Category: Ancestors

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

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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!

New Photos on our Website!

Albine (Albert) V. Genetti
(1893-1992)

Our online family photo collection is growing! This month I received a group of photographs from Dale Genetti. Dale is the daughter of Robert and Geraldine Genetti, and the granddaughter of Albert and Mildred Genetti (all from Hazleton, PA). I have included five of Dale’s pics on our Photograph page along with captions. If you haven’t visited our family website in awhile, why not take a stroll down memory lane! Click here to view Photographs in our Gallery section.

The rest of Dale’s family memorabilia has been added to the online Genetti Family Tree, attached to the listings of her grandparents and parents. To access our online tree, click here and search for the name of a specific person. Or just spend some time browsing our many, many ancestor/descendant listings. We now boast 1,739 names on our family tree – and there are still hundreds more to research and add. Thanks Dale, your contribution to our genealogy project is much appreciated!

And while you are perusing our extensive Photograph page, see if you can spot five more photos that I just added from my own collection – the descendants of my grandparents, Angeline and Leon Genetti. Pictured here is a photo taken at the Genetti family farm, about 1933. This is a tricky picture since, you can’t see many of the faces. Between Dale and I, we were able to identify half of the family members in this photograph. Can you guess who these people are! Click here and scroll down the photo page to see who is in this oldie but goodie!

BTW – did you know that you can click on every picture on our photo page to view an enlargement? Yep, no need to squint – just click to see a larger version with all of the details. Happy browsing!

 

 

Letters from the Past

DamianoDoorAs a genealogist, I get excited about dates and stats. But nothing thrills me more than finding a memoir or letter written by an ancestor. These bits of history allow a personal glimpse into the life and times of a family member.

On my last visit back to Pennsylvania, I was fortunate to be gifted a box of memories by my Uncle Leon Genetti. It proved to be a cache of information, transporting me back decades into my personal family line.

I am now in the process of sorting and scanning documents before returning this “time capsule” back to my uncle. The amount of historical information I have found is incredible, yielding several stories I will tell you in future blog posts.

letters1The first bit of Genetti memorabilia I’d like to share with you are two letters penned by my great-grandfather Damiano Genetti, sent to his son Stanley (Costante) Genetti. The letters were written in December of 1938 and August of 1939, sent from Castelfondo, Italy.

A little back history about Damiano – he returns to his native village in the Val di Non (Trentino, Italy) around 1922, without his family. He lives in Castelfondo for the next twenty-two years, until his death in December of 1944. During this time World War II breaks out (Sept. 1939 – Sept. 1945). The northern province of Trentino/Alto Adige is caught in the middle between German and Italian forces.

It is significant to note that Damiano’s wife, Oliva Zambotti Genetti, passes away in August of 1938. The second letter discusses Damiano paying for masses to be said in the memory of Oliva.

Another known fact to consider is that by 1939, Damiano is making plans to return to America, but is unable to leave due to the declaration of war in Europe.

Now back to our letters! After inspecting the documents, it’s obvious that the original letters were penned in dialect or Italian and later translated into English by someone familiar with the Tyrolean tongue. We can tell this from the unusual sentence syntax. Also, the signature at the bottom of both letters, does not match other documents personally signed by Damiano. From these observations we can conclude that the letters were received by one member of the family (in this case Damiano’s son Stanley) then translated, copied and distributed to other family members. We can also conclude from the mention of past letters, that Damiano wrote to his children on a fairly frequent basis and was concerned with their welfare.

letters2-aBefore composing this blog post, I shared the letters with Bill Genetti, Damiano’s grandson, to get his impressions. Bill made a very important observation: “The 2nd letter is dated 3 days before WWII broke out. September 1st was the date Hitler attacked Poland and war was declared. That 2nd letter may be the last letter to get through and he died before the Allies reached his area.”

Wow! Damiano was writing to his family on the very brink of war! I felt many emotions reading his letters – sadness, loneliness, affection for his children, a resignation of his position in life. Damiano’s words resonated through the decades, speaking volumes.

Since I was born thirteen years after his death, I can only go by the description others have told me of my great-grandfather: stubborn and determined, intelligent and scrupulous, caring and generous, a humanitarian yet distant and detached from his family. Perhaps Damiano’s words will give you a new perspective of an ancestor who lived many different lives (husband, father, mining superintendent, Calvary officer, businessman, traveler, mayor, herbalist).For these are personal letters from a man who lived a complicated life. It is an honor to share them with you now.

I’ll leave Damiano’s words speak for themselves. (To read each letter, click on the image for an enlarged view.)

letters2-bDo you have ancestor letters tucked away in your basement or attic? Why not share them with the Genetti Genealogy Project. Write me at info.genetti.family@gmail.com. Each letter will be added to your ancestor’s digital file in the Genetti Archive we are in the process of compiling.

See more photos of Damiano Genetti on our website Photograph Page.

Read Damiano’s obituary on our Tributes Page.

Updates to our Tree

MaryHarryPettis

Mary Louise Recla (daughter of Erminia Genetti and Emanuel Recla) with husband Harry Pettis – early 1920’s.

Thank you to all of the cousins who have provided new information for our family tree. Your help has been invaluable in growing our Genetti Archive.

As a family genealogist, I research our deceased ancestors who usually leave a pretty good paper trail for us to follow. But it’s much more difficult gathering info on living family members and keeping our tree up-to-date. I rely on all of you to send me names, birth dates, marriages, spouses and children of current generations.

During the past two weeks, I have completed three branches of the Genetti family tree. First is the family of Mary Pettis Russell. Mary is the great-granddaughter of Erminia Genetti and Emanuel Recla, who settled in Spokane, Washington, and the granddaughter of Mary Recla and Harry Pettis. We met Mary’s sister, Linda and her daughter at our recent family reunion. With Mary’s info, ten new family members have been added to the Genetti/Recla/Pettis branch.

 

vigilio

William Vigilio Genetti (1852-1932)

Our second family are descendants of Virgil Genetti and his second wife, Margaret Mueller, from the Illinois clan. Tom Genetti and his sisters, Genelle and Sharon, are the children of Virgil’s youngest child Vernon. With their help, we have added twenty-one new descendants to the Illinois Genetti branch.

Our third family line is that of Jeanne Genetti Murphy. Jeanne’s parents Faustino Genetti and Matilda Turri immigrated to Pennsylvania. Jeanne is ninety-two years old and a first generation American. I was able to research and add many new ancestors from Jeanne’s father’s generation in Castelfondo, as well as American cousins and the family’s current generation. This update gave us twenty-nine additional family members on our tree.

 

 

jeannemurphy

Jeanne Genetti Murphy – 1940’s.

All total, sixty new Genetti descendants are now a part of our offline and online family trees!

You can access the online Genetti Family tree at: http://genettifamily.tribalpages.com/. (For privacy reasons, personal information for living family members is hidden on this tree.) This page is a great place to start your own genealogy research on our extensive family.

Our offline tree contains all information (such as birth dates and places, spouses, children, etc) on living and diseased descendants. This data base forms the basis of our Genetti Archive. I am happy to provide a 5-generation Descendant Report free of charge to any family member for a specific branch of their family. Simply send me a request through our Contact page and I will email you the report. (Note: Descendant Reports are NOT available to anyone outside of the family. If I have a question about the authenticity of a request, I will not issue the report.)

We still have many branches of our tree to update – both from the United States and Italy. So if your immediate family is missing from our tree, take a few minutes and email me. If you can provide me with information on your living family, I will do my best to research your ancestral line. Together we can grow the Genetti Family tree one twig at a time!