24 January 2017

Case Study on "Where Did Grandpa Come From?"

How to Find that Hometown

Let me share with you a case study that supports my earlier post, "Where Did Grandpa Come From?".  It details the steps I followed to find the true hometown(s) of my great grandmother's family—the Saviano family.

For many years I heard my grandmother and her siblings mention two towns: Pastene and Avellino. She and her siblings had heard those town names from their parents and repeated them throughout their lives.

It turns out they were slightly off. The family was from Avellino and Pastene the same way I'm from Rockland County, New York. That doesn't tell you what town I lived in, does it?

Pastene, ending in an E, is difficult to find. Plus, there's more than one Pastena, ending in an A, that could throw you off the trail. But I also knew the family was from the Benevento province, which borders the Avellino province. (A province in Italy is similar to a county in America.) In that area, there is a comune (municipality) named Sant'Angelo a Cupolo that contains a frazione (hamlet) called Pastene.

To put it more simply, Pastene is a tiny section of the town of Sant'Angelo a Cupolo. For proof that the Saviano family was from this place, I found their 1898 ship manifest when the whole family came to the U.S. They listed their hometown as "S. Angelo Cupolo".

Once I found the town on a map, this was perfectly legible to me.
Once I found the town on a map, this was perfectly legible to me.

I had never heard of that town before I found this document. At a later date, I found the New York City marriage certificate for my great grandmother's sister Filomena, and it listed Pastene, Italy as her birthplace.

But why did my relatives also say the family was from Avellino? Avellino is both a city and a province a few miles away from Pastene. My answer came from the World War II draft registration card for my great grandmother's brother Semplicio. It very clearly (albeit misspelled) lists his place of birth as Tufo in the province of Avellino, Italy.

Aha! Once I found that, I went to the Family History Center near where I lived at the time. Miraculously, someone had ordered a roll of microfilm from Tufo, so it was sitting there in the drawer!

On the microfilm I found the 1877 birth record for Semplicio Saviano. The big surprise was the 1875 birth record for an older brother no one in my family had ever known about. He died as a child. In fact, he had the same first name as another brother who was born later in Pastene: Raffaele.

So, although I haven't a clue why, this Saviano family moved from Tufo, Avellino, Italy, to Pastene, Benevento, Italy. A few miles was very far in those days, and my great great grandfather was not moving for a job.

And if you're thinking I may be looking at the wrong family in Tufo, I'm not. The mother in this family had the uncommon name of Colomba Consolazio, and that is seen very clearly on the Tufo birth records.

All of this is another example of the importance of locating as many documents as possible for your entire family.

1 comment:

  1. You're a great sleuth! You tackle Italy like it's a pezzo di torta (I sure hope Google translate got it right! haha). I can't even break through South Carolina and Alabama in my matrilineal/mtDNA line!

    Great job!