Category: Family Stories

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 11

Page 12 and 13, click to enlarge

Our next translation is an entry by Addolorata (Dora) Genetti, Tillie’s older sister. After reading this sweet thank-you letter addressed to Dora’s godmother, I went to work searching through Castelfondo records and the references I had saved to my Ancestry.com tree. Using various dates and documentation, I pieced together a background story to go with our translation. It’s truly incredible the family history that can be constructed from clues in a thank-you note penned over a century ago!

Here is Loretta Cologna’s translation, followed by my family history information. I hope you enjoy the read!

Addolorata (Dora) Erminia Genetti Bott, (1889-1971) photographed in Pennsylvania about 1911

 

Page 12, left side and top of Page 13

Dear godmother,

I received your present with great pleasure yesterday night. A pair of golden earrings! It is too much for me, I surely did not deserve so much.

I will send you a present too, it as a bunch of forget-me-nots made of canvas which I made myself. Every leaf tells you that your goddaughter loves you. I did not know what other gift I could send you.

Thank you, thousand times thank you.

I am your goddaughter,

Addolorata Genetti

Castelfondo, 17 March 1902

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

Addolorata (Dora) Genetti was born on August 12, 1889. Her parents Damiano and Oliva, had just returned to Castelfondo from Latimer, Pennsylvania early in 1888. They brought with them their infant son, Leone, who was about eight months old at the time they traveled.

According to baptismal records, Dora was born a triplet. Unfortunately her brother was still-born and never named. Her twin sister, Angela Cattarina, lived until the age of two. Dora was the only surviving child from this pregnancy.

Her baptismal record is somewhat complicated due to the triplet entry. Dora’s godparents are listed as Sisinio Genetti (Damiano’s older brother) and Erminia Erica Genetti (Damiano’s youngest sister). Dora’s twin, Angela, also has Erminia listed as her godmother, but a different godfather, Clemente Dallachiesa.

Erminia Enrica Genetti Recla, (1876-1972)

It is interesting to note that Erminia was just thirteen years old at the time of Dora’s birth. However, if we look at Dora’s full name, Addolorata Erminia, we now understand that she was her Aunt’s namesake.

Soon after Dora was born, her godmother left for the United States. According to the ship’s manifest, Erminia was escorted by her big brother Damiano, sailing on the ship La Bretagne out of the port at Le Havre, France. She arrived in New York City on March 10, 1890. After seeing his little sister safely to her new home, Damiano returned to his family in Castelfondo.

From her marriage certificate, it appears that Dora lived in Weston, Pennsylvania where she met her future husband Emanuel Recla. The young couple soon married in 1893. It is interesting to note that Erminia’s older sister, Angela Maddalena, married Raffaele Recla (Emanuel’s older brother) in 1887. So again, we see two sisters marrying two brothers. Thus the children of Erminia and Angela were double first cousins!

Returning to Dora’s thank you note of March 1902, we see through birth records that Erminia already has four children and is living in Crystal Falls, Michigan by this date. Within a few years, the growing family moved again and settled in Spokane, Washington. Erminia and Emanuel had a total of eleven children, with eight surviving to adulthood. Today you can still find many of their descendants living in Washington State.

As for Dora, she soon left for America with her father Damiano and little sister Esther, probably sometime in 1903. Big brother Leone, followed in 1904. The family set down roots in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where they established a meat and butchering business. The three siblings and their father moved into a home on Cedar Street. Their mother, Oliva, along with the remaining five siblings (Ottilia, August, Albino, Erminia, Constante and Angela) joined them in 1906.

We still are uncertain if this entry in the 1902 notebook was written by Dora, or penned by Tillie as a copy of an existing letter by her sister, possibly as a school exercise. We will have to wait and see what answers are found in future translations of the notebook.

One last side note: Dora’s godfather, Sisinio Genetti, died of tuberculosis in Castelfondo in 1908 at the young age of forty-four. However, Dora’s godmother, Erminia Genetti Recla, lived to a very old age of ninety-six, passing away in March of 1972. Erminia outlived her goddaughter by six months, as Dora died in October of 1971 at the age of eighty-two.

So that is the family history contained in Dora’s innocent little thank-you note to her godmother. I hope you enjoyed my diversion into family relationships and our recent ancestral past. 

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

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 9

Page 10 and 11, click to enlarge

Another mysterious entry appears to have been penned by Tillie’s older sister, Addolorata. Or perhaps Tillie was simply copying a letter written by her big sister. We simply don’t know!

Page 10, left side

Dear friend,

While I was walking with Enrica yesterday afternoon she asked me: Are you ill again? Poor you! No leaf falls that God forbid! Bear your sorrows patiently and offer them to Jesus and one day you will find them written down in golden characters. Don’t despair my dear, because your illness will be temporary.

And even if you can’t go to school, don’t worry because I am going to visit you on Thursday and I am going to repeat the lessons that were taught these days.

In the meanwhile I will pray for your recovery.

Yours affectionately,

Genetti Addolorata

Castelfondo 14 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 7

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 8

 

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

 

Tillie’s Notebook, Part 2

Sometimes the universe offers help when help is needed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom of page 1:

Castelfondo 24 II [February] 1902

Dear classmate, Genetti A.

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

(click on image to enlarge)

 

Page 2 (left side):

What I love

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

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

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

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

Castelfondo 28 February 1902

(click on image to enlarge)

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

 

1902 School Journal by Tillie Genetti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a excerpt from Stanley Genetti’s biography:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out links referenced in this blog post:

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

Autobiography of Stanley Genetti – written by Stanley Genetti, 1981

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

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

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

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