|The Chiesa Madre of Palagonia, Sicily. |
The family history library in Utah has a substantial amount of Italian records. Unfortunately for me, the two Sicilian towns I am interested in, Palagonia and Mineo, go from the early 1800s to about 1861. It sure would have been nice if they had them up to the early 1900s. But, nonetheless, I have been lucky to find quite a bit of information already. Lucky because my mother remembered a few details her father had told her and found the first important record for me while she visited the family history library in Utah (yes, I was jealous). She found the marriage record for my great-great grandparents, Vincenzo di Bennardo (born ABT 1816) and Maria Blandini (born in 1835). They were married 3 February 1855. My mother had a hard time reading the record, but I ordered the microfilm and have made out quite a bit, also thanks to the "allegati." Italian marriage records will have these additional documentations added, which will give you also the names of other ancestors. In this case, thanks to the church documentation, which was in latin, I was able to figure out that my ggg-grandmother was Giovanna Tinnirello (Joanna in latin) and could corroborate this with the poor handwriting on the actual marriage record stating the groom's parents' names. My ggg-grandfather was (fu) Carmelo di Bennardo -- "fu" means he was dead. Giovanna instead is 68 years old, if I read it right, meaning she was born around 1787. The bride, or my gg-grandmother Maria Blandini, is twenty when she marries, and her father is Vincenzo Blandini and mother Colomba Gulizia. They seem to be about the same age, probably born circa 1813. Vincenzo di Bennardo may have had a state position as his profession is stated as "civile." However, I believe he probably had orchards as well.
Armed with this information, I figured that if my gg-grandparents were married in 1855, then they probably had children soon after. The records go out to 1861. I realized it was possible that my great-grandfather may be somewhere on the "birth records" microfilm reel. My grandfather used to say his father was an older man when he became a father, and my grandfather was born in 1900. Sure enough, I looked, and there was my great-grandfather born 8 May 1856 -- Carmelo di Bennardo. I also found a sister named Anna and another sister Giovanna. They were all baptized in the "Chiesa Madre" of Palagonia. The sister named Giovanna was interesting because in a letter my great-grandfather wrote my grandfather in 1914, he mentions my grandfather's "aunt Giovanna."
I am pretty positive that I have found the right people based on my mother's recollections and several items of circumstantial evidence, but it is true that I do still have to make a definite connection between my grandfather and the great-grandfather I think I have found. Unfortunately, my grandfather's records start in 1900 with his birth, and he also has two marriages that would give me information. So, this is my next quest -- finding my grandfather's records on location in Sicily! I also need to trace his mother's line. And, of course, there is also my grandmother's line. All in good time... and with patience!
Oh, one mistake or "miss." I ordered military records thinking that the year to look for my other great-grandfather from Catania would be the year when he would have presented his information for the "draft." Instead, the military records, or Liste di Leva, go by year of birth. So I had to re-order by birth date this time and not draft age. I know... I should have read the fine print. But I'll never make that mistake again!