This summer I wrote about my project delving deep into the Italian Church records for the village of Cossano Canavese, Turino, Piedmonte, Italy. You can read about the Status Animarum Records here.
Yesterday, Facebook kindly sent me the memory from 10 years ago after my first foray into these records. This was a massive moment because it opened the doors to an entire branch of my family. I was floored to be able to say I knew the names of all my 2nd great grandparents.
To commemorate how far my research has evolved, here is a 7 generation chart with my grandfather, Celio Gordon Capelli (aka Celio Pietro Guiseppe Ciardonei) as the beginning of the chart. My deep roots in Cossano Canavese has led me to documentation for 174 direct ancestors and 11 generations added to my tree.
My next project is to work out which Maria Brunero born circa 1734 is mine. There are 4 possible candidates born 1733-1735. The plan is to build out the trees for all four families using the parents names to identify which set of parents (Maria’s parents) are my 6th great grandparents.
About ten years ago I made a huge break though in researching my paternal Italian ancestors. At a meeting of my local genealogy society, Marin County Genealogical Society, I learned to search place names at FamilySearch. This simple search resulted in ordering the microfilm of records for the Catholic Parish in Cossano Canavese, Turino, Piedmonte, Italy. I was absolutely ecstatic to find records leading me back to the mid 1800’s and generations of ancestors.
I learned some basic Italian including numbers, months, and genealogy terms. I also ordered a book about Italian records to help understand what the form records for baptisms, marriages, and deaths meant. At the time I stopped my research at 1838. Why this specific year? This was the first year the forms were used. Before 1838, the records are handwritten in mostly Latin but also using a Latin/Italian mix and abbreviations I did not understand. The microfilm also had confirmation records at the end of the film. At the time I did not have the confidence or knowledge to figure out the confirmation records.
Fast forward to Covid-19 pandemic life. Thankfully years ago FamilySearch made the decision to digitize their collection. This has been a lifesaver for research during our new stay at home lifestyle. A DNA match led me to revisit the Cossano Canavese records. Due to endogamy in the small town my ancestors are from I was unable to figure out the connection.
With more experience under my belt I decided to take a look at the Confirmation records since I was already looking at the image. To my surprise there was more than confirmation records but also information that appeared to be census records!!
I went through the entire section and made myself a table of contents for the images. I realized along with confirmation records, mixed in, there was a census record for the years 1768, 1772, 1802, 1807, 1813, 1820 (partial), 1822, 1825, and 1870! To my amazement these church census records included who was in each household, birthdates, death dates (if within a few years of the census), relationships, and maiden names.
After confirming I could find my family in these records, I was able to add two more generations to my paternal line by working my way back through the census records.
I pulled out my Italian Records book again to get help translating Latin words in the earlier enumerations. While reviewing the information about parish records, I found a section called Status Animarum Records.
Status Animarum translates to “state of the souls”. It was a census list taken by the church for tax purposes. Once again history matters! Per Wikipedia, “The Papal States, officially the State of the Church, were a series of territories in the Italian Peninsula under the direct sovereign rule of the pope from the 8th century until 1870. They were among the major states of Italy from roughly the 8th century until the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia unified the Italian Peninsula by conquest in a campaign virtually concluded in 1861 and definitively in 1870. ” This means the clergy at the local parish were also the civil authorities and in charge of collecting taxes for the number of working males in each household.
I made a plan to focus on one branch at a time. I also stopped to learn more about records written in Latin. This was an important decision so I could start using the handwritten records. I combined the census records with the early baptism, marriage, and death records. I have added 2-4 generations on each line of my Italian ancestors taking me back to the late 1600’s and early 1700’s. I added all of the images to each person on FamilySearch.
I am over the moon happy about my progress. There are so many records, I have worked on this specific project for over 2 months. I plan on sharing some of the records, I have found in the coming weeks. There are really interesting stories you can decipher from these records.
It has taken a hot minute (or 6 months) for me to trust 2021 is going to be great.
But first a quick look back at 2020. The year started with promise and a long weekend in Whistler with the family. This was followed by some more fun and a visit from my parents. Five days after they left, California announced we would be shutting down for the Covid-19 Pandemic. The rear view on those early days brings back memories of the unknown, hope and anxiety, kids trying to figure out remote school, and a bobcat taking a stroll through my backyard. We were truly naïve to think we would be home for 2 weeks and the world would be all better.
As we adjusted our lives to keep those we love and those we don’t know safe, there were some bright spots. Finding ways to adventure away from everyone added some imagination to a couple of car trips Another highlight is my friends supporting each other while parking our cars in my cul de sac six feet apart. One of the things I am most proud of is how my children floated along the ebb and flow of the school schedules (remote, hybrid, in person, and quarantined). I am also thankful my husband was able to keep working. We ate together almost every day and worked through all of the changes and crazy details together.
At the beginning of the pandemic I believed since we were home I would accomplish every genealogy goal I ever had. I even pulled out all my genealogy boxes and placed them on the dining room table. Insert any laughing GIF from the internet and you will know how that turned out. Between sharing internet bandwidth, supporting a dyslexic kid with online learning (not for the faint hearted), and either cooking or cleaning the kitchen most of the day, my genealogy goals sat on the table for a couple of weeks before getting packed back into the office closet.
While my personal genealogy sat by the wayside, my local genealogy society, Marin County Genealogical Society found a great way to exist in a virtual world. We embraced Zoom early and often. Not only did we successfully move to meeting online, we created a new special interest group called Genealogy Social Hour. We have a topic for each month and come together with stories about our families in relation to the topic. I have learned so much about the other members of our society and am so thankful for the opportunity.
I did try again in September to get things going for my personal research but did not create any kind of research groove until the last days of 2020.
And then in 2021 I went crazy! I have so many new family stories to share. My husband gifted me a slide scanner for Christmas. I found answers to a branch of the family I have been researching for 20 years. I also learned some basic genealogy Latin for another branch leading me back another hundred years and 2 (or sometimes 3 or 4) generations. I also did research for a friend that gave me an incredible education in African American research. I have tackled the organization of DNA matches. My paternal side is already setup and my maternal side is about 50% there. And to catch us up to the end of May, I gave a presentation last week about the Scottish research that got my genealogy groove dancing again. I have so many blogposts to write to catch you up with it all.
My kids are now in their final days of school for the year. Thankfully school is ending with in person school. I have much to be excited for including continued genealogy research. This combined with vaccinations and hugging my parents again for the first trip in 14 months, I can now say 2021 is going to be great.
It is twisted but digitizing the documents I have is so fun. I have items I to be excited about a second time. In late 2014 I ordered a round of documents to try to identify where in Hungary my Mother-in-law’s family immigrated from.
One of the documents I received is the Death Certificate for Elizabeth Nagy. Unfortunately, there was no specific town in Hungary listed but the certificate does include some previously unknown information. The biggest being Elizabeth’s non-Americanized name (Erzi) is listed on the certificate. The certificate also lists a cause of death. And another variation of the maiden name show up too. I now have three variations: Viro, Varro, and Verro. My last observation is that my younger daughter shares the same birthday as her great-great-great-grandmother.
Since this Death Certificate, I have used other records including marriage and baptism records from Hungary to identify Teresztyne, Abauj-Torna, Hungary as the birthplace of Erzsébet Varró.
Indiana State Board of Health
Bureau of Vital Statistics
Certificate of Death
Local No. 23
Registered No. 24051
Place of Death: County: Lake, City: Whiting, Street Address: 1535 Steiber Street, Stay in community: 54 years
Usual Residence of Deceased: State: Indiana, County: Lake, City: Whiting, Street No. 1535 Steiber Street
Full Name: Erzi (Elizabeth) Nagy
Single, Married, Widowed: Widowed, Name of husband or wife: John Nagy
I certify that death occurred on the date above stated; that I attended deceased from Feb 10, 1945 to Aug 17, 1945 and that I last saw her alive on Aug 16, 1945. Immediate cause of death: carcinoma of liver, duration 2 years, no operation, no autopsy
Violence: no accident, homicide, or suicide
Signature: Michael E Rafatz MD, address: Whiting Ind, date signed: Aug 20/45
My husband’s grandmother, Shirley (Gingg) Pope was the genealogist in her family. She accomplished an amazing amount of research using traditional snail mail methods. As I wrote last week, it was amazing to find some of her original organized written notes. You can read that post here – Treasure, Grandma Shirley Notes Part 1.
The next couple of posts will focus on the longer document she wrote. It was approximately 14 pages front and back on most sheets. The 4×6 paper was stapled together at the top of the short side of the paper.
I am not posting the first couple of pages, as they include mostly information regarding living persons. There are also a few other spots which will be covered with grey boxes to preserve privacy for living individuals. You will also notice on the individual images that Shirley made handwritten changes to her own information. These usually include information crossed out or additional information added in another ink. Transcriptions will be below each page.
Today’s pages focus on the paternal ancestry of Shirley Gingg Pope.
Charles Franklin Gingg* (Padgitt) San Francisco, Calif. Born Oct 5, 1905 – Calif Died Oct 26, 1957 Weed, Calif.
Agnes Marie Mattson Born May 1, 1909 San Francisco, Calif. Died March 22, 1982 Healdsburg, Calif. Olivet Cem. S.F.
1 – Shirley Marie – Born 9-16-1927 S.F. Calif
My father died in Weed, Calif of a heart attack. He was on his way back to Ketchikan, Alaska after a vacation. Funeral Services held in S.F. – ashes taken to Alaska for burial by his wife, Cecile Gingg.
My father and mother separated in the 1930’s.
*Surname “Gingg” was from step-father – real fathers name was “Padgitt.
My father was a linotype operator, employed by the Ketchikan Daily News, Ketchikan, Alaska, at the time of his death.
John Alfred Padgitt Born Feb 1, 1878 Cumberland County, Illinois Died May 27, 1948 Leavenworth, Kansas
Carrie Belle Wells Born Aug 7, 1886 Arcata – California Died Nov. 30th 1967 San Francisco, Calif Buried – Holy Cross – Colma
Married 2d William Carl Gingg 3d R. Bert Trouslot 4 Patrick Teahan
Children 1 – Charles Franklin Oct 5, 1905 S.F.
2 – Ella Catherine Born July 29, 1906 San Leandro, Calif
Carrie Belle married Wm. Carl Gingg 3 – Lucille Leroy March 20, 1911
My Grandfather, John Alfred, enlisted Company K – 32nd regiment of Infantry Aug. 4, 1899. Was discharged May 8, 1901.
Served as a cook. Spanish American War. He remarried also.
Catherine M Homer Futrell – B. Feb 2, 1899 Grant Parish, La
child 1 –
Lucille M Louis Palmini – Sept 3 1932
Children 1- 2-
Charles Britton Wells Born Dec 16th 1844 (Probably) Sedalia, Mo. Died Jan 1920 Oakland, Calif.
(was in the Confederate Army)
9 Brothers (?) Clay Wes John Oliver H.P. Mary E
Nancy Annis Malone Born Dec 6, 1852 Near Mississippi Died Sept. 5, 1941 San Francisco, Calif Buried – Oakland – Evergreen Cemetery
6 sisters & 1 brother
1st child was stillborn – male
Virginia Elnora (Booth)
Nancy Annis, my great-grandmother was in her 89;s wehen she died. I remember her as a very old woman, always kind to me. She was living in Tenn. at the time of the Civil War. (?)
Charles Britton Wells was a blacksmith by trade.
John S. Wells (welsh ancestry) Born probably Kentucky Died
Susan Zilhart (German Ancestry) Born Kentucky Died Sedalia, Missouri
Known Children 1 – Charles Britton Wells 9 brothers (?) See 1850 1870 census
John Leonard Malone (Ireland) Born Tennessee Died
Mary Anne Jones (Scotch English) Born Probaby Texas Died
Known Children 1 – Mary Annis
Mary Anne Jones is supposed to have been descented from realtives of “John Paul Jones”
I was lucky enough to have two years with my husband’s grandmother before she passed. Shirley (Gingg) Pope was a loving and caring woman. But don’t be fooled, she had a well of strength in her bones. We shared the love of genealogy. Shirley gets all the credit for doing her research via mail. She wrote numerous letters to people and repositories.
Shirley left a treasure trove of family history documents. After my husband’s grandfather left us to reunite with Shirley, we found even more amazing treasures. These included physical items such as fraternal order pins, military medals, and handwritten notes.
After going through so many pieces of paper research, I believe I found some of Grandma Shirley’s first handwritten notes. There are two sets. The first is one page of notes regarding Grandpa John’s ancestors. The second is 10 pages (some have notes on back) of the summary of what Shirley knew at the time. The 10 pages are on notepaper approximately 4″ wide and 6″ tall. They are held together by 2 staples.
I find it incredible to have Grandma Shirley’s handwritten notes. Her handwriting feels like a hug.
I have digitized the notes as part of my emergency preparedness push. I am including the first page in today’s post. All of the information has been added to both my personal research and online trees (FamilySearch and Ancestry). The only item that is inaccurate on this note is the father of Anna Hink. Further research completed by Shirley found Anna’s parents to be Johann Hink and Anna (Last Name Unknown).
Note* The children are listed as birth events. Elfrieda Johanna and Claus Alfred were twins.
John Pope m. Catherine Offerman
Anna Louise Pope Robinson
b Nov 29, 1895 (?)
d June 1961
2. John Rudolph Pope died 19 yrs.
Flu epidemic in S.F.
3. Elfrieda Johann Pope Fancher Sept 19, 1901
Claus Alfred Pope Sept 19, 1901 – June 23, 1971
There was a baby born (the (1st one) who died early
Just under three years ago, a wind event in Northern California started at least 12 fires. These fires devastated large portions of Sonoma and Napa counties. The Tubbs fire, just to the north of my home, ravaged the city of Santa Rosa in just hours. Everyone knew one or more people who lost their home in the fires.
Just a year later in 2018, the Mendocino Complex Fire became the largest fire in California history with just under a half million acres burned. Sadly, just months later, the Camp Fire claimed the title of most deadly in California when 85 people lost their lives as the towns of Paradise and Concow were destroyed.
Once again a wind event wreaked havoc in October 2019. The Kincade fire was not deadly or quite as destructive as the previous years. The threat was large enough over 180,000 people were evacuated from their homes.
Now in 2020, Northern California is facing fire again. Just over a week ago, we experienced a crazy thunderstorm which saw over 10,000 lightning bolts light up the sky. Unfortunately, this led to many small fires that have merged into several massive fires. Every Bay Area county except San Francisco has a major fire burning in it.
So what does this have to do with genealogy?
First, those of us in California need to be documenting our history for future generations. How were we impacted, what did we do to help, how did we feel, how has fire changed the way we live? These stories will personalize history for our descendants.
Second, as a genealogist, I want to protect the research I have done. I find there are two components to this plan. A specific evacuation plan including identifying genealogy materials and where on the list they fall for packing the car is super important. Next is digitizing all paper materials to make the evacuation plan more manageable.
My family reviewed our evacuation plan this past weekend. We checked our emergency go boxes for what needed to be updated (first aid, food, toothpaste, etc). We also checked our evacuation go list. The list is in order of importance for packing the car. This is to help determine what gets grabbed depending on the amount of time we have. We also figured out that my genealogy treasures will fit in the car (along with kids, dog, etc.)
Every year as fire season takes it toll, I say I am going to digitize everything. Every year I have made small gains before becoming distracted and not completing the project. I am determined to tackle and FINISH digitizing a couple boxes of paper this year. I have started by reviewing my scan, cite, save process. I have a box out and using a phone scanning app, a few items have already been crossed off the list. Some of these items will start to appear as blog posts.
Have you thought about what will happen to your genealogy treasures in the event of an emergency or natural disaster? What have you done to prepare?
I may not have been the most prolific blog writer in the last year but I have made it to another blog anniversary. Looking back to when I started this blog, I was 8 months pregnant and temporarily living in my in-law’s house. I had taken nesting to another level and had to move while some renovations were being completed. I wrote those initial blog posts while my 2 year old napped.
Fast forward nine years and my situation does not feel too different. While I am in my own home, we are under a shelter in place order for the Covid-19 pandemic. My kids, now 11 and almost 9, have been home for almost 3 weeks. I am writing this blogpost while they are in online learning.
Here in Northern California, we received the notice that schools would be closing on a Friday. That weekend was filled with Facebook dreams of color coded schedules by parents who had not a clue what the coming days would actually turn out to be. I too was enthusiastic but in a genealogy way. I had a plan to use all that school time to work on research and write blog posts.
Of course my color coded genealogy dream needed some major shelter in place adjustments also. Just like the start of online schooling, within 24 hours my plan was turned sideways and flipped upside down. I quickly realized you cannot write blog posts without a healthy website. Since I have not been writing regularly, I was not logging into the website to deal with maintenance issues. With some help, I am now up and running again. In a way it feels appropriate that all the issues were resolved today. A mini-rebirth of the blog is way more meaningful when it happens on the anniversary of my first blog post.
So here is to another year and good health for all (including this blog)!!
This spring has been an exciting time for me. After years of planning, our house remodel got underway. We moved temporarily while the bulk of the work was quickly finished. Most of our belongings got boxed and stored in our bedrooms. I boxed up all of my genealogy items with a grand plan. I was going to work each morning for an hour to sort, organize, catalog, and properly store my genealogy related items. I even brought a Gaylord Archival catalog for easy ordering. I would move all my genealogy stuff back to our home beautifully boxed and cataloged.
Unfortunately, this is not what happened. I grossly underestimated what was involved with our construction project. Instead of my genealogy project, most mornings were spent at my house making decisions or running to different vendors for orders/pickups. I will not lie – I am completely okay with my project failure. We were able to move back in quickly (in construction time) and I absolutely love everything we have done to our home. From a genealogy prospective, it is time to just pick up and try again .
Genealogist Janine Adams has a great blog (The Organized Genealogist) and a great podcast (Getting to Good Enough). I am an avid podcast listener and subscribe to Janine’s podcast. There have been several episodes I have completely identified with. The theme of these episodes usually deals with getting back on track after falling off a habit or backsliding. It is like Janine and Shannon are speaking directly to me. It is great to be reminded the most important thing is to keep trying when things do not work out. Good enough includes letting go of the guilt.
Where does that leave me? Well, the 7 boxes of genealogy that left my house got moved back in the exact way they left. Brown moving boxes. Some reorganizing as we unpacked our home has led to a dedicated genealogy bookshelf in our office closet. Most of the items in the boxes have been moved to the new shelving. I still plan on cataloging and properly storing everything I have. I am carefully planning this time so I can be successful in completing my project. If I tried to start now, my attempt would be interrupted by kids, dogs, and vacation since school is out for summer. Being honest with myself about time management puts my project off until late August when my girls go back to school.
The follow up to this post will not be “Try, Try, Again” but instead read “Mission Accomplished.”
I was surprised to see today is the 8th anniversary of this genealogy blog! It seems like just last year I started writing about my family history. I guess I should not be too surprised since I was pregnant with my 2nd child when this blog started. Note to self – #2’s birthday is coming up.
I do not write as often as the first few years of my genealogy blog. I still keep trying and that is what makes fewer posts okay for me. I have more stories to tell and I look forward to getting them out in the universe!