Posts tagged ‘family tree’

Why do they have to always hide?

****WARNING…WARNING…BEEP…BEEP…BEEP…OOOO-GA….OOOO-GA!!!****

***Long post ahead…enter at your own risk!!! ***

airsiren

I have always wondered why certain documents seem to “appear”, when they do, within my research. They might not even be on the family line that I’m working on, but all of a sudden…there they are!

Two weeks ago I went on “vacation”…ok, so I spent a week and a half walking cemeteries, staring at a computer screen in an air conditioned library, and looking at microfilm in a darkened room…its what I consider a “Vacation”. I was back home trying desperately to piece together another small part of my family history and the history of a dear, dear friend.

So I went to the county microfilm office to research. I knew the routine…I had done this before many times…but….There was an “index” book that I had never ventured into before, so I thought…”Why not”. It turned out to be the Naturalization Index for the county. There were actually 3 books total…2 were indexes for 1880-1952 and then another one that the clerk stated was prior to that time frame. So I checked in the 1880-1952 book and…sure enough I found my grandpa and his brother Dominico. It really only confirmed what I had already found out about his date of immigration. But I still got copies of the records ($3 per complete record seemed like a bargain to me). Then I continued on with the computer and microfilm…but I kept looking at the other index. I didn’t have relatives before that timeframe…but I grabbed it anyway…just to look. BINGO!!! It wasn’t prior…it was AFTER 1952. My grandmother has also filed for Naturalization. I’m still not sure why…her father and her husband had both been Naturalized and she was mentioned on both their documents. (So, technically this was the THIRD time she was “Naturalized”) But I also know that Nani (Grandma in Italian) was a VERY strong willed (a.k.a. stubborn as H*LL) woman who did what she wanted, not what others told her to do. So I had them pull her record too. WOW…I finally had a date for her immigration thru Ellis Island!!! She was one of the relatives that I couldn’t find. Her papers stated she arrived on the Duca Degli Abruzzi, September 1, 1908. BUT….IT ENDED UP BEING WRONG!!! <insert head banging on my desk>

Head20on20Desk

Last night I searched for her in the Ellis Island database….I had tried to do this a million times before…this time I had the ship to search for and a date of the voyage. Page by page I searched for her and members of her family…I knew she wouldn’t be traveling alone because the date proved she was only 6 when she arrived at Ellis Island. But…NOTHING…Zip…Zilch…Nada…They weren’t there. <Back to banging my head on the desk>

Head_Meets_Desk_by_CloudRiven

So…I took another approach to this. I knew about the right time frame…Nani had always said she was 6 or 7 when she came here. So I tried doing an advanced search based on her year of birth, 1902 (+/- 2 years), plus the 1908 date of arrival (+/- 2 years) and put in a partial first and last name (“starts with”)… I didn’t put in more than 3 letters of each name. It pulled up 9 children…and the 3rd one down, even though it was not spelled right (which I knew it had to be mis-spelled), was HER!! Instead of being listed as Frances Minelli…which was what we always knew her name to be…she was listed as Franceschina Minetta. I knew it was her…it was the right location (town and province in Italy)…so I clicked on the link to show me the manifest…I was so excited!!! I checked line 25….And….She’s NOT THERE! <bang…bang…bang…THUNK>

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Why do my ancestors do this to me CONTINUALLY?!?!?! I can almost hear her laughing…”HAHAHAHA…You didn’t find me, did you!!! BWAHAHAHAHA”…UGH!

I spent 2 1/2 hours last night, going page by page…thru the entire manifest for the S.S. Florida..August 11, 1907 arrival…but I finally found her!!! She arrived with her mother (Maria Somma), her brothers Pilerio (later known as Uncle Larry) and Natale (Uncle Nato), and her sisters, Ceralina (It was actually Terasina, Aunt Teresa eventually), Giuseppina (Aunt Josephine),and possibly Carmela (this one I’m still not positive about – If she did come here, she went back to Italy…and there is a family story about one of the daughters returning to Italy to marry). There is a note on the manifest that states their surname was changed on the manifest (originally they had been listed with mom’s maiden name of Somma, but it was changed to Minetta…which was still wrong…their father’s surname was Minelli).

Minelli immigration

Oh well…I won this round of the genealogy game of hide and seek….so…Now its your move Nani. What other road blocks would you like to toss in my way?

 

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Come out…Come out…Wherever you are?!?!?!

I can’t believe my ancestors would hide from me on purpose….I want to believe they are just shy…after all, most of them have never even met me.  I’ve tried everything.  Internet searching…name changing…even yelling “olly olly oxen free”….but still they remain hidden just out of sight.  OK…so I’m not really playing a game of Hide and Seek with my ancestors…I’m searching for them in US Census reports.  Some days I’d really rather be playing a game of Hide and Seek.  At least with the game, everyone comes out at the end.  But how do I get my ancestors to come out of their hiding places?  The only answer to this one is patience…and lots of time.

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I recently went thru my family files and realized that I’m missing quite a few US Census reports on a bunch of my ancestors.  Most of the missing Census reports are from the 1920 Census.  After I looked at my list I actually wondered if I EVER checked the 1920 Census!  There were a LOT of holes in this one….more than a piece of Swiss Cheese!  So…off to the computer I went…I had to fix this problem.

Now you know as well as I do…Indexing of Census Records is not all its cracked up to be.  You put in the name of your ancestor and most of the time you don’t get what you’re looking for.  So what is a genealogist to do?  Keep looking is the only answer.

Now, I know that most of my Italian ancestors, in 1920, would’ve been in the Chicago, IL area…the family didn’t move to Southwest Michigan until the mid-1920’s…at least that I know of.  I really didn’t want to have to check the 1920 census page by page in an area as large as Chicago. So I headed back to my paper files…I needed some connections to look for to try and find those missing ancestors.  My first thought was to gather all the names of the ancestors in 1920 that I HAD found in the census reports.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t many….but it might just be enough.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my relatives, its that they all stuck together.  One didn’t move very far from another.  So if I could find a common area among the one’s I did have, I might be able to find some more of them.  NOTE TO SELF:  Remember to ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS check the page before and after the relatives that you find.  You never know who might be lurking down the street, or be their backyard neighbor.

So I knew my Great Grandparents were in Chicago…their names were Elia and Giovanna Giudice…Unusual, Yes!…but not the most difficult names in the world.  However…if you were a census taker in 1920 Chicago, I’m sure you were extremely frustrated with all the immigrants, their unusual accents, and trying to record all these strange names.  I give them a LOT of credit.  I’m not sure it’s a job I would want to take on myself!  Anyway…I try to find Giovanna…I find absolutely NOTHING…so I try her name as Jennie…I know some of the family referred to them as Leo and Jennie, and I’ve seen those names related to them on other documents.  BINGO!  I have a hit for Jennie Giudice.  Now…this is where the fun starts……….

Jennie Giudice, my great grandmother, is living in Chicago…at 2246 Wentworth Avenue to be exact.  She is living with (or at least “in the home” with), her daughter Sarah (actually it was Sadie), son-in-law Tony, and granddaughter Mary.  But where is Elia (or maybe his name is Leo now).  I know both of them are still living…they died within a few months of each other in 1937 and I’ve visited their graves many times….in Michigan.  So…I start checking beyond their address…not a difficult task…right below Jennie is her son, Dominick at a house either next door or across the street.  Looking further on Wentworth Avenue I find Joe Giudice, Jennie’s son, at 2216.  So this is the right neighborhood…

I take a step back and look at the enumeration district…I’m in Chicago Ward 1, District 34…but I’m on page 22 of 44 pages.  So instead of just looking a page ahead and a page behind them I figured what would I lose to look thru all 44 pages of the district.  It’s all in the same neighborhood…so I might find other relatives, too.  Obviously this is either “Little Italy” or at least an Italian neighborhood…there seems to be a LOT of people who were Italian immigrants listed.  So I paged back to Page 1 and started looking at each name.  I can feel it…there has to be other relatives here.

And I find them…on page 4 I find one of Leo and Jennie’s daughters…she and her children are recorded with her husbands sister and brother-in-law.  But, again this ancestor’s husband is missing….That’s now 2 husbands that have gone AWOL on me!  So…back to the computer screen I go…and keep scanning for familiar names.  Page 18 give me another hit…a BIG one this time…My Grand Parents!  Sam and Frances Giudice have been FOUND!  Six months after their marriage in Chicago…and they are found at 230 Alexander Street…obviously an apartment building due to the number of “households” at the same address….and 4 doors down from a Catholic Church!  Gotta love those Italians and their love for being near a church!

The last one I found in this “neighborhood”, was Joe…Leo and Jennie’s son.  So…that accounts for quite a few of the family members but not nearly close enough for me!  I’m still missing a few husbands…some of them are still AWOL.  Now if I was a truly suspicious person…and I started thinking about all the possible scenarios, I might be able to add about an hour to the Godfather movies…Italian fathers and sons missing…wives and children residing with relatives…Sounds like a “Protection” from the movies!  But…this is not the movies…it’s not “The Godfather”…its just a family with a difficult to spell (and pronounce) name in 1920 Chicago.  I still have a ton of pages of the census to look thru.  I’m sure they are here somewhere.  I better give my brain a rest…stop daydreaming about Al Capone, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and relatives that talk like Marlon Brando.  I have census documents to look thru.

Check back soon…I still have about 350+ pages of the Chicago City portion of the 1920 US Federal Census to check thru.  Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t suffer any permanent eye damage reading thru this one!  I sure hope a few more relatives come out of hiding….I’d really like to know where the wives hid these husbands!

My Early Records were destroyed in “The Great Flood”….

I spent most of my Friday night reading some of the most vile, vindictive, and malicious comments I have ever read on a Genealogy-themed Facebook page in quite a while.  I still can’t believe that people can be so mean and hateful to people they have never met in their lifetime.  People calling each other names….arguing over who said what and how it had a nasty “tone” to it…and honestly, one of the nicest comments was “Prove it, LIAR”.  All these nasty comments were regarding sourcing your genealogy files and exactly how far back someone can really trace their family history.

I’m not the type of person that wants to brag about how far back I’ve traced my family.  Who cares if I have found royal blood in my family line?  Who cares if I’m related to someone famous?  Who cares if I have skeletons in my family closet?  It doesn’t make me a good genealogist to have more generations than someone I’ve never met.  What makes me a good genealogist is how accurate my tree is, and how I backup my findings.   These petty competitions between people, to the point of verbal bashing, is crazy!

I am very proud to say that I can only go back a few generations on my lines.  In fact, I can only go back to my Grandfather on my maternal line.  And I’m not ashamed of it.  I have clues to who his parents were, but no proof.  I have another line that ends with my great grandfather.  He was given up at birth and handed over to the municipality in Southern Italy.  I have no information on his parents, and probably will never be able to find out anything about them as they were not listed on his birth certificate.  And that’s OK with me.  I’m proud of my family lines and nobody can change that.

So what’s the fascination with trying to brag a bit about what you have and what you tell others?   I find nothing wrong it…as long as you don’t feel like you have to rip someone else apart to make yourself feel good.  When you start the verbal bashing it doesn’t make your tree better than anyone else’s…to me it make you a smaller person.  You become nothing but a genealogy bully.  And nobody likes a bully.

One of these genealogy tirades was, honestly, like watching a tennis match.  Back and forth the multiple participants volleyed the comments…I have a line of public officials…my line has a 3 star general…well, my line includes British Royalty…but the best one stated that if “The Great Flood” wouldn’t have happened, she would be able to prove her line back to Adam.  Even though you can get the rest of her line from your nearest Bible.  WHAT?!?!?!  Really?!!?!?!?!  Come on people!!!

I love to look at family trees…anyone’s family tree…not just mine.  Genealogy is more than a hobby to me.  But…COME ON!  This argument, as comical as it was, now had my full attention!  We’re now blaming “The Great Flood” for destroyed records?  I had to go back and re-read the thread just to make sure I wasn’t missing something.  What started as a discussion about citing sources and making sure you have proper verification, has now turned into a shouting match online about Noah’s Ark!  Some people never cease to amaze me!

Do yourself and everyone that views your tree a favor…make sure you have backup to the claims in your lines.  Don’t let it get out of hand by “tracing your ancestors” back to Noah and the Ark and then tossing a Bible at the nay-sayers as proof of the rest of your line, because “The Great Flood” destroyed the rest of your documents.   Use your Family Bible to gather information, not as a source of Biblical Writing that proves you’re related to Adam and Eve.

Document your sources….for yourself…for your family…and for future generations!  I’m heading back over to Facebook now…I just saw a thread about cleaning headstones and the flames are flying yet again.  I think I’m going to pop some popcorn…it just might be a double feature!

Turn off that chainsaw….Cutting off that branch isn’t really possible!

Family Tree’s…they are full of people we are proud of…people we’ve never met….people we want to be like…people we’re proud to call family…and people we want to CHOP OUT OF THE FAMILY TREE!  We all have that one relative that has either disowned themselves from the family or we want to forget shares the same DNA as we do.  But what can you do?  What can I do???  Write about them in my blog….THAT’S WHAT!!!

I won’t mention this one relative by name…I’m sure all my cousins will know exactly who I’m talking about, even before I describe her.  She has caused me a lot of grief over the years without even speaking to me.  Do I hold a grudge???  ABSOLUTELY!  You can do almost anything to me and I’ll probably forgive you.  But hurt my family and I’m the elephant that never forgets.

To call this woman my “aunt” would be an insult to my other aunts…The one’s who’s memories I cherish every day.  So for the purpose of this blog I will refer to her simply as “Frenchie”.

“Frenchie”, at one time, was one of my favorite relatives.  She gave funny, sometimes almost bizarre gifts.  I remember getting a stapler from her for Christmas one year…it had eyes on it and resembled an alligator.  What 7 year old wouldn’t love that as a gift.  There was also the smiley face bank (before the internet made smiley faces popular).  And there were many others.  I think what I cherished the most was when I was 14 years old…not old enough to drive, but still wanting my freedom.  “Frenchie” was newly divorced and needing attention.  What better person to tag with than your 14 year old niece.  We went everywhere together…to the movies, out for a Saturday lunch…and best of all, TO THE MALL!!!!  But…after a few weeks her phone calls came less and less and I finally realized I was being used.  She didn’t want to hang out with me…she needed a co-pilot.  She wasn’t used to driving and needed someone to help her navigate the roads.  Yep…Thanks a lot “Frenchie”.  And that was just the beginning.

So how do you (or I) handle this person in the family tree?  The same way that the police handle crazed, emotional women in the movies…”Just the facts, ma’am!”.  No matter what I would like to put in the family genealogy about this one person, I won’t.  I’m not going to embellish or even glamorize this individual.  She is biologically family even though she disowned herself from my dad in 1990…and because of the DNA tie, she will be included….Name…rank…and serial number…that’s all she gets!  She deserves nothing more.

I hope someday that she gets to read this blog so she knows that I didn’t take a chainsaw to her branch of the family tree….no matter how much I want to.  To leave her out would not be fair to the others in my tree…those that want an accurate picture of our family. So for my daughter and my “little cousins”, that may not have an interest in this weird stuff right now…someday you will look at this family tree and get just as excited about it as I do.  Just remember…when you see someone in the family tree that just has “Name, rank, and serial number”, they just might have been someone who chose NOT to be a part of the family, not someone who was left out.

For others that have their own “Frenchie” family members, be kind to yourself and to the other members of your family.  You don’t have to glamorize those that don’t want to be a part of the family…but don’t chop down their part of the tree.  Make your history complete…even an infested tree can serve as shade on a hot summer day!