It kind of goes in spurts when I do my family history research. Mostly it is dependent on “spare” time and the weekend hours at the Main Library downtown. If I get a long stretch between my different jobs at the animal hospital I’ll drop in to the closest library near work. I took advantage of that yesterday and spent one whole hour on Ancestry.com. See my great-aunt came to the US first ( oral history ) then came two of her brothers, my grandpa and my great-uncle Alex. I figured I’d start with the three of them from immigration to death. However, a couple of days ago I noticed a discrepancy on my great aunt’s birth date and the manifest of the woman I thought was her. Turns out it was a different Raffaela S. So, I spent a lot of time yesterday searching for my Raffaela’s entry into the US and I couldn’t find her at any port. A long time ago I found her 1924 passport online and in my excitement never really checked it that close. I noticed the other day that she was married in Melfi, Italy. It also gives her birth date and there is a stamp on it that says “Naturalization Papers Seen”. She gives the reason for going to Italy as “To visit family”. I checked her husband’s WW1 draft registration card and it states that he is married to her and gives the same address as her passport. So, I know that they lived at 57 Lime St for many years, but I still can not get the “big” finds for either of them entering this country.
This is important for a couple of reasons; First it will give me the order in which the 3 siblings came and second it will complete each of their American lives.
Now for my brainstorm idea!
As I put each piece of this puzzle together I keep thinking over and over that I HAVE to have relatives, cousins, some kind of family over there. Possibly around the world. My grandpa was one of 5 boys and had 6 sisters, that’s a LOT of siblings. Now, considering they are from Southern Italy, an impoverished, mountainous and remote area, ( even to this day ) maybe some of them didn’t survive to old age. Even so, there had to be some that did and those must have had children who would be of my father’s generation in at least their 80’s ( my dad would have been 88 this past Friday ) so that leaves the next generation ~ mine and possibly even two more. Most of them should have had children. I MUST have relatives in Melfi, Italy. It just keeps going through my head. So, I found this place online that has the phone book for Mefi. I found 43 people listed with the same last name as mine and I wrote a form letter and made 43 copies to send, 1 to each person. Then I took some very old photos and placed them on another page to send with the letter. Two of the photos I picked are of a visit they took to “the old country” sometime around 1950. One of my grandpa on a Donkey with a whole bunch of people around, and the other of what looks like possibly my great grandparents and other relatives. I chose these because I am hoping that it may spark someones memory and they may recognize someone in the photos. The next two are of my grandparents together, one is at my parent’s wedding and I think the other may be while they were in Melfi. There are a few others that I have not decided on as yet but will before the week is out. My letter was translated into Italian via Google Translator and I have a woman who is fluent in Italian looking at it on Thursday to make sure it is accurate.
My heart is already racing! I can hardly contain my excitement just to think that p o s s i b l y I might get an answer. That one day in the near future I will look in my usually empty mailbox and find… a letter…..from Melfi, Italy.
Some people have seen the binder of information I have collected and are completely blown away by how much I have uncovered. They say “Wow” and “that’s amazing” and “I can’t believe you’ve found sooo much”! It sort of feels funny because I honestly don’t think I have that much and certainly everything I do have was just as easy for them to obtain, they didn’t take the time, or have the drive or whatever. I didn’t have to go far, right here in my own little city. But I don’t feel like I have enough. I want more, I want the names of ALL of the siblings – my great aunts & uncles. I want my great great grandparents names. If they had photographs I want those too! I want it all, no stone unturned.
More than anything I want to go there. I want to see the sky they saw, feel the earth they felt, see the places where they lived, farmed and raised their families. I want to walk into the Churches they prayed at, baptised their children in, got married in. What I wouldn’t do to see a Record Book! With my family names in it.
Am I obsessed or possessed?