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!