Category: Family Stories

A Surprising Discovery!

The Genetti Family Tree

The Genetti Family Tree

About a week ago, I broke through a genealogy brick wall that had blocked my research for some time on a particular branch of my direct line. The results were a surprising discovery that shocked even me! Here’s the story.

For the past few months I’ve spent a lot of time researching the Genetti family that settled in Illinois. This branch of the tree has many unusual stories with plot twists that have captured my interest. The descendants I’ve worked with are distant cousins that I’m related to twice since one set of their Genetti great-grandparents were fourth cousins. Usually I’ve found our kindred relationship to be eighth cousins through Cipriano Genetti (1811-1890) and fifth cousins, once or twice removed through his wife Catterina Genetti (1812-1875). When you look at our family tree pictured above, their family is located on the far left bottom corner and my family occupies the far right branches located half way up from the bottom right corner.

As I sat at my desk last week, researching ancestors and checking against the tree hanging on the wall before me, something caught my eye and clicked in my brain.

Oliva 1920s-b

Oliva Zambotti Genetti
1861-1938

To understand my discovery, we need to switch gears and talk about my great-grandmother, Oliva Zambotti. She married Damiano Genetti in 1886. I had worked on the Zambotti genealogy stretching back to the early 1700’s, but always hit a wall when it came to Oliva’s grandmother, Barbara Genetti (my 3rd great-grandmother) who married Alessandro Zambotti. Yes her maiden name was also Genetti! Up until this point, I had found no information on Barbara’s parents, Giovanni Battista Genetti (1767-1811) and Maria Domenica Corazza (1776-1854). Nor was I able to go back any further in this ancestral line. I assumed they were from the Genetti family with roots in the villages of Fondo or Dambel – a distant relation to the Castelfondo Genettis, with our common ancestor existing sometime before the mid-1500s.

As I studied the family tree that afternoon, I realized I had been looking for Barbara’s parents in the wrong place. There before me I saw their names. Giovanni Battista Genetti and Maria Dominica Corazza (my 4th great-grandparents) were ancestors of the Illinois Genetti family and on their branch of the tree! I had been researching Giovanni and Maria all along for their descendants and never made the connection. That means my 4th great-grandparents through my Zambotti great-grandmother were also the 4th great-grandparents for many of the Illinois Genetti descendants – they were the same people! My great-grandmother, Oliva, was first cousins, once removed with their Illinois patriarch in America, Vigilio Genetti. Oliva’s grandmother, Barbara Genetti Zambotti, was Vigilio’s aunt!

This changed everything! I was shocked at first, as I never considered that my Zambotti line had a Genetti ancestor from the 1700’s (although there have been four Genetti-Zambotti marriages in my family since 1886, including my great-grandparents).

Since Barbara Genetti’s parents (with their very long genealogy) were already part of my online family tree, I simple plugged in my great-grandmother Oliva’s connection and she instantly had Genetti ancestors going back to the 1400’s – sharing five ancestors from 1650 to 1491 with her husband Damiano. This means that my great-grandparents are 5th cousins, once removed – and Oliva is actually 6th cousins with her own children!

Getting back to the Illinois clan, I am related to Vigilio’s descendants through both of my great-grandparents – and through four common ancestors – Pietro Genetti 1650-1706, Giovanni Battista Genetti 1746-1807, Giovanni Battista Genetti 1767-1854 and Domenica Corazza 1776-1854. For many of Vigilio’s descendants, I am their 5th cousin (3 times!) as well as their 8th cousin. I wonder what our DNA results would look like? What kind of match could be determined by having so many common relatives? If anyone from the Illinois Genetti family would like to have their DNA tested through Ancestry.com (where my DNA results are based), let me know. I’m sure it would be absolutely fascinated to see the results!

If you are interested in purchasing a fine art print of the Genetti Family Tree, stop by our Shop for details on how to order your own piece of our ancestry. Click here!

 

 

New Photos Added

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Erminia and Emmanuel Recla with their family. Children are Ralph, Elaine (in lap), Catherine (standing), Esther, Marie and Emma.
Spokane, WA – 1914.

Thank you to Mary Russell for sending me two family photos. Mary is the great-granddaughter of Erminia Enrica Genetti Recla.

The youngest child of Leone and Cattarina Genetti, Erminia was born in Castelfondo, Austria (Italy) in the year 1876. She arrived in America in 1890 at the age of 13. The ship’s passenger list shows that she traveled with her big brother Damiano, who escorted her across the ocean and then returned to his family in Castelfondo.

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Marie Recla and her husband Harry Pettis – early 1920’s.

Since most of Erminia’s large family was already living in Pennsylvania, she was not alone. Her older sister Angela, had married a young man by the name of Raphael Recla in 1887. Angela must have introduced her little sister to Raphael’s brother, because a few years later in 1893 Erminia married Emmanuel Recla. The couple set-up housekeeping in Shepton, PA near Angela and Raphael, where their first two children were born. By 1897 they were living in Michigan and five more children followed. The family moved again around 1907 to Spokane, Washington and four more children were added to the large family. Of Erminia and Emmanuel’s eleven children, eight survived to adulthood.

Erminia passed away in 1972 at the ripe old age of 95. She was laid to rest next to Emmanuel (who passed away in 1939) in Holy Cross Cemetery – Spokane, WA. Erminia was the last surviving sibling of her family.

The interesting part of this story is that I met Mary Russell, Erminia’s great-granddaughter, through Ancestry.com when our DNA results came up as a match. Mary’s test results matched mine as “extremely high probability for 3rd or 4th cousins”. And sure enough, our “shared ancestor hint” correctly predicted that we shared common 2nd great-grandparents, Leone and Cattarina Genetti. Our great-grandparents, Erminia and Damiano, were siblings. This made Mary and I third cousins. I’m so glad that science brought us together and I have yet another lovely person to call cousin!

And one more twist to the story – I recently worked on an ancestral genealogy for Don Lingousky, the great-grandson of Angela Genetti Recla (see blog post from March 26, 2015). Don had emailed me directly, providing information and photos for our family tree. Since Don and Mary shared both a Genetti and a Recla ancestor (two Genetti sisters marrying two Recla brothers) and they were both interested in their family’s genealogy, it was only natural that they should meet. After several emails between the three of us, Don and Mary are now working on their Recla ancestry together. As it turns out – Don, Mary and I are all third cousins through the Genetti family. Don and Mary are also third cousins through the Recla family – therefore they are twice related. I bet they share a very interesting DNA match!

Make sure to visit our ever-growing Photograph page in the Gallery section of The Genetti Family Genealogy Project. You might also enjoy reading about the Genetti clan on our Family Stories page.

Where in the World Is Louise?

DamianoOlivaWeddingIf you are a regular reader of this blog, you’re probably wondering where I’ve been since December. Well I’m currently “Down Under” in Australia, exploring and soaking up the warm sunshine of Brisbane, Sydney, Manly Beach and Uluru. Yes, my husband and I love to travel. With every trip, I learn about other cultures, make new friends from far away countries and expand my personal universe just a bit more.

As I walked around the grounds of the beautiful Sydney Opera House, watching the busy harbor hum with ferries and ogling the massive cruise ships that put to port everyday, I couldn’t help but think of my ancestors.

Although they had lived in the same mountain valley for hundreds of years, a poor economy and no job opportunities had forced them to travel far from their ancestral home. From the mid-1870’s through the 1920’s, entire families left the Val di Non for a better life. They traveled to the United States, Canada, South America, and other parts of Europe. Unlike our ability to board a plane and be half-way around the world in less than a day, our great-grandparents had a much more difficult time traveling.

My branch of the Genetti family left their village of Castelfondo in the Austrian Tyrol for the city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Their journey would have transpired somewhat like this. First they would travel down the valley to the city of Trento. Today this takes about an hour by car. But before the era of automobiles, our ancestors road in a horse and cart loaded with children and baggage or they walked. It would have taken the better part of a day to reach the city. Once in Trento, the family purchased train tickets to the port of Le Havre, France as well as their tickets to board a ship to New York City. After traveling by train through the mountains to the French port, they boarded a large steam ship with hundreds of other immigrants.

Due to the expense of moving a big family to a new country, my great-grandfather traveled to America first, bringing along his four oldest children. The passage by ship would have been about 10 days at sea, most likely docking in New York City. I say “most likely” because I have yet to find the ship records for this particular crossing made by Damiano and his children who arrived sometime around 1903.

Three years later Damiano’s wife, Oliva, arrived on December 3, 1906 at Ellis Island with the couple’s five youngest children. The little one, Angela Maria, was just three years old. We do have ship’s records for Oliva and the children. They traveled steerage. It must have been a long and difficult journey for a mother trying to keep track of five young children. In New York City they joined their Papa, boarded another train and reunited a few hours later with their older siblings in the new and strange city of Hazleton.

I have much respect for my great-grandfather. From online records I know he made the arduous journey between Hazleton, PA and Castelfondo, Austria (now Italy) at least seven times, between 1877 and 1930.

Even by today’s standards of air travel, I know it’s not easy to reach the village of Castelfondo, tucked in the alpine meadows. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been 100 years ago.

 

Should You Write an Autobiography?

GenettiMarkets

A page from Stanley Genetti’s autobiography.

“If you don’t recount your family history, it will be lost. Honor your own stories and tell them too. The tales may not seem very important, but they are what binds families and makes each of us who we are.” ~ quote by author Madeleine L’Engle

Have you ever thought of recording your life for future generations? I’ll bet your grandchildren and great-grandchildren would treasure a biography containing remembrances and details about the times in which you lived. And if your family is like ours, with a long and detailed history, an autobiography becomes part of the family’s ancestral legacy.

You’re probably thinking “why would someone want to read about me?” So many of us believe that our everyday lives are not worth writing about. But one hundred years from now, I can assure you, ordinary lives will seem quite extraordinary to future generations. Our family stories and photos, memories, details about our home and the town where we lived, reminiscences of how we met our spouse, what we did for a living, our children’s escapades, those folksy colloquialisms that pepper our speech – all of the small details of our “ordinary” lives will be cherished by future descendants searching for their family roots.

Stanley'sBook-1

A page from Stanley Genetti’s autobiography.

I know of two biographies written by members of the Genetti family. One by Stanley Genetti of Pennsylvania and the other by Herman Genetti of Wyoming, with the intriguing title of “Herman’s Howlings: A Personal History of Southwestern Wyoming”. Both are fascinating first-hand accounts of life in America for Tyrolean immigrants during the 1900’s. Sprinkled with family stories, regional history and ancestral details, they make for very interesting reading! Unfortunately both memoirs are self-published and hard to come by. Having been produced in a limited number and usually only in the possession of direct family descendants, it is nearly impossible to obtain a copy of either Stanley’s or Herman’s autobiography.

Fortunately I have been able to locate both books. Several years ago, a copy of Stanley’s book was given to me by one of his grandchildren. I have read it many times, gleaning a good bit of genealogical information from Stan Genetti’s stories (FYI – Stanley was my grand uncle or in other terms, my grandfather’s brother).

Recently I was given a copy of Herman’s book. I had been looking for this volume for some time and had found only obscure mention of it online. Unbelievably, on a recent trip to Italy I met with a friend who is a local historian (and not from the Genetti family). He handed me Herman’s book and asked if I had ever heard of him. Apparently a copy of the original was given to my friend, possibly through someone in the Genetti family. I was amazed that at some point Herman’s book had made a long trip from Wyoming to Castelfondo, Italy and now would be returning to the United States via a distant cousin (me!). I gladly accepted the thick Xeroxed spiral-bound copy, tucked it away in my suitcase and happily returned to Santa Fe with my family treasure. I’m currently enjoying perusing “Herman’s Howlings”, sifting through the pages for genealogy info to include on our online family tree.

My hope is to one day include both of these books as free PDF downloads on The Genetti Family Genealogy Project website, of course with the permission of their descendants. If you are a direct descendant of Stanley Genetti or Herman Genetti and would like to make their autobiographies available for the rest of the family to read, please contact me at info.genetti.family(at)gmail.com. Mille grazie!

New Family Photos

DamianoFamily

The family of Damiano and Oliva Genetti, circa 1898, Castelfondo, Austria

Last week I received a wonderful package of photos and information from Jean Branz Daly. Jean is my first cousin once removed (my father’s 1st cousin) and the granddaughter of Damiano and Oliva Genetti. We have been corresponding for several months and Jean has shared many of her family memories with me. Her package of photographs was a treasure trove! I’ve spent the last few days adding many of them to our Gallery section of the website.

Take a few moments and walk down memory lane …

click here to view Family Photographs.

Jean was also kind enough to make copies of a booklet from the Tirolesi Alpini from Hazleton, PA. This social club was dedicated to those who had emigrated from Tirol (Tyrol). It contained a number of interesting articles and photos about the Tyroleans of Hazleton, including several about Genetti family members. I’ve added one about Gus Genetti Sr. to our Family Story page, click here to read.

Thank you so much Jean! Our ancestry becomes richer with the memories we share!

 

We welcome all contributions to the Genetti Family Gallery. Please send photos as JPG files attached to an email (no more than 8 attachments per email). Include information for each photo so we can give it a caption (names, dates, location). Send to Louise Genetti Roach. Click here for email link.

 

 

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.

 

Cousins – Cugini

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Genetti cousins (with my husband Michael in the orange shirt) in Bolzano, Italy

A week ago the Genetti “cugini” or cousins got together for an impromptu Saturday morning gathering. Several of our Italian cousins live in or near Bolzano, Italy – the city where I have been staying for the past month. We gathered at Laura’s husband’s shop located close to city center. Carlo loves to travel the world and for the past ten years has built a business selling ethnic jewelry and accessories which he purchases directly from artisans he meets on his travels. We are hoping that Carlo will visit us one day in Santa Fe and add Native American jewelry to his inventory.

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Cousin Lidia Genetti with her two daughters Giovanna and Laura.

Today there were a few more cousins joining us that I had not met on our previous outing, Laura’s sister Giovanna and Stephania’s brother Enrico. Along with the children and a friend of Laura’s (who turned out to be a TV journalist for a local station) we had 13 people meandering through the market crowds of Piazza Erbe. We came to stop at our favorite outdoor café, commandeered two tables and enjoyed drinks in the autumn sunshine. After a few hours of chatting, it was time to say our goodbyes and go on our separate ways. It was another lovely day in Bolzano with my Genetti cugini!

 

What’s In a Name

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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 

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

 

 

A Story from My Past

sgabrielTo celebrate Domenica (Sunday), here is a little story from my childhood that might make you smile.

I was born in Hazleton, Pennsylvania and lived there until I was six years old. Every Sunday I went to church with my father at Saint Gabriel’s. My Nonno and Nonna belonged to this church too. And much later in my life, I found out my great-grandmother Oliva Genetti had also worshiped here for years.

From the perspective of a small child, this was a HUGE church. I was in awe of the sights and sounds around me as we walked up the long, long center aisle to our pew every Sunday morning. We always sat in the same place on the left side of the church. Being only a few feet tall, I was never able to see the front altar. The people who sat in the pews in front of us, towered over me blocking my view. The only thing that I could really see were large speakers mounted on the walls high above everyone’s head.

sgabriel2Now being only a child (and one with a very active imagination) I didn’t yet understand the concept of church. My father told me we went there to talk to God and I believed him. When we sat or knelt in our pew I would hear the voice of a man coming through the speakers. The people around me answered him. Usually he was speaking in a strange and beautiful language (for at that time the mass was still spoken in Latin). Because I was too short to see a priest or even understand that there was an actual man somewhere in the front of the church, I reasoned that it must be God talking to me. And he was speaking a magical language! Are you chuckling yet?

In my mind this made St. Gabriel’s a very special place … a place where I could have a conversation with God and he would answer! When I was about six years old we moved away and my father took us to a much smaller church. It was then that I discovered there was an altar in the front with a man dressed in robes who did all of the talking.

Although I’m no longer a practicing Catholic, I still make it a point to visit Catholic churches when I travel. I might light a candle and sit quietly for a few moments … and listen for the voice of my childhood God.