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Great-Grandparents Galfre and Bergamasco | Our Prairie Nest
Great-Grandparents: The Bartlett-Galfre Side

Today, we’re looking at my fourth and final set of great-grandparents. As far as my maternal side goes, these are the folks I know the most about, as well as the Italian side I’m researching most actively. Even though I have dozens of Mayflower lines, one of the lines from this side of the family was my “gateway” into lineage societies.

Basil Wade Bartlett and Lia Elizabeth Galfré

My maternal great-grandparents, particularly along my mitochondrial DNA line, interest me greatly. The first DNA test I took was in 2006 and it was a mtDNA test through Family Tree DNA. Our mitochondrial haplogroup is H1aj1, which originated in Iberia. Besides my uncle, I have another mtDNA match with a genetic distance of 0 who is also Italian. I have been working on building out both of our family trees to see if we can determine our shared common ancestor, but because of the nature of mtDNA, that might not even be possible.

I knew my Nana Bartlett, Lia Elizabeth (Galfré) Bartlett, but not my great-grandpa Basil Wade Bartlett. Nana was quite small, as were her parents whose passports have them measuring barely 4 feet tall (for her mother) and 5 feet tall (for her father). That height or lack thereof runs in the family to this day, mostly among my Nana (grandmother, who just passed away last year at the age of 93), mother, aunt, uncles, and their cousins.

The Bartlett Family of Plymouth, Massachusetts

Basil’s father was Basil Clyde Bartlett, born 25 March 1881 in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts. This is the main Bartlett line, as I have multiple, that I followed when applying for membership to the Society of Descendants of Robert Bartlett and the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. Most, but not all, Bartletts in Plymouth descend from Robert Bartlett, who married Mary Warren, daughter of Richard Warren, a Mayflower passenger. I have been the editor of the Bartlett Society’s newsletter for over a decade and their webmaster for a few years. There are many Bartletts who emigrated to Massachusetts and Connecticut in the 1600s, and it’s easy to assume they’re all related. However, DNA testing has proven they are not.

It is certainly convenient to “fit” the Bartlett family of Puddletown, Dorset, England to Robert Bartlett. However, I look at that theory with caution until documentary or DNA evidence is found to make the connection. Anyone who shares my interest in the origins of Robert Bartlett of Plymouth may want to follow the Bartlett DNA Project at Family Tree DNA. We provide more information about it on the Bartlett Society’s DNA page.

Basil Clyde Bartlett’s mother comes from a family that I’m actively researching from Porter’s Lake, Halifax, Nova Scotia. I would love to identify his maternal great-grandmother, Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) (Parks) Johnston. Here’s hoping I can really delve into those research efforts during the remainder of 2024! I think DNA will be an important factor in this research, as I have already identified many matches in that particular family network.

The Wade Family of Bridgewater, Massachusetts

I grew up in Bridgewater, which was home to the ancestors of Basil’s mother, Rosedla Lorena Wade. Rosedla was born 21 December 1878 in Carver, Plymouth, Massachusetts to Henry William Wade and Ruhamah A. French. I find it interesting that Rosedla’s parents were married in Indiana. None of my family went west, with only a single exception, let alone ventured west and then returned to Massachusetts. Since they were married in 1865, I wonder if this was because Henry was serving in the Civil War and Rosedla couldn’t wait to marry him. Or perhaps their families disapproved of the union. Who knows?

This is also one of my many Mayflower lines, going back to multiple passengers. I always figure it makes sense that if you have one Mayflower ancestor, you probably have more, since their marital prospects were pretty limited for quite some time.

The Galfré Family of Cuneo, Italy

Among the ancestors who interest me most are those of my great-great grandparents – my Nana Bartlett’s parents. Her father was Bartolomeo Giovanni Michele Galfré, which is such a fantastic name. My mom’s cousins have many wonderful stories about him, and one of those cousins has shared some fantastic pictures of Bartolomeo on his WikiTree page. Bartolomeo was born 21 January 1865 in Cuneo, Piedmont, Italy. He and his wife, my great-great grandmother, were married 24 October 1896 in Sanremo, Imperia, Liguria, Italy. They emigrated to Massachusetts, where they raised their family, including my Nana Bartlett.

Bartolomeo spoke “real good French” according to my Nana and her sisters. His paternal grandparents or great-grandparents possibly came from France. I’m hoping to find his parents’ death records to confirm their parents’ names and places of birth. Italian records are wonderfully thorough, as well as easy to read. However, the particular comune for which I’m seeking records isn’t online yet. I’ve written to the parish where Bartolomeo’s parents, who were possibly born in Spinetta (part of Cuneo, not to be confused with Spinetta Marengo), may have gotten married, but had no response. Alas, inquiries for information from Italian officials and clergy are hit or miss as far as receiving a response.

Bartolomeo’s brother, Giovanni Battista Bartolomeo Galfré, has descendants, our cousins who still live in Italy, and we’re fortunate to be in touch with them. They are wonderful folks, but they don’t share the same interest in family history as we do. So here’s hoping the records I’m looking for are made available via FamilySearch or Antenati soon!

The Bergamasco Family of Cairo Montenotte, Italy

This is, perhaps, one of the more confusing sides of my family. While we have a wonderful “family history” full of memories recorded by my Nana and two of her sisters, I have since found information that augments it.

For a long time, we understood my great-great grandmother’s name to be Ernesta Maddalena Bergamasco. However, when trying to locate a birth record for her, nothing was found. I couldn’t understand why until I scrolled through records for Moneglia, where she was born, and found one for Maddalena Pedemonte on the same date of birth. That was the lightbulb moment, especially once I found the birth records of her siblings! Each siblings’ record lists only one parent – either the mother, Catarina Santina Pedemonte, or the father, Giuseppe Bergamasco. None of the records list both parents, as they were not married when their children were born. But if it weren’t for the family history my Nana and her siblings recorded, we never would have known the names of all the siblings to search in the first place.

Giuseppe Bergamasco was born 18 February 1837 in Cairo Montenotte, Savona, Italy.  His parents were Giovanni Antonio Bergamasco and Maddalena Bozzolasco. He had at least 3 sisters – Agnes, Maria and Catterina, none of whom married.  

Catarina was born 15 December 1842 in Cogoleto, Genova, Italy. She was the daughter of Tomaso Pedemonte and Angela Giusto. Tomaso’s death record states his parents are unknown, so he is currently a brick wall. I wonder if Tomaso was a foundling or orphan. 

Catarina first married Giacomo Spiazzi, probably about 1864. She had 3 children with him – Bartolomeo (to whom Giuseppe Bergamasco was godfather), Emilia, and Angela. Two of these children are mentioned in our family history recording.

Giacomo emigrated to Buenos Aires, where he died in 1869 of Cholera. Catarina went on to have 8 more children – Giovanni Battista, Ernesta Maddalena, Theresa Adelaide Armenia, Enrico Dante Alessandro, Pietro, Alessandro, Battista Aurelio Archimede, and Adele – some with the surname Pedemonte and some with the surname Bergamasco. The recording only mentions 3 of these children, however at least half of Catarina’s children died young, so it makes sense that my Nana and her sisters didn’t know their names.

Catarina married Giuseppe on 25 October 1894 in Moneglia, Genova, Italy, eight years after the birth of her last child. Her parents are also a bit of a brick wall for me and I would love to work my way back further on all of these Italian lines. Especially my mtDNA line!

Great-Grandparents - Feola & Burrell | Our Prairie Nest
Great-Grandparents: The Feola-Burrell Side

Now we’re going to look at what is, perhaps, the most “controversial” side of my family. For my maternal grandfather’s entire life, we believed his father was Herbert Benjamin Haley, Sr. of Brockton, Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, we also knew it was possible that his father was actually his mother’s first husband, Joseph William St. Onge of Marlborough, Middlesex, Massachusetts, since he was named on the birth certificate. Never did we imagine there was a third option until DNA discoveries led us to answers.

Pasquale Feola and Mildred Marian Burrell

Mildred Marian Burrell, my great-grandmother, had 7 children with at least 4 different fathers. Because she was not married to 2 of those men, documentation on their connection is scarce. I have more details about this family in my WikiTree entry about Mildred, and descendants have diverging perspectives on the circumstances around Mildred’s life with her children, some positive and some negative. I won’t speculate on any of that, and will focus on the facts of the genetic family tree.

It was only within the past couple of years that we learned that Pasquale Feola had to be my maternal grandfather’s father. Pasquale was not one of Mildred’s husbands. It took DNA testing and analysis to point us in the right direction. Specifically, I noticed first that my mother and maternal uncle both had “too much” Italian calculated in their ethnicity results. We also had an extensive genetic network of DNA matches with the same surnames in their family trees from the same comune (essentially a town) in Italy, but that didn’t match our Italian ancestors’ names or places of birth. They were from southern Italy, and our known ancestors, such as my Nana’s parents, were from northern Italy.

Finally, we looked at my uncle’s chromosome browser on 23andMe and found that Italian was detected not on a single chromosome per pair, but on multiple pairs, indicating that he his Italian was inherited from both parents. Close matches with those unknown surnames on 23andMe sealed the deal, especially when I tested there, as well. As a side note, I love the regions found under the Ancestry Composition on 23andMe. The visual showed me that we did, indeed, have other Italian ancestors we had never suspected.

23andMe Italian Regions | Our Prairie Nest

We always wondered who my maternal grandfather’s father was, but our list of two candidates turned out to be wrong on both counts. Thanks to DNA testing, we now know the answer.

The Feola & Tomeo Families of Campora, Italy

We are still getting to know the ancestry of Pasquale Feola. His parents were Antonio Michele Feola, born 8 December 1865, and Alessandrina Beatrice Tomeo, born 10 May 1864. Both were born in Campora, Salerno, Campania, Italy. Pasquale was born there on 4 December 1887. He emigrated with his parents to Boston, Massachusetts by 1890. The Feola and Tomeo families are among others in Campora who stayed in the same comune for centuries. As I’ve worked my way through my Feola ancestors, I’ve found branches with the same surnames time and again – Feola, Tomeo, Laurito, and Trotta, among others. They haven’t looped back on the other branches yet, as far as I can tell, but my research on these ancestors is still very much in the early stages. If there is endogamy – which I suspect there is – it will be in the 1700s and earlier. 

The Burrell Family of Randolph, Massachusetts

The Burrell family settled in Weymouth, Massachusetts in the 1600s, and spread out extensively from there. Mildred’s father was George P. Burrell, born 12 December 1861 in Randolph, Norfolk, Massachusetts, and died 15 December 1952 in Randolph. We don’t know anything about Mildred’s upbringing or her family life before marriage. She had several siblings, many of whom had descendants and some of whom have DNA tested. 

There is some overlap between George’s ancestors in the early 1700s and 1600s, probably too far back for it to matter with DNA inheritance. 

The Jones Family of Braintree, Massachusetts

With Jones being such a common surname in the English-speaking world, it is fortunate that Massachusetts started documenting vital statistics early. Mildred’s mother was Susan Ellen Jones, born 28 March 1867 in Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts. There is extensive overlap between her ancestors and her husband’s, particularly the Jones, Hayden, Thayer, and Chessman families in the area. Because of this, I’ve found some DNA matches who appear to be more closely related than they actually are, as we share more than a single set of ancestors. It has definitely made identifying relationships with those matches interesting!

Overall, the history of – and, for my grandfather and most of his siblings, with – my great-grandmother, Mildred, isn’t a pleasant one. But I can’t say why, because I just don’t know. Was it her upbringing? Was it mental illness? Was something else going on that had such a negative effect on her life? I don’t think we will ever know. Nor will we really know Pasquale’s story. One of his descendants, of course a very close relative to us, expressed surprise at the finding. I doubt Pasquale even knew about Herbert, so I really cannot fault him. Rather, I hope that his family had a wonderful husband and father in him.

Great-Grandparents: The Shaw-Blake Side

I started a series of posts an embarrassingly long time ago to talk about my 4 sets of great-grandparents, and I’m finally revisiting and finishing that series.

This week, we’re looking at my paternal grandmother’s ancestors and, also, my first revision to my ancestry thanks to the relentless pursuit of documentary evidence and the introduction of DNA testing.

Harrison Clifford Shaw and Nina Gertrude Blake

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to know this set of great-grandparents, though my great-grandmother was apparently very excited that I was the first female great-grandchild born in her family. She passed away only a month after I was born. Daughters were a rare and precious thing for Nina, who had two die in infancy. Only my grandmother survived to adulthood, along with three of her four brothers. Sadly, my grandmother’s twin brother, Lawrence, passed away as a toddler. Any family stories I have come from my grandmother and one of my great uncles through his grandson.

Shaw Family of Carver, Massachusetts

Harrison Clifford Shaw was born 9 May 1889 in Carver, Plymouth, Massachusetts. His parents were Erastus Bartlett Shaw and Emma Anna Murphy. Anyone familiar with Plymouth County families knows the Shaws go back to the 1600s, and those lines are easy to mix up! Harrison had an egg and poultry business, and we have some photographs of his various trucks full of chickens. This is one of my most straightforward branches, because everyone pretty much stayed put in Plymouth County.

Shaw Poultry Trucks | Our Prairie Nest

Murphy Family of Guysborough, Nova Scotia

I don’t think I need to reiterate the story of my great-great grandmother Emma Anna Murphy. However, hers was the first family to which I had to make changes thanks to traditional research later confirmed with DNA. Emma was born about March 1863 in Manchester, Guysborough, Nova Scotia, Canada. She was baptized 4 July 1863 as Emma Ann Wallace at St. Ann’s in Manchester. Her parents were Francis Wallace and Eliza (Elizabeth) Murphy.

For many years, the family believed she was the daughter of John Patrick Murphy and Mary Ann Frasher (aka Fraser or Frasier). Research and DNA disproved this and we now know that these were her maternal grandparents, though the Fraser branch remains in question, as Mary Ann’s name when she married Patrick Murphy was Lowery. However, Lowery could have been her surname from a prior marriage, as she was 29 when she married Patrick Murphy on 10 February 1835 at St. Ann’s in Manchester.

Francis Wallace was born 2 May 1838 in Halifax, Halifax, Nova Scotia, the son of James Wallace – a customs agent – and Rebecca Elizabeth Smith. He died intestate and quite possibly forgotten (or ignored) by his family on 16 February 1892 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts. I don’t know what became of Eliza Murphy.

The Blake Family of Wrentham, Massachusetts

Nina’s paternal side is as straightforward as Harrison’s. She was born 10 Jul 1891 in Middleborough, Plymouth, Massachusetts. Her parents were Edward Henry Blake and Ada Estella Gay. Edward was born 2 August 1856 in Wrentham, Norfolk, Massachusetts, and his ancestry is easily documented in Norfolk County, back to the 1600s.

The Gay Family of Thompson, Connecticut

Ada’s parents were Horace Gay, born 11 October 1820 in Thompson, Windham, Connecticut, and Sarah Emerson Stone, born 18 June 1824 in Dudley, Worcester, Massachusetts. I know nothing about them beyond their birth, marriage, and death dates and places. Though Sarah’s maternal grandmother, Esther (wife of Edward Curtis) is a brick wall as her maiden name is unknown. She is someone I am actively researching.

Of course, I am also researching Emma Murphy’s elusive first husband, Mr. Reagan, her mother, Eliza Murphy, and her grandmother, Mary Ann Lowery or Fraser. I don’t know what became of Eliza after she gave birth to Emma. Eliza’s sister and Emma’s aunt, Margaret Murphy, resided in Middleborough with Emma. Perhaps she was there for her when a mother could not or would not be. I don’t know if the family Emma lived with in Manchester in the 1871 Canadian Census – the family of Nicholas Flavin and Johanna Marr – was kind to her or not. There is so much I don’t know about her life, but I think hers continues to fascinate me more than that of any other ancestor.