- Posts for family history friday tag
52 Ancestors - Check it Out | Our Prairie Nest
52 Ancestors, Week 14: Check it Out

We’re already 14 weeks into 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and I’m late on this one because I was at ConStellation last weekend. Hooray for sci-fi/fantasy conventions and presenting a panel! But boo for catching up on everyday life again; it’s certainly a chore. 🙂

For my post, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite genealogical resources:

Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary loan is such a wonderful service. If not for the ability to borrow books from across the country, I wouldn’t have read Almost Out of the World: Scenes from Washington Territory by James G. Swan to learn more about my third-great grandfather, William W. Winsor. If you’ve never tried it, but know there are books out there you want to check out, talk to one of the librarians at your local public library. They can help you find the titles you want.

The nice thing about interlibrary loan is that you can check out a book for a fraction of the price of buying it, especially if you aren’t entirely sure it will contain the information you seek. At my library, we pay for the postage on the loan. Depending on the originating library, we might be restricted to viewing the book in our public library or we might be permitted to take it home for 30 days. When I receive restricted books, I bring enough money to the library to take copies of the pages I need, instead.

Other Library Materials

Of course, you might already know how wonderful it is to borrow books from other libraries that you couldn’t otherwise visit. However, did you know you can also borrow other materials, not just from libraries, but also archives? The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, for example, participates in interlibrary loan with their microfilms!

Once again, you will probably have to pay postage for the microfilm, but it is well worth it if you can’t drop everything to take a trip to Canada for genealogical research. Their archivists and librarians simply need your librarian to reach out to them with your specific request and call number. Naturally, you should check the PANB website (or other archive) first to ensure that they still participate in interlibrary loan and learn what caveats there are, if any. However, I have had the great pleasure of borrowing a microfilm from PANB to review at my local public library, and it was well worth the price of postage.

So if you haven’t tried interlibrary loan for books, microfilms, or other library or archive materials, I suggest you check it out. You might be surprised at what is available to you!

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Sisters | Our Prairie Nest
52 Ancestors, Week 13: Sisters

This week’s topic for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is Sisters. Let’s take a look at the relationship between my great-great grandmother, Ernesta Maddalena Pedemonte Bergamasco, and her sister, Angela Spiazzi.

In the family history my great-grandmother and her sisters wrote about their parents, they said that once Ernesta emigrated from Italy to the United States, she never saw her sister again. To me, that implies that Ernesta and Angela had a strong and loving relationship, and not seeing her sister was hard on Ernesta.

Actually, Ernesta had four sisters: Angela Spiazzi, Emilia Spiazzi, Theresa Adelaide Armenia Bergamasco, and Adele Bergamasco.

I’ll start with Ernesta’s younger two sisters. Adele was the youngest, born 9 November 1886 in Moneglia, Genova, Liguria, Italy. I haven’t found a marriage or death record for her.

Theresa Adelaide Armenia was born 2 December 1878 in Moneglia and died 8 October 1881, not quite 3-years-old.

Ernesta’s oldest sisters are from their mother’s first marriage to Giacomo Spiazzi. I think the reason Angela, the second sister is mentioned in the family history, is because Emilia probably passed away before Ernesta. Emilia was born about 1866, perhaps in Sanremo. She married Alessandro Zanetti before 1887, and they had 4 children: Alfredo (abt 1887-1944), Ida Luigia (1889-1969), Arturo Giovanni (1891-????), and Adelina Giulia Maria (1895-????).

Alfredo emigrated to Santiago, Chile where he married Rosa Zúñiga Gonzalez in 1919 and had at least one child, Arturo Alfredo. Adelina married Luogo Giovanni Del Pio in 1924 in Milan. Ida married Bartolomeo Angelo Carlo Bado in 1918 in Genova, and it is her marriage record that specifies that her parents are deceased.

Angela was the only sister to out-live my great-great grandmother. She was born 23 June 1868 in Cogoleto, Genova, Liguria, Italy. She married Natale Giuseppe Chiapponi in 1889 in Moneglia. They had a son, Natale, in 1908. She died 9 January 1936 in Moneglia. I don’t know if Ernesta and her sister ever exchanged letters after Ernesta left Italy, but I sure would love to know if any of the sisters have living grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Italy and Chile!

52 Ancestors - Flowers | Our Prairie Nest
52 Ancestors, Week 11: Flowers

The prompt for 52 Ancestors, Week 11 is Flowers, and I don’t have any flower-centric family stories to share. I thought that, instead, I would talk about my Mayflower lines. When DNA testing revealed my maternal grandfather’s paternity, I “lost” some Mayflower ancestors, but 56 lines remain. My Mayflower ancestors are:

  • John Alden
  • Isaac Allerton 
  • Mary (Norris) Allerton
  • John Billington
  • William Brewster
  • Peter Brown
  • Francis Cooke
  • Stephen Hopkins
  • John Howland
  • William Mullins
  • Joan (Hurst) (Rogers) Tilley
  • John Tilley
  • Henry Samson
  • George Soule
  • Myles Standish
  • Richard Warren

Maternal Mayflower Lines

When I first started digging into my family history, making connections through old New England ancestors was pretty easy to do. The first Mayflower lines I found were through my Nana, whose mother is Italian, but whose father is a Bartlett. I soon discovered multiple connections through my maternal grandfather, as well. His father was Italian, but his mother had only Massachusetts ancestors.

We have several lines to John Alden, and those lines are doubled because his father-in-law, William Mullin, was also a passenger. The majority of my lines through my mother, however, are through Richard Warren. There are several cousin marriages that made this possible, especially through my Bartletts. We also have a William Brewster line. My only Peter Brown and Francis Cooke lines come through my mother.

There are more potential branches back to the Mayflower here, if my theories about certain brick walls in Plymouth are correct. They would add another 6 or so Richard Warren lines. Of all the Mayflower passengers from whom I descend, the majority of my lines of descent come from Richard Warren, with John Alden as a close second.

My mother’s Mayflower ancestors all remained in Massachusetts, mostly in Plymouth and Norfolk Counties.

Paternal Mayflower Lines

On my father’s side, about half the lines come through his mother and half through his father. My Henry Samson, Myles Standish, Stephen Hopkins, John Billington, Isaac Allerton, and Mary (Norris) Allerton lines are only through my dad. I have several lines through John Alden and Richard Warren through my father, just as I do through my mother. I share William Brewster through my father, as well.

We go back to John Howland through his daughter Hope. All John Howland lines area doubled because his in-laws, John Tilley and Joan Hurst, were also passengers. I also have quite a bit of George Soule here.

Many of my father’s Mayflower lines migrated from Plymouth, Massachusetts to Hancock County, Maine. It wasn’t a surprise to find them through my paternal grandmother, who was a Shaw and whose family mostly stayed in the Middleborough and Carver, Massachusetts areas. It was, however, a surprise when I was working on my grandfather’s side. Our Wood family is from Blue Hill, Maine and we descend from one of the two first settlers, Joseph Wood. However, many descendants of John Howland ended up in Maine, as did descendants of Henry Samson and Myles Standish.

And there you have it. Not the most exciting post, but a little bit about my Mayflower ancestry for 52 Ancestors this week!

52 Ancestors - Worship | Our Prairie Nest
52 Ancestors, Week 10: Worship

This week’s topic is going to be a little all over the place for me, because religion may have played a major role in the lives of my distant ancestors, but I have few stories to tell. My father is somewhere between Atheist and Agnostic, so I grew up without any knowledge of religion until I was in fourth grade and became fascinated by various ancient pantheons of deities.

By the time I was 13, I’d told my father I wanted to be a Witch. Maybe the diverse people I had in my life – a Wiccan babysitter and my dad’s astrology-loving girlfriend when I was younger – had a part in that, as well. My dad never explained church or Christianity to me, because we never attended. But, ever the hippie, my dad responded to my desire to be a Witch by giving me a book by Scott Cunningham, along with some candles and incense, and I’ve never looked back.

For personal interest, I’ve learned about Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, but to this day my spiritual path is still Pagan. My mtDNA has me pondering my Jewish lineage about which I knew – and still know – nothing, until DNA gave me some hints. I do, however, have a couple of stories on my mother’s mother’s family to share when it comes to worship.

Catholic… Except not anymore

My Italian ancestors were, of course, Catholic (which makes me think my maternal ancestors may have possibly fallen more into the Crypto-Jew side of things, and perhaps found a way to hide their beliefs or integrate them with Catholicism somewhere in the transition from Spain to Portugal to Italy). Five of my great-great grandparents’ eight children were born in Massachusetts.

According to the story told by my great-grand aunt Espezzia, her baptism caused a little bit of a stir for the family. After the priest baptized Espezzia, my great-great grandfather gave him everything he had on him to pay. However, he wasn’t able to pay in full at the time. He told the priest he would bring the rest of the money later.

The next Sunday, the priest announced to the congregation that he had done a baptism for which he hadn’t gotten paid. My great-great grandfather paid the balance after that and said they would never return to the church. “And they did not,” according to the family history my aunt Espezzia recorded. Sometime later – whether it was months or years, I don’t know – they started attending the local Methodist church with a family friend.

A bishop… Except not a bishop

Another family story shared in that same history was that my great-great grandmother had an uncle who was a bishop. Well, I looked and looked, and found nothing on either side of her family as far as uncles involved in the church. Perhaps there is one out there, because I’m still researching my 3rd and 4th great-grandparents in northern Italy.

However, there was a nephew who was a Catholic theologian. Ernesta’s older half-brother, Bartolomeo Spiazzi (1865 – aft. 1925), married Anna Costa on 30 Jan 1910 in Moneglia, Genova, Liguria, Italy, and had two sons: Enrico Giacomo Attilio (born 1920) and Aurelio Giovanni Emmanuele (8 Jan 1918 to 14 Oct 2002). Aurelio changed his name to Raimondo Spiazzi, perhaps upon his ordination in 1944 (I’m not sure how Catholic priest naming works). Raimondo taught religion and published many treatises on his beliefs. He was a theological advisor to Pope Pius XII from 1954 until the pope died in October of 1958.

Our family doesn’t know much about Raimondo or his life, but it’s clear from the information out there that his work was controversial, and that he was deeply devoted to it.