I have some experiences in this case for a couple of years now and I agree with this article. I have positive experiences with Ancestry DNA. I hope to take next step – doing an autosomal and mitochondrial test with Family Tree DNA when my budget permits. Please feel free to ask here or contact me if you have any questions or want more information.
Today is the day I fly out to Bari, Italy from Berlin, Germany. It is 16 years later that I get to visit the right town where my ancestors came from at last – just to think of this….my nieces and nephews are now in their teenage years. Oh….my…. 😉
I get to stay for three days – walk and experience where my ancestors walked and lived – take some photos/videos – research at the Cathedral/Archive and several locations – buy map to see where my ancestors’ homes were – visit the cemetery and of course, enjoy the town with its food, culture, way of life, beach and view of sea. I checked the weather and here is forecast for next 5 days:
Thanks to all of my family, friends and folks for all of their support, help and encouragement to break down a brick wall on my paternal grandfather’s family (Lepore/Lasorsa). The brick wall just crumbled down a few days with help of wonderful genealogist/translator which I am truly blessed with connecting with and getting to know her.
I plan to give an update here once I am ready to share my discoveries/experiences after my trip to Giovinazzo. Hope all is well with y’all. Italy, here I come again to the right town after all!!!!! 😉
Hello Folks! It has been a long while since I last updated here. There are some breakthroughs since then. It has to do with some families that I am working on:
For now, I am going to talk about The Lepores. I tried in vain to do on my own searching through records for my paternal grandfather and his family for a very long time – since mid 1980’s and the recent search was last straw for me. The reasons for this are:
1) there was no birth certificate on my grandfather other than few paperwork including his US Naturalization (no idea how my family managed to get their children in the USA without their birth certificates in early 1900’s and there was a letter from my great uncle verifying my grandfather’s birth date as part of US Naturalization process),
2) my grandfather along with his siblings were born in Greece as his family migrated/moved there from Italy for a few years,
3) Greece’s system wasn’t in place until after my grandfather’s birth – out of luck trying to find his record there!,
4) I didn’t realized that my grandfather said that his family was from Bari thinking that it was the name of city. My dear best friend Gwit and I made a journey to Bari in early 2000’s. Upon my arrival, I gulped when I read the board in Italian welcoming us to the city of Bari in the province of Bari. What!?!? Uh oh…..could it be that what my grandfather meant from the province instead of the city? I just kept my cool until we got to the city hall. The man who worked in the Vital Statistics was kind and patient. He looked through the books – no computers back in early 2000’s! – and couldn’t find my family. He asked me if I knew the name of town where my family came from and I replied no. A few years later, I took a-week-long genealogical workshop in Salt Lake City. There was a workshop on Italy records. Naturally, I attended to this workshop and learned so much. I now know that Italians proudly identify which province they come/came from since early 1800’s. Gee! And at that time, I couldn’t find when my family came to the USA. The mentors there helped me to find a ship manifest on my family and it recorded their last hometown – Giovinazzo – merely only few miles west of the city of Bari! I hope to return to Italy and visit this town one day!,
5) I found out about online records from Bari Province being available in late 2000’s. I tried to read the records, but I couldn’t get a grasp of handwritten Italian and their format/system of records. I gave up, but it lasts for a few years, fortunately.
6) I obtained death certificates on my great grandparents (through my father) and grandfather. The names of my grand grandparents’ parents were on these certificates. It helped!
7) I am pet-peeved with my grandfather’s death certificate showing his ethnic origins as Greek. That’s understandable that he was born in Greece, but he was born to Italian parents as other records/paperwork indicated. I must locate his birth record to have his death certificate corrected.
8) Recently, I learned that there is such thing as “delayed birth certificates“. I read in several forums learning that it is possible for my family to register their children in their hometown.
I decided to give this another try. Last month, I decided to use professional genealogy services in Italy. I explained my situation and provided them information on my family. I am to pay a deposit for them to start searching for my grandfather and his siblings as well as my great grandparents’ marriage record. If they were not able to locate records on my family, then my deposit has paid for their time and service. A few days later, I received a wonderful news that the records are found and I am to pay the remaining balance to obtain original records (JPG format and in Italian) and a couple of reports in English.
After making a payment, I received original records on my grandfather’s, great uncle’s and great aunt’s birth records along with my great grandparents’ marriage record. I am overjoyed finding my grandfather and some of his family members at last! To my surprise, my grandfather’s and his siblings’ birth dates came out different! I asked the researcher why did it happened and she said that sometimes, it happened and she had seen that many times. Gee!
I am going to share one of original records I received to give you a general idea what it looks like.
Can you read the record easily? Nah…..LOL! So, my next step is to find someone to translate these original records for me. I have been doing some translations and I only get perhaps 50% of these handwritten Italian. With this records in my possession, I recalled my Italy workshop in Salt Lake City might have some information on how to decipher the records from Italy. I looked up and found some information and guides that are helpful for me to figure out some Italian words/phrases and their format.
As I mentioned the one of reasons (#5) above, I re-visit the online records and managed to find some more records on my own. I am so proud of myself! Italian now becomes one of languages I am using. I am translating them to my best ability, but still it becomes harder to read and more challenge to translate as I read some older records due to “fancy” handwritten and some ancient Italian words/phrases.
What I know so far is:
L.J. Lepore Sr -> Angelo Lepore & Angelica Lasorsa -> Giuseppe Lepore & Carmela Milillo and Vito Lasorsa & Grazia Cortese -> Angelo Lepore & ? and Andrea Milillo? & ?
What is even more interesting is that my father told me that his family told him that his grandmother had 11 children and only 5 of them made it to adult. I searched the online records and found two more birth records of Giuseppe Lepores. I knew right away that they must have died because I remembered from Italy workshop, parents would name their baby one of their parents’ first name in honor and if the baby didn’t survived or was dead before next birth of baby, the parents will name it with same name. Tragedy has struck my family with first two babies died with name of Giuseppe until my grand uncle lived. Wow…..I found 9 names of children in total leaving me around 2 names to locate. Not too bad. I plan not to leave any stones unturned once I find all records on The Lepores/Lasorsas.
I am still working on trying to locate records as much as I can because these records can go back to early 1800’s. More works ahead for me! I cannot wait to learn more about my descendents on my grandfather’s side and see what I can to find all of them to my best ability. I share each discoveries and news with my father and it offers him more insights of where his family comes from. 🙂
I plan to talk about my breakthrough with other families that I work on. It is amazing learning process on top of researching/investigating. My only wish is that the online genealogical webinars and in-person classes/workshops could be more Deaf-friendly since nearly all of them are in audio-based. ARGH! I do my best what I can get by.
Keep tuned for my next posting.
This week, my father and I (my mother hitched along) made a trip to a town’s municipal hall in New Jersey where my parents got married almost 49 years ago. The reason for this trip is to put in a request to correcting a vital record – my parents’ marriage certificate. I first discovered a couple of errors a few years ago when I applied for my dual citizenship. I sent in a form to the town, but never heard back. I just dropped a ball on this one.
Going forward to this year, I picked up working on my genealogy again. I decided that making a trip to the town is the best option especially when my father is available (happily retired) and alive. Anyone in the state of New Jersey may put in a request to correct a vital record such as:
- Civil Union
- Domestic Partnership
Correcting a vital record may be varied from state to state. I brought in all proof of certificates/identities of my father and his mother with me. It has to amend my father’s middle initial (handwritten error) and his mother’s maiden name (it listed her married name). The registrar accepted my father’s driver license as a proof of identity and asked for a proof of his mother’s maiden name. I handed over my father’s birth certificate. The registrar smiled, so did my Nana knowing that her maiden name is being amended on my parents’ marriage certificate.
After the registrar filled out the form using computer (typed format – much better than handwritten format) and printed it for my father to sign, she handed the copy of unsigned form to my father. I, of course, scrutinized to ensure the amended information are correct on the form my father was going to sign. They were, so my father signed it off. 🙂 She explained that it takes around a month for amendment to occur as the form is being sent to the capital of the state – Trenton, New Jersey USA. If we put in a request a copy of my parents’ marriage certificate, we will get two copies – original ones (with errors) and amended ones. Interesting! The cost of putting in a request – $0.00 USD – not a penny. 🙂 However, I do suggest you to call your registrar to see if s/he will be in her/his office on the day you are coming in. A few days earlier, my parents and I came to the town’s municipal hall and the registrar was out training for few days. ARGH! Our fault.
All of this took around 10 minutes – give or take. One down and few to go! My next task is to fix my paternal grandfather’s death certificate – it listed his nationality as a Greek. It is understandable error as he was born in Greece during Italy famine, but his parents were Italian, so he was Italian. We could just ignore it, but as I explained to my parents that years from now, someone from our family may get confused by looking at that record and thinking my Pop was must be a Greek, not Italian. I feel responsibility to get this amended for once and all. It is a lot easier when my father is around and available too.
Speaking of proof of identity and nationality, I haven’t locate his and his parents’ birth certificates (challenging tasks as birth certificates in Italy and Greece are not fully indexed and in their native language…..handwritten in mid-late 1800’s….whoa!), but I do have some copies of the Federal Census in 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 listing his nationality as Italian. This should back up as a proof my Pop was not a Greek! 🙂 Good thing that his death occurred in New Jersey, so sometimes in next few weeks, my parents and I will make a trip to that town to put in a request to correct the vital record there.
If you see any errors with your family’s vital record(s), I encourage you to explore your options and take some action to make a correction. It may be easier if it applies to yourself, your parents, and your grandparents. It may be challenging beyond great-grandparents and other relatives such as your siblings and cousins.
My parents and I visited a cemetery in East Hanover, New Jersey – Gate of Heaven – to search for Joseph Lepore’s grave – my grand uncle. We went to the office to get grave location information. We found out that a person who buried with him had different name. We knew that Joseph Lepore married a woman named Lucy/Lucille (haven’t discovered her maiden name yet) and they had a son named Joseph “Sonny” Lepore, Jr. and a daughter named Angelica T. Lepore. So, we went to locate the grave location. We found the grave and read the plaque that Mary C. was buried with Joseph P. Lepore. There were two Lepore plaques, but we didn’t recognized who they were. I took some pictures of them, anyway.
We went back to the office asking about Lucy Lepore and got the grave location. We were told that she was buried alone. We knew that these people were probably not related to us, nevertheless we headed out to hunt for her grave location. We found it and knew that Lucy/Lucia Lepore was not related to our family. I took some pictures, anyway. As we walked back to car, we noticed another headstone with Lepore on it. I took a picture of it. 🙂
I backtracked to find out what was going on with Joseph Lepore’s profile in my Family Tree and found out that back in mid 1990’s, my Dad bought the Broderbund Family Tree Maker software. We looked through and assumed that Joseph Lepore was related to our family, so we attached his birth and death date to his profile. Upon my discovery of a ship manifest of the Lepore Family in around 2005 (via Genealogy workshop in Salt Lake City, Utah USA), I didn’t went back to Joseph’s profile to double check his birth date. It was off around 2 years between 2 Joseph Lepores. *sigh* Today, I deleted Joseph Lepore’s birth and death date from his profile. I am back to square one to try to find his birth record in Italy – Giovinazzio in province Bari, Italy along with his parents – Angela/Angelo and Angelina.
With the pictures I took of the Lepores today from the cemetery, I uploaded these pictures to these Lepores via Find A Grave website as my gift to them to give them a picture of their graves for anyone who searches and finds them online. At least, our trip was not totally wasted. 🙂