Category: Immigration

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.

Follow-up News on Documentary Film

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post about the documentary film: Trentini Americani – I just found out from the film maker that an interview with Bill Genetti will be included in the final cut of the project! Filmed in 2011, Bill was interviewed at his business in Hazleton, Pennsylvania along with footage of the city and other Tyroleans telling their story. I featured an edited YouTube clip of this interview on our blog back in May. Here’s the link if you would like to watch it again: Pennsylvania Trentini Americani.

Since our family will be represented in the documentary film, it’s even more reason to support this exceptional ancestral project! I can’t wait to watch the final film since Vincenzo also did interviews with descendants in Wyoming, Montana, California and Colorado – all places where the Genetti ancestors settled.

There are six levels of “Perks” being offered ranging from $11 to $2,916. (Note: five of the levels are under $95 – so I know you can find a level that fits within your budget.) If you value preserving our heritage and the memories of our first generation Trentini Americans, I know you will support this worthy project.

To learn more, go to: Trentini Americani: Recollections of a Journey

Trentini Americani: Recollections of a Journey

Hey family and friends, I just found out about a super-cool project called Trentini Americani: Recollections of a Journey, a documentary project. The film is being produced by Vincenzo Mancuso of Trento, Italy and is a crowd-funding project at Indiegogo. Here is the project’s overview:

“At the beginning of the 20th century 10,000 Trentini made their way to the United States. From 2009 until 2018 I traveled across the United States, meeting with families from New York to San Francisco and collecting over 160 interviews. The conclusion of this long oral history project is the production of a documentary that spans four generations and that tells the stories of the Trentini immigrants.”

The film will be produced in English with Italian subtitles, allowing for both Americans and our Italian cousins to enjoy personal interviews with descendants. Read more about this amazing project and view photos of our Tyrolean ancestors at the project’s home page: Click Here!

This is quite the labor of love and a magnificent way to preserve our ancestral heritage. If you agree, why not join me in supporting Vincenzo’s campaign with a donation. By donating at the $28 level, you will receive a high-definition download of the film upon its completion. I think that’s a real bargain for all the work that is going into this documentary. Of course, every little bit helps in bringing this project to fruition. FYI – the Indiegogo campaign runs until the end of August, so don’t procrastinate – help share our heritage with the world by supporting Vincenzo’s dream.

And here is the video clip that introduces the project on Indiegogo:

Trentini Americani – Recollections of a Journey from ITALOAMERICANI on Vimeo.

For more information:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trentini-americani-recollections-of-a-journey/x/1698596#/

100th Anniversary of Armistice and How It Changed Our Heritage

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Map prior to 1803 of Tyrol with Bishopric of Trent and Bishopric of Brixen

One hundred years ago on November 11, 1918, the ethnicity and homeland of the Tyrolean people changed. For on that day the Armistice of World War I was signed, breaking apart the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Shortly afterwards, on September 10, 1919, the Treaty of Saint Germain was signed, formerly annexing German-speaking South Tyrol and Italian-speaking Trentino to Italy. For centuries this entire area was inclusively known as “Tyrol”. With signing of the 1919 treaty, the region of Tyrol located south of the Alps was transferred from Austria and now became the northern Italian provinces of Trentino-Alto Adige.

According to Lou Brunelli, publisher of “Filò: A Journal for Tyrolean Americans”, Tyrol had a long cultural history stretching back 915 years under Austrian sovereignty:

  • 800 years under the Bishopric of Trento
  • 115 years under the Austrian Empire

In comparison, Italy was a young country, having only become a unified Kingdom (a monarchy) in 1861. By 1922 it fell into a Fascist dictatorship under Mussolini. After World War II, Italy became a democratic republic on June 2, 1946.

View of the Dolomites from Bolzano/Bozen, Alto Adige (South Tyrol)

For most of the past millennia our ancestral lands were influenced and controlled by Austria. Although our ancestors spoke Italian and regional dialect, their nationality and passports prior to 1919 stated that they were citizens of Austria, as they had been for centuries. Now with the stroke of a pen (and much political maneuvering by Italy), the region became Italian. (The events that lead up to Tyrol becoming part of Italy and the subsequent suppression of Tyrolean culture is a complicated and involved story. If you would like to read more about the history of this region, I have provided informational links at the end of this blog post.)

View of Val di Non from Castelfondo, Trentino

Since most Tyroleans emigrated to the United States prior to the 1918/1919 annexation, they came to America as Austrian citizens, and were never really considered Italians. However our relatives who remained in Trentino, now officially became Italian citizens. Mr. Brunelli told me that 97% of USA-bound immigrants arrived before the annexation and were not subjected to the subsequent Nationalism fueled by Fascism that occurred particularly in the Province of Alto Adige/Sud Tirol. 

The confusion of ethnicity for Tyrolean immigrants is reflected in the United States Federal Census. My immediate family is identified in three different censuses as: Austrian, Swiss and Italian! I have seen other Tyroleans listed in census as Bavarians and Czechoslovakians. But when you research our shared genealogy, you realize that all of these families are from the same region of the Val di Non, often from the same village! For those unaware of historical events, the 1900, 1910 and 1920 US Censuses can seem bewildering when it refers to ethnicity. Are we Austrian, German or Italian? Is Tyrolean an ethnicity if it doesn’t exist as a country?

San Genesio/Jenesien with view of Dolomites, Alto Adige (South Tyrol)

In the latest issue of Filò (Volume 19), publisher Lou Brunnelli (a 1st generation Tyrolean American) offers an insightful answer to the cultural and ethnic questions that plague American descendants of Tyrolean ancestors. He has given me permission to reprint this issue’s Introduction here:

Dear Tyrolean American …

Father Bolognani, the historian, sociologist, and apostle of our Tyrolean American community asserted the following … “A strange situation hindered the immigrants from the Trentino, making life more difficult for them then for other ethnic groups that arrived as the same time. Though they spoke no German and were Italian by language, they belonged to the Austrian empire and held Austrian passports. Considering themselves Austrian, or Tyrolean, they did not settle in cities as did most Italians. A search for their identity was difficult.” In other words, our people sought their definition, their differentiation from other groups. As their homeland, the ancient Tyrol was annexed by President Wilson and the Allies without a plebiscite [direct vote by eligible voters to decide an important public question] to Italy, they literally became ethnic orphans as Italy adopted a process of Italianization, becoming Fascist and then our [America’s] political adversary as they declared war on us in their affiliation with the Axis Powers. Defeated in the war and recovered with our American help, Italy became culturally adverse by no longer differentiating our history [Tyrolean] and our identity and imposing on us an identity that they had evolved while forgetting ours. What happened after the annexation, happened there and not here [America] … to them and not to us.

The Filò does not engage in a political polemic but legitimately and justifiably seeks to differentiate, to enhance the literacy and legitimacy of our historic existence and experience. Article by article it asserts with pride and joy: that who we are is who we were! ~ Lou Brunnelli

Image result for italian map trentino alto adige

Modern map of the northern Italian provinces of Trentino (dark pink) and Alto Adige (light pink)

I find it fascinating that our immigrant ancestors brought to America a culture that they kept alive in small communities, but that 100 years later many might say no longer exists in their ancestral homeland. Even today there is a conflict brewing between Austria and Italy concerning the proposed dual-citizenship for German-speaking South Tyroleans (see articles noted below).

Many of us were told as children that we were Tyrolean, not Italian. This concept might seem confusing to our cousins in Italy. But our grandparents and great-grandparents arrived in America as Austrians, became United States citizens and never accepted the label of “Italian”. From the scribbling and crossing out of country origins I have viewed in the US Census, our ancestors were just as confused about their ethnicity after the annexation as we are today attempting to describe our own background as Tyrolean Americans.

In conclusion, I take no sides and make no opinions concerning the ethnicity of Trentino-Alto Adige. I present this information only as a means to bring understanding to our shared Tyrolean American experience, place our ancestry in context to the 1918 Armistice and grasp how the events of the past century have changed Tyrol and its people.

My thanks to Lou Brunelli for sharing his knowledge and insights of Tyrolean culture. I highly recommend subscribing to Lou’s publication Filò: A Journal for Tyrolean Americans. It is a quarterly magazine provided free of charge to the descendants of Tyrolean immigrants.

Click here to register for a subscription to Filò

 

For more information see:

Filò: A Journal for Tyrolean Americans (where you can scroll through current and past issues of Filò)

World War I Armistice Signed: November 11, 1918 – 100th Anniversary

History of South Tyrol

Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919)

South Tyrol: A Minority Conflict of the Twentieth Century (Studies in Austrian and Central European History and Culture)

Italy and Austria at odds over South Tyrol dual-citizenship

Italy’s South Tyrol: where an identity crisis lingers

Hurry! Our Family DVD Will Soon Be Discontinued!

There are only a few copies left of our professionally edited DVD: “The Genetti Family of Castelfondo: Our Journey to America”! The deadline to order is December 31, 2017. After this date the DVD will be discontinued and we will no longer ship copies.

If you missed Reunion 2016 or would like a unique Christmas gift for a family member, this DVD is the perfect solution! Place your order TODAY – hurry before you miss this opportunity to own a piece of Genetti genealogy!

The price for this beautifully packaged presentation is $20 (includes shipping).

Please send your check addressed to:
William Genetti, 1345 N. Church St., Hazle Township, PA 18202.

Stop by the Genetti Family Shop for more goodies and gifts, from books about Tyrolean heritage to coffee mugs with the Genetti family coat-of-arms. Click here to shop!

Books by the Family

Constante Stanley Genetti

Stanley V. Genetti
1899-1988

I have just added a new page to our Gallery section: Books by Members of the Genetti Family. This important project has been on the back-burner for at least a year and now I am finally devoting time to making it happen.

We have two family members (that I know of) who have penned memoirs: Stanley Genetti (Pennsylvania) and Herman Genetti (Wyoming). Copies of both books have been forwarded to me through different channels. They were obviously written with a great deal of love and with the intention of sharing family history. Until now, both autobiographies existed only as paper copies in the possession of a few relatives. As personal legacies offering an account of life during a bygone era, I feel the narratives are an important part of our shared ancestry. In making them available on this website, I hope others will find great joy and comfort in the stories they tell. Perhaps the bios will inspire others to write their own account of life within the Genetti clan.

I am pleased to announce that The Autobiography of Stanley Genetti is now available on our website and can be download as a PDF file. This entertaining bio is a true treasure – I have read it several times and always find a new revelation with each reading. As with most memoirs, Stanley wrote this account from memory, including family stories and lore passed down from his elders, as well as autobiographical information about life as a businessman. I appreciated Stanley’s perspective of the Genetti businesses and the role he played within the family hierarchy. Since my grandfather, Leon Genetti, was Stanley’s older brother and one of his business partners, the memoir provides a peek into my own family dynamics.

StoreHeights-2

Genetti Store – Hazleton Heights, PA – 1921

Stanley self-published his book in 1981, distributing it to cousins, children and friends. As with any memoir, it’s always a good idea to check against genealogy records before using generational information as fact. At the time Stanley compiled his memories, there was no internet or the ability to fact-check against baptismal and death records. Written at the age of 82 and with both of his parents, (Damiano and Oliva) long gone, it would have been difficult to accurately record specifics about his parents’ siblings. Unfortunately several details about his aunts and uncles are not consistent with Castelfondo church records (the corrected information can be found on the Genetti online family tree). But hey – I hope I can look back on my life at 82 and remember so much! Kudos to you Stanley – your gift of memories will be treasured by future generations as a source of pride, recognizing the entrepreneurial spirit of our ancestors.

I hope you enjoy and share the legacy of story that Stanley left for us. Many thanks to his family who made this book available to me.

I am currently working on a digitize version of Herman Genetti’s book – Herman’s Howlings, and hope to have it online soon. If there are other family journals, collections of letters or biographies out there, gathering dust while stashed in a forgotten shoe box, please consider sharing these pearls of wisdom with us. If they are only available in paper form, mail me a Xeroxed copy. I will gladly spend the time to digitize it into a PDF format and post it on our website.

Thank you once again to all of our contributors. Through your efforts, we are building a genealogical endowment for future generations.

I invite you to take a few moments and visit our ever-growing Gallery Section!

 

 

The American Immigrant Wall of Honor

William Genetti, Morgan MacDonaldThank you to William Genetti and Morgan MacDonald for sharing photos of their recent visit to The American Immigrant Wall of Honor located on Ellis Island in New York City. The Wall of Honor is a permanent monument depicting the names of our ancestors who came to America as immigrants, traveling through Ellis Island.

Listed on the wall are William’s grandfather, Gus Genetti, and his great-grandparent’s, Damiano Genetti and Oliva Zambotti Genetti, along with great-aunts and uncles. I have to admit, this gave me a little shiver of pride to see the names of my ancestors memorialized on this wall, (Damiano and Oliva were also my great-grandparents).

 

 

Immigrant Wall of Honor

 

I’ve added one of William’s pics to our Photography Page – take a hop over there to browse our extensive family archive!

Interested in learning more about The American Immigrant Wall of Honor? Click here to visit the Ellis Island Foundation.

Thanks again William and Morgan. What a perfect contribution to our family archive!

 

New Book – The Tyroleans: A Journey of Hope

TheTyroleansJust added to our family Book Store – a lively account of a Tyrolean emigrant family. Read my review:

The Tyroleans: A Journey of Hope, A true story of a remarkable people and their emigration to America, (this is an Amazon affiliate link, click on title for information or to purchase), by David A. Prevedel, published in 2010. Available as a paperback through Amazon, price: $17.95. The minute you open this book, you know it’s a labor of love and a tribute to the author’s Tyrolean roots. David’s grandparents, (Giuseppe and Ester Rauzi, Floriano and Angelina Prevedel), all emigrated from the Val di Non in Austria (Italy). They, along with many other families from the villages of Brez, Castelfondo, Traversara, Fondo, Cloz and Tret, settled in Wyoming. At first they worked the coal mines in Superior and Rock Springs. After saving enough money, many families moved to Utah, becoming farmers and opening businesses. The author draws inspiration from in-person interviews conducted over the years with his Tyrolean relatives, friends and their descendants. Mr. Prevedel weaves family stories together with historical details, to create a lively and sometimes, humorous portrayal of Tyrolean immigrants building a new life in America. He touches upon the origin and history of Tyrol, as well as the affect World War I had on the people of the Val di Non. Continuing to Wyoming and Utah, the author provides a glimpse into life during the 1920’s and 30’s, Prohibition, the Great Depression, becoming an American citizen, the role World War II played in the lives of Tyrolean immigrants, and the post war years. Not only did I find Mr. Prevedel’s book warmly human and heartfelt, but this small volume truly captures the reality our Tyrolean ancestors experienced in a new land. Sprinkled throughout “The Tyroleans“, I recognized many surnames from my own research and from our Genetti family tree: Corazza, Menghini, Anselmi, Rauzi, Segna, Cologna and yes, even Genetti. Matter-of-fact, I believe David Prevedal’s book has provided a new clue to another branch of our family I have yet to research. I thoroughly enjoyed this touching memorial to a Tyrolean family and highly recommend it to anyone with ancestral roots in the Val di Non.

Stop by our online family Book Store to see all of our selections, click here!

Shop for family mugs, t-shirts, mouse pads, glassware and family tree prints at our online Genetti Shop, click here!

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