Category: Ancestors

Another Amazing Genealogy Story

Joseph F. Genetti: 1874-1937Mary C. Genetti 1886-1972their son Frank 1911-2001

Joseph F. Genetti: 1874-1937
Mary C. Genetti 1886-1972
their son Frank 1911-2001

About two weeks ago I received an email from a woman searching for information about her family. Melissa explained that her maternal great-grandparents had emigrated from Tyrol and settled in the Hazleton/Nuremberg, Pennsylvania area. Her great-grandfather and grandfather had the surname of Genetti. As a child visiting her Tyrolean relatives, Melissa was told she came from a different family than the Genettis who owned businesses in Hazleton (my family). Not expecting to connect with her ancestors, Melissa wrote that she had stumbled upon the Genetti Family Genealogy Project website and emailed me that evening “on a total whim”.

As soon as I read the names of Melissa’s great-grandparents (Joseph F. and Mary C. Genetti) and the fact that they had settled in the same area as my direct ancestors, her emailed jumped off the page at me! I had a suspicion that Melissa and her ancestors would lead me to a missing branch of the extended Genetti family tree.

But first, an explanation of why I was excited about this inquiry. I am 50% Tyrolean (all of my fraternal relatives are from the same pastoral valley in Italy, the Val di Non). All of them emigrated to the same location in Pennsylvania. Therefore, they also are all buried within the Hazleton area in three local cemeteries. Quite extraordinarily, one small country cemetery in Weston, PA is the final resting place for one of my great-great grandmothers (Genetti-Genetti, yes this ancestor was a distant cousin to her husband), one of my great-great grandfathers (Battisti-Marchetti), two great-grandparents (Fellin-Marchetti) and numerous great and grand uncles, aunts and various distant cousins (Bott, Zambotti, Covi, etc). Since I’m related to many of the people buried in this cemetery, I have photographed most of the markers to help with my genealogy research. When Melissa wrote about her great-grandparents, I knew their graves were in the Weston cemetery and that I had a photograph of Joseph and Mary Genetti’s tombstone. But I had never put the pieces together to determine what their relationship was to my family. So I began searching  Ancestry.comFamilySearch.orgas well as my own personal files from Castelfondo for clues to Joseph and Mary’s origins.

The Genetti Family Tree

The Genetti Family Tree – Melissa’s 2nd great-grandparents, Giovanni Battista Genetti and Giula Segna, are located at the top, center one row down, right below the “TE” in Castelfondo.

This is what I found: Joseph F. (Melissa’s great-grandfather) was born in 1874 in Castelfondo, Austria (now Italy). He was baptized Francesco Giuseppe Genetti and had obviously Americanized his name when he emigrated to America in 1894. Joseph’s death certificate from 1937 listed his father’s name as Battista Genetti and his mother as Julia Segna.

That was the clue I needed! I whipped out my Genetti Family Tree and there they were – both of Joseph’s parents, Giovanni Battista Genetti (born in 1846)  and Giula Segna (born in 1853), married in Castelfondo in 1872. They were Melissa’s great-great grandparents. Their line on the tree had stopped with Battista and Giula, but now I knew it continued on in America with their son Joseph. Melissa had provided the missing link! It took only a few moments to trace both branches of the tree (hers and mine) to calculate that Melissa was my 5th cousin once removed! Our closest shared relative was Giovanni Battista Genetti, born in 1767 (my 4th great-grandfather and Melissa’s 5th great-grandfather). Yes we most certainly were related!

After this initial discovery, I settled in for a day of research to fill in the blanks (exact names and dates of Melissa’s male Genetti lineage along with their spouses). After a few hours of scanning the Castelfondo records, I found yet another surprise. Melissa’s 3rd great-grandmother, Cristina Battisti Genetti, and my 2nd great-grandmother, Rosalia Battisti Marchetti, were probably sisters! It appeared that they both had the same father, came from the same small village of Caverino, both had married men from Castelfondo and were only four years apart in age. All good signs that they were related. Although there are no records for Caverino before 1865, I thought it was a sound assumption that Cristina and Rosalia were either sisters or 1st cousins. If this were true, Melissa and I may also be 4th cousins once removed through the Battisti family! Unbelievably, I was related to Melissa through both my fraternal grandfather AND my fraternal grandmother!

To put it in other terms, my 2nd great-grandmother, Rosalia Battisti Marchetti, was Melissa’s great-grandfather’s grand-aunt. If we return to the same country cemetery in Weston, Pennsylvania where Joseph and Mary* are buried, we find a few rows away a headstone for Lorenzo Marchetti (my 2nd great-grandfather). On the headstone is a memorial to Lorenzo’s wife, Rosalia. She had died in Castelfondo at the young age of 42, just one year after delivering their eleventh child (who died in infancy). Several years after Rosalia’s death, Lorenzo emigrated to Pennsylvania with their six surviving children. Melissa’s great-grandfather, Joseph, never knew his grand-aunt Rosalia, since she died fours years before he was born. But now the memories of Rosalia and Joseph were tied together by the odd coincidence of their stone memorials being in the same unassuming cemetery in a new country. And, of course, by the inquisitive nature of their great-granddaughters!

My research of Melissa’s relatives has been added to the online Genetti family tree, resulting in twelve new ancestors and an extension of her branch into modern times. Many thanks to Melissa H. for acting “on a total whim” and contacting me. I feel it is always an honor when I add ancestors to our family genealogy. And a wonderful surprise when I connect with a new cousin!

To purchase a print of the original Genetti Family Tree, click here!

 

* Mary’s baptismal name was Maria Concetta Bertoldi.

 

Sale on Family Tree Prints

The Genetti Family Tree

The Genetti Family Tree

I just got word that Redbubble (the company I have chosen to produce fine art prints of the Genetti Family Tree) is having a sale! Starting today through Thursday, November 6th, Redbubble is giving 15% off of all prints! You heard right. If you have been considering purchasing a print of our beautiful family tree for yourself or as a gift – NOW IS THE TIME!

To receive your 15% discount, you must use the promo code: RBHOLIDAY15 when checking out at Redbubble’s online store.

Don’t wait – this offer expires Thursday night!

Click here to shop now!

What’s In a Name

Damiano-2

Cosma Damiano Genetti
Born: 26 Sept 1857
Died: 3 Dec 1944

Have you ever wondered where your name came from? Often when researching family genealogy, a namesake from an earlier generation will become apparent. For example: a son named after a grandfather or a daughter named after a favorite aunt. On the Genetti Family tree, sons are often named after fathers, grandfathers or an uncle. Each branch of our tree also has certain names that are passed down from generation to generation, identifying that particular family line. For example, you see the prevalence of Giovanni Battista, Pietro and Francesco in my branch of the tree. Another branch shows many Giorgio and Pietro ancestors. A third section of the tree has numerous Francesco Nicolo and Giovanni Battista.

When I began researching my great-grandfather and his siblings, I found the names in his family to be poetic and a bit different from others in that generation. A few children were named after family members, but others had their own unique character. My “bisnonno” (great-grandfather) was Cosma Damiano – certainly an unusual name! Other siblings included: Sisinio Alessandro, Angela Maddalena, Angelo Rafaele, Agostino Leone, Dionisio Antonio and Erminia Enrica. All lovely, expressive monikers.

But it was “Cosma Damiano” that I was fascinated by. There were no other men on the family tree with this name. Why had Catterina (my twice great-grandmother) baptized her second son with this odd name? With no clues to go by from the tree, I decided to do a web search. Perhaps he was named after a famous person or his “nome” had some other importance.

StCosmaDamiano

Twin physician brothers,
Saints Cosma and Damiano.

The answer came immediately from Wikipedia. “Santi Cosma e Damiano” or Saints Cosma and Damiano, were early Christian martyrs who died in the 3rd century. Twin brothers, they were considered to be two of the earliest physicians. They practiced their profession of healing, refusing to take any payment for their services. OK, this was interesting, but why had Catterina chosen this name for her son? Reading on, I found the clue. The feast day of Saints Cosma and Damiano was September 27. My bisnonno had been born on September 26, 1857 and baptized the next day on September 27th. His mother must have considered her baby’s birth to have an important synchronicity with this feast day. Although I have no proof to go by other than an educated guess, I believe this reasoning to be a fairly good conclusion of why the baby was named “Cosma Damiano”.

Two other interesting points to note:

– The Catholic church decided to move the feast day in 1969 from September 27th to September 26th, which coincidentally now coincides with Damiano Genetti’s birth date!

– Damiano Genetti, like his namesakes, was also considered a physician by the Tyrolean people of Castelfondo, Italy and Hazleton, Pennsylvania. He was well-versed in herbal medicine and several other curative methods. And, like Saints Cosma and Damiano, he took no payment from anyone who sought his services. This information was related to me many times by Damiano’s grandchildren and by several people in Castelfondo. It was also documented in a book by Marco Romano, comprised of interviews by village elders. Damiano and his healing abilities were mentioned many times by those who knew and remembered him.

If Catterina’s intention was to name her son after the two physician saints, it seems to have had a prophetic effect on Damiano’s life.

 

Read more about Saints Cosma and Damiano:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santi_Cosma_e_Damiano 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saints_Cosmas_and_Damian 

Sorting Out Cousins

In an earlier blog post I confessed my penchant for figuring out family tree kinship. You know … things like 3rd cousin, twice removed, etc., etc. Well the other day something happen that really challenged my abilities to discern relationships. Here’s the story:

AngelineMarchetti

Angeline Marchetti Genetti – photographed around 1950

I was browsing the posts on an obscure forum called “Trentino Genealogy and Culture“, looking for tidbits that might offer an ancestral clue. I’ve learned that information can sometimes be found in the strangest of places. An inquiry caught my eye. Someone was looking for info on her grandmother, a Marchetti from Nuremberg, Pennsylvania who was married to a Bott. Hmmmm … interesting, I thought. Since my paternal grandmother was Angeline Marchetti Genetti from Nuremberg, PA and one of my Genetti grand-aunts was married to a Bott, this post could provide a genealogy lead.

The post was several years old, so I wasn’t sure the email address was still valid. I took a chance and composed a simple message introducing myself, explaining who my ancestors were, and offering the possibility that we could be related. I also included an invitation to visit The Genetti Family Genealogy Project website. Within 24 hours an answer from “FKL” was in my inbox. Yes, she was sure we were related – and possibly in more ways than one!

Addolorata Genetti

Addolorata “Dora” Genetti Bott

Let’s see if you can follow this kinship line. It was confusing even for me!

FKL’s grandmother (Anna) and my grandmother (Angeline) were sisters. OK, that’s an easy one to figure out. Since we share a common great-grandfather, (Angeline and Anna’s father – Giovanni Battista Marchetti) and because we are of the same generation, FKL and I are second cousins.

Now comes the hard part along with a surprising Genetti twist. FKL’s grandfather was Guiseppi Bott (married to Anna Marchetti). Guiseppi was the brother of Verecondo Bott who married my grandfather’s sister, Dora Genetti (my grand-aunt). Are you following so far? Well Dora and Verecondo still have one living child, Helen. Because Dora and my grandfather (Leon Genetti) were siblings, that made my father and Helen first cousins. This means Helen and I are first cousins, once removed. Our closest common ancestors are Damiano Genetti and Oliva Zambotti – my paternal great-grandparents and Helen’s maternal grandparents (meaning that we are of different generations, thus first cousins, once removed). Since Verecondo was Helen’s father, that would make Guiseppi (FKL’s grandfather) Helen’s uncle. Therefore, Helen and FKL are also first cousins, once removed! Yikes! I was awake all night trying to figure this one out!

NuremburgGroup1

October 1906 – Weston, PA. Dora Genetti Bott is #4 and Angeline Marchetti Genetti is #17.
Click on photo to enlarge.

Somehow I had accidentally stumble on multiple connections between three families … and a new 2nd cousin! Since we have many Marchettis and Botts on the Genetti family tree, this was a wonderful discovery. FKL and her sister plan to share their own family genealogy information with me so we can add it to our ever-growing online tree.

I just love these accidental discoveries! They always open my eyes and heart to what a small world we live in!

 

Check out the Genetti Family online tree at: http://genettifamily.tribalpages.com/

Continuing Research on Family Tree

Original Genetti Family TreeMost of you know that the Genetti Family Tree is large and extensive. Beginning in the 1400’s, it separates into two branches around 1590, and again divides into four main branches by 1680. The tree follows male ancestors only. Each name contains a birth year along with their spouse and marriage date. Death dates are not included. After the late 1700’s, a population boom is evident as the tree now blossoms out into many branches.

Several years ago, when I began my genealogy research, I concentrated on my particular family line. This involved tracing the original baptismal, marriage and death records for each male ancestor, along with online searches through data bases and other family trees. As I found new information such as death dates, spousal birth and death dates, daughters and missing male children not included on the tree, I added this info to my file. After many, many hours of research I was able to identify and document 13 generations up to my grandfather, along with all of the children born to each ancestor, including birth, marriage and death dates. This information, along with vital stats on spousal families such as the Marchetti and Zambotti families, makes up the online family tree data base found on this website.

Now comes the real challenge – researching the rest of the tree! Between blog posts and adding new photos and stories to the website, I continue to research separate individual branches of the Genetti tree. So far I have added one new line for the Genetti family who emigrated and settled in Illinois. I am currently working on a branch of the family who remained in Castelfondo and another branch whose descendants are in California and Wyoming. But it does take time, so be patient. I have a goal to completely document every Genetti ancestor from Castelfondo and attempt to locate their descendants’ country and state of emigration.

If you would like to help with my research, please email me any information you have about your ancestral line. I will use this information to search church records and accurately document the ancestors before adding them to the online tree.

A special thanks to Chiara Dalle Nogare’s mother, Maria Genetti (one of the four Genetti sisters of Castelfondo), who I have recently learned, commissioned the beautiful family tree pictured above. I consult this tree every time I sit down at the computer for an afternoon of research. It has been an invaluable tool in tracing the Genetti genealogy.

 

The American Immigrant Wall of Honor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Why am I a genealogist?

Family1916

The family of Raffaele and Lucia Genetti,
circa 1916.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take a Walk with Google Earth

Castelfondo-6

View of the town’s fountain with the Genetti home in the background. Look for this landmark while you are walking around Castelfondo using Google Earth.

If you find genealogy a tad on the dry side, here’s a tech tip that will make it a whole lot more interesting. Why not take a walk through your ancestral village using Google Earth!

This is SO cool! You can be transported directly to a town in Europe (or anywhere else!) without leaving your home. I spend hours on Google Earth exploring places I’m going to visit on my next trip. So let’s zero in on Castelfondo, the ancestral village of the Genetti family and see what we can find.

If you haven’t already played with Google Earth, you will first need to download the basic software from the site. Go to https://earth.google.com. It’s free and only takes a few minutes to load. After you finish downloading you’ll see an icon on your desktop that looks like a blue marble with white swirls. Click on the icon and you are ready to explore!

Let’s get started. In the upper left corner you’ll see a search box. Type in Castelfondo, Trentino, Italy and hit the search button. In an instant you’ll be whisked to a small village in the Italian Alps. From this perspective you will see an aerial view of Castelfondo, the surrounding countryside and nearby villages. Zoom in using the “plus” sign found on the right side of the screen. Or for a lot more fun, grab the little orange man located on the right and drag him into the village. Now you are at street level and can take a stroll through town. Yes, really! You can walk the very streets your ancestors called home, all from the comfort of your desktop!

If you click and hold on the little orange man before you move him into town, you’ll see blue lines pop up on the screen. This tells you where you can and cannot walk. Once you are moving around town, just click on the yellow line to move forward. You can also click on the left or right of the screen to turn around and take in the surrounding view. To return to the aerial view, just toggle the button marked “Exit Street View” found in the upper right of the screen.

Of course, you won’t be able to adventure down every street, but you can maneuver around most of the town and see quite a few sites. Here are a few landmarks to look for: the castle on the edge of town (only seen from the aerial view), the town bar (right over the bridge and on the left side of the stream that runs through town), San Nicolo Church, the town’s central fountain, the village grocery store, apple orchards and vineyards that surround the town and Amici di Castelfondo (the local cultural and historical society). If you find the town fountain, look just beyond it and you will spy the Genetti homestead. Unfortunately you can’t walk right up to the house, but you can see the fresco that is displayed on the side of the home.

Have fun with Google Earth and happy exploring!

 

New Names on the Tree

Original Genetti Family Tree

The Genetti Family tree showing male lines of the family dating back to 1461.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Tom Genetti. His family had emigrated to Illinois around 1880 from Castelfondo, Austria. Tom was enjoying the new Genetti website, but did not find his family on the tree. He wanted to know what branch his ancestors had come from and if he was related to the Genetti family in Pennsylvania (my branch of the tree). Like most of us, Tom had grown up with various family stories, one being that he had cousins in Pennsylvania. Good questions that required research to find the answers.

Since different branches of the Genetti family had emigrated to different parts of the United States (Pennsylvania, Wyoming, California, Illinois, Michigan, Utah) and, for the most part, we are all related, it was a matter of tracing his ancestry in the Castelfondo church records to find the closest common relative.

Tom’s grandparents had Americanized their names, a common practice by many immigrants. This complicated the search because we needed his true name to continue. Since we knew his grandfather had lived and died in Illinois, it was easy to find details in the census and Illinois Death Index. That gave me a clue to his original baptismal name, plus his actual birth date and the name of his father. When I located Tom’s great-grandfather on the original tree (lower left branch of the tree shown above), I knew exactly what part of the family Tom was from and where to look in the records. It took about two weeks worth of digging to find the names and dates of his direct male ancestors. But they were all there.

And guess what … yes, Tom was related to my branch of the Genetti tree. Matter-of-fact, he was related twice! It turns out that Tom’s great-grandparents were Cipriano Genetti and Catterina Genetti. They were distant cousins from two different branches of the tree. Catterina was first cousins with my great great-grandfather Leone. OK – here is where it gets really confusing! This would make Tom my 3rd cousin twice removed (through Catterina’s line) and my 7th cousin once removed (through Cipriano’s line) with our closest shared blood relative being Pietro Genetti born in 1650!

Yes, I’m kind of a genealogy geek since I love figuring out family tree relationships. So far, I’ve located three marriages between distant cousins that have joined various branches.

With Tom’s line completed, I have added 26 new names to the Genetti online tree. Beginning with Pietro Genetti (1650 to 1706) and descending to Tom’s father.

There are many, many more branches of our tree to research and add. I’m sure my genealogy journeys through ancestral documents will keep me busy for years to come!