I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

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I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

Postby Graffeo » 06 Oct 2006, 06:00

Hello all!

This is my first post. About two weeks ago I found out that my maiden surname, Graffeo is the name of an illustrious and ancient Sicilian family. The history of that family has been traced back 900 years. They intermarried with the Byzantine Emperors and the family of Norman Count, Roger the First. They had vast feuds, they built catherdrals and they owned castles. It was an amazing discovery. What great fun!!

However being the realistic sort, I do not believe my family could be related to these people by blood. I think it more likely that one of my ancestors worked in a household or on the land of a Graffeo noble. I think this is the case because if my family was ever a member of this family the knowledge of of it would have been passed down. No one in my dad's family ever said anything about this!

I need a little perspective here from objective people. Do you guys agree with my assesment? Or do you think it is possible that somehow, at some point in time, a member of that noble family could have drifted away from the core family, forgotten his roots and had descendents who had to immigrate to America because they were peasants with no opportunities? I do not think such a scenario is likely but I would love to have your opinions and speculations.

And I have one question too. In Sicily today there are 5.2 million people and 850 of the have the name Graffeo. I think that shows that Graffeo is NOT an uncommon name. But I don't know anything about statistics. Can somebody help me put this in perspective too.

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Re: I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

Postby Essgee » 06 Oct 2006, 10:03

Oh well....I'll take a stab at all of this.......

Of course you could have royal blood running through your veins! And it could be one little bitty drop...but it would still be there. And it is nice to know that the Graffeo family was famous---or is that infamous! It allows you to look at the lives of an ancestor in a specific perspective...it allows you to add meat to the bones so to speak.

It is the royal lines that are well documented. The peasantry didn't even have last names until about 500 years ago so it is hard to track back Beniamino, the goat herder. But Marco the King ---well everyone needed to know about him and his family because within that family was the next King, etc. So they were often well documented.

You may find out that you connect to them. But you have to do your homework first and work from what you know as fact, and then back up the line. Eventually you will merge or diverge from the rest of this name.

Not sure what the name means, but if is a place name that became a surname, then blood may not tie all with the name together. If it were a profession probably the same result. But if it were a family only---well time will tell. All you can do is be careful to track back and document all that you can and see where you end up.

And the 850 represent only about 1.6% of the people in Sicily. More important, where in Sicily are they? If they are ALL in one town, then the impact of that number is much more meaningful. If there is one every 200 miles it is less significant.

So, you have more of the name to start with...but you must know the exact location in Sicily that your ancestors came from. Only then can you get the records that you need. Sicily is a large territory and you must be more specific on location. There are no central records in Sicily or Italy so you must go to the town the event took place in to get the documents of birth or marriage or death. It is a long haul...the records can be difficult to read...but it will all be worth it. And that is the perspective to remember!

Good Luck.

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Re: I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

Postby Graffeo » 06 Oct 2006, 12:40

Thanks so much for responding. Graffeo is not the name of a city. There is one church in Sicily called Santa Maria del
Graffeo and a religious painting called The Madonna of the Graffeos. There is also a castle called the Castel of the Graffeos. I think they were all named for the Graffeo family who built or comissioned them.
There is a latin word, graffio meaning "scratch" but no family in Sicily has the surname Grafeo or Graffio if the search engine I used is correct and I think it is. The surname distribution map I used shows that most Graffeos reside in northwest Sicily. It's not like they are all over the map. They are mostly in two clusters. If I had to guess I would say Graffeo is a family name only that comes from the most ancient original surname Grifeo (griffin) for which the change to Graffeo has already been well documented.

I am so curious now about how my family got that name. I still think they were peasants who took the name from the owners of the feud they worked on. And I was just wondering if anyone knows if that was a common practice in Sicily. I would not want to take the name of my overlords for whom I had to toil night and day.

Again thank your for your thoughts and encouragement. As you wrote time will tell.

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Re: I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

Postby nuccia » 07 Oct 2006, 00:37

Essgee gave you some great advice...but if you are serious about wanting to find the truth (or as best the truth as you can) then you will need to do some serious research. Start with yourself and work backwards as far as you can using all the resources available.

Just for fun I pulled up some ship manifests with your surnames from ellis island..

Graffeos

And here is a link to the phone listings with those with the last name Graffeo living in Italy..

Italian Phone Listings

and some odds and edds..

http://resources.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/metasearch

http://www.genealogy.com/cgi-bin/wizard ... _MATCHES=0

http://lds.org/

At some point you will discover from which town your family came and can order microfilm from the FHC...if you research back far enough you will find any name changes which may have occurred and when.

I hope some of this helps.

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Re: I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

Postby Graffeo » 07 Oct 2006, 06:59

Niccia:

Great links! Thanks to you I found my great grandmother's obituary. Sure appreciate it!

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Re: I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

Postby nuccia » 07 Oct 2006, 07:08

Graffeo wrote:Niccia:

Great links! Thanks to you I found my great grandmother's obituary. Sure appreciate it!


Im glad I was able to help. Many of us have access to other sites that require a paid for membership such as ancestry.com so if you would like to know anything else you could always post the names of people you are interested in, ages, siblings, spouses or anything else you can think of and we can try to look them up for you. Sometimes we can find census records, WW1 and WW2 Draft Registration Info and more.

Let us know, ok?

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Re: I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

Postby Graffeo » 08 Oct 2006, 00:39

Nuccia you are so kind to offer to look things up. Thank you so much. I have found a very interesting bit of info on Ancestry.com, in the Historical Records section for V.Graffeo of Navarro County. TX. It is referring to the 1930 census. Underneath the name V.Graffeo there is another entry of V. Graffes father for the 1910 census, with an arrow pointing up to the V.Graffeo entry.

I am just about certain both entries refer to my family because my great, great uncle was named Vitus and lived in Corsicana, Texas, Navarro County. (He was a priest)

My ancestors came here through the port of New Orleans and settled in Louisiana and Texas. I was told they came from Piana Dei Greci.

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Re: I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

Postby MMaddi » 08 Oct 2006, 07:40

Graffeo wrote:....However being the realistic sort, I do not believe my family could be related to these people by blood. I think it more likely that one of my ancestors worked in a household or on the land of a Graffeo noble. I think this is the case because if my family was ever a member of this family the knowledge of of it would have been passed down. No one in my dad's family ever said anything about this!

I need a little perspective here from objective people. Do you guys agree with my assesment? Or do you think it is possible that somehow, at some point in time, a member of that noble family could have drifted away from the core family, forgotten his roots and had descendents who had to immigrate to America because they were peasants with no opportunities? I do not think such a scenario is likely but I would love to have your opinions and speculations.


You're talking about 900 years, so I think it's quite possible that a member of this family drifted away from the family and over many generations his descendants never knew he was related to the famous Graffeo family. One thing to remember about noble families during the feudal period is that only the oldest son inherited the family's titles, wealth and land. So any other sons would be Graffeos, but would not have the importance of the son who inherited everything.

But I think you're right to not assume that your family is descended from this noble family. Most genealogists would love to make that type of discovery about their ancestors, not only because it would be so interesting, but also because it would make the time they invested in their research seem so worthwhile.

My great-grandfather, according to family stories and the little I have found in the records, was abandoned as an infant. The story that I, my sister and first and second cousins heard as children was that he was the son of a nobleman, who gave the child to a Maddi family to raise. One second cousin remembers hearing that his mother was a servant of the nobleman alleged to be his father. I take all this with a grain of salt. I think it's far more likely that he was the son of a poor married couple who couldn't afford to feed another mouth and abandoned him. Until I have some firm proof that he was a nobleman's son, I'll treat that with skepticism.

Mike Maddi

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Re: I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

Postby nuccia » 08 Oct 2006, 08:54

Are you refering to this census?

1910 United States Federal Census Record
about V Graffes Father
Name: V Graffes Father
[V [Father] Graffeo Father]
Age in 1910: 32
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1878
BirthPlace: Italy
Relation to Head of House: Fost To Brad
Father's Birth Place: Italy
Mother's Birth Place: Italy
Home in 1910: Fort Worth Ward 4, Tarrant, Texas
Marital Status: Single
Race: White
Gender: Male
Year of Immigration: 1909
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
R M Nolan Father 35
Margarett Nolan 74
James Nolan 53
MRS. Drake Nolan 46
Mary Nolan 21
MRS. May Sanford 19
V Graffes Father 32
MRS. Batrun Pate 20
MR. Tame D Arthur 42

1910 Census for Father V Graffes

Immigration is about 1909 and he is an assist to the head Priest...pretty impressive!

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Re: I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

Postby nuccia » 08 Oct 2006, 09:27

Here is the 1930 Census..V. Graffeo's mother is listed as 34 but it should be 84 years old (birth year around 1846) and he is a clergyman. Also living with them is his sister Mary and cousin Vita.

1930 United States Federal Census Record
about V Graffeo
Name: V Graffeo
Home in 1930: Corsicana, Navarro, Texas
Age: 51
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1879
BirthPlace: Italy
Relation to Head of House: Head
Mother's Name: Sadie
Race: White
Occupation:

Education:

Military Service:

Rent Home Value:

Age at First Marriage:

Parents' Birthplace:

View Image
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
V Graffeo 51
Sadie Graffeo 34
Mary A Graffeo 54
Vita Riola 35
Vito Riola 5 11/12

1930 Census

Now based on Sadies information and following the naming tradition of children, could this person possibly be another son? He named his first daughter Sadie (if this was his first daughter) and was living in Alabama...Could be that parents names to consider would be Nicola (Nick, Domenico) and Sadie (not sure of the Italian name for this but I'm sure someone can help).

Just an interesting record for you to consider. If it may be useful to you I can link it.

1920 United States Federal Census Record
about Charlie Graffis
Name: Charlie Graffis
[Charlie Graffeo]
Home in 1920: Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama
Age: 47 years
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1873
BirthPlace: Italy
Relation to Head of House: Head
Spouses's Name: Grace
Father's Birth Place: Italy
Mother's Birth Place: Italy
Marital status: Married
Race: White
Sex: Male
Home owned: Rent
Year of immigration: 1907
Able to read: Yes
Able to Write: Yes
Image: 1020
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Charlie Graffis 47
Grace Graffis 47
Nick Graffeo 17
Charlie Graffeo 15
Sadie Graffeo 8
Phillip Graffeo 6
John Graffeo 3 4/12

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Re: I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

Postby Graffeo » 08 Oct 2006, 11:54

MIKE MADDI WROTE:

Interesting story about your great grandfather. Here's another angle. I have read that the peasants were so poor that they could only afford to marry off the first son and supply the first daughter with dowry. The other children just could not afford to marry and there were terrible problems with illegitimate births. Through a lot of reading I have come to realize that the poverty in Sicily was just awful and the common people lived very harsh lives. If anyone gave your great grandfather to a family to raise it would be another mouth to feed for them so they must have been very kind people and he was lucky.

As far as the name Graffeo and nobility I have no doubt at all that it is the surname of a noble family. However, i am learning that hundreds of people named Graffeo left Sicily for America which leads me to the practical conclusion that many peasants also had that name. It just makes me more curious as to how they got that surname!

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Re: I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

Postby Graffeo » 08 Oct 2006, 12:49

To NUCCIA:

Bingo! Yes, this is the Father V. Graffeo who was my great uncle, he was a very bright man who studied in Rome and spoke several languages. He became a Monsignor and got his own parish. His sister never married and took care of him. I never knew her or her name or his mother's name and I thought he was born in America not Italy! When he first came here as a young man he evidently lived with another priest, Father Nolan. Yep the stories I heard are matching up! My great grandfather's oldest daughter was named Sadie so she must have been named after Father Graffeo's mother. Whew! This gets confusing.

I don't know anything about the family in Alabama there may be a connection but I will have to think about it.

I really do appreciate it. Thank you very much. It will help me along a great deal.

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Re: I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

Postby nuccia » 08 Oct 2006, 21:10

Some interesting bits and pieces..

Texas Death Index, 1903-2000 Record
about Sadie Graffeo
Name: Sadie Graffeo
Death Date: 30 Jun 1942
Death County: Navarro
Certificate: 27994


manifest for you to consider....

Click Here


First Name: Carlo
Last Name: Graffeo
Ethnicity: Italian
Last Place of Residence: Piana dei Greci
Date of Arrival: Dec 01, 1899
Age at Arrival: 53y Gender: M Marital Status: M
Ship of Travel: Bolivia
Port of Departure: Palermo
Manifest Line Number: 0001


First Name: Pietro
Last Name: Graffeo
Ethnicity: Italian
Last Place of Residence: Piana dei Greci
Date of Arrival: Dec 01, 1899
Age at Arrival: 11y Gender: M Marital Status: S
Ship of Travel: Bolivia
Port of Departure: Palermo
Manifest Line Number: 0002

Same family living in Louisana..

1900 United States Federal Census Record
about Carlo Graffeo
Name: Carlo Graffeo
Home in 1900: New Orleans Ward 4, Orleans, Louisiana
Age: 53
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1847
BirthPlace: Italy
Relationship to head-of-house: Head
Race: White
Occupation: View Image
Immigration year: 1842
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Carlo Graffeo 53
Victor Graffeo 16
Peter Graffeo 13
Katie Graffeo 7
Peter Cordado 76

Katie is adopted and living woth Father in Law...

1900 Census Click Here

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Re: I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

Postby nuccia » 08 Oct 2006, 21:16

Heres another manifest for Carlo and his wife Louisa...there are other Graffeo's on it as well..

New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1820-1945 Record
about Carlo Graffeo
Name: Carlo Graffeo
Arrival Date: 30 Oct 1883
Age: 38
Gender: Female
Port of Departure: Leghorn and Palermo, Italy
Ship Name: Egbert
Port of Arrival: New Orleans, Louisiana
National Archives' Series Number: M259_65

Graffeo Manifest

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Re: I have the surname of the noble family Graffeo!!

Postby Graffeo » 09 Oct 2006, 08:16

To NUCCIA: Thanks again!

Ah Ha! I see a possible connection. My great grandfather was a barber. Carlo Graffeo, husband of Lucia and father of Georgio and Vito is a barber too. You said there were other Graffeos on that manifest. Is there another Graffeo male who is also a barber and whose wife is named Mary Ann?
Carlo could be my great grandfather's brother and they came here together.

As for Sadie who died in 1942 she is probably the mother of Fr. Graffeo. I don't know about the others Charlie age 53 and Pietro age 11. I don't think they are in my patrimonial line.

You are so nice and I hate to trouble you but if you could look up the WW I draft registration records of J.V. Graffeo, my grandfather, on Ancestry .com I think it would contain the name of his father and mother and then I would at least know the name of my great grandfather. Please don't let me trouble you though.


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