Friday, September 17, 2010

Vincenzo Cianciotta, Caduto in Guerra

Wednesday morning, I went to my grandmother's house, and she shared with me some information about her side of the family. She mentioned that her mother's older brother, Vincenzo Cianciotta, had died "in the war." (The generation made me assume WWI; I was right.) She also mentioned that the town had named a street after him. I'd jotted down all the names she gave me (I hadn't previously known the names of any of my great-grandmother's siblings), and when I got home, I googled the one who had apparently had a street named after him.

The town of Bitetto, Bari, in Puglia, Italy, lists on their website all of the streets in town that they named after fallen soldiers in any war, listed alphabetically. You can find a brief biography of Vincenzo Cianciotta - in Italian - at the bottom of the page for Cianciotta. 

Roughly translated, it says:
Born at Bitetto, 16 January 1884, ID number 11587, deceased 8 October 1916 at Vizintini, dying at 11 am at 32 years of age. Son of Saverio and of Arcangela Scigliuto, married to Antonia Occhiogrosso and father of one daughter, residing at via Barberio 19. Died following a bullet wound to the head. Buried at Vizintini. Soldier of the 9th Infantry Regiment. 

(I hope that's more or less accurate. My Italian was once fairly good, but I haven't used it in 2-3 years now. I should probably brush up if I'm going to start looking more closely at my Italian ancestors.)

From what I can figure out, Vizintini (or Visintini) is a hamlet in the town of Doberdo del Lago in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, which was involved in the Battles of the Isonzo. Vincenzo's date of death falls a couple of days before the Eighth Battle of the Isonzo (10-12 October 1916), so it seems that he was either injured during the Seventh Battle of the Isonzo (14-17 September 1916) and did not die for nearly a month, or he was injured and killed between battles. 

I'm going to see what I can learn about requesting Italian military records.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Honoring (the wishes of) the Dead

I was at the Records Room of the Kings County Surrogate's Court one morning last week. I found a piece of information I'd been wondering about for almost as long as I've been researching my family history. I can't be 100% sure that the fact is accurate, as it's not a primary source - but it's closer to it than anything else I'd come across, so I have a decent amount of confidence in its accuracy.

Now, the reason that this one fact has eluded me is because the person it concerned didn't wish it to be known, but rather, took great pains to avoid revealing it while alive. And this has always left me a bit conflicted. If I were to discover this fact, and know it with any degree of certainty, would I share it? (I'm not sure I've reached that degree of certainty yet, so I don't think I'd be spreading this information yet, anyway.) I've never gone looking for a primary source for this fact, precisely because I wasn't sure what I'd do next. On the one hand, it seems inappropriate to keep it from curious relatives, especially those who have shared lots of information with me over the years. But would that be the right thing to do? I know that the dead have no expectation of privacy, but I wonder if disrespecting our ancestors' wishes amounts to disrespecting our ancestors. If I had no respect for my forefathers, I would not be occupied in the genealogical pursuit, now, would I?

Do I share?