Category: Family Trees

Why am I a genealogist?

Family1916

The family of Raffaele and Lucia Genetti,
circa 1916.

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Names on the Tree

Original Genetti Family Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Family Tree

I had a great question sent to me today by a family member.

Question:

Why can’t we see the information of living people when viewing the online family tree? Since this family wanted to update information on their immediate family members it was difficult to know exactly what names, birth dates, etc. were correct when all that can be seen on the tree is a placeholder that says “Living”. 

The answer:

To protect living descendants from those nasty people prowling the internet looking for personal data they may use to perpetrate identity theft, it is HIGHLY advised never to publish a living person’s information. This is the same policy used by all genealogy sites to protect their users.

Solution:

If you are a family member and would like to check family vital stats such as birth dates, marriages, children, divorces, etc. for living descendants, please email me directly. I can provide you with a Descendant’s Report in PDF format for several generations of your family that includes vital stats info. In order to receive this report you must be a member of that particular family and I must be able to identify you in my data base. No Descendant’s Report will be sent out unless this criteria is met.

Thank you for sending this question. I’m sure many family members out there were wondering the same thing.

Have questions? Send them to info.genetti.family(at)gmail.com.