31 January 2017

Where Have You Been All My Life?

When you've been at this crazy business of genealogy as long as I have, the past years of research seem to melt away. Those countless hours of searching, gathering and documenting are a blur because you're so focused on what you need to find next.

As a long-time subscriber to ancestry.com, I'm always pleased to see new collections added to the mix. Often when I thought I had every possible document there was to find for a specific ancestor, a new collection of documents becomes available, and I've got to gather the new bits of information, too. That's why I keep renewing my subscription.

If you subscribe to any genealogy sites, or if you use free sites like FamilySearch.org, it's important to keep going back to see what new tools and records they've made available.

The other day I saw a post in a genealogy forum on LinkedIn that mentioned the many treasures available for genealogists with family from the Benevento province of Italy. Well, lucky me. Every branch of my family comes from the Benevento province. The post included a link to the State Archives of Benvento. I feel sure I have visited this site in the past, but now its collection of vital records is astounding!

In pretty short order (despite the intense slowness of the website) I found the town birth record for my maternal grandfather and his brother, my paternal grandfather and his father, and my paternal grandmother's parents and one set of her grandparents.

section of Italian birth record

That last one was a true miracle. It was only in the last few weeks that I discovered the maiden name of my paternal grandmother's (the Maria Rosa Caruso I've written about a few times) mother. It was Girardi, and I first found it misspelled in two or three new Social Security Applications Claims records on ancestry.com. I felt sure that the bad transcription of the name was really Girardi. Then I found a death record for Maria Rosa Caruso's brother Giuseppe. There I saw his mother's name in handwriting, but it had been Americanized to Gerard.

But last night I found my Maria Luigia Girardi's original birth record in the Benevento State Archives and lo and behold! I learned her parents' names! Now I have a brand new last name to add to my wildly long list: DiNigris. And equally exciting and mind-blowing, I discovered that Maria Rosa Caruso had a twin brother. There were a few twins in that branch of the family, so it's very interesting to trace it back to my great grandmother—especially when she did not pass down that trait.

So the lessons here are (a) you're never finished with this hobby, and (b) keep revisiting your sources to find out what's new.

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