Monday, February 28, 2011

Progen -- Month 4, Part 3 (Research Plan-- Italian Great-grandfather)

This is a continuation of a previous post.  I had just described the first step I took in finding the birth date of my great-grandfather, Pasquale Ursino, from Catania, Italy.  Below, I start with the second step...

2) Search for Pasquale’s birth date in the military records for Catania.

It is easier to search the military records first rather than the civil birth records. The city of Catania is divided into six sections of the city for civil records for the time period of interest, and I had no idea what area of the city pertained to Pasquale. Furthermore, the cutoff dates for some of the films straddle 1862-1864, which meant I would not only have to order all six sections of the city, I would have to order the films ending or starting in 1863 or 1864. Remember that years are often rounded in records depending on the month of birth and/or death.

a. On the online catalogue site, I searched for Catania, Italy, where Pasquale Ursino was born.

b. I found the film number 1962396 for the military “Liste di Leva” records for 1856-1869.

c. I drove to my local Family History Center and ordered the microfilm. It took about 3 weeks to arrive.

d. I searched the records until I found my great-grandfather.

The military record on microfilm said Pasquale Ursino was born in Catania on 10 April, 1863. His parents were Orazio Ursino and Maria Stabile. The record said his occupation was “ortolano” which refers to his orange groves, but it was later crossed out along with the entire record. There was a note that said he was now “marinaio” and that he was “inserito marittimo al numero 3443.” In other words, his draft placed him in the Navy, and he served as a sailor.

Now I know that at age 20, in 1883, my great-grandfather served his country. He would likely have finished his duty by age 22 and returned to his orange groves. Most military requirements were completed in 1-2 years, depending on the branch of service (the Navy required longer service).

One note about Pasquale’s birth date – Easter Day was on April 5th, 1863. The military record said his birth date was 10 April, 1863. This is not surprising. My grandmother could still be right that he was born on Easter Day because children were often born at home, and the birth dates on birth certificates were usually the dates that the child was declared at the town hall. Many of my relatives have incorrect birth dates on their birth certificates because of this reason.

e. The military record was scanned, and I also took a picture of it with my camera. The pictures often come out better with my camera than the microfilm scanner.

f. On the family group record I wrote:

a. Pasquale Ursino’s birth information.

b. Source information (city, film number, volume, years covered, and page number).

The pictures below show the military record for Pasquale Ursino. The number 3445 tells us there is information in a Navy record book and that his record number is 3445. To date, I do not know how to find this record or where it would be available. The LDS library does not have naval records on microfilm. This may be another item to search for on location in Sicily.

Pasquale Ursino: Parents are Orazio Ursino and Maria Stabile.  The birth date is 10 April, 1863.  He was born in Catania and works in the orchards (this is crossed out and below it says he is a sailor).  On the next page, it says he entered the navy, and it gives the record number to be found in what I presume is a Naval Register.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ancestor Approved Award Winners

Thank you Tessa for nominating me for the Ancestor Approved Award.  I already had one, but it is nice to be thought of again! 

Tessa wrote on her blog: The Ancestor Approved Award was created in March 2010 by Leslie Ann Ballou at Ancestors Lived Here. It has traveled far and wide returning to some bloggers a few times while making its rounds. Leslie Ann asks two things of those who receive it (surprisingly more involved than one might think):

1) List 10 surprising, humbling, or enlightening aspects of your research; and 2) Pass the Award on to 10 other researchers whose family history blogs are "doing their ancestors proud."

Since I have received this award before, I will point you to my previous response.

Also, last time, these were the blogs I nominated:

1) Herstoryan
2) Slekt og Slikt
3) A Multitude of Sens
4) Nordic Blue
5) Ginisology
6) Are You My Cousin?
7) Swedish Thoughts
8) A Tale of Two Ancestors
9) Lessons from my Ancestors
10) Kinfolk News

Here are ten new ones:
1) Claudia's Genealogy Blog
2) Ancestor Hunting
3) Jirene's Genealogy Treasures
4) Growing up in an Italian Family
5) Italy Gen
6) Random Relatives
7) Jessica's Genejournal
8) Carrow and Faunt Family Tales
9) Family Stories
10) Itawamba Connections
Enjoy, and good job. Oh, and don't forget to post the award picture on your blog!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday -- Kristiansen Siblings

The Kristiansen Siblings somewhere in Baerum, Norway -- Raghnild, Astrid, Gyda (my grandmother), Gunnar, and Oyvind.  I am not sure I have the latter two correct as there are other brothers not in the picture (and to me they look alike).  Dad -- please comment and let me know.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday -- Pasquale Ursino's Wall

Until this past summer, no one in my family knew where my great-grandfather, Pasquale Ursino, was buried.  My mother found her grandfather when she visited the town hall in Catania, Sicily.  The cemetery is like a city, so there would have been no way to walk around and look for it.  For background on the grave's history, read here.

My great-grandfather is on the top row, second one from the right.

The epitaph says he is 80 years old and died the 27th of February 1944. 
Thanks to Kathy Kirkpatrick, who went to Sicily in November and sent me these photos.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Progen -- Month 4, Part 2 (Research Plan-- Italian Great-grandfather)

This is a continuation of my first post

Research Plan (cont.)

Research Process for Finding the Birth Date of Pasquale Ursino

1) Find Pasquale Ursino’s death record.

Normally, I would seek the birth record first if I have an idea of the ancestor’s age. If a census is available, I would search the ancestor there first to get a year of birth and then look for the birth certificate. In Catania, Italy, for this time period, this is not a possible method. Since Pasquale Ursino is male, the best place to search first is the military draft records. Starting with the year 1840, all males had to present themselves for possible military duty at age 20. The records are organized by year of birth. However, I had no idea what year Pasquale may have been born. My grandmother was the youngest child, and he was “old” for being a father. We did know that he died by accident; he was crossing the train tracks, when a stopped train suddenly rolled backward and hit his head. Different family sources had his age as anywhere between 80 and 92 years at death.

There are many records for the city of Catania, Sicily, available through the LDS Family History Library; however, one may have to request certain records in person, on location, or write a letter to the vital records department of the city of interest. This past summer, my mother went to Sicily to visit her siblings, and together they went to the “anagrafa” of Catania. At first, the vital records clerk was unable to find a death record for Pasquale Ursino. During their discussions, the circumstances of Pasquale’s accidental death on the train tracks were discussed, and the clerk suddenly understood the problem. Apparently, Catania has two sets of death records – “natural death” and “death by accident.” When they searched for Pasquale in the accident book, they found him. Pasquale died on 28 February, 1944, at age 80. The father listed was Orazio Ursino and the mother was Maria Stabile. My mother knew that Pasquale’s father was named Orazio so, between this information and the verified accident information, she felt sure this was the right Pasquale – her grandfather. She was also told where he was buried – the Cemetery of Catania, at the “deposito” on B/ 14 camp. 4 -- Fila 10 -- Number 18.

Pasquale Ursino’s epitaph had his age but no birth date. Pasquale’s death in 1944, at the age of 80, put his birth year around 1864. I say “around” because sometimes the ages are rounded up or down depending on the month of birth and death. That said, I believed his month of birth was April because my grandmother said her father was born on Easter Day – hence the name Pasquale (Easter in Italian is Pasqua).

Photos by Kathy Kirkpatrick, who was in Sicily this past fall -- thanks for taking them!

Stay tuned for the next installment!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Progen Study Group -- Month 4, Part 1 (Research Plan -- Italian Great-grandfather)

We didn't have an assignment in December due to the holidays, so I am jumping straight to month 4 for this blog post.  The January assignment was to read Chapter 14 in the Professional Genealogy text book - Problem Analysis and Research Plans by Helen F. M. Leary, CG, CGL, FASG - and then develop our own research plan.

The chapter discusses preliminary and detailed analyses. Preliminary analysis aids a genealogist in deciding whether a job proposal by a potential client is a good fit. Among the list of things to consider is one's level of expertise in the area required to complete the project.  On the other hand, the detailed analysis regards the creation of a research plan:  what are the goals of the client; what questions need answers; what is known by the client; what records are available etc...

For my research plan assignment, I did a preliminary analysis and detailed plan on my Italian great-grandfather, Pasquale Ursino.  My question was: When was my Italian great-grandfather, Pasquale Ursino, born?

This plan was rather long, so this post will be a series.

Research Plan -- Part 1


According to my grandmother, my great-grandmother, Francesca Scuderi of Catania, Sicily, had a difficult childhood with a stepmother who was abusive. At age 15, in order to escape her unhappy home, she married a fisherman named Pietro Napoli. Unfortunately, her husband was also abusive. They had three children together before she “escaped” her unhappy marriage.

Francesca worked as a laundry-woman for Pasquale Ursino. He was affluent for Sicilian society at the time, owning many citrus orchards. One day, my great-grandmother showed up for work with a black eye, which deeply angered him. According to my grandmother, her father, Pasquale, was a true gentleman with a great sense of honor and chivalry. He dashed out of the house to seek out Francesca’s husband, Pietro, and defend her honor. When he spotted Pietro, he grabbed hold of him and dished out a bit of his own medicine, warning Pietro that Francesca better not appear in his home battered ever again.
Stay tuned for the next installment and the process for finding Pasquale's birth date.
Pasquale Ursino -- my great-grandfather from Catania, Sicily, Italy
Pasquale Ursino was twice-widowed with children from both marriages. My grandmother said he raised them himself. This is very telling of the kind of man he was because most widowed men of his time would have depended on female relatives or a boarding school (often an orphanage). Francesca, on the other hand, was married but very unhappy. Pasquale and Francesca fell in love with each other but also needed each other. She needed a way out of her marriage with a man’s protection, and he needed help with his children.

Soon after the altercation between Pasquale and Pietro, Francesca left her husband to live with Pasquale. They had four children together, and my grandmother was the youngest. The problem was that Pasquale and Francesca were never able to marry because the Catholic Church did not allow divorce. Pasquale hoped until his dying day that Pietro would die before him so he could make an honest woman of Francesca. It did not happen as he hoped.

Illegitimate children and “living in sin” were no small matter for Sicilian society in those days. In order to protect their children from disdain, Pasquale paid off Francesca’s legal husband, Pietro, so he would declare each child as his own. All four of Pasquale’s children carried the surname of Francesca’s husband – Napoli – on their birth certificates.

My grandmother, being an old-fashioned Sicilian woman, found this history very embarrassing. She carried the true identity of her father with her for years before divulging the truth to her children – my mother included. For this reason, although we know her father’s name and have some information about him, many details are lacking, like date of birth, death, and where he was buried when he died. I believe my grandmother never brought her children to her father’s grave because she would have had to explain why his last name was different from hers. By the time she told her children the truth, his grave was long forgotten. In fact, she may no longer have remembered where to find it.

My mother had pictures of her grandfather, Pasquale, but he had died before her birth and she was unable to ask him any questions. She did know her grandmother well, but Francesca never spoke of the details of her marital situation. My mother learned the truth many years after her grandmother had died. My mother did learn from my grandmother’s brother, her Uncle Salvatore, that until he went to middle-school, he had always believed his name to be “Salvatore Ursino.” He found out his birth certificate surname was Napoli when, on the first day of 6th grade, the teacher did roll call and called out a name he did not recognize. The teacher told him “Napoli” was his name, and he went home crying, where he was finally told the truth by his parents. My grandmother hated being a Napoli her whole life, but she had no choice but to carry this surname until she died (note: Italian women do not change their names when they marry).


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday -- a Great-grandmother and a Great-great-grandmother

Click on the picture to enlarge.  Middle row: the second woman from the left is my gg-grandmother, Nikoline Andersdatter (1865-1950), and the third woman from the left is her daughter, my g-grandmother, Joergine Ludvigsdatter (1889 - 1972).  I believe this picture was taken in the mid-1920's.  One nice thing about the picture is that my g-grandmother is wearing a cross necklace I now own.  I was told she wore it daily, and now I know that she had it in the 1920's.  I am not sure when exactly, or how, she got the necklace, but I like to think my great-grandfather gave it to her. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday -- Great Picture from around 1891

This is an awesome photo I found among my grand-aunt's photos, which were
given to me.  My great-grandfather, Kristian Olausen Jordbaerhaugen, is in the front row, in the middle.
I have no idea who the other men are, nor do I know the occasion.  I wish I had seen the picture
while my grand-aunt was still alive so I could have asked her -- oh well.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Nonna and Nonno

Nonna Pina and Nonno Enzo -- my maternal grandparents. 
I believe this picture was taken when they lived in Rome, circa 1960.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday -- Ludvig Hansen's House

This house in Vesten, Østfold, Norway was built by my great-great grandfather
Ludvig Hansen circa 1896.