Catch-up Women’s History Month Blog Posts

March 3, 2011 at 03:25 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, family research, memories, Women's History Month | Leave a comment
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Thanks to Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist I am going to submit a few posts this month in Honor of Women’s History Month. This post will be a catch-up because I am a few days behind the start though. I was named for my grandmother Jane Brown Hyndman. She was also called Jean. Born and married in Scotland, she came through Ellis Island and brought her children with her to join with her husband James. No easy task for any woman, it was more difficult for her because she was lame from a childhood illness leaving her with one leg shorter than the other. Her son-in-law (my dad) chose my name for his mother-in-law – what a wonderful complement! So I was named Bonnie Jean to honor her and her Scottish roots!

I have often written about my husband’s family and often about my parents but haven’t really written about my maternal grandmother. She passed away when I was about 9 months old so I was not fortunate enough to have known her personally. Most of what I know has come through stories told by my own mother and my aunts. They all agreed there probably was never a sweeter woman than she born. She loved the Lord dearly and she encouraged all of her children to know Him in a real and personal way. Although lame she was mother to 10 children who lived. Half were born in Scotland and half here stateside. Even still her children always felt compelled to take care of her and protect her. They thought they had hidden the whereabouts of one son serving overseas in WWII only to learn later that she was well aware of his whereabouts!

Is Spring Far Away?

February 10, 2011 at 10:13 | Posted in ancestry, Bits and Pieces, Current Events, family research, Gardening | Leave a comment
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One of the wondrous things about this time of year is how spring fever hits many of us. I realize a goodly portion of the country is now hitting cabin fever levels and are snow weary because you are still digging out while tentatively watching those weather forecasts! But many of you are pouring over those seed catalogues and planning gardens. When we lived up north we longed for the first hibiscus and then daffodils and tulips and crocus. I loved walking in the woods to find lady slippers, jack-in-the-pulpits and my all-time favorite wood violets, especially in yellow! When I no longer lived in the woods I turned to small African violets in every color under the sun to fill all of my window sills. I literally have over 60 plants at one time. When we finally moved to Florida my green thumb became very brown and dried out. I could not get anything approaching flowers to grow. Oh, I went every spring and bought all the pretty petunias and pansies to fill the yard. Then came thorny bougainvilleas that had wonderful flowers but horrid thorns. Eventually I learned that this area loves lots of lush greenery but few flowers. I adjusted and went for the mid-tropical look like everyone else. I attempted vegetables but never reached the bounty that we had enjoyed in the northern climate. Sand does not always like vegetables and they aren’t real thrilled with sand either. So it took me time to adjust once again to another learning curve. I wasn’t willing to give up, I just had to find a new approach.

So it is with our families and genealogy research. Sometimes those ancestors are so buried we don’t see where they are. Sometimes the timeframe is off from what we think it should be. And sometimes an ancestor was thriving where we felt he or she should – so we need to change the soil. We need to change the nutrients perhaps. Or the climate. Or the location because of too much or not enough of whatever it is they don’t want. It is easy to dismiss advice of our elders or those who have gone before us. We even equate those simple comments as the ramblings of an old fool – or the stuff family legends are made of. But stop and think for a quick moment. Maybe that favorite dish – that recipe we make because grandma made it because great grandma also made it. Was it adopted by the family because it was gleaned from an old neighbor or friend? Does it not make sense in that we’re Italian but it seems French or German? Try expanding that view a bit – did they move to Germany to follow a lover or perhaps a new job opportunity? Maybe there you will find a missing ancestor and can start anew to trace another branch?

Lately I have been watching our political unrest and stress with growing concern. I decided to plant the vegetable garden for a few reasons. Obviously I want better food in order to be healthier. I want to protect my family from the growing economical issues and inflation hitting our food budget. Most of all I wanted something, anything to take my mind away from all the stress. I wanted to shut out the world and find some peace and quiet for a few short hours. So I garden. I dug the dirt until muscles ached. But I worked the soil until it was ready for my new plants and seeds. I added things the soil lacked. I turned it and tilled until the soil was blended and accepting for my seeds. I set up little starter pots to plant my seeds. Each little pot holds one of two seeds until they germinate. I started with fancy store bought pots but gradually I ran out and had to adapt with other solutions: used plastic containers, old cans, old washed out flower pots, even old newspaper cones. Each choice is another learning experience of what works or not. Within two weeks I am already seeing seeds sprouting, little green shoots peeking through the dirt. This is how my spring fever is being fed now. I can’t wait for what I can’t hurry. It is a process as old as time but it happens in spite of our best and worst efforts. Spring brings new beginnings. And each generation does the same. As we mess up the world around us, the plants adapt and learn to grow in spite of us. Some call it evolution, others call it survival of the fittest. No matter what we do, life goes on in spite of us.

Family does the same. We may walk away but the family exists anyway. We cannot deny those who have gone before us. So it is with the current world situation. Dictators and presidents and kings may try to change people. They want to control them, maybe even eliminate them at times. Yet the hearts of men continue. The desire to grow, to find something better, to find a way to exist is in the hearts of all men. We may not like the choices or even understand them but ultimately man does continue and does find the better way. That is why instead of fighting the dirt it is better to amend the soil, to give it nutrients and fertilizer and water to let it enable the plants to grow bigger, stronger, more nutritious for us or other living creatures. We need to learn from history, not change it to suit ourselves. There is a reason history repeats itself. The bible puts it another way: there is nothing new under the sun. To every thing there is a season.

For now I am working the garden, pulling weeds, watering new plants, watching the sprouts push through to daylight. Spring means new life. So it is for all of us, for all of the world. It hurts to watch when we cannot stop certain things from happening but we know also that these plants have lived for thousands of years and so has man.

This brave little tomato sprouted off a plant that was brown and dead looking. It was left over from last year and spent the winter outside unprotected even through the freezes that seemed to kill off so many of our tropical plants in the yard. It survived and grew new green shoots, then leaves flowers, and now a small roma tomato! The plant proudly boasts more new flowers too scattered around the brown seemingly dead branches. It has decided to live no matter what my opinion of it was.

The Tongue IS Mightier Than The Sword!

January 30, 2011 at 00:55 | Posted in ancestry, Bits and Pieces, Current Events, family history, genealogy, Political Opinions, Spiritual Walk | 1 Comment
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This is another one of those posts that isn’t sure where it belongs. It is alternating positions from genealogy to politics to religion and back again. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of your dear readers (all 1 or 2 of you) could not make it fit elsewhere! Within the families I research there were at various times several family feuds taking place. Seems someone managed to find a reason to be distrustful or even downright hateful over someone or something else. This amongst families who prided themselves on being “god-fearing” decent folks! Consequently researching those families at times I am met with a branch pruned off our tree when it should still be flourishing.

Back on my honeymoon I had a missed opportunity to take a photograph of a family member – an elderly person so I should have known better. Foolishly I thought I would have another opportunity but of course that did not happen. I not only did not get that photograph, no one recalled her correct name. Were there valid reasons for the family rift? Sure. Was it worth not keeping family together? No. Thanks to younger generations learning that painful lesson, we are all benefitting from reuniting the family. I was blessed to have someone find me on a social networking site and even sharing photographs with me. Cousins are getting to reunite and getting to meet newer family members. It’s nice.

One of the other families has a member who took off for an adventure. They never wrote home again or called. Several of us are looking for that person – we have been for a couple years now. No trace, no mentions anywhere. It’s as if they never lived. It is hard to understand why they no longer wanted family. Stranger still that family did not try to keep connected with them because no one could point to a specific problem. Even the family stories never included a remark about this person. Just gone?

One family member decided to marry someone not approved of by the parents for the odd reason of being from another town. “Those” people weren’t as “good”. Or some such foolishness. The marriage lasted through the birth of several children and well into their eighties. Theirs was an incredible love story when men were not so openly professing their devotion to their wives. They stand holding hands in the only known photograph taken just before his death.

I have unfortunately also seen family feuds amongst the church family. Back a few generations most family members didn’t have the option of leaving one church to go to another one. Here in America rural communities usually had one Protestant or one Catholic church. Later there would be more choices and larger cities would also offer others. In Italy most towns only had one parish priest and one church so folks learned to get along or not attend. Sadly now churches seem to splinter frequently or people jump from church to church each time something or someone upsets them. Further those disagreements often take very public and very messy turns especially when the preacher or priest is involved in the disagreement!

And then we come to those public families such as blogs or politics. Nothing sets me on edge, teeth jarring, nerves screeching like fingernails scraping on a blackboard like flame wars on blogs. How is it we can all find ways to banter and chat on a forum, everyone getting along even as they may disagree about problems and solutions until some unknown spark sets off a maelstrom of epic proportions? Suddenly one poster will call out another and off everyone goes huffing and puffing. Name-calling is usually only the least of it. Worse are the threats to drag someone through a “Joe the Plumber” scenario. Google bombs are created to publically harass and humiliate. If Google isn’t enough we can then also subject them to YouTube recordings to live forever in the bowels of the Internet. Some have even had the distinction of driving weaker victims to suicide via the social network. I personally love to read all sorts of blogs and follow all sort of political viewpoints. I tend to lean conservative on most issues but thanks to incidents within my own life, I often understand and even (Horrors! Gasp!) agree with some liberal views also. The last election cycle was a wonder to behold. Members of the conservative family have taken great delight in devouring their own young. The slightest difference of opinion has no room for acceptance.

Granted sometimes we have valid reasons to walk away from a loved one or family member. I just wish we would try to find it in our collective hearts to think long and hard before we say or do things that amount to pruning that branch off the tree. Admittedly I am not a super green thumb but I have learned one lesson over time. When you carelessly whack off branches too aggressively without care or in the wrong season, the tree dies. Soon that branch rots where it was pruned and the whole tree trunk is infected and dies.

Perhaps it was best said long ago – “The tongue is mightier than the sword.”

Genealogy and Politics

January 23, 2011 at 00:26 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, Current Events, Political Opinions, Somber Sunday, Spiritual Walk | 5 Comments
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This may seem like a strange blog entry for a blog about genealogy but I felt compelled to not ignore this news story. This doctor was one who wanted to make money and I question his morals given the methods of his clinic. I am not going to recount all the horrific details – you can read here and there and more and still more for yourselves. Yet it is too easy to say he is a mass murderer or that this is about a serial killer saving trophies and not about abortion. But it is all of that and more/worse. Our news outlets are trying to avoid deeper discussions and I understand the political reasons even if I disagree with them. Abortion is a deeply personal issue (or should be) that is often guided by what is politically accepted rather than by spiritual reasons. I would suggest gently here that women should spend more time reflecting on their views in spiritual terms no matter what religion they practice or adhere to. I understand that women wanted control of their bodies and the rights to their freedom of choice – along with increased personal advancement in careers and finances and socially. I really do get it. I was a young college student through the Vietnam era as women began advocating and marching and protesting to gain all those freedoms and rights. I personally have been subjected to the glass ceiling and career choices and all of that because I was a woman. Matter of fact I had a wonderful father who advocated for my rights before it was fashionable to do so. My guidance counselor in high school insisted I had to take a typing course although I wanted another elective in a foreign language. I was taking one language but wanted a second course. The counselor repeated to me over and over that I needed typing. That night at dinner my father and I talked long and hard about my choices and limits. The next morning he went in person to the school and he publically informed the principal and entire staff of his decision for his daughter. Now mind you, dad was a well-known and well-respected local businessman so everyone did give him a listen! He told them all very calmly (no yelling and no obscenities) that his daughter would indeed be taking a second foreign language because she had no need of a typing course to “fall back on”. He wanted them to understand that his daughter would not be falling back on anything – she was going to be the executive hiring the secretary to do her typing and by the way – he would probably be a very nice fellow who would not only type but answer phones politely!

Well years later I have not forgotten the faith my father had in my abilities but I do understand how young women may be brought to a point of feeling they don’t have enough choices or chances. So my point is now not whether or not abortion is a right or a choice or an option. Rather it is that have we become so convinced that it is such a “hot potato” to even discuss, that we now shy away from the bigger questions? Why was no one asking the tough questions about this clinic in Philadelphia? Why was it assumed all those poor women and sadly young gals wanted those abortions? Why were authorities so sure that because it was an abortion clinic there was no need to have health inspections or oversight of any kind? What about licensing for the workers? Why were there no suggestions of follow-up care? It is easy right now to lay blame on liberal politicians and officials in Philadelphia, but really? Does your state regulate and inspect and follow up? What agencies are supposed to be involved? Who actually knows to whom violations are reported? Are there easily found numbers? Are those phone numbers posted where patients and family or friends can see them?

Lest you think it is easy for me to judge without walking in anyone else’s shoes – my husband and I have been there too. We were broke and expecting. A doctor diagnosed me with cancer. We had no health insurance. Well actually we had some but it was rotten self pay insurance. The doctor decided my best alternative under the circumstances was an abortion/hysterectomy. I didn’t agree. Medical insurance got all the “out” they needed to not pay – I was rejecting the doctor’s advice. Second and third opinions matched the first doctor’s choice. Then I went to a doctor who had a spiritual relationship with God that allowed him to offer me another opinion. I had an alternative even if there were no medical guarantees with it. I at least had a choice. I took it and my son was born the day before Christmas 26 years ago. He was our best gift ever! He suffered no ill effects so we were doubly blessed in opposition to what we had been warned to expect. Now he is the father of two beautiful girls himself. So let me bring this back to genealogy. Consider what your family tree and legacy would be if all those women in your family tree chose to not continue a pregnancy? Consider also if you honestly feel they would have been better off if they had? I am not going to tell you what my personal opinions are because that is for each woman to choose for herself. Hopefully it will be a choice she makes after being given all the options. Hopefully she will have someone to pray with, to talk with, and to cry with if need be. Is that then where we need to start this discussion over? Are we throwing more and more money into what is considered politically correct in order to avoid dealing with other issues? Why are we not correcting errors in our educational systems? Why are we not fostering improved parenting? Why are not offering more counseling? Do we want to create a bigger nanny system or do we need to? Lots of questions and I am not setting myself up as an authority with all the answers. But I do have more questions. Have we, are we doing all we can to not shy away from the “hot potato” parts of this discussion? Are we so afraid of what is politically correct that we have forgotten the real people paying the ultimate price for a politician wanting one more vote? I am reminded of one simple verse: “Jesus wept…….”

Treasure Chest Thursday July 22, 2010

July 22, 2010 at 02:48 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, family research, genealogy, Hints and Tips, memories, Treasure Chest Thursday | Leave a comment
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I took off a bit of time from writing to concentrate on family and some changes we are experiencing along with some test of family loyalties through some trying times. Thankfully love for each other has triumphed in every situation we faced. During this time we have each in our own way found what matters most to us. We have each come to the realization that even as we face anger and or disappointment in one another, we can still know overwhelming love and loyalty and even respect for each other. My treasure chest is full of love for all my family and memories of all the special moments we have shared, the tears, laughter, hurts, and joys. This time has made us grow closer and more committed than ever to each other. As a parent I have been touched by the depth of feeling my sons have shown one another as they have grown. Valentino and I are proud parents as we watch each son make the decisions for where their place is to be in life. We can rest assured our sons will never lose their bonds to one another whether we are here to guide them or not. Rather now we can see that even as they may or may not agree with all decisions the others make, they support one another through good and bad ready to offer a lending hand when needed or just an ear to listen.

In the midst of this we also have been enjoying the visit of a family member from overseas. I personally had not seen this person since he was a young boy of about four or five years old. My sons had never met him. When we first met, there was instant love. I was enthralled with his precious smile and his sparkling dark eyes. I just knew our own children (not yet born) would share those same wonderful handsome good looks! Sure enough – they did! And still do! We met our nephew at the airport and immediately we recognized him in the crowd at the same instant he connected with us. The years melted away and once again the smile and dark sparkling eyes dazzled us. Now however that sweet boy is a handsome charming 6 foot plus professor. His personality fit right in to our family mix easily. His quiet strength has been a plus to us as well as his humor. He is an outsider willing to listen and not judge but he is also a beloved family member who is respected and treasured! We are his chance to practice and polish his English as my sons and I practice our broken Italian. For our granddaughters he is the charming gentleman who has captured all of their hearts. I have warned his mother I am going to find it very difficult to return him back home to her! I suspect his uncle is going to find it even more difficult than I will!

One enticing fact is that he shares a deep love of family history. His long term plans include writing about a particular part of the family history. He began to talk about the trials and dead-ends of attempting to find information on the distant relatives. He knew I had already written of more recent family and he also knew I had worked on the family genealogy. What he didn’t know was how much more information I had accumulated in the last few years. As I began bringing out workbook after workbook and file after file, he was in amazement over all the information laid out. It covered the entire pool table – and filled many folders on my laptop! But the best part was that suddenly I was being forced to do what should have been done already. And if he wasn’t enough encouragement a phone call from another relative in Rhode Island was the final prodding I needed. It was time to actually name and label and date as many of the digital images as possible and fit them to their “proper owners” on the family tree. Every trip to far flung relatives meant I gained more scanned copies of old photos or digital images I made of them with my camera. Needless to say there is not a photo for all of the twelve hundred plus people but it felt like double that number as I have been working on them diligently for over a month using every spare moment. For some family members it meant cropping their face out of a group photo. For still others it meant dating them through many photos showing them as they changed over the years of their lives. It also meant labeling all the digital images of the villages and towns and churches and schools and even the old family homes when possible. There are even photos of the streets where family members lived over 200 years ago. I may not be able to prove which house belonged to them but thanks to information on birth certificates I was able to ascertain streets!

So this brings me to today’s treasure chest moment. My treasure chest has become my laptop. Everywhere I go it comes along for the trip. Blessed with a 6 hour battery life, I can steal many moments no matter where I am to work on the photo project. My laptop wallpaper is a replica of an antique print of the family village in Italy. Somehow I find that relaxing as I flip through files and folders saved across my desktop. As I have worked I also made certain to save frequent updates to my portable hard drive. At this point although I am not finished I have also burned CDs to send home to Italy with our nephew and to mail to Rhode Island to another cousin! Let me use this opportunity to once again admonish you all to make backups of all your work. If my laptop crashes, I would be one unhappy woman to have lost all of my hard work! It is not enough to save work only for myself. If a hurricane or other natural disaster were to destroy our home, I would risk losing all of my research. Knowing that copies have been sent to reside with other family members is double insurance against such a loss!

Liberation Day April 25th

April 25, 2010 at 22:00 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, Current Events, Itri, Italy, memories, Political Opinions, Somber Sunday | 1 Comment
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Liberation Day is celebrated in Italy on April 25th. This is a day to remember being liberated at the end of WWII. There are wonderful parades in all the small towns as well as the major ones all throughout Italy. We enjoyed watching the parades in Cavezzo, a small town not far from Carpi and Modena in the Emilia-Romagna Region.

Sadly this year saw demonstrations turned nasty even in Rome – people the world over are frustrated with their governments, but let’s not forget that Liberation Day is to commemorate the sacrifices made on behalf of freedom-loving people suffering through WWII. Don’t toss that off lightly because we are unhappy now. Rather let us all remember and appreciate the awful prices our ancestors paid to give us life and for the hope of future generations. I have written before about Valentino’s family and the horrors they went through. I often wonder how they managed. I too often suspect we of this generation would not have the strength of spirit or heart to face those challenges now. How would those who live in 40 and 50 floor apartment buildings manage without electricity to run elevators? How would all those city dwellers manage to grow food without yards? It was a different time, granted. Yet we need to consider how very brave and daring they were – how self-sustaining and independent they were, willing to meet all challenges to bring about the end of the war. They often prayed it would be the war to end all wars. Sadly there are those who are only too willing to forget that. I don’t claim to know the answers to end war or to broker peace. But I do want to say thank you for those ancestors who did play a part to bring about Liberation for Europe (and Asia later) and pray we never become insensitive to their sacrifices on all our behalves!

This memorial stands outside the Church of the Annunziata in the center of Itri. The inscription reads:

revered corpses

Itri

To her heroes of all the wars all who come of the cross without waiting for the resurrection.

So too we offer prayers for all those of all the towns of Europe and everywhere!

Ancestor Approved Award 4/4/2010

April 4, 2010 at 19:32 | Posted in ancestry, Awards, Bits and Pieces, family history, family research, genealogy, memories | 3 Comments
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I might be considered too old for a visit from the Easter Bunny but this morning I did indeed find a pleasant surprise: an Ancestor Approved Award thanks to Roots’n’Leaves!

There are a few things, obligations so to speak, that go hand in hand with this award. The first part is to “list ten things you have learned about any of your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened you” and then to “pass the award along to ten other bloggers who you feel are doing their ancestors proud.”

My ten:

  1. Humbled: My mother in law Concetta did not learn to read and write until well into her seventies. She wanted to be able to

    read the bible for herself!

  2. Surprised: My father in law Francesco was the cook for the railroad crew he worked with because he cooked better than anyone else in the group! He was quite proud of his cooking skills.
  3. Enlightened: The official in the anagrafe – the office of vital statistics in Campodimele, Italy is a relative of my husband.
  4. Surprised: Facebook is a wonderful social medium to find family members. We have now made contact with several relatives overseas who have also now made additional contacts with extended family. It surprises and humbles me to witness the joy of family reconnecting over such long distances and time.
  5. Enlightened: When I started my family genealogy journey in 1996, I had no idea how passionately I would feel about this quest. What started as a chance to introduce my sons to their dad’s family has become a bigger blessing to me in some respects! I was not sure how my sons would look at all the information. In the beginning they questioned what purpose it would serve. Now they simply enjoy learning about family and meeting them either in person or via the computer and emails.
  6. Surprised: Valentino Pannozzo, my husband’s grandfather wore regular shoes instead of Roman sandals for the first time in a photograph taken two weeks before he died.
  7. Humbled: This same man Valentino Pannozzo in his eighties was still in love with his wife and referred to her as his “little doll” to everyone! How unusual for his era!
  8. Humbled: The love and mutual respect for each other in this family has survived in spite of the separation by distance and has even grown stronger over the years. They are fiercely loyal to one another in all aspects of their lives.
  9. Surprised that once I discovered the name of a grandparent (long forgotten by most in the family) there were suddenly many people (unrelated) I met who knew her and have begun to share stories!
  10. Humbled: I met an elderly gentleman who knew a grandfather well. The day I found his death certificate via the help of an official in Campodimele, I met this elderly man in another town. It was a chance meeting and yet I know there was nothing just luck about it. He regaled us with stories about both the son (a great uncle to us) and father ( the grandfather) that we had never known. And he touched my heart as he cried about the death of his best friend (the son) sixty years earlier. His memories of the incident and how it affected the father touched me profoundly. I understood then how Grandfather Valentino still wore a black armband two years after the death of his son!

Ten Blogs That Also Do Their Ancestors Proud:

  1. Rootdigger
  2. Digging in.. To My Past
  3. Elyse’s Genealogy Blog
  4. Family Tree Writer
  5. Geneapprentice
  6. Keeper Of The Records
  7. Kick-Ass Genealogy
  8. La Mia Famiglia
  9. Our Family Tree Bears Fruit
  10. Sharing Our Family’s Memories

I think you will enjoy these blogs, each nominated for their unique styles. I find something of worth in all their posts each time! I hope you all do too!

Treasure Chest Thursday – Miei Tesori!

March 18, 2010 at 01:43 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family history, genealogy, Treasure Chest Thursday | 4 Comments
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 My best treasure here on earth? My four sons. Each of them would by themselves would be a blessing to any parent. For me to have been so blessed has been joy beyond belief! Never, not even for one moment have we regretted being their parents! Four decent young adults now – but they were four rambunctious delightful boys growing up. We were never a wealthy family but we were rich in our identity as a family. I began my hobby turned passion of genealogy in order to teach my sons their heritage, to introduce them to family they had not met. When Valentino became disabled, all four understood we had to make changes and adapt. Later when I was forced into a wheelchair due to an injury, again they adapted. Whatever needed to be done, was accepted and done. Yes, of course they had moments they did not agree with or enjoy. We encouraged them to always speak freely and honestly even with complaints. We asked only they do so respectfully. Our lives revolved around home and church. They developed close bonds with one another. Yet they were typical brothers with disagreements, anger, frustrations. Their personalities like their looks were and are totally different. They could hardly be called “four peas in a pod.” Still they loved one another then and now. A shared special bond that nothing will break. Each is opinionated and stubborn in their own ways. They voice those opinions freely to one another. Each is always eager to tell the other right from wrong, how to look, how to act, even how to react. But they are always brothers. They stand for one another against the world when it counts. And they love deeply. They are family, blood. They learned well the lessons of family we wanted them to know. Time, age, none of it matters. Only the bond of family stands the test of time. Nw as they look at the next generation in the eyes of children and nieces, they know well what family means. For me as a mother and grandmother, I could ask for no more. I miei tesori! These are my treasures! I thank God I was and am so blessed!

March – Women’s History Month

March 6, 2010 at 05:47 | Posted in ancestry, Carnival of Genealogy, DiCrocco, family research, Fragile Family Friday, Italian Cooking, Itri, Italy | 3 Comments
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My mother in law was one of the most incredible women I have ever known. She was raised as a simple farmer’s daughter in Italy and the family did not send her to school. She was in her seventies when she learned to read and write. She decided to learn so that she could study the bible! Incredible!

This photograph was taken only a few months before she passed away but even here, her beautiful spirit shows through! I met my mother in law 3 days after I married her son, the baby of the family – her Tesoro! But from the first day I arrived in Italy, she welcomed me with love and respect and joy. Although the family were unable to travel to the United States for the wedding, she and all of the relatives eagerly waited to greet us.She prepared a beautiful wedding reception for us in her home. The entire month she opened her home to guests from near and far who came to meet me and wish us well.

 As a younger woman she assisted as one of the midwives for her area. If she sent an expectant father for the doctor, the doctor knew he was needed for an emergency. He wanted her to go to school to become an assistant but family obligations prevented that goal. Yet she learned to do many simple first aid techniques and helped where ever needed. During WWII she survived the bombing of her home and evacuation to nearby mountain caves where she cared for her family.


She never had training as a chef or nutritionist but she knew how to prepare nourishing and flavorful meals from meager supplies. She recognized which wild mushrooms were safe to eat. And she raised bountiful garden harvests of all sorts of vegetables. Her farming expertise didn’t stop with plants. During a visit to the us in Connecticut, she taught a woman in our town how to properly milk goats to yield the most milk. I knew she wanted to teach me to make cheese so before she arrived for her visit I went on a hunt for the plastic baskets to use for cheese making. Finally I bought fresh cheese that came in one such small basket and located the manufacturer on the bottom. I called the company in New York to attempt to buy a few. The gentleman listened to my story and laughed – seems the wholesaler only sold in lots of many gross at a time and I hardly needed a couple dozen. Yet he was so impressed that I would do this, he mailed me a few dozen as a gift! Concetta and I spent a happy time making fresh cheese together properly! We found local ‘ pick you own’ fruit farms and then she taught me to make jams and marmalades in addition to putting up vegetables.

During the bad times or when family were in trouble she would take them in and find ways to make do to care for everyone. She helped to raise many of the grandchildren and even great grandchildren as the need arose. Through it all she never complained. This was the meaning of famiglia! Towards the end she cared for first one elderly parent and then elderly in laws. She taught all of us what the meaning of selflessness and humility meant. She taught us love in the face of unpleasantness as well as in the face of love. She walked her faith and shared it with all of us by her deeds and actions as well as her words. Her love for family was so strong that even near the end of her life she had the presence to recognize us and share a hug, a smile, a kiss. As her son sat with her and she held his hand, once again she spoke to her Tesoro and her eyes lit with love! Famiglia! Grazie Concetta – we love you still!

Fragile Family Friday – January 22nd

January 22, 2010 at 01:12 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, Fragile Family Friday | Leave a comment
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Today I have decided to add another category to my Carnival of Genealogy blogging: Fragile Family Friday. There are times we realize more than others how tenuous and fragile the threads of family are that bind us together. So I am instituting this new category to highlight those moments. I won’t promise this will be an every week occurrence but rather I intend to save it for those unusual times that deserve to be remembered. So today’s post is a bit unusual for my normal posts but one I think we should take to heart. Family ties can be fragile for a whole variety of reasons. Sometimes, the connection isn’t a clear one but family always referred to a person as a member of the family. Or perhaps it was a step parent or child accepted without question. Or as in this instance perhaps it deals with the concept of we are all one family ultimately. We as genealogists (even we amateurs) often say we are amazed and saddened we didn’t pay closer attention to stories we heard concerning family when we were children. We usually have lists of questions we would ask if possible now of our ancestors if ever given a chance anew.

This week as my sister and I worked on a memorial tribute to our aunt, we poured over old photographs. We chattered away with all the expected questions: “Where was this taken?” “Who is that?” “What’s his first name?” “Whatever happened to them?” Aside from the typical scenario, all of us are in the midst of another tragedy. This past week Haiti was decimated by an earthquake. As with most natural disasters such as a library roof cave in last year in Germany or the earthquake in Abruzzi, Italy, we can only imagine the terrible loss of vital records. Haiti is such an economically poor nation and many of its people do not have a solid education. She has already often suffered with massive hurricane damage so it is not to be expected that reclaiming lost vital records will be a priority for them. The thousands of orphans will have a potential to be adopted but certainly will not have the option of tracing family through unsealed court records given most are now lost forever.

Most genealogists applaud the tremendous efforts of the LDS to microfilm and preserve records from around the world. This time we will most certainly not be able to rely on stored records. So for this Fragile Family Friday I want to propose a suggestion to all of us. Right now there are many organizations collecting funds and that should take priority for now. But we genealogists should consider another donation – that of our time and knowledge. We can help future Haitians who would want to trace their family trees. As with the slavery generations of the US, many times we will stumble across snippets of information in other unrelated records. Keep a separate folder or computer file for these tidbits. Remember to note the sources too. Someday we can all submit these to recreate many of those lost records. It will be a case of indirect information but for someone hoping to find any trace, it will be meaningful. Another way to help is to volunteer your time. Many of us live near immigrant communities. Many of us work with Haitian immigrants. Maybe a group can form to make a short trip together to one of the communities a bit further away. All of us have plenty of knowledge of how to fill our pedigree or family charts. This is the time to gather as much verbal information from elderly members as possible. Maybe they can recant the names of a family who lived near them. Perhaps dates will be sketchy or unknown but names or partial names remembered along with the town. Bit by bit we can help these wonderful people reclaim a proud heritage. We can do this now before a generation is lost forever. This is something we can do at little expense financially but it will produce an invaluable gift to future generations. Family is fragile – we can teach how to protect it in a very special way.

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