Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I think I just hit my first brick wall

I've been spending a lot of time lately - when I can find the time - going through microfilmed Civil Registration records from Bitetto, Bari, Puglia, Italy. 3/4 of my Italian great-grandparents came from Bitetto, so this gives me the most bang for my $7.50.* However, I recently discovered, through the Italian Family History Research community on Google+, that the Italian government is putting these same records online at an Italian genealogy website called Antenati ("Ancestors"). Although only a small portion of these are online so far, Bari is among those provinces that have been uploaded.

I have to admit that I was getting a little bored with this Italian research. The most exciting thing about genealogy, of course, is piecing together stories, solving mysteries, getting to know your ancestors. But Civil Registration is just Civil Registration, and I wasn't doing any of that. I was compiling lists of births, marriages, and deaths, which barely goes beyond collecting names. And yet it's the groundwork that needs to be done before I can move on from Nati, Matrimoni, and Morti to the Atti Diversi that might contain some more of the details that go beyond BMDs. I also have hopes of eventually figuring out what the local newspapers were and how I could gain access to them, but I haven't gotten there yet.

With easy access to all of Bari at my fingertips, I stepped away from Bitetto to the other town where my ancestors originated, the nearby town of Toritto. My great-grandmother Maria D'Ingeo was born either in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, or in Toritto, Italy, and her parents were Domenico D'Ingeo and Anna Pace. Unfortunately, the birth records only go through 1899 and Maria D'Ingeo was born in 1902, so this doesn't resolve the question of her birth. However, I was able to quickly find the birth record of Maria's older brother Vincenzo ("James") because he had listed his 1891 birth date not-too-inaccurately on his American draft registration. This confirmed their parents' names and gave me a good place to start looking for their marriage record, since all reports were that Vincenzo was the oldest child.

I found the marriage of Domenico D'Ingeo and Anna Pace on 31 Jan 1886, and annoyance over boring vital records dissipated.

The first point of interest is the date: 5 years passed between the wedding and their first known child. I'll have to spend more time on birth records in the intervening 5 years to see if there were any other children who didn't survive.

A second point of interest was that neither spouse was from Toritto, although both were living there. Domenico had been born in Terlizzi, and Anna in Grumo Appula. Both are nearby towns, but I'll have to learn more about the area to figure out if there was something in particular drawing them to Toritto.

Additionally, this record complete one additional generation in the D'Ingeo line, introducing me to my great-great-great-grandmother Rosa Rutigliano.

However, the vastly more interesting item was Anna Pace's parents - or lack thereof. The atto di matrimonio is a standard form with blanks left to be filled in. It reads, roughly translated:

"In front of me, [name] official of the Stato Civile, presented themselves:
1. Domenico D'Ingeo, age twenty-four, farmer, born in Terlizzi, residing in Toritto, son of the late Vincenzo, residing in life in Toritto, and of the late Rosa Rutigliano, residing in life in Terlizzi;
2. Anna Pace, age twenty-one, farmer, born in Grumo Appula, residing in Toritto, daughter of unknown father, residing in ________    and of unknown mother, residing in                        . . ."

As I scrolled down the page, I had first read figlia di padre ignoto and I thought I understood. She didn't know who her father was! Maybe her mother didn't even know who the father was! Then I kept reading, and was shocked. Clearly, Anna didn't know the identity of either of her parents. How does that happen?

While my first thought was that she could have been orphaned at a young age, a trip through the Atti diversi of a different town and an unrelated year showed that the majority of those acts recorded the discovery of abandoned babies. I still have to find some time to page through both birth records and Atti diversi for Grumo Appula in the mid-1860s to see when and how Anna Pace makes her appearance, but my guess at the moment is that she was another abandoned baby.

If that's the case, it seems like I'm staring down the brick wall of an impenetrable brick fortress with no doors or windows. Anna could be the beginning and the end of the Pace line in my family.



*$7.50 is the price to order 1 roll of microfilm from the Family History Center. 

2 comments:

Saving Beth said...

I love your blog! It has given me great advice on where to look on my famiky history search. That Toner history is still eluding me though! Now, will look for Smith Street in Brooklyn for the Skelly side thanks to your Laight Street story. Finally did 23andMe test. Hopefully will find clues there! Thanks for your excellent writing!

Kathleen Scarlett O'Hara Naylor said...

Thanks for your comment! Who are your Toners? Do we have a connection there? My Richard Toner and his wife Mary Cullen came from Maynooth, Co. Kildare and lived in Brooklyn.