This case study supports my earlier post, "What If There's No There There?"
When I began researching my great grandmother Maria Rosa Caruso, I found a distant cousin-in-law through a message board who was also researching the Caruso family. Her mother-in-law, as well as my father, had always heard their grandmother Maria Rosa mention her hometown, calling it Pisqualamazza.
But there is no such town as Pisqualamazza in Italy.
Aha! Maybe "Pisqua" was a result of her accent—the way the locals said it. But there is no Pescolamazza on the map, either!
That's when I turned to a search engine. I quickly found a link to a tourism website for the town of Pesco Sannita. Well, it has a Pesco, so let me read on. On the website's town history page, they provide the original Latin name of the town, as well as the town's name until after World War II: "Pesclum, now Pesco Sannita (Pescolamazza until 1947)…".
I would never have thought the town would change its name, but this was my proof. Modern day Pesco Sannita is in the province of Benevento and neighbors the towns that all the rest of my ancestors came from.
Armed with this information, I was able to switch from searching for Pisqualamazza to searching for any Caruso from Pescolamazza. That nugget of information helped me find records for Maria Rosa's many brothers.
If you can't find what you'd always thought was your ancestor's hometown, search for anyone with their last name, and be sure to use several search engines and try to find out more.