27 March 2020

Working Backwards from an Intriguing Discovery

When you think a new document belongs in your tree, here's what you can do.

This week I was looking at the family tree of a DNA match. When I recognized her grandparents' names from my tree, I got to work. I spent hours piecing together as many of her direct ancestors as possible. If she ever answers my message, she will be amazed.

Next I found a collection of Brazilian records on Ancestry.com (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965). These documents are like passports, but better. They have the person's photo, birth date and place, parents' names, and spouse's name.

I searched the collection for people from my grandfather's hometown in Italy. I found 4. To get any of them into my family tree, I had to find their parents in my vital record collection.

These immigration cards from Brazil can open up some dead ends in my family tree.
These immigration cards from Brazil can open up some dead ends in my family tree.

The first one with good results was a handsome man named Giovanni Battista Anacleto. He's a bit younger than my dad, which is funny when you're used to dealing with people from 200 years ago. I recognized Anacleto as a rare name from my Colle Sannita, Italy, documents. His mother's name seems to be from another town, so I'll get to her later.

My goal was to find a record for this young man's father, Salvatore Anacleto. Then I would climb his family tree until I found someone already in my tree. Then I'd be able to add Giovanni Battista and everyone else I find from his family. Here are the steps I took.

Find His Father

I searched my collection of vital records for Salvatore Anacleto. (I renamed my entire collection of records for this town, so I can search for any name from File Explorer.) I found his 1904 birth record. I know it's him because it mentions his 1926 bride, and I know she's Giovanni Battista's mother.

Find His Grandparents

The 1904 birth record names Salvatore's parents. I have no vital records for his father, Emilio Anacleto. Salvatore's mother was Andreana Paolucci. I found an 1864 birth record for an Andreana Filomena Paolucci. I know she's the right one. At the bottom of her birth record, it say she married Emilio Anacleto.

Andreana's parents were not in my family tree. Yet.

Find His Great Grandparents

Andreana Paolucci's father Saverio was 33 years old on the 1864 record. And his late father was named Giorgio. That helps narrow down my search. I searched my computer for "Saverio Paolucci di Giorgio" born about 1831. (In an Italian vital record, "di" means "child of". It's a handy abbreviation.)

I found 2 candidates:
  • Francesco Saverio Paolucci born in 1830
  • Francesco Saverio Paolucci born in 1831
It's perfectly normal for a man born as Francesco Saverio to go by the name of Saverio when he's older.

I decided to pursue the second one, born in 1831. I'm satisfied with this choice because his grandmother is Andreana, just like his daughter. Still, I will have to fully explore the 1830 Francesco Saverio and see where that leads.

The 1831 birth record says Francesco Saverio's parents are Giorgio Paolucci and Marianna Marino. I searched for the marriage of those two. I found out Giorgio Paolucci was born Baldassarre Giorgio Paolucci, son of Saverio. And Marianna Marino was born Mariangela Marino.

I kept climbing his family tree until I found some of his ancestors were already in my family tree.
I kept climbing his family tree until I found some of his ancestors were already in my family tree.

I know at this point you're totally doubting me. Everyone's names are a bit off. But my great grandmother was born Marianna and later called herself Mariangela. I've seen it happen many times. And I have a pretty exhaustive database of the town.

I looked into the 1822 marriage documents for Baldassarre Giorgio and Mariangela. It turns out Baldassarre's parents were already my distant relatives. Better yet, Mariangela's grandparents are my 6th great grandparents!

Put the Pieces Together
Now I was ready to climb back down the tree, adding in the new people I'd found:
  • Baldassarre Giorgio Paolucci and his wife Mariangela Marino, along with their parents' facts from the 1822 marriage documents.
  • Their son Francesco Saverio Paolucci and his wife Maria Marino. (I still need to investigate her.)
  • Their son Salvatore Anacleto and his wife Maria Lucia Barone. I've checked 2 neighboring towns for Maria Lucia so far. No luck.
  • My emigrant to São Paulo, Brazil, Giovanni Battista Anacleto. Now that he's in my family tree, I know he is my 5th cousin twice removed! (Yes, I will work to prove I chose the right Francesco Saverio.)
There are countless ways to approach your family tree research. When I'm not chipping away at the more tedious tasks, I like to keep it interesting. Following up on my new DNA match was very rewarding. But I've always wanted to track down the townspeople who went to Brazil. This immigration collection will give me hours and hours of genealogy detective work.


  1. I believe these same records are available on Family Search for those that don't have the international Ancestry subscription. https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1582573

  2. I believe my original comment was wrong. I guess I'm thinking of Sao Paulo

  3. OK here's the source I was originally referring to, Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965


    1. Yes, on Ancestry, the images are actually being pulled in from FamilySearch. Thanks, Diane O., from DiAnn O. :-)

  4. Knew about the Brazil Immigration cards but not the Argentine immigration records. Great find.