked with “semola”, a type of very fine wheat that is milled twice.

Here is a excerpt from Stanley Genetti’s biography:

“Grandfather was a baker and I remember hearing stories of him carting his bread from village to village on a mule with two big side baskets. He also owned a lumber mill and, I think, a grist mill. The mill was in a ravine so deep that it could only be reached by ladders. Despite his apparent wealth, he came to America and worked in the coal mines. After his wife died, she is buried in Weston, Pennsylvania, he returned to Tyrol.”]

Update: The word I transcribed as semola should actually be “scuola” or school. Tillie is actually telling us that she visits the house of her good nonno after school. Thank you to genealogist Lynn Serafinn for correcting my translation! Although Tillie is not talking about her grandfather’s occupation, I thought it was nice to keep this little story in our blog post as background information.

Continuing with Tillie’s text, her grandfather tells her that he had a learning disability as a child and was incapacitated by this problem. (Disgrafia – meaning that he had trouble reading, writing and/or focusing. Possibly a form of dyslexia or autism.) Tillie is thankful for his advice and believes if she listens to the words of her grandfather “will go with it to paradise above a throne of glory that I will be prepared for.”

To offer a base of understanding for Tillie’s story, here is a timeline of events for this time period:

  • Born in 1826 in Castelfondo, Leone Genetti married his distant cousin, Cattarina Genetti (1834-1893) in 1853.
  • They had fourteen children, with seven surviving to adulthood.
  • In 1891, Leone and Cattarina, came to Pennsylvania to join several of their adult children.
  • By this time, Leone’s son Damiano, his wife Oliva and their infant son Leone, have return to Castelfondo (1888).
  • Tillie is born in 1890 in Castelfondo.
  • Meanwhile, her grandmother, Cattarina, passes away in 1893 and is buried in Weston, Pennsylvania.
  • Her grandfather, Leone, soon returns to Castelfondo and reunites with Damiano’s growing family, his grandchildren.
  • Tillie leaves for Pennsylvania with five of her siblings and mother, 1906.
  • Leone passes away in 1909 in Castelfondo of old age.

During the next year, I will post more translations of Tillie’s notebook on our family blog.

Our many thanks to Anne Marie Shelby! Your generosity in sharing this lovely family heirloom is so very much appreciated!

Check out links referenced in this blog post:

School Notebook of Ottilia “Tillie” Genetti – composed in 1902, at school in Castelfondo, when Tillie was about twelve years old.

Autobiography of Stanley Genetti – written by Stanley Genetti, 1981

A photo of Tillie’s grandfather, Leone Genetti (1826-1909) can be found on the Photo Gallery page for the Pennsylvania Genetti Family.

UPDATE – August 29, 2019: My thanks to those of you who have sent corrections and suggestions about this post. 

Anne Marie Shelby corrected my date of immigration for Tillie, as the ship’s manifest states that Tillie arrived in 1906 (not 1904-1905 as I previously stated). She came with her mother Oliva and five of her siblings. This correction has been made in the text above! Many thanks Anne Maria for catching my mistake.

Thank you to genealogist Lynn Serafinn for correcting my English translation! Lynn is a friend (and distant Genetti cousin) living in London and specializing in Trentino Genealogy. You can visit Lynn’s website at: http://trentinogenealogy.com/

 

 

New Photo Gallery!

Vigilio and Maria Genetti

Vigilio and Maria Genetti of Illinois, 1886

It’s finally completed! Our new Photo Gallery is finished and online! You’ll find the direct link located in the Main Menu at the top of each page of our website, fourth link from the left under the title: Photo Gallery.

During the past year, I received many family photographs from different branches of the Genetti family. Since our old Photograph page had grown extremely large and cumbersome, the only possible solution for adding new images was to reorganize everything into manageable sections and republish as a separate gallery. After much thought, I came up with the solution to divide our photos into individual pages representing each state where our ancestors settled after arriving in the USA. We now have photo pages for: Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Illinois, Michigan, Washington and of course, our ancestral home of Castelfondo.

Many more names, dates and stories have been added to each page in the Photo Gallery. I hope with the addition of these details, I have created a descriptive account of family life, trials and tribulations encountered by our ancestors in their new country.

Our thanks to John Nimmo, great-grandson of Peter Menghini, who contributed many wonderful group photos to the Wyoming Genetti page.

Another thank you to Sharon Genetti Cain, great-granddaughter of Vigilio and Maria Genetti, for the exceptional collection of vintage images that now compose our Illinois Genetti page.

And finally, a big thank you to our friends and cousins in Italy who contributed several new photographs to our Castelfondo page as well as to other sections in our Photo Gallery. Mille grazie to Dino Marchetti, Giovanni Marchetti and Lidia Genetti.

Leone Genetti

Leone Genetti, Castelfondo, 1871

You might wonder why it has taken so long to see your photo memories appear on the Genetti Family Genealogy Project. Here is a “behind-the-scenes” glimpse at the process!

Upon receiving a new grouping of photographs, I first sort through the collection to determine if they are: 1. Genetti descendants and 2. they fit with the general theme of our website.

But before I can publish any new photo, there is much prep work involved. If possible, I prefer photographs to be sent via email as hi-res digital JPGs, along with names, dates, places, etc. This allows for the greatest working latitude with the images. Plus sending along photo details lays the groundwork for a story to go along with your family portraits.

However, this is not always the case and most photographs I receive require I great deal of attention before they are ready for our family website. Often the files arriving in my inbox are low-resolution, in need of restoration and have either no information or just a minimal title to identify them. And sometimes I receive packages by mail containing actual photos or newspaper clippings. In any case, every photo needs to be “prepped” and authenticated before it can be added to our gallery.

I begin by uploading (or in the case of hard copy photos – scanning) the images into Photoshop. I then try to increase clarity by using various filters and adjusting the tone of the photo. Next comes digitally repairing rips and tears, getting rid of dust spots and generally cleaning up the the image, restoring it to as close to original appearance as possible. After that, each photo must be resized to the correct resolution for online publishing. Now I’m ready for research!

If only basic information has been sent to me, I first locate the ancestor in my offline family tree (to date, I have collected information on over 1,700 family members beginning in the mid-1400’s up to present day living descendants). If I can’t find the ancestor on our tree or there just isn’t enough information in their file, I need to start researching using a variety of online resources such as Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org and Find-A-Grave. After authenticating the people in the photo and finding enough information to compile a short story, I need to date the photograph. Sometimes I’m lucky and a date will be written on the photo or provided by the family, but usually this is not the case. Then I must put on my detective hat and estimate the year in which the photo was taken. I do this by using the following clues: determining the age of the subjects, the era of clothing style they are wearing, type of hairstyle they have, jewelry being worn and sometimes even identifying the background. All of these elements can offer clues to an approximate date.

After identifying the photo’s subjects, place and date, I am ready to publish your family memories to our website!

So take a stroll through the history of the Genetti family, see if you recognize any of your ancestors and enjoy browsing our new Photo Gallery.

Our many, many thanks to everyone who has contributed to our website! With your help, we have grown the Genetti Family Genealogy Project into an extensive resource, not only for our family, but also for the many Tyroleans who visit our website daily.

Grazie a tutti i nostri cugini di tutto il mondo (thank you to all of our cousins throughout the world)!

 

We welcome all contributions to the Genetti Family Photo Gallery. Please send me a direct message through our Contact page for directions on how to submit photographs.

 

 

Follow-up News on Documentary Film

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post about the documentary film: Trentini Americani – I just found out from the film maker that an interview with Bill Genetti will be included in the final cut of the project! Filmed in 2011, Bill was interviewed at his business in Hazleton, Pennsylvania along with footage of the city and other Tyroleans telling their story. I featured an edited YouTube clip of this interview on our blog back in May. Here’s the link if you would like to watch it again: Pennsylvania Trentini Americani.

Since our family will be represented in the documentary film, it’s even more reason to support this exceptional ancestral project! I can’t wait to watch the final film since Vincenzo also did interviews with descendants in Wyoming, Montana, California and Colorado – all places where the Genetti ancestors settled.

There are six levels of “Perks” being offered ranging from $11 to $2,916. (Note: five of the levels are under $95 – so I know you can find a level that fits within your budget.) If you value preserving our heritage and the memories of our first generation Trentini Americans, I know you will support this worthy project.

To learn more, go to: Trentini Americani: Recollections of a Journey

Trentini Americani: Recollections of a Journey

Hey family and friends, I just found out about a super-cool project called Trentini Americani: Recollections of a Journey, a documentary project. The film is being produced by Vincenzo Mancuso of Trento, Italy and is a crowd-funding project at Indiegogo. Here is the project’s overview:

“At the beginning of the 20th century 10,000 Trentini made their way to the United States. From 2009 until 2018 I traveled across the United States, meeting with families from New York to San Francisco and collecting over 160 interviews. The conclusion of this long oral history project is the production of a documentary that spans four generations and that tells the stories of the Trentini immigrants.”

The film will be produced in English with Italian subtitles, allowing for both Americans and our Italian cousins to enjoy personal interviews with descendants. Read more about this amazing project and view photos of our Tyrolean ancestors at the project’s home page: Click Here!

This is quite the labor of love and a magnificent way to preserve our ancestral heritage. If you agree, why not join me in supporting Vincenzo’s campaign with a donation. By donating at the $28 level, you will receive a high-definition download of the film upon its completion. I think that’s a real bargain for all the work that is going into this documentary. Of course, every little bit helps in bringing this project to fruition. FYI – the Indiegogo campaign runs until the end of August, so don’t procrastinate – help share our heritage with the world by supporting Vincenzo’s dream.

And here is the video clip that introduces the project on Indiegogo:

Trentini Americani – Recollections of a Journey from ITALOAMERICANI on Vimeo.

For more information:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trentini-americani-recollections-of-a-journey/x/1698596#/

100th Anniversary of Armistice and How It Changed Our Heritage

Related image

Map prior to 1803 of Tyrol with Bishopric of Trent and Bishopric of Brixen

One hundred years ago on November 11, 1918, the ethnicity and homeland of the Tyrolean people changed. For on that day the Armistice of World War I was signed, breaking apart the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Shortly afterwards, on September 10, 1919, the Treaty of Saint Germain was signed, formerly annexing German-speaking South Tyrol and Italian-speaking Trentino to Italy. For centuries this entire area was inclusively known as “Tyrol”. With signing of the 1919 treaty, the region of Tyrol located south of the Alps was transferred from Austria and now became the northern Italian provinces of Trentino-Alto Adige.

According to Lou Brunelli, publisher of “Filò: A Journal for Tyrolean Americans”, Tyrol had a long cultural history stretching back 915 years under Austrian sovereignty:

  • 800 years under the Bishopric of Trento
  • 115 years under the Austrian Empire

In comparison, Italy was a young country, having only become a unified Kingdom (a monarchy) in 1861. By 1922 it fell into a Fascist dictatorship under Mussolini. After World War II, Italy became a democratic republic on June 2, 1946.

View of the Dolomites from Bolzano/Bozen, Alto Adige (South Tyrol)

For most of the past millennia our ancestral lands were influenced and controlled by Austria. Although our ancestors spoke Italian and regional dialect, their nationality and passports prior to 1919 stated that they were citizens of Austria, as they had been for centuries. Now with the stroke of a pen (and much political maneuvering by Italy), the region became Italian. (The events that lead up to Tyrol becoming part of Italy and the subsequent suppression of Tyrolean culture is a complicated and involved story. If you would like to read more about the history of this region, I have provided informational links at the end of this blog post.)

View of Val di Non from Castelfondo, Trentino

Since most Tyroleans emigrated to the United States prior to the 1918/1919 annexation, they came to America as Austrian citizens, and were never really considered Italians. However our relatives who remained in Trentino, now officially became Italian citizens. Mr. Brunelli told me that 97% of USA-bound immigrants arrived before the annexation and were not subjected to the subsequent Nationalism fueled by Fascism that occurred particularly in the Province of Alto Adige/Sud Tirol. 

The confusion of ethnicity for Tyrolean immigrants is reflected in the United States Federal Census. My immediate family is identified in three different censuses as: Austrian, Swiss and Italian! I have seen other Tyroleans listed in census as Bavarians and Czechoslovakians. But when you research our shared genealogy, you realize that all of these families are from the same region of the Val di Non, often from the same village! For those unaware of historical events, the 1900, 1910 and 1920 US Censuses can seem bewildering when it refers to ethnicity. Are we Austrian, German or Italian? Is Tyrolean an ethnicity if it doesn’t exist as a country?

San Genesio/Jenesien with view of Dolomites, Alto Adige (South Tyrol)

In the latest issue of Filò (Volume 19), publisher Lou Brunnelli (a 1st generation Tyrolean American) offers an insightful answer to the cultural and ethnic questions that plague American descendants of Tyrolean ancestors. He has given me permission to reprint this issue’s Introduction here:

Dear Tyrolean American …

Father Bolognani, the historian, sociologist, and apostle of our Tyrolean American community asserted the following … “A strange situation hindered the immigrants from the Trentino, making life more difficult for them then for other ethnic groups that arrived as the same time. Though they spoke no German and were Italian by language, they belonged to the Austrian empire and held Austrian passports. Considering themselves Austrian, or Tyrolean, they did not settle in cities as did most Italians. A search for their identity was difficult.” In other words, our people sought their definition, their differentiation from other groups. As their homeland, the ancient Tyrol was annexed by President Wilson and the Allies without a plebiscite [direct vote by eligible voters to decide an important public question] to Italy, they literally became ethnic orphans as Italy adopted a process of Italianization, becoming Fascist and then our [America’s] political adversary as they declared war on us in their affiliation with the Axis Powers. Defeated in the war and recovered with our American help, Italy became culturally adverse by no longer differentiating our history [Tyrolean] and our identity and imposing on us an identity that they had evolved while forgetting ours. What happened after the annexation, happened there and not here [America] … to them and not to us.

The Filò does not engage in a political polemic but legitimately and justifiably seeks to differentiate, to enhance the literacy and legitimacy of our historic existence and experience. Article by article it asserts with pride and joy: that who we are is who we were! ~ Lou Brunnelli

Image result for italian map trentino alto adige

Modern map of the northern Italian provinces of Trentino (dark pink) and Alto Adige (light pink)

I find it fascinating that our immigrant ancestors brought to America a culture that they kept alive in small communities, but that 100 years later many might say no longer exists in their ancestral homeland. Even today there is a conflict brewing between Austria and Italy concerning the proposed dual-citizenship for German-speaking South Tyroleans (see articles noted below).

Many of us were told as children that we were Tyrolean, not Italian. This concept might seem confusing to our cousins in Italy. But our grandparents and great-grandparents arrived in America as Austrians, became United States citizens and never accepted the label of “Italian”. From the scribbling and crossing out of country origins I have viewed in the US Census, our ancestors were just as confused about their ethnicity after the annexation as we are today attempting to describe our own background as Tyrolean Americans.

In conclusion, I take no sides and make no opinions concerning the ethnicity of Trentino-Alto Adige. I present this information only as a means to bring understanding to our shared Tyrolean American experience, place our ancestry in context to the 1918 Armistice and grasp how the events of the past century have changed Tyrol and its people.

My thanks to Lou Brunelli for sharing his knowledge and insights of Tyrolean culture. I highly recommend subscribing to Lou’s publication Filò: A Journal for Tyrolean Americans. It is a quarterly magazine provided free of charge to the descendants of Tyrolean immigrants.

Click here to register for a subscription to Filò

 

For more information see:

Filò: A Journal for Tyrolean Americans (where you can scroll through current and past issues of Filò)

World War I Armistice Signed: November 11, 1918 – 100th Anniversary

History of South Tyrol

Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919)

South Tyrol: A Minority Conflict of the Twentieth Century (Studies in Austrian and Central European History and Culture)

Italy and Austria at odds over South Tyrol dual-citizenship

Italy’s South Tyrol: where an identity crisis lingers

Guest Post by Cecelia Joliat

Cecelia Joliat, a descendant of the Genetti family, is the granddaughter of Regina Branz Daly (1931-2017) and Dr. Joseph E. Daly (1919-2013). She is also the great-granddaughter of Henry Branz (1897-1971) and Erminia Genetti (1896-1971).

Last year Cecelia made the long journey to her ancestral home of Castelfondo in the Val di Non. Today Cecelia shares with us an essay she composed about her family’s homeland along with personal photos from her trip. Many thanks Cecelia for your beautiful words and images!



The Val di Non – by Cecelia Joliat

Winter and spring had met in the valley and decided to form a truce; through the air was warm, little patches of snow clung to the grass and hid in the shadows of the houses at the base of the mountains. The mountains themselves served to break up the monotony of the blue sky, which threatened to swallow the valley whole. Indeed, the Val di Non was a place of perfect peace and clarity, a place where the tedious actions of every day life seemed to be carried away with the wind. It was there that my family packed its belongings and, with heavy hearts, left the comfort and security of their homeland to travel to America.

Over a hundred years later, I was inspired to make a personal pilgrimage to the land of my ancestors, and what I found exceeded expectation. The hillsides were covered in bare apple trees, slumbering in preparation for the next harvest, and the roof of every church glittered like a green gem. Train tracks cut swaths through the fields and bored holes in the sides of the mountains, with the stops punctuating the vast stretches of empty land in between. Neither photographer nor painter could do such sights justice.

No measure of time spent in the valley would have been long enough, so when it came time to leave, I left with the same heaviness of heart that my ancestors had. The windows of the train framed the snowy peaks, quaint farms, and ancient castles until the sun retreated and I was left peering into the darkness, hoping one day to return. ~ by Cecelia Joliat

 

(click on photos to view larger)

 

 

Hurry! Our Family DVD Will Soon Be Discontinued!

There are only a few copies left of our professionally edited DVD: “The Genetti Family of Castelfondo: Our Journey to America”! The deadline to order is December 31, 2017. After this date the DVD will be discontinued and we will no longer ship copies.

If you missed Reunion 2016 or would like a unique Christmas gift for a family member, this DVD is the perfect solution! Place your order TODAY – hurry before you miss this opportunity to own a piece of Genetti genealogy!

The price for this beautifully packaged presentation is $20 (includes shipping).

Please send your check addressed to:
William Genetti, 1345 N. Church St., Hazle Township, PA 18202.

Stop by the Genetti Family Shop for more goodies and gifts, from books about Tyrolean heritage to coffee mugs with the Genetti family coat-of-arms. Click here to shop!