Saturday, April 8, 2017

When I'm Sixty-Four (I'll Still Have Only Two Children)

I'm very keen on finding all family members rather than climbing my tree from father to father to father.

I mean, if I knew the King of Italy were a dozen generations up the tree, I'd probably head straight for him, but I'm definitely from peasant stock.

Here is an example of how viewing every available vital record and documenting every single fact gave me an interesting insight into my great great grandfather, Nicoladomenico Leone, born in 1796 in Basélice, Italy.

While recording the facts from every Basélice vital record from 1809–1860, I found my great grandfather Giovannangelo Leone's birth record which told me his parents' names: Nicoladomenico Leone and Caterina Pisciotti.

But I was creeped out to see that the baby's mother was 36 and his father was 53. Then I learned it was a common practice at that time and place to remarry shortly after your spouse died and continue making the babies.

So many babies.

As I continued reviewing vital records I found an 1837 death record for my great great grandfather's first wife, Sinfarosa Ferella. She died at age 35 after giving birth six times (three of the babies died extremely young).
Children from 2 marriages. It took 3 tries to get a Giuseppe Maria Leone to live past infancy!

Nicoladomenico became a widower in late 1837 and surprisingly waited four-and-a-half years before remarrying.

But he appears to have married his eldest daughter's classmate. Angelamaria Leone and Caterina Pisciotti were both born in 1819.

Both Angelamaria and her only surviving sister, Gelsomina, were still living with their father when he married this 22-year-old girl that they surely knew.

It must've been weird at that dinner table, don't you think?

By combing through all of these records I found that Nicoladomenico Leone fathered 12 children (five of whom died in infancy).

The last one I know about (because the records ended in 1860) was born when Nicoladomenico was 64 years old.

My great great grandfather went on to live 91 years, probably because he was not a contadino (farmer) his whole life. No, he left the fields and had what was most likely an easier life as a butler, a broker, a coachman, and at age 64, a tavern keeper.

His occupation was written on each of his children's birth records, giving me a full timeline of his career.

You have to admire the stamina of this man. I'm from peasant stock, yes, but apparently that's a strong and hearty stock.


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