Category: Castelfondo, Italy

Trentini Culture Links

Village well in Castelfondo

I have just updated our “Collezione” page with more “things to do when you are stuck inside”, adding two new sections: Trentini Culture and Regional Trentini Communities in the United States.

With social distancing still in place and most of us staying put and out of harms way, we have time to indulge in a little online exploration.

I’ve found many interesting links, programs and tours about Trentino Culture and a few specifically about Castelfondo. My husband and I have enjoyed tuning into YouTube and viewing places we have visited in the Val di Non. Or watching a cooking show of Trentini dishes (I even recognizing the sausage my grandfather use to make – “luganega”). Maybe you would like to listen to an archive of songs by native speakers or take a virtual tour of Castelfondo. Yes, I have all of these links and more in the Trentini Culture section of Collezione.

Plus I found four fun YouTube videos about Regional Trentini Communities: three from Hazleton, PA and one from Rock Springs, WY.

I’ll keep searching and adding more resources to this page, so visit often and see what’s new!

Go to Collezione!

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 18 – Final Translation

Cover of 1902 Notebook
Title: The Tragedy of Ottilia Genetti

After some discussion, Loretta and I have decided to conclude our notebook translation project. Upon reviewing the remaining pages of Tillie’s notebook, we came to several conclusions.

It became obvious to us that the first half of the notebook, dated 1902, was written in a neat, legible handwriting. Whereas, the second half of our journal was in a script difficult to analyze, most likely written at a later date of 1903.

Second, the remaining pages of the notebook depict a tragic play entitled “The Roman Martyrs”. Printed on the label of our notebook cover is “The Tragedy of Ottilia Genetti” and may very well refer to this long and laborious entry. Loretta believes the text of this play was copied from a different source. Since the entry is not an original journal post, the handwriting is difficult to read, and there doesn’t appear to be any benefit in translating this lengthy text, we both agreed this was a good stopping point for our translation project.

However the last page of the journal is a personal letter penned and dated by Tillie. This leads us to believe that the first half of our notebook was most likely written in 1902 by older sister Addolorata (Dora). The notebook was then passed on to her sister Tillie, who used it during the school year of 1903.

Loretta has translated the last page and I’m sure you will find it to be a sweet conclusion to our project. Viewing the letter in context of the date, much was happening in 1903 concerning the Genetti family of Castelfondo. This unsettling time is reflected in Tillie’s affectionate letter to her mother. After reading the following translation, I’ll detail a few historical facts to bring further understanding to our final page.

Last page, click to enlarge

Translation, last page

My dear mother,

Christmas is knocking at our door. The love that I feel for you and the gratitude that I owe you, push me to wish you happy holidays.

Dear mother, I have always prayed for you and especially during these holy days I will double my prayers. I will pray to the holy baby so that he will spread abundant blessings upon you and will keep you healthy and happy for a lot of years, being the consolation of the whole family.

I will pray to the Baby Jesus to grow up good, studious and obedient, and to be your consolation.

On Holy Christmas Day I will receive Jesus in my heart, I will tell him a word for you that you may stay healthy, together with the whole family.

I am yours affectionately,

Ottilia

Castelfondo 16 December 1903

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Portrait of Damiano and Oliva Genetti with family, photographed in Castelfondo, Austria (now Italy), about 1898 or 1899. Damiao is seated on the left, Oliva is in the center, Leone (Leo) is the tallest son in the back touching his father’s shoulder, between his parents stands Augusto (Gus), seated between Damiano and Oliva is Esther, to the right of Oliva the taller girl is Addolorata (Dora), next to her is Ottilia (Tilly), Albino (Albert) is standing behind his sisters and Erminia (Erma) is the little girl holding Oliva’s hand. Their youngest children, Costante (Stanley) and Angela (Ann), are not in the portrait as they have yet to be born.

Looking back at 1903, we find the Genetti family in transition. Father Damiano has departed for far-off Pennsylvania. He will join his other siblings with the hope of establishing a business to support his large family. Damiano has brought with him two daughters: Addolorata (about 13 years old) and Esther (about 8 years old). We have no record of the exact date or place of arrival, but  most likely it was sometime towards the end of 1902 or early 1903.

When Damiano left, mother Oliva was pregnant with her thirteenth and final child. (Note: Four siblings died soon after birth or in early childhood, leaving nine surviving children who grew to adulthood).

Oliva gave birth to Tillie’s little sister, Angela Maria “Ann”, on April 21st, 1903. By Christmas of 1903, the date of Tillie’s letter, Oliva is managing the family household on her own and caring for seven children: Leone (age 16), Tillie (age 13), Augusto “Gus” (age 11), Albino “Al” (age 10), Erminia “Erma” (age 6), Costante “Stanley” (age 4) and little Angela (age 8 months). Obviously from Tillie’s letter, she is concerned for her mother and the great responsibility of taking care of a large family while Damiano is establishing a new home for them in Pennsylvania.

Tillie also misses her two sisters and is anxious about the family’s future move to America. Her childhood home of Castelfondo will be left behind, as well as her friends and classmates.

In 1904, oldest son Leone departs for America to join his father and two sisters in the new family business. By 1906, Damiano has secured a home in Hazleton and has sent for the rest of his family. On December 3rd, 1906, Oliva along with her six remaining children arrive at Ellis Island in New York.

How stressful the year 1903 must have been for thirteen year old Tillie. Her family is divided by an ocean and she faces an uncertain future in a strange land. According to Anne Marie Shelby (Tillie’s granddaughter), her grandmother refused to accompany her father Damiano to Pennsylvania, wanting to stay close to her mother Oliva in Castelfondo. We can certainly sympathize with the upheaval and emotional trauma facing this young woman as she shares a Christmas wish of a healthy and happy future for her family.

This concludes our translation of Tillie’s Notebook. Our sincerest thanks to Anne Marie Shelby  for sharing her grandmother’s precious journal with us. Thank you for being the guardian of this fragile century-old document! And for trusting in the United States Postal service to deliver and return your family heirloom in one piece, allowing me the opportunity to scan the entire notebook. We are so very grateful!

And once again our great thanks to Loretta Cologna for her generous contribution of time and translation skills. Your patience, generosity and insight has given our family a glimpse into our ancestral past. Non ho parole per ringraziarla! Grazie mille!

View Tillie’s original notebook in entirety here:
https://genettifamily.com/books-by-members-of-the-genetti-family/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If any cousins have letters, documents or journals they would like to share on our family website, feel free to write me at our Contact Page.

 

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 12

Page 12 and Page 13, click to enlarge

Again we have an entry in our 1902 notebook signed by Tillie’s sister, Addolorata (Dora). It appears to be a letter from Dora to a friend in another village describing the First Communion taking place in Castelfondo at San Nicolo’ Church.

Translation is from Page 13 right side, and Page 14 left side

Dear friend,

This week the schoolchildren of Castelfondo received the Easter Holy Communion and I want to tell you what we did.

On Monday first the boys then the girls who had to receive the Communion went to Confession.

Page 14 and Page 15, click to enlarge

On Tuesday the bells rang and we all went to church.

Seven lucky girls were admitted to the Communion, they were seated in the first bench and all the others behind them.

At seven started the Holy Mass celebrated by our parish priest. During the Mass the chaplain read the preparation to the Communion of our priest, then went to the sacristy wearing a white robe. He went to the altar, said the Confiteor [in Latin this means “I confess” and refers to a prayer said during Mass], then the Communion started. First the children of the first Communion, then all the others in good order.

Interior of San Nicolo’ Church, about 1900

After some minutes the chaplain read a thanksgiving. After that the priest gave some memory cards to the children who had received the first Communion. We said three prayers and we went away in good order and went back to our houses.

To tell the truth, on that day I said a word for you to Jesus and I hope you did the same.

I would like to know what you did in your village.

I am your affectionate classmate,

Addolorata Genetti 

20 March 1902

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Loretta Cologna (our translator) and I thought this was the perfect post to show a few photos of the church and an archival communion photo published by Dino Marchetti in his beautiful hardcover book about Castelfondo. That’s when I learned that Loretta’s mother, a school teacher in Castelfondo, was also in several of the communion photos. I asked Loretta to share a few details about her mother and here is what she told me:

San Nicolo’ Church, photographed in 2011

From Loretta Cologna:

My mother was Livia Marchetti. She was born in 1920 and died in 2010. In 1940 she started teaching and worked for forty years as an elementary teacher until she retired in 1980.

For a few years she worked far from Castelfondo, then she got a job in the small village of Salobbi (north of Castelfondo) where she worked for eleven years. After that she had a position at the elementary school in Castelfondo, where she worked until her retirement.

Her school was the new school built in 1954. Before the new school, the original school was on the main square where the town hall offices are now.

The ground floor of the new school is for the nursery school children, ages 3 to 6. The first floor [in the US we would call this the second floor] is for the elementary grades.

First communion class of 1958 with Don Bruno (parish priest) and Livia Marchetti standing on the steps of San Nicolo’
click to enlarge

In the past the elementary teacher took an important part in the preparation of the First Communion and accompanied the children to Mass. As my mother worked for more than twenty years in the Castelfondo school, there are a lot of photos of her in Dino’s book.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Loretta told me that until the age of eleven, she also attended the little green school house in Castelfondo where her mother taught. She and the rest of her class then attended middle school in the village of Fondo (just a few miles down the road from Castelfondo). Loretta went on to attend a language high school in the city of Bolzano (about a 45 minute drive over the mountain pass). Finally completing her schooling at a university of languages in Verona.

Thank you Loretta! We are so happy to have you as a friend of our family and our wonderful translator!

The new school house of Castelfondo, located behind the church, built in 1954

One additional note, the little green school house in Castelfondo contains the portraits of Damiano and Oliva (Zambotti) Genetti in the front entry way along with a dedication plaque. (Look closely at the marble plaque pictured below and you will see Addolorata’s name!) It is my understanding that funds raised from the sale of Damiano’s estate after his death in 1944, helped to finance the construction of the school house. My grandparents, Leone and Angeline (Marchetti) Genetti, visited Castelfondo in 1954. Perhaps it was for the dedication of the school. Leone’s brother, Stanley, also visited Castelfondo many times as an adult. According to Stanley’s autobiography, over the years he purchased several pieces of new playground equipment for the schoolyard.

Portraits of Damiano and Oliva (Zambotti) Genetti

So again we see how the lives of our ancestors are interwoven to create a vibrant family history!

Our special thanks to Dino Marchetti! His dedication and passion for preserving the history of Castelfondo is truly a gift to future generations and to his American cousins. The first communion class photo published in this post can be found on page 421 of Dino’s book “Castelfondo: Il paese la sua gente”. (Translation – Castelfondo: the country its people).

Find all previous translations from this series by scrolling through our earlier blog posts.

Plaque hanging inside Castelfondo school
click to enlarge

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 10

Page 10 and 11, click to enlarge

Our next entry in the 1902 Notebook is a story with a moral.

Page 11, right side

The good advice

Ester, a girl with good parents, was good and obedient but she had the bad habit of talking too much.

One day her mother bought a plant of carnation that she could give her godmother as a present for her name-day.

Ester watered it every day and took great care of it to make it become beautiful.

One day when the girl was watering it she noticed a small insect on the carnation.

The girl went to her mother and said: There is a nice little animal on my carnation.

The mother answered: Kill it otherwise your flower will die.

No, I won’t kill it, it is so nice!

After some days the girl found it dead. Almost crying she went to her mother and said: The carnation is completely dry.

If you had killed the insect it would have been nice and green now. It serves you right! Now you will not have anything to give your aunt. You should obey me.

Girls, we must learn to listen to our parents’ advice!

Castelfondo 14 March 1902

. . . . . . . . . . .

An interesting note to this story, Tillie had a younger sister named Ester (Esther) who was almost seven years old at the time this story was composed. Since the story mentions Ester’s godmother is also her aunt, I thought a little investigative work was in order. Knowing Ester’s date of birth was May 11, 1895, it only took a few moments of searching through Castelfondo church registries to find her baptismal record. Ester’s godparents are listed as Angelo Zuech and Barbara Zambotti. Checking my ancestry tree for the Zambotti family I found – yes, Barbara was Ester’s mother’s oldest sister, therefore both her aunt and godmother.

So it seems that this moral story may have been written about an actual event that occurred between Tillie’s little sister, Ester, and her mother, Oliva.

As always, our thanks to Loretta Cologna for her dedication to this translation project. Mille grazie!

Find all previous translations from this series by scrolling through our earlier blog posts.

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 8

Page 8 and Page 9, click to enlarge

Another odd entry in Tillie’s notebook! This appears to be a loan or bond between two men named Enrico Zamboni (debtor) and Ernesto Palaver (creditor). Strangely, neither family is from Castelfondo (Zamboni is from Fondo and Palaver is from Cles). And neither men are related to the Genetti family.

Loretta and I are stumped by these entries; our only guess being that Tillie may have copied a legal document that she found in her home. Your guess is as good as ours!

Here is the next entry, from page 9 (right side)

BOND

I undersigned Enrico Zamboni of Andrea from Fondo declare to receive from Ernesto Palaver of Antonio C 213 that is Crowns two hundred and thirteen as a loan,  with the obligation to give an annual interest of 4 and 1/4 %, four and one forth per cent, starting from today and to give the capital back on the 14 January 1907.

If Mr Ernesto Palaver of Antonio from Cles needs his capital before the established time, I oblige myself to give it back to him after a 15-day advance notice.

If Enrico Zamboni of Andrea from Fondo could give back the capital before the established time, Ernesto Palaver must take it back.

Read and signed at the presence of the witnesses.

Enrico Zamboni debtor
Ernesto Palaver creditor

Read past posts from this series:

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 1

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 2

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 3

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 4

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 5

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 6

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 7

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 7

Cover, The Tragedy of Ottilia Genetti
click to enlarge

As our translator, Loretta, and I progress through Tillie’s notebook, we are finding it to be a unusual mixture of writing. Although the title on the cover says that it is the “Tragedy of Ottilia Genetti” written during the second session of Class II (2nd grade), the contents don’t appear to match the cover!

As all of the entries are dated 1902, Tillie would have been about twelve years old in this year – much older than a 2nd grader! And Loretta has found several entries signed by Addolorata (Dora), Tillie’s older sister who was age thirteen in 1902. It also appears the journal is certainly written by someone more mature and older than a 2nd grader.

Our little notebook is turning into quite the mystery! We will continue to translate and publish its contents and at the end, hopefully be able to make a judgement as to who was the author and what was the purpose of the school journal.

Page 6 and Page 7, click to enlarge

 

Continuing on to the next entry, we begin on Page 7 (right side) and turn to Page 8 (left side). It is a short story obviously written as moral lesson. Loretta found it difficult to read and translate the end of the story on Page 8 due to the eraser marks, so she has attempted to interpret the ending. We hope you enjoy it!

 

 

Page 8 and Page 9, click to enlarge

 

The Poor Orphan Child

Angela, daughter of rich parents, was 9 years old. One day she was eating some bread with a piece of cheese on her house door. Giulio, a poor orphan child passed by, he was still without food. When he saw the bread he went near the girl and said: Be charitable, give me a piece of bread because I am hungry.

She answered: No, go and get bread elsewhere, because I am going to eat it.

The child went away with tears in his eyes looking at the bread.

In that moment a dog came near the girl wagging its tail. She caressed it and gave it a piece of bread.

Giuseppe started to cry and said to the girl: Am I less important than an animal? I am a creature created in the image of God.

When the teacher knew what had happened she told her off  and said: If you have a piece of bread left you must not give it to a dog but spare it for the poor who suffer for hunger.

Castelfondo 7 March 1902

 

Read past posts from this series:

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 1

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 2

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 3

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 4

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 5

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 6

 

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 6

Pages 6 and 7, click to enlarge

Our next entry in the 1902 notebook (page 6 and top of page 7) appears to be a short story entitled:

The Negligent Girl

Enrica, a girl of twelve, was negligent and careless and she was still in the first class of her school village.

One day her teacher gave them an essay to write as a homework. She presented an essay written with all the possible care. The teacher looked at Enrica’s essay and realized it had not been done by her.

The teacher said: Tell me the truth, did you do your homework yourself?

The girl said: Yes, I did it myself.

The teacher said: I am asking again, did you do it yourself?

The amazed girl said: No, I did not do it, Ernesta did it. I gave her three coins that my mother gave me to buy a notebook and two pens. My mother believed my words and gave me the money. And I gave Ernesta the money.

So the  teacher scolded her harshly.

 

Quite the little story, don’t you agree? Thank you Loretta Cologna for your help in bringing our family heirloom to life with your translations! Mille grazie!

Read past posts from this series:

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 1

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 2

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 3

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 4

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 5

 

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 5

Continuing with our translation of the 1902 notebook, at the bottom of page 4 we find this unusual entry:

Click to enlarge

Receipt
For C (crowns) 212/ two hundred and twelve that I undersigned receive from Cologna Ferdinando of the late Giuseppe Cologna from Fondo, as interests he owes me on the capital of C 182 from 1 January 1899 to the first January 1902.

Faithfully,
Cologna Ferdinando of Giuseppe

 

Neither our translator, Loretta Cologna, nor I have any clue as to why this receipt shows up in Tillie’s notebook.

According to Loretta:

“This is a receipt for some money someone lent. What I don’t understand is that the interest is more than the capital!!!!! Before the number 212 there is a letter, I believe the “C” is for crowns  but it is not very clear. Then the names of the two people are the same, it is a bit confusing….  Anyway, I translated it word for word. Maybe Tillie made some mistakes with the names or with numbers while copying.”

Another strange coincidence is that “Ferdinando Cologna, son of Giuseppe Cologna of Fondo” may be an ancestor of our wonderful translator, Loretta Cologna. As Loretta noted in one of her emails to me – there are many, many descendants of the Cologna family in Castelfondo. Unless we trace Loretta’s family tree back, we really don’t know for sure.

One can only guess at the reason a possible great-relative of Loretta’s ended up in an entry of a 1902 school notebook penned by a young Genetti girl.

Read past posts from this series:

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 1

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 2

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 3

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 4

 

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 4

Click to enlarge

Continuing with our translation of Ottilia Genetti Zambotti’s notebook, here is a very sweet story composed by Tillie in March of 1902, as transcribed by our friend Loretta Cologna.

(left page, continued on right page)

While Maria was walking with her father along the main street of the town one day, she watched many valuable things in the jewelers’ shop windows; so she said to her father: In some months it will be Mum’s name day and as I have saved a little treasure in my money box I can buy her a nice gift.

Dear father, as you have great taste, you can give me some advice about my choice because I want to give Mum something that she may like.

My daughter – her father said – the most precious gifts that a girl can offer her mother are not jewels but obedience, hard work and study.

Following these truths Maria started to study with a double zeal, she got a notebook and wrote all the good advice and the lessons she received at school. On the last page her teacher registered the good marks and the praises that the young girl deserved throughout the school year.

On the desired day, beaming with joy, Maria gave her mother the notebook together with a  little plant of jasmine that she had grown herself.

Do you think there is a better gift for a mother?

Castelfondo, 1 March 1902

Read past posts:

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 1

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 2

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 3

 

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