I don't know what you expect to
discover when embarking upon the mission of unearthing your roots.
Many genealogists have made surprising revelations among their
collection of Italian ancestors. Let's take a look at what has been
discovered by some, including a few of my own mixed in. Some are
bitter, some are sweet.....but they are all true.
+A paternal grandfather who is
known to have emigrated to America twice, yet his passenger arrival
records have never been found for either time.
+A maternal great grandfather who
married four times. His first wife died during childbirth.
+Great grandparents who married at
the ages of 16 and 14 respectively.
+Ancestors who married, each with
the same surname, but unrelated.
+Every ancestor, both paternal and
maternal, originating from the exact same town.
+An amazing discovery of a Roman
Catholic cardinal among the siblings of an ancestor.
+Ethnic connections other than
Italian, for example: Jewish, Albanian, Turkish, Algerian and Greek
to name a few.
+A remarkable genealogical link to
a canonized saint of the Catholic Church.
+A great, great, great grandfather
who lived to the age of 115 at a time when the average male life
span was 40.
+Paternal lineage traced back to
+Connection made to Antonio Meucci,
the Italian inventor who was the original creator of the first
+Discovering an authentic family
coat of arms, which has less than a one percent chance of occurring.
+Inheriting land and a house in
southern Italy, which had been passed down by numerous generations
for several hundred years.
+A paternal family surname that is
completely extinct in Italy today.
+Accepting the reality that a bomb
in World War II destroyed every record for a particular Sicilian
+Obtaining a death document
stating an ancestor's cause of death as an "earthquake".
+Maternal great grandparents who
had seventeen children, but only eleven survived to adulthood.
+A ship manifest of the Lusitania,
listing an ancestor who emigrated to America on that ship's last
voyage before it was sunk by a German torpedo during World War I.
+One genealogist who was greatly
disappointed to find a central Italian town he needed to research
did not exist any longer as it had been completely abandoned.
+There is the case of a family
researcher who discovered his grandmother spent several years in a
county work farm drying out from alcohol abuse. In the same family,
he then discovered on an early U.S. census that his own mother was
in an orphanage for a time while her mother, the subject's
grandmother, was serving time in rehabilitation. All this was kept
in the family closet because it was such a painful experience for
+A genealogist was surprised to
find a cousin was the mayor of her ancestral town in Sicily when she
traveled there to conduct research. He is a descendant from one of
These are by no means all of the
stories but only a sample, a cross section, of what others have
found as they pursue their heritage. What one individual learns may
be similar, it may be different, or it may even be nothing
noteworthy at all. Each individual's ancestry is unique. The
objective in providing you with these true experiences of others is
strictly to encourage you to give it your best effort and then enjoy
What happened one hundred, two
hundred or more centuries ago in history should reveal a great deal
about who you are and who you descended from. Remember though, with
each generation the data grows more scare. Eventually, beyond the
second or third generation preceding you, generally what is
available may only be names, dates and places. But that's okay. It
is precisely that pattern of data which can carry your research
efforts back several hundred years and possibly more. This joy of
discovery is exactly what genealogy is all about. Don't lose sight
of that objective.
Family surprises from the distant
past can be fascinating conversation and look great in a family
history book, but there can also be a revelation of sad and
sometimes sorrowful memories of how some of our ancestors struggled
with their lives in a time much different from today. Put
everything into perspective. Appreciate who they were. Learn from
their mistakes. Revel in their achievements. But above all else,
pass it on to your children, grandchildren and future generations of
descendants. What a legacy!!!
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