ALTHOUGH I'VE BEEN RESEARCHING MY PATERNAL GRANDMOTHERS LINES IN SICILY FOR THE LAST 15 YEARS,I'VE MADE VERY LITTLE PROGRESS.I'VE BECOME A VIRTUAL EXPERT AT FINDING WAYS TO SEARCH FOR THE SMALLEST CLUES,GOING FAR BEYOND THE BEGINNER STATUS OF "HOW TO"S"AND EVEN RESEARCH GREATS LIKE TRAFFORD COLE(HIS BOOK"ITALIAN GENEALOGICAL RECORDS"IS A CLASSIC).BUT EVEN WITH ALL MY WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE,I'M AT A TOTAL DEAD END.MOST OF THIS IS BECAUSE MY GRANDMOTHER WAS BORN"IGNOTI GENITORI"AND THERES VERY LITTLE TO GO ON.THIS SITUATION IS EXTREMELY WIDESPREAD IN SICILY.MORESO THAN IN OTHER PARTS OF ITALY AS I'VE DISCOVERED OVER YEARS OF RESEARCH.THIS IS WHAT I HAVE TO DATE-AND WHAT I NEED.MY PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER,MARIA COSTANTE(GIVEN SURNAME BY HER WETNURSE AND ADOPTIVE/SURROGATE MOTHER),WAS BORN IN BARCELLONA PG MESSINA IN 1883.HER WETNURSE WAS MARIA BONARRIGO,WHO BECAME HER VIRTUAL MOTHER,ACCOMPANYING HER TO BOSTON IN 1902,AND DIED THERE SHORTLY AFTER ARRIVAL.MARIA'S HUSBAND WAS FRANCESCO LANDINO.I HAVE AN 1847 BIRTH RECORD FOR MARIA BONARRIGO(GUALTIERI SICAMINO 1847-OF DOMENICO AND MATTIA PULEIO)AND FRANCESCO LANDINO(PALERMO 1851-OF SALVATORE AND ROSALIA MANCUSO).BUT NEVER COULD FIND A MARRIAGE FOR THIS COUPLE. MY BEST GUESS,CONSIDERING THEIR AGES,WOULD BE THAT THEY MARRIED CA.1869-1872.AND AS FRANCESCO,ACCORDING TO MARIA'S 1902 DEATH IN BOSTON,SURVIVED HER(HE DID NOT ACCOMPANY HER AND MY GRANDMOTHER TO BOSTON),HE COULD HAVE DIED ANYWHERE AND ANYTIME AFTERWARDS.REGARDING THE MARRIAGE-I'VE CONFIRMED THEY NEITHER MARRIED IN PALERMO NOR GUALTIERI SICAMINO-NOR IN BARCELLONA PG,WHERE THEY HAD 2 NATURAL CHILDREN(SON SALVATORE IN 1872 AND DAUGHTER MATTIA IN 1880).AND FRANCESCO,AS HE DOESN'T APPEAR TO HAVE EVER IMMIGRATED TO AMERICA,MOST LIKELY DIED IN EITHER PALERMO OR MESSINA PROVINCES-JUST WHERE OR WHEN IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DETERMINE.SO,AFTER 15 YEARS,THIS IS WHAT I'M WORKING WITH.IF ANYONE OUT THERE,PROFFESSIONAL OR OTHERWISE,COULD HELP ME IN OBTAINING A MARRIAGE RECORD FOR FRANCESCO LANDINO AND MARIA BONARRIGO-AND A DEATH RECORD FOR FRANCESCO LANDINO,I'D BE HAPPY TO WORK OUT SOME COMPENSATION.JUST NEED TO BREAK THIS GRIDLOCK AND POSSIBLY GO A BIT FURTHER FROM THERE.THESE ARE NOT MY GRANDMOTHER'S NATURAL PARENTS.UNFORTUNATELY,DUE TO THE DREADED IGNOTI GENITORI,THAT WILL NEVER BE KNOWN.BUT SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING.ADOPTIVE/SURROGATE PARENTS ARE BETTER THAN NONE.ALL AND ANY SUGGESTIONS WOULD BE MOST WELCOME
There is some information on my blog about abandoned children you might find interesting. You will also find interesting a book by Ange Coniglio about abandoned babies in Sicily. A link to his book is also on my website. You should also know that using ALL CAPS on the internet is the equivalent of shouting.
thanks.i know all about the books,including"sacrificed for honor" but after 15 years of research i need hard facts and solid research at my disposal.how to's and beginners guides are a thing of the past.while books like you mentioned are informative and interesting,they don't locate the actual records.i'm ingenious at letter writing and scouring the smallest details.i'm light years past the beginners stage.this is why i need someone with at least my level of experience in breaking this gridlock.most of the research questions i see here are very generic,posted by beginners,and rarely if ever involve in depth questions involving missing records and children born of unknown parents.once youre past the beginners stage of reading instruction manuals and how to tips,youre pretty much left to your own devices-especially after 15 years.thats the point i'm at.i'm at the expert level-and need the help of other experts.italian genealogy is extremely difficult,as unlike other genealogies,its rife with illegitimate births that,thanks to social customs and the church,left no way to find the parents and trace the family line.very sad.i've also done my mothers french canadian ancestry,tracing my ancestors from the usa,through generations in quebec,and back into france.maybe 10-12 generations and over 200 charts-and virtually no unknown births.with my fathers italian ancestry,i can't get through 1 complete 5 generation chart without running into illegitimacy and dead ends.that says a lot regarding the difficulties involved here
mezzogiorno62 wrote:italian genealogy is extremely difficult,as unlike other genealogies,its rife with illegitimate births that,thanks to social customs and the church,left no way to find the parents and trace the family line....with my fathers italian ancestry,i can't get through 1 complete 5 generation chart without running into illegitimacy and dead ends.
I find Italian genealogy to be pretty easy; much easier than, say, German genealogy. I can go back 7 generations with no illegitimacy or other problems just using records from the Mormons. Everybody's experience is different. You've just had bad luck.
french canadian genealogy is the best by far.in 15 years of researching both my paternal italian ancestry and my maternal french canadian ancestry,theres no comparison.i've completed over 200 charts of my french canadian ancestors-virtually all births,marriages,and deaths,from the usa through quebec and back into the france of the 1600s(all 5 generation charts).my italian research consists of 1 partially completed 5 generation chart.can't even get past my grandmother without running into "ignoti genitori"or unknown parents.thats terrible.plus,the french canadian records database is massive.online films of original records,books,libraries devoted to this specific group,and more.by comparison,all thats available in italian research is the lds film collection and writing endless letters of inquiry(as i've been doing)to unresponsive civil records offices and parishes in italy(parishes never respond period).not a very good comparison.italian genealogy is challenging at best,but in my experience very unrewarding considering the time,effort,and money i've put into it.like trying to break down a wall of steel.what always baffles me is that the french canadians,being a much smaller and low profile ethnic group than the italians,have a so much better preserved genealogy.quebec archivists love the interest shown by descendants of these hardy colonists.by contrast,the italian archivists and parish priests seem annoyed,and even baffled,by the interest of italian americans in trying to discover their ancestors.relatively recent immigrants.the earliest emigrants to canada began arriving in the early 1600s,peaking by the end of that century.the italians began arriving in the 1870s and 1880s,peaking around 1900-1910.thats not long ago.it should be much easier to connect the dots researching italian ancestry.but its not.and to me,that says a lots.but i persevere!
If you've read 'Sacrificed for honour' then you should understand why you usually can't get past the 'genitori ignoti'. The ones who survived where the lucky ones. Often raised in the country by grieving mothers who needed some cash (from feeding this newborn)to keep the rest of their family alive. Anonymous is just that. Even when babies of known parentage were raised by their unmarried (civilly at least) parents the records will always show 'ignoti'. It just wasn't that important to them to get the records corrected. Everyone knew who they were, at the time at least, and who their parents were. It was the civil authorities that had the problem, not the people. Now it is their descendants who have the problem when trying to grow the family tree. Italian research is very satisfying, and occasionally someone made an error and just crossed out the name on the record and BINGO, you have it. But this is very rare. Your only real option is to do DNA tests on other 'siblings' if they seem to have been raised as part of the family rather than a 'foundling'.
unfortunately,dna doesnt work on ancestors dead over 100 or more years.dna only works with living people who are somehow connected.it can't possibly work for situations like mine.how can i do a dna test with my paternal grandmother's adoptive mother,for instance(she died in 1902),who was my grandmothers wetnurse and presented her to the civil records office for custody of the child(as stated in my copy of the original birth act)?i've read all the books,besides the one you mentioned-and i understand all the reasons and social pressures involved in that culture.but none of this is helping my research.and as i explained in my last post,just using my french canadian ancestry as an example,this issue of unknown parents was a much bigger problem in italian research.thats why books have been written about it,since even trafford cole's excellent book"researching italian records"barely touches upon it.this is odd since it was so prevalent in italy at the time(1800s)and is a major roadblock to going further back.and it was worse in the south and sicily.i've been researching for years with these lds civil records films,both in avellino for my grandfathers lines and in messina for my grandmothers lines.i found this issue consistent in messina-much worse than avellino.and as we know,both the moors of the time,the social customs,and the church did nothing to bring this out into the open.they were a party to making it worse,which is unfortunate to us 21st century researchers.truly pitiful.it served no purpose,and helped no one.for every person who can go back more than a generation or two without running into this deadend,there are probably 10 who can't,as its so common in this area.any researcher in sicily,in paricular,who can get beyond a grandparent born there is very fortunate,since the odds against going back to even great grandparents is so great.truthfully,ignoti genitori should be a major part of the discussions on this site.by comparison,issues regarding passenger records searches are small and insignificant-and much easier to resolve.
You didn't post the original birth record so we can't comment accurately, however, it was unusual for a potential 'wetnurse' to present the child for registration unless it was left on her doorstep. If it was left on the doorstep it is always possible it was a child of her husband's infidelity! Usually the presentation is by the keepers of the 'wheel' or the midwife. The decision about who will be the wetnurse is made at the time of presentation often with the help of the midwife who would know who just 'lost' a child and still had milk. There are lots of theories, but rarely any certainties. You need to accept the reality and understand that you will never be sure who her parents were.
the wetnurse who presented my grandmother to the civil records official was the midwife.according to the translation from the original,the wetnurse stated the birth mother requested to"not be named"and appealed to the office for the care and upbringing of the child.my grandmother considered this woman her"mother"in every sense of the word.they came to boston together in 1902,the older woman dying a week later.i understand this"wheel"situation as i've read about it.but this want the case with my grandmother,which leads me to believe there may have been some relation there.why would an anonymous wetnurse/midwife take such an interest in a child,unless they were possibly related?but this i'll never know.my grandmother died in 1961 when i was 12.what really stinks is that this"ignoti genitori"deadend happens with my grandmother.it wouldnt be as bad if i could have at least gotten back to,say,my great or great great grandparents.but as its my grandmother,i can't proceed any further back than 1883,the year of her birth.and since the civil records in sicily go back to 1820,if not for this situation,i could probably have gone back 2 or 3 more generations back.this is whats so discouraging.on the other hand,searching my paternal grandfathers lines in avellino,i was able to get not only his birth record,but his parents births,marriage,and deaths-as well as his grandparents marriages and deaths.the only dead end was hitting the 1809 timeframe,which is when civil registration began in mainland italy.anything before that time only existed in the parishes-and anyone familiar with italian genealogy knows not to expect much from that source.i've written many letters of inquiry over the years.maybe a hundred or more.to date i've only recieved 2 records.my grandmothers baptismal record,which like the civil birth,only state"ignoti genitori"and the marriage record of my grandfathers paternal grandparents(my 2nd great grandparents).thats it for parish responses in 15 years!not much of a success rate considering the time,effort,and expense!
But you see each situation was different in these cases of the illegitimate baby and not every time is it a dead end as you say. Sure, there were many babies simply abandoned or born in the ospizio where the names of the father and often too the mother were recorded "ignoti" and there is no other clue to know the names of the parent. In these situation, I think perhaps it is impossible to know anything more. But I tell you my own grandmother was recorded on the civil acts her whole life as "figlia di N.N." but she was raised by the sister and brother in law of her own mother. And of course from them she knew the identity of her true father who went to Argentina and died there of influenza some years later. So yes she knew her mother and the name of her father, but never was it written anywhere because she was never officially recognized. And in a poor little town, during the terrible years of war in Europe and no food on the table, it was not important to worry of these things.
And there are many story such as this, but my family is in the north of Italy and the cultures are a bit different throughout Italy so perhaps we viewed the situation in my area without such a heavy hand.
as i've noted in my research and postings,ignoti genitori was much worse in the south than in the north,and particulary bad in sicily.probably due to both economic and cultural reasons.my paternal grandfather was born in avellino,near naples-maybe 200 miles north of mypaternal grandmothers birthplace in messina sicily.yet i went back to my 2nd great grandparents generation,and found no instances of this.my only deadend was the fact that civil registration didnt exist before 1809 on the mainland(1820 in sicily)and parish resources are difficult to access.most priests can't be bothered with requests for records,if there any priests available at all.plus,the chances of knowing the exact parish for records nearly 200 years old are unlikely,unless it was a very small comune with only 1 parish.on the other hand,my grandmother was born ignoti genitori,as well as her surrogate grandmother.my grandmothers wetnurse became her virtual mother,and they may have been related considering that.but no way to know.