Tag: ancestors

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!

 

Pursuing the Past

The Genetti Family Tree contains over 1,000 people (with many more to be added). It begins in the 15th century and represents about 18 generations.

You’re probably wondering how the heck did I find all of those vital statistics such as birth, marriage and death records, especially for people who lived hundreds of years ago. Well here’s the story.

From the perspective of genealogy research, the Genetti Family is quite lucky. We know the exact village where the family first took root, the church where their records were kept, how long they lived there and when they left. The Genettis also kept a record stretching back to the 1500’s of male ancestors, their birth dates, their wives and the date of their marriage. This information was passed down through the generations. The fact that the family lived in exactly the same location for hundreds of years, plus their penchant for record keeping is almost unheard of in the realm of genealogy. It makes the task of researching so much easier.

For our modern relatives born in the United States, we have census records, immigration records, state birth and marriage records, the Social Security Death Index, land grant and ownership records, military records, cemetery indexes and newspaper records such as obituaries. All of these stats are easily found online, are part of public record, and in English. By compiling this information, we can build a fairly accurate picture of a person’s life in the United States.

However, our ancestors from Castelfondo posed a much more interesting challenge. Armed with a modern version of our family tree, I reasoned that most of these people must have been born, married and died in Castelfondo. Therefore, they would likely all be listed in the parish church registries. Next I went to FamilySearch.org (maintained by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who supposedly have the world’s largest genealogy data bases) and checked their catalog. Yes, Castelfondo church records were available on microfilm. I ordered the films and had them sent to my local Family History Center. At the center I could access the information to my heart’s content.

One day in 2012, I sat down to view my first microfilm. That’s when the fun began. The records start in 1567 and continued through 1925. I believe many generations came before this time, but the church was not required to keep official records until the mid-1500’s. The registries also contained a few gaps here and there, but for the most part the records appeared complete.

However, the registries were all hand-written (since there were no typewriters or computers in the 1500’s) and not always very neatly done depending on the scribe at that time (usually the parish priest). Also the records were written in a variety of languages … none of which I understood! Early records (1563 to the mid-1600’s) were in the regional dialect of Nones (an ancient language spoken only in the Val di Non region, considered a Gallo-Romance language). Records from mid 17th century to about the 1820’s were in Latin, with some Italian and a bit of German. Later records beginning in 1824 are all in Italian and neatly transcribed into registries with pre-printed headings and columns. Luckily most information contained in baptismal, marriage and death (morti) registries is basically the same. So with the help of online translators and by comparing older records with later ones that I could easily translate, I was able to decipher the information.

Over a period of a year, I visited the Family History Center every Tuesday and spent about six hours on each visit, searching through registries for Genetti ancestors and translating records. Finally I decided to photograph all of the records from the microfilm (several hundred pages!). Now I have San Nicolo’s records from 1567 to 1923 on my computer, and easily accessible for further research.

So for your pleasure, here are three baptismal records from different time periods along with my translations. All three people also reside on our family tree. I’m sure there will be many questions concerning the information contained in these documents … but that will have to wait for another blog post.

I hope to have many more vital statistic records available to you in the future.

AndreaGenetti1568Andrea Genet, baptized 11 Jan 1568. Peder (Pietro) Genet of Melango is his father, no mother is recorded. His godparents are: Zoan Segna and Battista (unknown name?) wife of the late Antoni Lorenceto of Melango.

 

PetriGenetti1650small

Petrus (Pietro), baptised 25 June 1650, the legitimate son of Georgeii (Georgio) and Lucia who are married with the name Geneti di Lanci. The child was baptized and his godparents are: Joanne (Giovanni) Batista (Baptista) (unable to translate surname) and Anna daughter of Andrea Geneti di Lanci.

 

RaffaeleBaptismalsmall

Born on the 24th of October, 1867 at 8:00 in the morning. Baptized on the 24th of October. Baptismal name: Angelo Rafaele Genetti of Castelfondo. He was the 26th Catholic child to be born that year and the 8th boy child. He was also of legitimate birth. The person who delivered him was Maria Detta. His father was Leone Genetti, son of the late Antonio of (Genetti) Lancia (this is the sopranome or nickname for our branch of the family). His mother was Catterina Genetti, daughter of Nicolo (Genetti) (Catterina and Leone were actually distant cousins). It says who the priest was that baptized Raffaele but I can’t make this out. His godparents were Giacinto Genetti, son of Nicolo (Genetti) and Veronica Genetti, daughter of Battista (I believe Veronica was also Raffaele’s grandmother).

 

For more info about the Ladin language of Northern Italy and the Nones dialect of the Val di Non, click here.