Thursday, August 4, 2011

Finding All 16 Great Great Grandparents

I have been researching my family history since 1998.  That year was my third year of college and I picked up my new hobby out of curiosity.  My parents helped me get started in my climb up the family tree.  My Dad had in his desk a set of stapled sheets that outlined some of his family.  The typed family history had been put together by my grandmother with birth and death dates she knew.  My Mom helped with as many names as she could and also sent me in the direction of her cousin.  My Mom's cousin was wonderful and sent back a long letter that detailed many generations and included family stories from the Mitchell branch. 

I did not have any research goals when I started filling my tree with names and dates.  I just went where the information sent me and kept trying to identify new families and their stories.  My time spent researching has been fairly limited lately with the addition of our second child in the middle of May.  Writing this blog has been so helpful in many ways including but not limited to trying to scan more information, a new digital organization of my files, actually keeping a to-do list, being a part of the genealogy community, and deciding what goals I have for my family history.  One of the top goals on my list is to find the names and information about my 16 great great grandparents.

I already know the names of 13 of the 16.  My Mother's side of the tree is completely filled in with birth dates and death dates for each g-g-grandparent.  My Father's side is a bit trickier since my grandfather (Celio Capelli) came to the United States from Italy when he was 5.  I know his father's name (Matteo Ciardonei) and approximate birth date.  I also know his mother's name (Adele Siletto).  My grandfather was raised by his Aunt (Mary Siletto) and Uncle (Alfredo Capelli) in Pittsburgh.  On Mary's death certificate, I found that Mary and Adele's father was named Joseph Siletto.

Recently, I ordered a copy of my grandfather's Naturalization paper work from NARA.  One of the big finds in the paperwork is that a woman named Anne Siletto was one of the witnesses listed in the Petition for Naturalization.  Seeing a familiar name gave me the excited rush that I was onto something.  After asking my family about Anne, I found out that she was married to Salvatore (Sal) Siletto.  Sal was the younger brother of Mary and Adele.

I have since found a possible match for Sal in the Ellis Island records and ordered his Naturalization paperwork.  The copies I received confirmed the ship and date of arrival I had found in the Ellis Island records.  I have gone back and transcribed what I could decipher in the ship's manifest.  The manifest states that Sal was going to his final destination "Pittsburgh, Pa" to join his "sister Maria Siletto."  The first page of the manifest states that his nearest relative is "mother Domenica Brunaro" in Cossano.  Yeah!! I have possibly found the name of one of my missing g-g-grandparents.  Now I just need to prove it.

I already know that my grandfather came from a very small town named Cossano Canavese just outside of Torino.  I had the chance to drive through the town on a trip to Italy about 5 years ago.  Unfortunately there was no time to research and it was a Sunday so everything was closed anyways.  I did find a memorial in town that listed three Ciardonei's.  The plaque appears to be a list of soldiers who died in WWI.  I also took pictures of what I could see inside of the locked gates of the cemetery.  In reviewing those photos, I have just noticed that one of the only family crypts I can see has the name "Brunero Maglione" across the top.  I think that I am definitely on the right track!

My next step is going to be to order the microfilms containing the church records from Cossano Canavese at my local Family History Center.  Luckily, this is also the site of my local genealogy society.  The Family Search index shows that the records contain baptisms from 1858-1899, marriages from 1651-1899, and deaths from 1669-1899.  Hopefully this gives me more information.  I would love to find the birth date of Matteo Ciardonei and the names of his parents.  It will be interesting to see if the names on the memorial in Cossano Canavese are brothers (Part of me hopes this is not true.  It would be horrible to lose 3 children!). 

I do not know if Mary and Adele Siletto were born in the same town as Matteo.  Sal's Naturalization paperwork says that he was born in Cossano Canavese in 1900.  It would be pretty cool if Mary and Adele are also listed in the baptism records along with their parents names.

I will keep you posted as my climb up the tree continues.