Professional Researchers Tracing YOUR Genealogy
My last on-site research trip was in October/November 2021 and included these adventures:
Thursday, 28 October, arrived at Fiumicino Airport in Roma and picked up the rental car for the drive to Acquasanta
Friday, 29 October, arrived in Acquasanta before the civil offices opened. The clerk was friendly and knowledgeable. She reminded me that this town was a Papal State before 1866, so the earlier records are found only in the church. Mass was at 4, so I attended and talked to the priests afterwards. The younger one agreed to meet me first thing in the morning to look in the records.
Saturday, 30 October, started by meeting the priest in Acquasanta. The classrooms are across the street, and so are the archives. We read through the books for the years surrounding the birth we sought, but not only didn't find this name, but found no children with unknown parents. I suspect that book has gone missing. He also reminded me that Acquasanta has many suburbs and each has their own church archives. However, I had obtained the birth information from his marriage record, which required providing his birth record as part of the marriage paperwork, so it's more likely that the foundling book has gone missing. Also, often foundlings are dropped off at the church of the largest town nearby to further protect the identity of the mother.
That afternoon I drove south. Despite the instructions on the CWGC website, there was no combination lock at the Caserta War Cemetery, only one that took a key. So I walked all around it, peeking through the bushes. I finally got a good photo over the fence.
Sunday, 31 October, met with Daniela and her dog (Lula) at the train station and walked along the coast, stopping for coffee and taking fun photos with the red Ferrari we met along the way. Good to catch up with her and to enjoy her cooking again.
The Manfredonia offices were closed 1 November for All Saints Day. The next day, 2 November, I was there before opening, with a dozen others who all took numbers and waited outside. There was only one staff member in the Stato Civile office, so while he showed me that he had all the registers for birth, marriage, and death, he just doesn't have time to look things up unless its records for living people. I checked his email address with him and sent an email the next day and another a month later in hopes of obtaining the records I'm seeking. But checking the Roma website for another client, they show they have filled over 56,000 requests in the last two years. They also only serve people who stand in line for records for living people, sending the rest to a correspondence office address. The day I stood in line, it was mostly attorneys, so I suspect they were handling probate hearings, the most common reason to need a birth record except for an identity card.
That afternoon I arrived in Petrona', hoping to attend evening Mass, but while the Church was open, the priest never arrived.
3 November, I arrived in Petrona before the Stato Civile offices opened, parking the car and taking a few photos while I waited. The clerk searched for the death I sought in 1920 but had to be gently persuaded to search the surrounding years until we found her in 1917. From there, I knew the records online would be easier than continuing work with him. That afternoon there was a funeral at the church, so the priest was unavailable for a research request.
4 November, since I was working in the neighborhood, I drove into Mesoraca and Cerva for photos and was able to visit the Cerva church.
5 November, again working in the neighborhood, I had time for photos in Carlopoli before an afternoon appointment in a nearby town. In fact, a man working on his home across the street had the keys and opened the church for me to take photos there as well.
5 November, attended evening Mass in Badolato, happily the service for their Veterans day, so lots of folks in uniforms (Red Cross as well as military) and the priest read each name on Badolato plaque for War dead on the side of the church as part of the memorial service. Afterwards, I requested permission to research in his records and he opened the cabinet so I could see there were bits and pieces of the four previously active churches in that town. They included marriages from 1811 and baptisms from 1614, but no parish records were complete (without gaps or indexes). The Priest says it's impossible, and the records need to be searched page by page in the books with no indexes. He persuaded me of his interest by sharing that he helped survey a Sidney (Australia) Cemetery when he was working there.
6 November, Rabbi Barbara's birthday party was a small family celebration at their favorite local restaurant. There was a large gathering there of the teams from the car race through town that weekend.
7 November, worked at my hotel in online records, even spending time in the sun next to the pool with my computer. Arrived at the church in Serrastretta around 3 and was able to talk to the priest for a few moments before the funeral.
8 November, Serrastretta, was at the window when the Stato Civile office opened in the morning. He was great, working with me until someone arrived with a request and returning to me between those requests. I think he was also not to have to take the time for an official extract since I was glad to get a photocopy of each record instead.
9 November, Serrastretta, spoke with the priest before Mass at 4. He told me to come back the next day.
10 November, Serrastretta, the priest had arranged for me to work with a young man who was familiar with the church archives and was very helpful.
11 November, Serrastretta, worked again with the young man who was familiar with the church archives and was very helpful. The highlight was when he found the link connecting the families of two different clients in 1642. It really isn't that large a town and we were hoping to make a connection.
12 November, Serrastretta, was able to work in the microfilmed records on-line to fill in some of the gaps in the trees I was assembling.
13 November, drive to Sicilia. I do love the drive, and the ferry ride across the Strait of Messina.
14 November, arrived just as morning Mass was ending and was able to make an appointment with the priest to research the next day.
15 November in Serradifalco. There are lots of gaps in the microfilmed church records, but I was disappointed to discover that the church archives had no additional records to fill those gaps. I was able to find a record in surrounding years for another family member, so the names and dates and place all fit, just not the direct line I was hoping to document. Serradifalco town library moved to a new building and closed Monday, open Tue 1500.
16 November, Mussomeli is a charming town I've worked in on previous trips. The town library wasn't at the address I was given, but I was able to find the street carrying the family name as I toured the town on this lovely day. I returned to the Serradifalco library as it opened at 3 to search for the earliest record of this family in the town. Didn't find any family histories as hoped, but did find them in the earliest records of the town history.
17 November in the Partanna church records with the assistance (supervision) of Dr. Vito Zarzana. We started with the baptisms for 1697-1700 in search of a baptism.
On 18 November, I requested an appointment with the priest at the Cathedral in Mazara del Vallo. There was a concierge at the door (can't call an old man a guard), who introduced me to a priest, who checked with another priest who was finishing a consultation with a family, who said that afternoon at 4:30 would work for them.
However, at 4:30, the old man and younger priest met me and the older priest didn't appear, so the old man was my supervisor for the research. In the baptism book for 1721-1728, we located the baptism of Maria Giuseppa Natala Orlando on 25 December 1727!
19 November, returned to Partanna for a 10:30 appointment with Dr. Zarzana. We were able to extend that family further back in time although they were in older records than anticipated. Using these church records in conjunction with the civil census records, we were able to form a much more complete picture of that family back to 1641.
20 November, worked in online records out by the pool, enjoying the sun.
21 November, took the day off to drive around the area and take lots of photos of the salt pans and windmills which make the area famous as a source of sea salt.
22 November, flight from TPS-CIA was uneventful, the best kind. Took the bus into Roma's Termini train station and the short walk to my hotel, which turned out to be just perfect!
23 November, flight from FCO-ATL-SLC showed me the changes to both Fiumicino and Atlanta airports which I've avoided for years. They really were much improved and much more pleasant than in the past.
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My next research trip to Italy is scheduled for March/April 2022.
My book on CD titled Sicily, Part 1 and Part 2 and is now available on 2 CDs. With a file for each town (plus many other files), it relates the history of Sicily as reflected in the photos, records and festivals of its towns. It contains over 2500 text and photo files and can be ordered at CD order.
My latest book is titled American Prisoner of War Camps Colorado and is available at Amazon in paperback format.
© Kathy Kirkpatrick 1997-2022