Category: Ancestors

A Mystery Marriage!

Pennsylvania marriage record for Mary Genetti to Christopher Martini, 1885. Click to enlarge.

Pennsylvania marriage record for Mary Genetti to Christopher Martini, 1885. Click to enlarge.

Don Lingousky and his wife, Joyce, have done it again! While searching through old marriage records online, Don stumbled upon an intriguing mystery. He promptly emailed me with his findings and the three of us went to work digging for evidence. Don’s clue had uncovered an unknown marriage for our 2nd great-aunt, Anna Maria “Mary” Genetti Zambotti (1859-1937), daughter of Leone and Cattarina Genetti.

If you remember past posts, Don and I are 3rd cousins. My great-grandfather, Damiano Genetti (1857-1944), was the brother of Don’s great-grandmother, Angeline Maddalena Genetti Recla (1865-1937). And the great-aunt in question, Mary Genetti Zambotti, was the sister of Damiano and Angeline. During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the three siblings, along with their younger brother, Rafaele (1867-1949), established themselves as entrepreneurial business owners in the towns of Weston, Hazleton and Sheppton, Pennsylvania.

Don and Joyce are great genealogy sleuths and have added many wonderful finds to our family website. Don’s sharp eye caught an interesting notation on the marriage record issued to Peter Zambotti and Mary Genetti in 1896 – strangely Mary’s maiden name is listed as Martini, not Genetti!

2nd Pennsylvania marriage record for Mary (Genetti) Martini and Peter Zambotti, 1896. Click to enlarge.

2nd Pennsylvania marriage record for Mary (Genetti) Martini and Peter Zambotti, 1896. Click to enlarge.

According to the certificate, Mary had been married before, with the first marriage dissolved due to death. None of our records stated that Mary Genetti was married twice! Nor was this reflected in our family tree. Don went back and searched again, soon finding Mary’s first marriage record. It had been overlooked since the names of both husband and wife were misspelled by the attending clerk.

Mary’s first marriage was to Christopher Martini in December of 1885. This life event had slipped through the historic cracks of time, probably escaping our family memory because there were no descendants from Mary and Christopher’s short marriage.

Since the marriage took place in 1885, there was also no record of the couple in the missing 1890 federal census. Due to the lack of historical documents, we had no idea who Christopher Martini was, how he had died nor the date of his death. (Genealogy Note: the 1890 federal census was destroyed by fire in 1921 with the majority of the records lost.)


Mary Genetti and Peter Zambotti, probably 1895 or 1896.

Don, Joyce and I consulted various genealogy websites and data bases. Finally we located Christopher’s birth record in the Italian registry maintained by Nati in Trentino (see explanation below). Like Mary, Christopher was a fellow Tyrolean born in the neighboring village of Revo on July 25,1852. His baptismal name was Cristoforo Mattia Martini. And his birth date closely matched the wedding register. Although we have no evidence to tie this birth record to Mary’s first husband, we are fairly sure this was the same “Christopher”.

Unfortunately a good deal more digging, turned up no further info – no death certificate or obituary, no tombstone, no family trees with the name of Cristoforo “Christopher” Martini. All we know is that he died sometime between 1885 and 1895.

According to Mary’s second marriage record dated January of 1896, she married Peter Zambotti, a fellow Tyrolean from her home village of Castelfondo. Peter had arrived in America just the year before in 1895.

The couple had one child, a son named John born in 1897 who died at the young age of thirty. We know this because John is noted in the 1900 and 1920 Federal Census. He also has a WW I draft registration card on file and we were able to locate his Pennsylvania death certificate. Plus we had photos of John’s tombstone in the Weston, PA cemetery where both of his parents were buried.


John Zambotti Smardo 1897 – 1927, Sacred Heart Cemetery, Weston, PA

While researching this story, I took a closer look at the photo of John’s marker. In 2012 I had spent some time photographing tombstones in the Sacred Heart Cemetery where many of my ancestors are buried. When I found the photo of John Zambotti’s marker on my hard drive, an interesting surprise was clearly visible on the stone. His name was engraved “John Zambotti Smardo”. The unfamiliar name of “Smardo” was also on his death certificate. Joyce and I mulled this over for a few days and came to the conclusion that John must have been adopted by Mary and Peter. “Smardo” was his birth surname. We ran this hypothesis past Don. It was then that he remembered his grandmother’s family history had listed John Zambotti as being adopted. Another mystery solved! Sadly, John passed away in 1927 from tuberculosis. His occupation was listed as “miner”, he was single and left no heirs.

Thank you once again Don and Joyce Lingousky for your tenacious research! I have made updates to our family tree and corrected the ancestral record.

Note: If you are researching your Tyrolean ancestors, a data base of births can be accessed at: Nati in Trentino. Available in six languages (including English), records are listed for the years 1815 through 1923. The website explains: “With the Treaty of Vienna in 1815, Trentino was annexed to the Tyrol County. From that year until after the Great War – until December 31st, 1923, to be precise – the birth registers were maintained by the parishes, which also acted as registry offices. While many registry rolls were lost, those remaining were transferred onto microfilm in the 1980’s to facilitate consultation. The details of these individuals (approximately 1.28 million in all) have now been collected, in a project lasting several years, in an Index made available to academics and anyone wishing to retrace the history of their family.”

Click here to access Nati in Trentino.

Welcome to New Cousins!

angela mary ralph peter

Left to right: Angela Maddalena Genetti, Ralph (Raffael) Recla, Peter Zambotti and Anna Maria (Mary) Genetti. About 1895. Photo contributed by Don Lingousky.

The past few weeks have been exceptionally busy with emails from new cousins who have stumble upon The Genetti Family Genealogy Project. Along with answering emails, I’ve been busy tracking down our shared ancestry so we can enter their family information on our tree.

We’d like to welcome Vicki Recla Underwood Simpson and Ralph Bones to our family genealogy project. Vicki and Ralph are first cousins from the Genetti/Recla branch. Their shared ancestors are grandparents Lawrence Leo Recla and Kathryn Piz. Lawrence was the son of Raffael Recla and Angela Maddalena Genetti of Sheppton, Pennsylvania. Vicki and Ralph have already supplied me with twenty-five descendants for our family tree. We look forward to their future contributions of photos and information about the Recla clan.

Do you remember Don Lingousky from past posts and contributions to this website? Well it turns out that Don is Vicki and Ralph’s second cousin, as well as a great researcher of his own family ancestry. Don’s grandmother, Leonela Recla, was the sister of Ralph and Vicki’s grandfather, Lawrence. Emails have already been exchanged between Recla cousins and I’m sure they will be comparing ancestral notes soon. (FYI – I am Vicki and Ralph’s third cousin because we share the same great-great-grandparents, Leone and Cattarina Genetti).

The tombstone of Col. Emil Joseph Genetti, Fort Logan National Cemetery, Denver, CO.

The tombstone of Col. Emil Joseph Genetti, Fort Logan National Cemetery, Denver, CO.

Also we would like to welcome Francesco Marchetti of Trentino, Italy. Francesco wrote me several weeks ago searching for information on his American cousins. His family, likes ours, is from the village of Castelfondo in northern Italy. Francesco’s 3rd great-aunt, Maria Marchetti, came to America in 1913 and married Pietro Genetti, also of Castelfondo. Their life in America and the amazing legacy that their children built deserves its own blog post! I am still researching this interesting family, but for now I can tell you that Maria and Pietro represent a new branch of our family that I have yet to add to the Genetti tree. The couple settled in Michigan, had three sons and their lives are well-documented through the Federal Census and newspaper articles. Plus I have uncovered several living descendants and hope they will eventually connect with our website, adding their own stories and photos. The great-grandchildren of Maria and Pietro, now living in various locals throughout the United States, are Francesco’s third cousins.

The story deepens because I am also from the Marchetti-Genetti families. After doing the math and counting the generations, I concluded that Francesco is my 6th cousin, once removed (Francesco is a generation younger than me). And I am also related to Maria and Pietro’s descendants – twice! Their grandchildren are my 5th cousins through the Genetti family, and my 6th cousins through the Marchetti family.

Within a few weeks, I will write the complete story of Maria, Pietro and their sons, Emil Joseph (Primo), Albert and Florian. My sincere thanks (mille grazie!) to Francesco for contacting our website and beginning the research into his fascinating family!

A final note – due to the many Genetti ancestors and their descendants who have served in the military, I have decided to compile a page honoring our family’s military history. If you would like to note family members on this page, please email photos, military history, documents, etc. to: I will do my best to create a suitable tribute to our family in uniform.


Lots More Cousins!

Dora Genetti Bott

Dora Genetti Bott (1889-1971) being crowned the first “Polenta Queen” by The Tirolesi Alpini Club of Hazleton, PA –
Sept. 7, 1970.

There’s so much happening at The Genetti Family Genealogy Project! Lots of new connections, lots of new cousins!

Welcome to new cousin Jennifer Liptok and her family. Jennifer found me two weeks ago on while she was researching her maternal roots. I maintain a private tree on that website for both sides of my family. Because it is private, the tree cannot be accessed by the general public. When Jennifer did a search on Ancestry for her Nonna’s family, a ton of suggestions pointed to my private tree. She sent a message asking if I had info or photos of her great-grandmother’s family and would I share them with her.

Lol … Jennifer certainly connected with the right person! Her bisnonna (great-grandmother) was Addorlorata Erminia Genetti Bott (1889-1971) – also known as Dora, eldest daughter of Damiano and Oliva Genetti. Dora was my grandfather’s sister and my great-aunt. That makes Jennifer my 2nd cousin, once removed. I was thrilled to meet a new cousin, and of course, pointed her directly to The Genetti Family Genealogy Project. Her great-grandmother, Dora, shows up in many photos on our website. Plus I have a good amount of information on Dora as part of my own ancestral research.

Since Jennifer’s family is a direct descendant of my family line, all of her mother’s side of the family has been documented on the private Genetti family tree that I maintain offline. I already knew the name of her sibling, parents and grandparents!

By-the-way, the names and birth dates of all living descendants are noted on the online Family Tree simply as “living”. No private information of living family members is published on our website. The master family tree that I maintain on a separate hard drive, contains vital stats for descendants of the family – both alive and deceased. I do my best to keep this up-to-date, so that our lineage will be passed down to future generations. If any family member would like a digital printout from this private tree, contact me at and I will generate a Descendant’s Report for you. This type of report is helpful in researching your direct family line (4 or 5 generations) as well as finding your living cousins.

Thank you for contacting us Jennifer. I hope our family website helps with your ancestral research.

Watch for more cousin stories next week!

See photos of Dora Genetti Bott on our Photograph Page.

Also visit the Family Page for Damiano and Oliva Genetti to see Dora with her siblings and parents.

More Photos!

Betty Zambotti's High School Diploma

Betty Zambotti’s High School Diploma,
dated June 11, 1930

A special thank you to Lewis Reich, son of Betty Zambotti and Lewis J. Reich, grandson of Tillie Genetti and Peter Zambotti. Lewis emailed me a wedding portrait of his parents along with his mother’s high school diploma. They have both been added to our ever-growing collection of family photographs in the Gallery Section.

Stop by the Photography Page to see our many ancestor portraits – all descendants of the Genetti Family.

If you have photographs or memorabilia you would like to share on our family website, please send them in jpg format to I look forward to hearing from you!

More Family Photos!


The Genetti sisters, circa 1909: Ottilia (Tillie), Esther, Angela (Ann), Addolorata (Dora), and Erminia (Erma).

I’m thrilled to announce six more photos have been added to our family Photograph Page! Jean Daly Branz (daughter of Erma Genetti and Henry Branz, granddaughter of Damiano and Oliva Genetti) has been a great supporter and contributor to our website during the past year. A few weeks ago I received another package in the mail from Jean containing photographs of her parents, sister, aunts and grandmother. There was even an original newspaper clipping announcing the wedding of her cousin, Rita Genetti (my aunt) from 1940.

The photograph I loved the most was of the five Genetti sisters taken in the 1960’s. Last year Jean had sent me a beautiful antique portrait of the same sisters photographed in 1909 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. All were born in Castelfondo, Tyrol and emigrated to the United States at an early age. I’ve posted both photos here to commemorate the sisters.




The five Genetti sisters, circa 1969: Back Row – Esther, Tillie. Front Row – Dora, Erma, Ann

Thank you Jean! Your treasure-trove of memories has brought immeasurable joy to many viewers of The Genetti Family Genealogy Project.

See all of Jean’s photos on our Photograph Page (click the link and scroll to the bottom of the page to view the most recently added images).

Keep our family website growing! Send in your photos, stories and newspaper clippings to:


New Book Review

OurFirstYearI just added a lovely book to our family’s online Bookstore. “Our First Year: Sketches from an Alpine Village” was written by a fellow Tyrolean American named Allen Rizzi. He has returned to live in the home of his ancestors, the tiny village of Tret located in the upper Val di Non. This eBook is a treat for those who yearn for their Tyrolean roots.

Visit our Bookstore and read my review! Available as an eBook for $2.99 or Audible book for $6.95, “Our First Year” is a bargain and a heartwarming read.

Click here to shop at the Bookstore.

A Case of Mistaken Identity!

Villages of Castelfondo and Ofena

Map of modern-day Italy showing the villages of Ofena in southern Italy and the village of Castelfondo in northern Italy.

Several weeks ago I received a curious email from a gentleman with the surname of Genetti. According to his email, “D. Genetti’s” family had settled in New England in the 1920’s. He gave me the names of his great-grandparents, but missing was information about their village of origin in Italy. I had heard of a Genetti family in this part of the country, but had never come across their ancestry in my research. Since most branches of our family settled in mining areas of the United States, I’ve found it easy to track the immigration of each branch to a specific coal mining region of this country. But I had not found any branch of the Genetti family (originally from Castelfondo) who emigrating to Massachusetts.

In his second email, my new Genetti contact provided a detailed family tree, extending back nine generations, beginning with Giovanni Genetti (1737-1839). I responded enthusiastically – yes! I would be happy to include his genealogy on our online family tree. But first it was necessary to document and verify the names and dates on his tree. I had learned from past experience that information provided without resource documentation can often contain errors. So I set about researching his ancestors. What I found was a complete surprise!

Here’s my response email to D. Genetti:

“According to your tree, the earliest Genetti ancestor is Giovanni Genetti (1737-1839). I was unable to locate him on our ancestral tree (which dates back to 1461) nor in the Castelfondo baptismal records. I did further searching on and, but without any luck. Then I attempted to search for recent ancestors on your tree that were born in Italy and emigrated to the USA. Still I found none of these relatives in the data bases with the name of Genetti.

My last resort was searching for derivative spellings of Genetti. I then found an Italian family tree on with five generations of your relatives listed along with corresponding birth and death dates – but their name was spelled “Genitti” and they were from Ofena, L’Aguila, Italy – not Castelfondo, Tyrol. When I searched for Genitti, I found results that matched what I had found on

Unfortunately, I’m sorry to tell you our families are not related. Without records proving that they are from the Val di Non region of Trentino (Tyrol) I can’t enter them into our online family tree since there would be no connecting ancestor. My guess, is that your surname was changed as some point after your family emigrated to the United States. This was a common occurrence. I suggest researching your family through and as well as the baptismal records from Ofena, Italy under the surname of Genitti. You may be able to go back much further in the records with the original surname.” (end of email)

As a genealogist, I have an insatiable curiosity! I had to know more about this family. So after sending my email (and not feeling very good about breaking this surprising news concerning a mistaken surname!), I continued digging to find answers. Here’s what I found. “D. Genetti’s” 2nd great-grandfather arrived in Canada from Italy in 1921 under the name Pasquale Genitti. The family must have traveled to the United States soon after, settling in Massachusetts. That same year, Pasquale’s son, Giuseppe married and the Massachusetts Marriage Index lists his name interestingly as “Giuseppe Genetti”. The 1930 Federal Census states the family’s surname is “Genett”. And in the 1940 Census, it becomes “Genetti”. Misspelled names are a common occurrence in the census since it is the sole responsibility of the census taker to notate the information correctly. Unfortunately, names were often written phonetically, and therefore misspelled. The errors on the 1930 and 1940 censuses could account for the family simply adopting a new version of their name.

However, other documentation provided the following information. World War I and World War II registration cards, as well as naturalization documentation for one of Giuseppe’s immediate family members, states the surname to be “Genitti”. And the Social Security Death Index states that Giuseppe’s own surname at the time of his birth in 1890 and at his death in 1968 was “Genitti”. But whomever had constructed their detailed family tree, had decided to use the surname “Genetti” throughout, rather than reflect the new name within the generation that had adopted the change. It was obvious that my email friend was two to three generations separated from his family’s name change and not aware of the true origins of his ancestry.

Hopefully the information provided in this “case of mistaken identity” was not too shocking. I trust it will be used as positive motivation to research the family’s true roots, ancestry and culture.


Postcards from the Past

elaine emma kathryn

The children of Erminia and Emmanuel Recla: Elaine Recla (1912-1982), Emma Recla (1899-1988) and Kathryn Recla (1909-?)

A few days ago, I received a beautiful portrait postcard from Don Lingousky. If you remember from previous posts, Don is the great-grandson of Angela Maddalena Genetti Recla (1865-1937), born in Castelfondo, Tyrol. She emigrated to Sheppton, Pennsylvania in 1882, (see previous post). During the past year Don has shared many family photos and stories with our website. Because our great-grandparents were siblings, Don and I our third cousins.

Don wrote to me: “I’ve had the attached photo sitting in my pile of ‘photos of unidentified people’ and I think I might now have an idea of who they are. I had always assumed that these were friends of my grandmother, but now I think they are Reclas. See what you think. Only close friends and family called my grandmother ‘Nela’. The back of the photo/postcard reads ‘Dear Nela, here is the picture of 3 ‘chicks’, Emma, Kathryn and the Baby Elaine. Emma has changed a bit since you saw her last, eh? Esther – Are you going to forget to write? I wrote you immediately but it looks as if you are mad.'”

Don continued: “I had a hunch that they might be relatives of my grandmother, so I searched for the names Emma, Elaine, Kathryn and Esther on the Genetti family tree and it looks to me like these could be Erminia Genetti and Emmanuel Relca’s daughters. The photo is stamped with the photography studio name Phelps in Spokane.” (end of email)

Great sleuthing job, Don! I agreed with him, but to be sure, we sent the portrait postcard on to Mary Russell for further verification. Mary is the great-granddaughter of Erminia and Emmanuel Recla and also a third cousin to Don and me (read blog post about Mary Russell). She wrote back immediately and confirmed that yes, it was Elaine, Emma and Kathryn Recla – Mary’s great-aunts. The portrait was also a nice surprise for Mary as she wrote: “Thanks so much for sending it. There are so few pictures!”

Another piece of the family puzzle found through cousin connections! This is the reason I love genealogy!

Visit our Photo Page to see both the back and front of this lovely heirloom. Many thanks to Don Lingousky for your gracious sharing and continuing support of our family website.

New Photos in the Gallery

Tillie and Peter Zambotti

Tillie Genetti and Peter Zambotti, probably photographed about the time of their wedding in 1911, Pennsylvania.

Our photo gallery is growing by leaps and bounds! Just posted are seven photos from the Zambotti – Reich family courtesy of Charis Hearn (great-granddaughter of Peter and Tillie Zambotti).

Otilla Anna “Tillie” Genetti was born in Castelfondo, Tyrol in 1890, the third surviving child of Oliva Zambotti and Damiano Genetti. She emigrated to America with her mother Oliva and four other siblings in 1906, arriving in New York City on December 3rd. In 1911, at the age of 21, she married Peter Zambotti, also of Castelfondo. The couple made their home in Weston, Pennsylvania and had four children: Elizabeth, Leo, Leona and Albert. The photographs included on our Photo Page depict the descendants of Tillie and Peter, through their eldest daughter Elizabeth Zambotti Reich (1912-1995). Make sure you also view Elizabeth and Lewis Reich’s wedding video on our new Video Page.

Our thanks to the Zambotti, Reich and Hearn families for sharing their memories with us.

Visit The Genetti Family Genealogy Project: Photo Page, Video Page and Gallery Page (click each link to access the page) for more family remembrances and tributes.

New Video Page!

Lewis J. Reich and Betty (Zambotti) Reich

Lewis J. Reich and Betty (Zambotti) Reich

About a month ago I received a DVD in the mail from Conrad Reich (great-grandson of Damiano and Oliva Genetti). The package contained a home movie of his parents’ wedding. This was certainly a treasured heirloom and I was very touched that the Reich family wanted to share it with us!

I knew immediately the time had come to include video in the Gallery section of our website. And so I am pleased to announce our new Video Page is now up and running! I love old black and white films and I hope you do too! Many thanks to the children of Lewis and Betty Reich for contributing our very first video – an early home movie of their parents’ wedding dated June 3, 1935.

Elizabeth “Betty” Zambotti Reich was the daughter of Tillie Genetti and Peter Zambotti, and the granddaughter of Damiano and Oliva Genetti. According to Conrad, all of Damiano and Oliva’s children are in the movie along with Oliva. What a thrill to catch a glimpse of my own great-grandmother!

Lewis and Betty Reich on their wedding day, June 3, 1935, with their Maid-of-Honor and Best Man.

Lewis and Betty Reich on their wedding day, June 3, 1935, with their Maid-of-Honor and Best Man.

To read the story of how the video was discovered, visit the Video Page and take a stroll down memory lane.

(Special note: The original film was edited and converted into a DVD format. In the process music was also added. Unfortunately due to copyright laws, the music portion of the DVD had to be deleted.) 

Do you have an old family movie converted to DVD that you would like to share? Or have you already posted a video on YouTube? If so, contact me for shipping directions or with the YouTube embed link and we will do our best to publish it on the Video Page. I will also be searching YouTube for public videos showcasing the talents and businesses of Genetti family members. Watch for future blog posts announcing new videos finds!


Our special thanks to the children of Lewis and Betty Reich (Conrad, Olivia, Ann Marie and Lewis) for sharing their family’s treasured memories.