Thursday, January 27, 2022

52 Ancestors Week 4: Curious

  From Amy Johnson Crow: Week 4's theme is "Curious." Several people have already asked how to interpret this. Remember -- it's completely up to you! When I put the list together, I was thinking of something that you've always wanted to discover (something you're curious about) or a record/discovery that you find curious (unusual). You could also write about an ancestor who was curious (an inventor or detective, perhaps?)

A marriage date on a birth banns? It's more common than you think.

    Curiosity is something that brings us all together when we're searching for our ancestors. We all want to know "Who", "What", "Where", "Why" and "When". The five "ws" aren't just for those interested in journalism or the law. They also come in handy when you're naturally inquisitive and as I've said many times I was 100% that kid who would ask a million questions. I couldn't help it! I was curious. There's nothing wrong with being curious! Unless you're a cat. Or a chimp named George. I also can't help but feel like a certain dark knight when I make a discovery. After all Batman is a detective, scientist, genius, billionaire, playboy etc. While I am none of those things, I do have a relative of mine who actually WAS a detective.

    Enter Paolo Coppola, brother to my 2nd great-grandmother Caterina Coppola. Like his brother and sister, he was also born in San Pietro a Maida. He went to America shortly after his brother, Giovanni, established himself there as a grocer. He lived in Beverly, Mass and eventually he and his family moved to Haverhill. Over the course of his life, he married two women Lena King and Antonia Iellamo (Yellum). If you look at his WikiTree profile, you will see that the man had seventeen children with thirteen surviving to adulthood or close to it. One died when he was eighteen. Still, that is a LOT of children to take care of!

    I found out he that was known as a "national detective" while looking him up in various censuses and other documents. Oddly enough, he had two different professions on his two World War I draft cards. That's right. He had TWO World War I draft cards. Why? I have no idea. I used to think there were two different men with the same name living in Haverhill. However, there's a note on one of the cards which states in the margin "This man previously registered June 5th, 1917 on card #466"

    Having two World War I draft cards is a bit of a curiosity by itself. To make things even more interesting, he had two different birth dates on them and he listed himself as a "mill operator". His older draft card listed him as a "shoe maker". So, when was he known as a "national detective"? To answer that question, we must look at the 1920 census in Haverhill.

    Shortly after the death of his fist wife Lena in 1918, Paolo and his children started living with his sister, Concetta, brother-in-law Vincenzo and their family. On the census, you see that his job was listed as "city detective". It seems that some time between 1917 and 1920 he became a detective. Not bad. I'm not sure what the circumstances were. However, I am impressed he made it that far in three short years! I noted his profession on WikiTree and let it simmer until I got a DNA match who descended from his daughter, Beatrice. She confirmed that her great-grandfather was indeed a detective and that's not all! She gave me what is essentially a genealogy book of her family and inside its pages is a story about one of his cases!

Antonia Iellamo
    The book was compiled by a genealogist named Mary Smith in 1992. Apparently, she did a lot of research into the family of Antonia Iellamo, the second wife of our detective friend Paolo. She traced her story back to San Pietro and being the daughter of Francesco Iellamo and Caterina Cortese of San Pietro a Maida. She also included some riveting tales about her family, descriptions of the people and so much more. It's basically genealogical gold!

    One of the stories was actually the story of how Antonia met Paolo. Antonia's sister, Mary, was apparently known throughout Haverhill for her beauty. She was tricked into a loveless marriage at the age of fourteen. Her parents found out about it and the abuse she suffered so she was sent to a "Home for little Wanderers" in Jamaica Plains for her own safety. 

    When Mary turned sixteen, she returned to Haverhill and worked with her older sisters at various shops. It was soon revealed that she was secretly dating the man who would eventually become her second husband! Sadly, the second marriage was also turbulent and the birth of four children did nothing to calm down the tensions. She was apparently pretty restless. If this story took place in the 1960s she'd have totally gone to Woodstock.

    I digress. Before she met and married her second husband, she was seen around town with her first husband whose name was Peter Trainor. Peter was known to drive by the local grammar school to pick up Mary. One day he picked up Mary and her friend Edith. He dropped Edith off at her house and drove with Mary to Portland, Maine. She was located there by our hero, Paolo, who had been hired by her very frantic parents.

Mary Iellamo
    Mary was returned home and even though there were no signs of abuse Paolo must have sensed something was off and let the family know about his feelings. Regardless of the warning, the Iellamos let her marry Trainor. This proved to be a bad call on their part because not long afterward it was reported by his family that Peter was quite abusive to his new wife. The family, Paolo and even her physician all agreed that the two needed to be separated and divorce proceedings were held in 1924.

    Because of her age she was placed in the "Home for Little Wanderers" There she learned handcrafting. She later met Speros Spelios and had four children with him and passed away in April of 1971. I know I am supposed to be objective but it's a GOOD thing she got out of there and it sounds like she eventually had a happy ending despite everything that happened to her in the 1920s.

    This is the only one of Paolo's cases that I know about. I'm sure there are many others. It's one thing to read a document that says this guy was a private eye and another thing entirely to learn the detective was basically a hero. That is beyond cool. That's just awesome. 'Nuff said. I've told my cousin that her great-grandfather was a hero and she agreed with me.

    It's honestly amazing what you learn when you ask the right questions or look at the right document. You won't get a story like this in a census or anything like that. At best you could maybe get a police report. Even then it'd be minimal and who knows if they keep case files that are about a century old at this point. Of course there's also the tried and true newspaper archives. Perhaps this case was reported in the Haverhill Gazette? It's possible. I would have to know when this case happened before I could even think to look for it.

    Either way, it's great to know that someone in the family, even if he is distantly related to me, was helping people. Paolo had eight children with Antonia including my DNA match's grandmother. I'm fairly sure she thanked him for helping the family as he did. He may have met her under some interesting circumstances. Even back then love worked in mysterious ways. You really can't argue with the results.

    Paolo and Antonia lived together for many years until he passed away in 1954. She passed away just five years later. From what I've been told by my cousin and other DNA matches who descend from Paolo is that Detective Coppola was definitely a hero. There is no doubt about that. He may not have been Batman. But, he was still pretty cool.

    I'm curious to see if there's more to the story. What made him decide to be a detective? What did his family think of his career path? I'll probably never have answers to those questions and it'll annoy me for some time, I'm sure. For now, I'm sure everyone was happy Detective Paolo Coppola was on the case! As for me, I'm always going to be curious. Can't help it!

See ya next time!

Thursday, January 20, 2022

52 Ancestors Week 3: Favorite Photo

 From Amy Johnson Crow: Week 2's theme is "Favorite Photo." If you've done the 52 Ancestors challenge before, you might recognize this theme. Yes, it's a repeat -- but it's too good not to do it again! Tell the story of a favorite photo: who is in it, where and when it was taken, and why it was taken. What was the event?

This is a sequel I can get behind!

    I said it last week and I'll say it again. I love photographs. They can bring a person to life and put a face to the information you're putting into your favorite family tree creation software. While biographies are good and recommended on places like WikiTree, photos tend to add something to the profiles on the website or in the program you're using. I'm not going to lie. Photos can bring someone long dead back to life in interesting ways and you can even animate them on MyHeritage. Though, I HIGHLY advise you don't animate people you personally knew. The results can be....unpleasant. See "The Uncanny Valley" for details. Remind me never to animate my grandma Ollie's pic again. Ever.

    Pictures can also represent a single moment in time. In my own collection, I have several Christmas photos, birthdays, get-togethers, weddings and other random photos I've shared here in the blog. However, there's one photo that was taken on August 28th, 1971 that represents what I'd like to call a nexus event. Not just because it was the marriage of my parents. It's more because it was a single day where the ancestors of several of my DNA matches were all in one spot to celebrate a momentous occasion. One single moment in time brought together people from various backgrounds like any other wedding. However, it was special to me for obvious reasons as two different worlds became one.

A single moment in time.

    This photo was taken on that day and it's probably one of my favorite pictures from the wedding. My parents, Dr. James Ferraiolo and Diane Hamel met in college in a chemistry lab. You could say they had....chemistry. I hear the "boos"! Your "boos" give me strength! 

    My parents have always told me about their wedding. They had chicken, pasta, soup and everything else you could think of. My mother recalls that she ate very little of it because she was greeting everyone at each table and making sure they all were having a good time. 

    And who was invited to the wedding exactly? Obviously their parents were there. I highly doubt they'd have missed that day for anything! My mother's five siblings and others were also there. My father's first cousins and their spouses were there,  too.

    Okay. So, close family members were there. That's usually the norm for every wedding, right? This is true. It was definitely the case when I was at my brother's wedding and my cousin's. How does this involve the DNA matches?

Rocco Carrabis on the far left. Pasquale on the far right.
    Well, to understand that you'd have to understand my grandparents. Grandpa Marco and Grandma Ollie had a list of people they wanted to have at the wedding. Italians tend to have big get-togethers and my family is no exception. Everyone had to be at a family event regardless of how far away they were. By 1971 Vincenzo had passed away and so Marco was in charge of basically keeping the family together. To do this he invited family from Melrose, Mass like the family of Rocco and Pasquale Carrabis. Rocco and Pasquale were my great-grandfather Giuseppe's brothers, by the way.

    Other Italian family members were invited such as the descendants of Pasquale Forgione. Pasquale was the brother of my great-grandmother, Clementina.

    This list of Italian relatives is quite extensive and these were just people on Grandma Ollie's side of the family!!  People on Marco's side were there such as his mother's cousins from Woburn, Massachusetts. There were quite a few Tedescos there along with several descendants of Marco's great-aunt Concetta Coppola. So many Italians were in one spot! Who knows what was going to happen!

The '60s is strong with this picture. Oh, my. My
grandfather was hanging out with my grandma 
Felker and her sisters.

        Enter my maternal grandparents. Robert Hamel and Natalie Felker had their OWN list of people they wanted to invite. My great-grandparents Austin, Henrietta and Clara were all there along with my mother's aunts and uncles. 

    Other relatives like the Senters were also present. If you recall, they descended from my 2nd great-grandmother Gertrude Stevens and her second husband, Walter Howard Senter. Oliver Legault's daughter was also invited but was unable to attend. Hamel cousins were also present. The guest list was pretty extensive. It's amazing they all fit in that church and dining hall. Keep in mind that my parents had their OWN friends to invite to the wedding. I pity the wait staff who had to keep the wine flowing for the guests!

    I highly doubt anyone at the wedding knew what the future would bring. It was just another day to celebrate the wedding of two people who were very much in love and who last year celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. It was just a celebration and yet that one picture up at the top of the blog became so very important. Why?

    Well, it was the start of a great adventure two college students had. In the picture, I can also see how much hope for the future the two crazy kids had. That's why I like the photo so much. It was a symbol of hope and a new beginning two people from different backgrounds, Italian and French-Canadian/English, would take together. The picture symbolizes two worlds effectively becoming one and in just five years after the photo was taken my brother Jim was born. I was born two years later.

    Decades later at-home DNA testing became very popular thanks to various commercials, television shows etc. In 2017, I took a test on Ancestry at the suggestions of both my great-aunt Nicolina and my cousin, genealogist Mary Tedesco. Mary's grandparents, great-grandmother, great-aunts and others in her family were AT or were invited to my parent's wedding. I knew this for quite some time. What I didn't know was that this was the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

    I went down my list of DNA matches with my parents looking over my shoulder and they said things like "Oh! That's Dante Gagliardi's daughter!" "That's Lawrence Senter's son!" I turned to both of them and I was perplexed. I said quite frankly "How do you know that?!" They said their parents were at the wedding and they proceeded to show me a list of who all was invited. I had known of a few people beforehand like the Tedescos and a few others. But, this was an extensive list of who's who. It was pretty amazing. 

    When I tell people about the picture, I don't just say it was my parents' wedding picture. That's probably oversimplifying it a wee bit. I tell them the story. It was a wedding where two different families met and broke bread. It was where stories were made that could be told for generations to come. A simple wedding in Haverhill, Massachusetts was the start of an incredible journey and I'm certainly glad it started. I wouldn't be here otherwise!

  See ya next time!

Thursday, January 13, 2022

52 Ancestors Week 2: Favorite Find

 Week 2's theme is "Favorite Find." This could be a discovery that you made from breaking down a brick wall or something that just made you smile. (Like on my ancestor's Civil War pension application when it asked, "Is there an official record of your marriage?" and he answered, "No, it's recorded at the courthouse." Sometimes, you just have to laugh.)

Circle of Life intensifies

    It's a new year and it's once again time to talk about one of my all time favorite finds. Ever since I restarted my genealogical adventure in 2017, I've found many things I consider to be a "favorite find". Usually they are pictures. They're like gold to me and any genealogist would treat them as such because they add a face to the name in your favorite family tree creating software. Because it's important to put pictures in a tree, I've put pictures of my ancestors all over the Internet. Can you blame me? I have like five trees! Seven if you count the ones on DNApainter and FTDNA.

Marco, Caterina and Adriana
    I've gotten many so great pictures in 2021 that it's hard to decide which one is my favorite. Perhaps I should make a top ten list? Without a doubt this one with my second great-grandparents Marco Ferraiolo and Caterina Coppola would be in my top three finds of 2021.

    My cousin Caterina was the one who gave me this picture almost a year ago in February. It wasn't long after I got it that I was introduced to the woman who was the little girl in the picture. Her name is Adriana Serrao and she currently lives in Rome. I talked with her on Facebook and she gave me some context for the photo. She was about two or three when it was taken. Using a bit of math, I was able to deduce that it was taken some time in the late 1940s or early 1950s as Marco passed away in 1958 and Caterina in 1962.

    I said it was a great picture and like any good genealogist I asked if she had more. She must have smiled because I got a ton of great photos in response to my query. Not only did she share a picture of her mother Rosa with me, she shared this great picture of my great-grandfather Vincenzo! The quality was pretty good as it was probably taken in the 1960s.

Doggo looks comfy!
    Oh, yeah. This photo was definitely taken in the early 1960s. That's my great-aunt Nicolina on the left and her daughter Cathie on the right. The hair styles screams late 1960s to me! I wish I knew who the dog was. Obviously he/she didn't mind being held by my great-grandfather. I do hope some treats were given. The dog's cute. But, not my type of breed. I like bigger dogs! 
So, why is this picture one of my favorite finds of 2021? Well, I mostly like it because it's a clear picture of Vincenzo in his later years. That and who doesn't like pictures of dogs? I know a few people on Wikitree who do and I should probably upload it there!
My dad's well traveled photo!

    Adriana sent me a few other pictures before sending this one on the right. My jaw instantly dropped as I recognized the photo immediately! She asked if I knew who the kid in the picture was. I said "Of course I do!" It was my father and the photo was from his graduation from Haverhill High. My fingers trembled on the keyboard before I could type. How did she get that photo?! When did she get it?! Why does she have it? So many questions filled my head. I was just about ready to call my father and tell him that a relative in Rome had his high school graduation photo! Telling him had to wait. I needed answers, first!

    I tried not to freak out when I asked her about the pictures. She said she was putting some old photos in order and she found these and wanted to share them with me. She wasn't sure who the people were. Naturally, I explained everything. I told her who was who and how they all fit in everything. I even updated her on their lives in America.

     I was still left with a few questions. How did she get the photograph of my father? As far as I know Haverhill High doesn't have a campus in Rome. Though, that would be cool.  The most logical explanation (which is also the most boring one) is that when Vincenzo and the rest of the family went to Italy, they visited Rosa and gave her my father's photo. It's either that or my grandpa Marco mailed the photos to Rome. Why do the most logical explanations have to be the most boring ones?! I was hoping for something like maybe they came to America and there was a huge party before I was born and pictures were exchanged. That would have been cool.

Rosa Ferraiolo (1906-1999)
    Adriana surprising me with a photo of my own father from high school was probably one of my favorite finds of 2021. Yes, I know we have a copy of the photo and his yearbook in the house. That's not the point. The point is that even back then family shared photos of their loved ones and they're going to show up in some pretty interesting places. My father's picture was in a photo album in Rome. Who knows what other pictures they have! Oh, wow. They might even have pictures of me when I was a baby! Imagine that! Grandpa Marco might have sent them a copy! You never know!

    I told my father about the photo and he laughed and confirmed that the most logical explanation was probably the correct one. I would have liked some more creative explanations to be honest but what can you do? Not much, I'm afraid!

    You also never know where photos will pop up. It's one thing seeing them show up on Ancestry as hints. It's something else entirely when a family member clear across the ocean has that photo. It's something to keep in mind when you're a descendant of a relatively recent immigrant. You may have family in Europe and they may have a picture of you or your loved ones! You never know!

See ya next time!

Thursday, January 6, 2022

52 Ancestors Week 1: Foundations

 From Amy Johnson Crow: The theme for January and for Week 1 is "Foundations." Some ways you might interpret this include focusing on the person who sparked your interest in family history, a builder in your family tree, or the person who is the bedrock of your family.

Rock solid, huh? 

    As I write this first 52 Ancestors blog of 2022, I look at my Twitter feed and see many people clamoring over the 1921 census of England and Wales. It was just released to the public and many people have found their parents for the first time in those pages. Many have even confirmed or disproved some family lore. Many more have found other family members. It's been great and I've been all smiles because it's basically Christmas for everyone who has people in the census. It's good to see everyone happy about what they discovered. As for me? I don't have anyone in that census. In 1921, my family was in America or Italy. It's a shame I don't have anything to look forward to. OR DO I?!

Wow, you can actually hear the beatniks.
Crazy, man.... *snaps fingers*

    On April 1st, 2022, the United States Census Bureau will release the contents of the 1950 US census as per the seventy-two year rule of releasing information seventy-two years after a census was conducted. The last time this was done was in 2012 with the 1940 census. It's ten years later and now it's the 1950 census's turn.

    This should be an interesting census not just because it's the first one set after the "Baby Boom" started in 1946. This census will have many firsts for me personally.

1. This will be the first time my parents will be in the census as they were very little at the time.

2. This will be the first census without my great-grandmother, Maria Tedesco who passed away in 1943, my 2nd great-grandmother, Gertrude Stevens who passed away in 1944 and my 2nd great-grandfather, Eugene Hamel who passed away in 1943 to name a few.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. There were so many changes in my family between 1940 and 1950. What can I do to prepare? What foundations can I lay down so that I am prepared for the deluge of information coming my way in April? Luckily, there are many things you can do to prepare yourself and not freak out. I don't know if everything's going to hit us all at once. But, my plan is to stay focused on two key cities. If you've been following my blog, then you know exactly where I am going to go. Haverhill and Newburyport.

    In order to properly prepare, city directories are about to become your new best friend. I highly suggest checking them out so that you can see where your ancestors, relatives and even family friends lived in 1950 or somewhere around that date because chances are they'll be in the same general area.

    Lucky for me the 1950 City Directory for Haverhill is online at Ancestry. Inside the pages, I can easily find my grandpa Marco and grandma Ollie living on 26 Bartlett Street. At that point in time, they were married for four years and my father was very little. From here it's safe to assume that Ollie's parents are at the same residence due to what I know about my family. Giuseppe and Clementina never moved. My great-grandfather, Vincenzo and his second wife, Fortuna were nearby on Shepherd avenue. The list goes on. If we go back one page, I can find Austin and Henrietta Felker living on Margerie St.

    City directories are a gold mine of information and they are crucial for laying the groundwork for what is about to come in just a few months. They make things less daunting don't you think? I'd like to think so. I'd hate to fly blind and not know what exactly I'm doing. And let's face it. The advertisements found in the city directories are hilarious in hindsight. Try "Honest Joe's Shoe Repair"! Joking aside, you can definitely apply this strategy to Newburyport or any other city.

    Once you've found people in city directories around 1950, you're going to want to put everyone in a spreadsheet like the one to the left. I know this one was for the 1940 census. Just humor me because the basic principle is the same. List your relatives in the spreadsheet and label them however you'd like. This way you'd know who to look for in April!

    Keeping a list of people who you'd know would be in the 1950 census is also a good idea. The list may get extensive. However, it might be a good idea to start small and work your way up. Start with your direct ancestors, then their brothers and sisters and their families. The rest should fall into place. I would start with the direct ancestors only because that's the major branches of the tree. Everyone else would eventually fall into place.

    Once you do that, I would highly suggest checking out blogs or videos about what to expect with the 1950 census. Genealogists like my friend, Marian, have great blogs outlining what she intends to do with the census and how she plans on tackling it. Check out the blog here. She and other people have provided plenty of good tips. So, surf the internet and see what you can find.

    If blogs aren't your thing, perhaps several videos on Youtube would be to your liking. This video by Genealogy TV goes into explaining what to expect within those pages and may even help you navigate what exactly will be listed. I can safely say that it's a lot more intuitive than the 2020 census was. Yeah, I said it. Shots fired. I am so sorry people of 2092. The census was just.....not good. At least it was mostly digital because of the pandemic?

    These are just a few things you can do to get ready for the 1950 census. I'm sure there are others who have a laundry list of what they want to do. Now keep in mind that not everyone will have an easy time like I did. These are just some basic tips. You might have to do some more digging. Perhaps you can find something in the newspapers? Surf around and make a to-do list. Stay focused. Stay away from the beatniks beating their bongos and please....whatever you do......don't jump the shark. So many 1950s era references I can make. So little time!

    Can you say I have a good foundation for when the 1950 census drops? As Luis from the Ant-Man movies said "It's on. It's so on right now!" Wow. I kind of want him to narrate genealogy stuff. "So, I was at the library with my cousin, Maria, right...."

    I think I have a good head start on what's coming. The 1950 census could drop tomorrow and I'd be fine. I dunno if that's ego or anything. But, I like to be prepared. So, to my friends who have access to the 1921 census, I say congrats! I'll be joining in your excitement in April! Stay tuned!

See ya next time!

P.S. The first census I appear in is in the 1980. That won't be released until 2052. Yikes. 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

52 Ancestors Week 52: Future

 From Amy Johnson Crow: The theme for Week 52 is "Future." The end of the year has us looking back and looking forward. (Sounds like genealogy, doesn't it?!) Perhaps this week you write about an ancestor you hope to find in the coming year.

No one knows what the future holds. Still, we march forward.
Make it so.

        The past year brought me some very interesting finds on my genealogical adventure. I talked to new cousins in Europe who confirmed a story about how my great-grandfather, grandfather and grandmother went to Switzerland for a wedding. An act of senseless vandalism in a cemetery led me to find my 2nd great-grandmother Gertrude Stevens's grave. I took part in the WikiTree Year of Accuracy Challenge where we broke over 800 brick walls for many of the community's top genealogists. Yep. The last year was pretty impressive. As fun as it is to look back at past accomplishments, let's take a quick trip in the Tardis to see what exactly my future will hold and what I hope to find in the coming year! Be careful. The Tardis doesn't always take you to where you want to go. She takes you to where you're needed.


    While I didn't break through the brick wall that is my second great-grandmother, Domenica Gullo, I did chip away at it with laser-like precision. Sure I'd rather take a wrecking ball to it or the Kool-Aid Man. But, sometimes you need to work with what you got. Some things are better than nothing. And what exactly did I find that could help me break the brick wall? Well....

    1. I found that she married my second great-grandfather, Antonio Tedesco  on November 18th, 1899. Curiously, I got information about the marriage on November 18th, 2021. Coincidence? I THINK NOT!

    2. She was born Maria Domenica Gullo on January 25th, 1876 in the Italian town of San Pietro a Maida. It's interesting that everyone in her family called her Domenica and the name is even on her gravestone. And yet her name was Maria Domenica. Interesting, indeed.

    While I didn't find out the names of her parents, I am a little bit closer to finding their identities. Some time early next year, I intend to message the commune office in San Pietro with this complete list of facts and ask for  information on who her parents were. I will be concise and to the point. 
    Information on her parents may take a while to materialize. But, it's not like I don't have anything else going on.  While I am waiting for that info, I have asked several friends of mine from WikiTree's Italy Project to help me with another project of mine.

Getting ahead of the game!
    On WikiTree, I have a One Place Study where I focus on everyone who was ever born in San Pietro a Maida. It's not an easy task and I need a bit of help with it since my Italian isn't that great and it's a bit hard to read some of the documents as some text has faded with age. Don't get me wrong. I can make out some words. It just helps to have a second pair of eyes looking at a document and 
I am very appreciative of any and all help. Trust me! Plus we have a great time looking at the records!

    This week, I decided to go a bit more above and beyond the call of duty. My friends and I are basically cataloging everyone who was born in San Pietro from 1800 to 1861 on a spreadsheet. This will help me break through the brick wall! How? Well....

Domenico Gullo, huh? Interesting....
    By cataloging everyone who has ever lived in San Pietro a Maida, I can narrow down the list of potential parents for Domenica, build a tree on WikiTree and prepare myself for when that momentous e-mail finally arrives confirming who the parents are. All I would have to do is simply connect her parents to her and have a ready made tree ready to go. Efficient, yes? Also very time consuming. I'm not going to lie!

    I'm totally up to the task because WikiTree allows anyone to make an unconnected tree. It would just take time to get the floating branches to connect to the "main tree". I have a few floating branches on the website and this research will definitely speed up the process of breaking down the brick wall as I am building a tree downward. It's a good strategy and I don't know about you but I want to see this tree filled in:

I still see tumbleweeds. They'll be gone, soon!

    Researching everyone in San Pietro will also help me with another mission and that is to research the Ferraiolo, Coppola and Tedesco lines and hopefully connect people to DNA matches and even people in the Italians in Haverhill project I created in the past year. Yeah, I've been pretty busy haven't I? Keep in mind I've also been producing a webcomic at the same time! Many Italian immigrants in Haverhill came from that one small Italian town and it'd be interesting to see how they all connect because I've seen DNA matches for my great-aunt with names like "Serratore","Azzarito" and "Desando" in their trees. Where would they belong? By researching and connecting, I will be able to add more branches once I find that missing link. It's a lot of work. But, it'll be worth it.

    The Italians in Haverhill book and other sources can help build trees and interconnect everyone in there. I can use that and traditional genealogy to find the connections. So far several connections, dates and other sources correlate with things such as that funeral list for Maria Tedesco and other clues. As Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation said:

 "The hall is rented, the orchestra engaged. It's now time to see if you can dance."--Q, Star Trek: The Next Generation "Q Who" First broadcast on 8 May 1989

    Once the brick wall is broken and connections have been made, where do I go from here? That's a very good question. I'll still have my one place study. That's not going away any time soon.  What I might do is confirm a few post-1861 births in San Pietro. We have the births for Concetta and Caterina Coppola. What about their brothers' births? I could ask for them. Would it be a moot point since DNA confirmed the relationships? Not to mention family knowledge. My great-aunt and cousin in Switzerland remembers those people. I suppose it couldn't hurt to ask. There are still many people I could ask about once I solve Domenica's puzzle. For now I am focused on that goal!

    So, that's my plan for the next year. Is it a good one? Yeah, I'd say so! It's always good to have genealogical goals ready for the new year and a plan once you have everything set in motion. I am definitely ready to break the brick wall now. Granted it's an ambitious project. But, there's strength in numbers and I have faith in my friends in the Italy project. We'll get the job done and we'll do it with style. I have all the tools needed to bring the wall down and I am ready. Let's do this. 

See you next year! Let's make it a good one! Make it so!

P.S. Thanks go out to the Italy Project! You all rock!

Thursday, December 23, 2021

52 Ancestors Week 51: Holiday

 From Amy Johnson Crow: The theme for Week 51 is "Holiday." There are numerous holidays at the end of the year. Do any of them spark memories of an ancestor?

Wrapped and ready to go!

    Christmas 2021 is only two days away at the time of this blog's posting. What better time is there to talk about the Christmases of years gone by? I've already discussed how my family would have Christmas eve parties where large amounts of seafood was served and how my grandma Ollie and her sisters would come over and join in on the fun. We'd have squid served in a variety of ways, haddock, shrimp and so much more. This is normally called "The Feast of the Seven Fishes" in Italian-American households. It's a thing. Look it up!

Christmas 1986: The '80s is strong with this photo.

    What I didn't talk about much in the blogs was how my grandmother would stay overnight and celebrate Christmas with us the following day. We'd pick her up at her house in Haverhill and she would sleep in our den. My grandmother spent every Christmas with us ever since grandpa Marco passed away in 1983. So, as a result she was always over at our house up until she passed away in 2002.

   I remember one Christmas with her pretty well. It was the Christmas of 1986. The reason why I remember this so well is because of how much fun my brother and I had that morning. While the presents were awesome, we definitely enjoyed having our grandmother there as well as my mom's sister, Linda. Presents are cool and all. But, having family with us was pretty awesome, too!

    I woke up early as kids usually do on Christmas morning and snuck into my grandmother's room. I was seven years old that day and my eighth birthday was only two days away. Grandma was just stirring and I smiled when she saw me. I sat on the bed and we talked for a bit about Christmas when she was little before my brother came in to get me. He wanted me to go downstairs and see the presents! I looked at him like "Dude, they'll be there!" Ollie said to go on downstairs. She was getting up anyway. The noise probably woke my parents and my aunt up, too!

Celtic pride since 1976, eh, James?
    My brother made a fair point. There were a lot of great presents under the tree and he wanted to dig into them. I'm not going to lie. I also wanted to dive in and see what Transformers or other toys we received. Jim and I staked out our corners of the tree and prepared to dig in!

    Suddenly, my aunt Linda came downstairs to take the dogs out and there was an even bigger ruckus. Jim and I look at each other like we were busted. Ratted out by a Britanny who needed to go outside! Our dog at the time was Tux and I think I posted a picture of him here before. He was a good boy.

    My parents eventually came downstairs once the dog was taken care of. We ran up to them and asked if we could open our presents. We didn't make a noise going downstairs! We were just ratted out by forty pounds of liver and white fur.  Our parents said we could open presents AFTER we had our breakfast. That was just plain cruel and unusual punishment to seven and ten year old boys We eventually agreed and had our breakfast.

Christmas joy right there! 
     My mother took a picture of the tree with all of the presents under them and we dug in. Naturally our presents were various era toys such as Transformers, Go-Bots and the odd Lego set or two. Every once in a while there would be clothes. Those got opened LAST! One of the best presents my brother and I ever got that year was a giftset of five transforming planes called "Aerialbots" who transformed into a giant robot called "Superion". That was the height of cool in 1986. Quiet.

    I noticed another present under the tree and I thought it was for me. I grabbed it and my father told me to check the tag. I was like "Okay...."

 I looked at the tag and it was from my parents to my grandmother. I laughed and then the following pic happened.

   I guess I got too excited during my dive that I forgot I was supposed to also hand out presents to everyone as I went through the presents. Whoops. Lesson learned. Hand out presents to everyone while digging for your own stuff. That's a much better look isn't it? I was seven! Give me a break!

    I don't remember what she got. But, I always laugh at this picture. It makes me look like I'm reluctantly giving the present to her. I'm not! Honestly! I do wonder what was going on in my aunt and grandmother's head at the time. I've gotten much better and handing out presents!

Yeah, This didn't last...
    Watching Jim and I open presents was of course our grandmother who always had a smile on her face and maybe a glisten of a tear in her eye at the same time. I noticed it when I was a kid and thought nothing of it. Now that I'm older, I imagined she was thinking of her husband, our grandfather. She always thought of him and I remember her saying something to the effect of how much he'd have enjoyed seeing my brother and I opening stuff on Christmas morning. I could tell now that she probably missed him. I always gave her a hug on Christmas morning and I supposed that helped her a lot.

    And speaking of hugs we have this pic on the right. Nice hug between brothers at Christmastime, right? Joy to the world and all that. Five minutes after this photo was taken the two of us resumed the hostilities between two warring factions of sentient transforming robots. The fate of the planet Earth hung in the balance! I love my mom's smile in this picture. She knew full well the peace would not last and once again the heroic Autobots would be facing the evil Decepticons.

Thank God I'm out of that  yellow onesie....

        I will always associate Christmas with the fun times I shared with my family. Christmas is a time to make memories and I have a ton of great ones with grandma Ollie since she lived closer to us than our other grandparents.  She just seemed to enjoy watching my brother and I play with our toys and interact. There are many other pictures like these! Trust me!

    The Christmas of 1986 was special to me not because of the gifts and everything.  It was special to me because it's the first one I remember really well.  For whatever reason Christmases before that point are a haze. Call it old age! That's what my family calls it! Sure we spent other Christmases together before and after that date. But, when I think of Christmas with my family I think of that day. We were all together and that's what Christmas is all about. Being with family, having a great time and making memories. We had a great party with family and friends the night before and continued celebrating till New Years. That whole week was an event and we were so tired afterward. It was a good tired and I honestly wouldn't trade it for anything. But, I don't think anything comes close to the first one I remember so vividly and I'm so glad grandma Ollie was there to share it with us!

    Like I said. Christmas is about family and I'm forever grateful my grandmother was there to share the holidays with us. It just made the whole week from December 24th to New Years Day so much sweeter! 

See ya next time!

P.S. The Superion giftset goes for like 600 bucks on Ebay, now if it's mint in box. Wow. Imagine being stuck in a cardboard/Styrofoam prison since 1986. Let the toys be free!

Friday, December 17, 2021

52 Ancestors Week 50: Lines

 From Amy Johnson Crow: The theme for Week 50 is "Lines." We often talk about researching a family line, but that isn't the only kind of line you could write about. Telephone or telegraph lines. Railway lines. Fishing lines. "Drop me a line sometime." Let your imagination run free for this theme!

No "Blurred Lines" here. There's always The Weird Al parody!.

    It's been a while since I posted anything DNA-related. I can't really say when the last time I talked about it was. It must have been during the summer. I'm not sure. What do you say we revisit an old friend this week? You might remember this guy. His name is Thrulines. Not Trulines. Not Bylines. THRUlines. The tool comes courtesy of the fine folks at and I think it's high time I take a deep dive into the wonderful world of Thrulines because there have been some changes in mine! Oh, yes. There have been some changes!

The great eight!
    For those who don't know, Thrulines is a tool on Ancestry where it connects you to a DNA match thanks to data pulled from other peoples' trees including yours. The results, of course, will vary depending on how good other peoples' trees are, how good your tree is, what sources back up the information etc. The quality depends on so many factors and so many variables. It makes your head spin! To get Thrulines all you need to do is get your DNA tested, create a tree and build it up to at least your grandparents and connect the tree to your DNA test. Wait about a day and you should get your Thrulines. YAY! You'll find them under the DNA tab on the top menu.

I have many Italian Thrulines like this!
    That's great and everything. But, what do you do when you DON'T have Thrulines for a certain ancestor? I don't have any for my 2nd great-grandfather, Marco Ferraiolo as you can see. Hmm. That is a bit of a problem. What's the reason for this? Well, there could be a lot of reasons why a Thruline won't appear for a certain ancestor.

    The first and most obvious reason could be because people who descended from him did not test or build a tree. That's one reason. Another reason could be that you have a misattributed parent in your tree and that's why a Thruline won't appear despite having many DNA matches from a certain branch of your tree.

    In my case, I don't have Thrulines for Marco Ferraiolo because Marco's other children either stayed in Europe or moved to Argentina as explained in several older blogs. This is why it's a good idea to employ the WANDER method and the Genealogical Proof Standard to find out if what you have is accurate and why you might not have Thrulines. 

E=MC found cousins squared!
    This is why it's a good idea to put your DNA on other vendors like MyHeritage. They have a tool which is similar to Thrulines called "Theory of Relativity". I wonder if Einstein's relatives know about that one....

    If you descend from a recent immigrant like I do, chances are good relatives not based in your country have tested. You could find close relatives around the world like I did. But, that's just what my experience tells me. Your experience will, of course, be different. I'm fortunate in that I knew I had relatives in Europe. I just didn't know where. DNA confirmation and paper trails proved the connection and created a "Theory of Relativity" for my connection with my cousin. Conversations with the DNA match also helped.

That's....a lot of potential Christmas card recipients.
    Over on my mother's side, Thrulines tend to be a bit more populated. Especially the ones for Jean Baptiste Bibeau and Therese Laroche, my 4th great-grandparents. Eighty-four DNA matches just for me! My mother has about one hundred! The paper trails confirmed them all and no I haven't put all of those people in the tree. Just a handful. Gotta love Quebec, right? Of course the reason for the sheer volume of matches is because of the number of people who tested and who all have well sourced trees.

     This isn't to say I don't have Italian Thrulines like this. I do. The Thrulines for Paolo Coppola and Rosa Suverato, my 3rd great-grandparents, have eight matches. The Thrulines for Vincenzo Carrabs and Maria Giovanna Capobianco have ten. It used to be nine. But, my dad's cousin just tested so the count increased. =D These are all again based on other peoples' trees. (Usually mine).  I have other cousins who descend from these lines and others who don't have trees or connected their tree to their DNA tests.  So, a Thruline may not appear because  of that reason. This is why it's a good idea to dig. I would like them all to build the trees up and have a forest of Thrulines (confirmed ones, mind you) appear. That could just be OCD talking.

One of the most lonely Thrulines I have.
    Unfortunately, there might be instances where no matter what you do, you might not ever get a Thruline for a specific ancestor. Take my second great-grandmother Gertrude Stevens' parents Austin Stevens and Evaline Augusta Fisher for example. She had one brother who lived to adulthood. I've talked about him before. His name was Arthur and he was buried with the Kimball family for some reason. See this blog for details. From all outward appearances, it seems he didn't have children. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen.

    The Thrulines pop back up for Evaline's parents, John Sargent Fisher and Frances Miranda Frothingham and yes I have quite a few distant matches who descend from their children. There are quite a few who descend from Evaline's sister, Emma. She even has a picture! Makes me wonder if a pic exists of Evaline somewhere out there. Paper trail confirmed the Thruline a long time ago and I have talked with the DNA matches. From here on out everything looks good. OR DO THEY?!

    I've been lucky with my Thrulines. Most of them have been backed up by paper trails, DNA confirmations and conversations I've had with various DNA matches. However, at the 5th great-grandparent level things tend to get a little wonky. I'm not saying they're inaccurate. However, sometimes things can be a bit skewed this far back.

    If you're fortunate enough to have built a tree this far back, you can build the tree downward and decide for yourself if the Thruline is accurate. That's what makes this tool so much fun to use. It wholly depends on your research and the research of someone else. It's almost like....a collaboration! Gee. Where have I heard that before? *Cough* WikiTree! *COUGH!*

    That's what Thrulines essentially is. It's technically Ancestry's way of getting users to collaborate on a tree via DNA matches. If you look at a Thruline and say "Hey, that person is connected to me?" You can message them and see how it all works out. The feature may have some flaws and in the end the pros tend to outweigh the cons. To get the most out of Thrulines what you need to do is make sure of these things.

1. Your tree is built up and is as accurate as possible.
2. You have ironclad sources backing up your information.
3. You have patience to deal with DNA matches who may have altered a Thruline due to their own errors creeping into your Thruline.
4. There are going to be errors. If you find them, fix it. 

Keep all of these in mind and you'll find that Thrulines is a very handy tool!

See ya next time!