Oct 152011

One of the first suggestions you get when you start doing genealogy is to talk to your relatives. Well, sometimes it takes a little work to figure out who your relatives are.

Last spring, I used a brute force approach, sending letters to about a dozen Palmeris listed in the Buffalo phone book. I included a bit of the Palmeri family tree, asking if any of them were related to Charles and Barbara Palmeri, brother and sister to my great-grandparents. One of the letters apparently went to the son of a second cousin of my father. He passed it on to his father who gave me a call. We met over the summer and he gave me a lot of information on the Palmeri family that I talk about in another post.

He also gave me some contacts on the Giambrone side. I talked to one Giambrone cousin who put me in touch with another Giambrone cousin.

From her, I learned that my great-great-grandfather, Giuseppe Giambrone, and my great-great-grandmother, Giuseppa (Josephine) (Amico) Giambrone, both came to the United States. He died around 1941. She died before him and is buried in Mount Calvery Cemetery in Buffalo. Now I know where to turn to get their death records, which should be filled with information. I'm also sending a letter to the cemetery asking them for whatever information they have on file. She also sent me a detailed genealogy of the Giambrone cousins.

In addition to the useful written information, I got a photograph of my great-great-grandfather!

Giuseppe Giambrone, probably abt 1920

And a photo of my great-grandfather, Angelo Palmeri, my grandfather, Joseph Palmeri, and my great-grandmother, Maria (Giambrone) Palmeri.

Angelo, Joseph, and Maria Palmeri abt 1918

Oct 142011

This may be the easiest step in our journey to dual citizenship.

Birth certificates are required for all children under the age of eighteen. Well, that part was simple. I opened our safe, and grabbed the original birth certificates for my two sons.

They each also need something called an Apostille from the Secretary of State of the state in which they were issued. According to Wikipedia, "The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, the Apostille convention or the Apostille treaty is an international treaty drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. It specifies the modalities through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory states. Such a certification is called an apostille (French: certification). It is an international certification comparable to a notarisation in domestic law." 

Our children were born in Nashville, so that means the Tennessee Secretary of State. Since Nashville is the state capitol, that just meant going downtown to the Department of State in the Snodgrass Tower and going to the 6th Floor.

This may be the cheapest step in our journey as well. It only cost $2 each to get an apostille affixed to each of their birth certificates.

Later, we will need to get the certificates translated as well, but we'll wait to do that when we have all of the documents in hand.

apostille affixed to a birth certificate

Oct 082011

Until now,this is what I know:

Based on the Social Security Death Index, found by searching on ancestry.com, I know that my great-grandfather, Angelo Palmeri, was born 27 Jan 1886 and died in Sep 1969. Based on census records, I know that my great-grandmother, Maria (Giambrone) Palmeri, was born abt 1891. I know from talking with with my dad that she probably died somewhere between 1970 and 1975.

I try calling Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Buffalo, where I know my grandfather is buried. Maybe his parents, my great-grandparents, are buried there as well. No, they're not. But the cemetery suggests calling Mount Calvary, which is right across the street.

I call Mount Calvary. Sure enough, they're buried there. Awesome!

They can tell me that my great-grandfather died 29 Sep 1969 at the age of 83 and that my great-grandmother died 11 Jul 1972 age the age of 82.

Unfortunately, they have no record in the office about their birth date. But they give me the location of the grave site.

My sister takes on my mission to find their grave. With some calls back and forth, including some searches of google maps by me while on the phone with her, she locates the grave marker and sends me a picture:

gravemarker for my great-grandparents, Maria and Angelo Palmeri

Maria (Giambrone) Palmeri was born in 1890. I don't know the day or month, but this narrows things down a lot from where I was only yesterday.

Oct 072011

My mother's mother's parents were Samuel Wilson and Anna Regina Cruice. I've had information on Gramma Wilson for a while. I remember her from the few times we visited Florida, where she lived near my grandparents.

I had little on my great-grandfather, Samuel WIlson, who died many years before I was born. 

From census records, I was able to get his birth year, abt 1872, and that he was born in Ireland. Nothing on the date of his death. My aunt thought he might have died in the late 1950's but I was unable to find any records. 

I finally stumbled on findagrave.com. I think I tried using this a year or two ago, with nothing of use turning up. Maybe I've gotten better. Or the database has gotten better. Or both. But this time I got a hit.

I had no idea where my great-grandfather was buried. But on findagrave.com I was able to search all cemeteries in their database in Erie County in New York State. The trick for me was to first click on "Search for a cemetery" on the right column of the menu list, which bring me to this page http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cs. That let me narrow the cemeteries to Erie County and let me enter in "Samuel Wilson" into the name field. And there it was:

grave marker for Anna and Samuel Wilson

My great-grandfather, Samuel Wilson, was born 30 Aug 1874 and died 30 Apr 1946.

I tried a quick-and-dirty request for his birth certificate from the Civil Registration Service in Dublin, Ireland. Fortunately, a "no record found" only cost me 2 Euros. The Irish Family History Foundation (ifhf.rootsireland.ie) also turned up nothing. But I'll keep searching.

Update (29 Oct 2011)

Received information on Samuel Wilson's naturalization on 13 Jun 1928. This indicates his birth date as 30 Aug 1871 (age 56 in 1928), not 1874.

Oct 072011

Emails to the Italian embassy in Washington and consulates in Detroit and Chicago went unanswered for nearly two weeks. I finally called the consulate in Detroit, which is the consulate for Tennessee. I had to call during the one hour during the day that they accept citizenship calls. In order to get questions answered about dual citizenship, they tell me I have to call a telephone number that charges per minute: http://www.consdetroit.esteri.it/Consolato_Detroit/Menu/I_Servizi/Per_i_cittadini/Cittadinanza/

I call. The timer starts immediately after I enter my credit card. I figure about 10 minutes on hold. Someone picks up. I wanted to know if Detroit had its own dual citizenship checklist list other consulates do. They don't. I wanted to know if they have a list of approved translators. They don't. I want to know what the procedure is for getting an appointment at the consulate. You just call the same phone number. I want to confirm that my children can get citizenship at the same time I do. They can. 

I get my questions answered in about 4-5 minutes. Plus the 10 minutes on hold.

I figure about $30 in phone charges.

Update (12 Oct 2011)

After paying to get my questions only partially answered, I discovered the Italian Citizenship Message Board: http://italiancitizenship.freeforums.org/

Just about any question you might have about Italian dual citizenship is probably answered here.

Oct 062011

One lesson I've learned over the past couple of years is to regularly check ancestry.com and familysearch.org. New databases are added all the time.

I'm particularly interested in any records related to the date of my great-grandfather's naturalization. I'm 99% certain that he became naturalized after my grandfather was born. My great-grandfather came to the US around 1908. My grandfather was born in 1911. I'm pretty sure there was a waiting period before people could become naturalized. Also, the 1920 census listed him as "pa", which means that his first papers were filed (declaration of intent), but he was not yet a citizen. Only on the 1930 census is he listed as "na", which means naturalized.

But now I need to find proof. So any documentation will help.

My new search on ancestry.com brought up a pretty spartan record from something called the "U.S. Naturalization Record Index".

Not much to go by here. But I try contacting the National Archives in Chicago (because they were the only ones I could find easily oneline) to see if they can help find an original record to go with this index filing.

They tell me that this appears to be the naturalization of Angelo Palmeri while serving in the military during WWI. According to them, the copy of the index card, along with associated information, indicated that he was naturalized in the U. S. District Court, Western District of New York in 1918. But I needed to contact the NY office of the National Archives. I email them (twice) and am still waiting for a response.

I'm not sure if this is my great-grandfather, given that he was listed as "pa" in the 1920 census, but maybe this indexes when papers were filed not when naturalization was finalized. I also don't know whether he actually served in WWI. We'll see if they turn up anything. Leave no stone unturned.

Update (19 Oct 2011)

I received a reply. It turns out this belonged to someone who is definitely not my great-grandfather:

Military Petition Number S2-302 from the Western District Court of New York
Name – Angelo Palmeri
Address – Stationed at Fort Niagara, NY
DOB – January 14, 1887 at Perugia, Prov. Prorricia, Italy
Date of Naturalization – June 1918

Too bad. But now that I have a contact in the National Archives, I'm asking if they can search their records given the information I have. This is in parallel with a search request I submitted to Homeland Security. Still waiting.

Oct 022011

I made contact with the gentleman who posted the snippet about the de Guehery family 20 years ago.

Ten years ago he wrote a family history called “Some Branches and Twigs of the Elliott Family Tree”, which is on file in the OGS archives in Toronto. His mother, Edna Mae de Geuhery, was the sister of my great-grandmother, Margaret Ogilvie de Guehery. His book has a chapter on the de Guehery family and another chapter on the Cuthbert family (Margaret and Edna Mae's mother was Marion Cuthbert).

He is going to send me the chapters soon.

He also put me in touch with another cousin and this is where it gets even cooler.

His grandfather did a lot of genealogical research in the early 1930s with the genealogy research division at the library in Dresden before that institution was destroyed during WWII. His father continued this research during the 1980's with genealogical researchers in Paris. Apparently, the family tree is complete in detail back to the mid-1700s.

The story includes the de Guehery family's escape from the French Revolution, a beheading, and the loss of a noble title.

I can't wait to get more information.

Oct 022011

Never underestimate what another pair of eyes can find.

Every 6 months or so I upload my family tree to ancestry.com. This time I shared it with a couple dozen family members. One of my cousins poked around the tree, pointed out a couple of obvious errors, and did some searching on his own. He unlocked an important discovery.

My great-grandfather on my mother's side, Arthur Burke, married Margaret Ogilvie de Guehery. Family lore had it that the de Guehery family escaped the French Revolution to Germany, then went to Canada, and then the United States.

Last year sometime, while searching familysearch.org I found a marriage record for Margaret de Guehery's parents, Marion Cuthbert and Emanuel de Guehery. It listed Emanuel's parents as Rudolph and Goddlibien de Guehery. More searching turned up nothing else on Rudolph and Goddlibien, including Goddlibien's last name.

This is where my cousin's searching comes in.

He thinks to do a search of google books. And finds this interesting snippet:

My great-great-great-grandfather, Rudolph de Guehery, was born abt 1820 in Dresden, Germany. My great-great-great grandmother was Gottlieben Mack.

There looks like there could be more.

So I email the Ontario Genealogical Society, where this snippet was published, to see if there was a way to find more information from wherever this snippet came from.

The OGS reply with more: Gottlieben Mack was born in 1838 in Mendelsheim, Wuerttenberg, Germany and that Rudolph and Gottlieben emigrated to Canada via Hamburg, Germany. Rudolph died in 1889 in Petawawa, Ontario. Gottlieben died in 1922 in Ebenezer, NY.

They also gave me the name of the person who posted this entry in the "Families" newsletter more than 20 years ago. That's the topic of the next post.

Oct 012011

While I'm aiming to gain dual citizenship through my grandfather and his father, I need copies of my grandmother's and great-grandmother's birth certificates as well. Unlike the paternal birth certificates, these apparently don't need to be official long-form birth certificates, so I'm trying to obtain them on my own rather than pay $50 a piece to go through a place like myitalianfamily.com. We'll see how this goes.

The first step was to figure out where to ask for them. I found several places online that suggested sending requests to the Ufficio dello Stato Civile in the town that the ancestros were born. I was able to find the mailing address in Montemaggiore Belsito for my grandmother and in Serradifalco for my great-grandmother.

The next step was to figure out how to make the request in Italian. Io capisco un po l'italiano. So I needed help. I tried google translate (http://translate.google.com/). To check the quality of the translation, after I translated a sentence from English to Italian, I back-translated the result from Italian to English.

This is what I produced. It says that I need a birth certificate for Rosaria (Sarina) Millonzi, who was born in Montemaggiore Belsito. It gives her birth date and names her parents, Rosario Millonzi and Carmela Parisi. It does ask for them in long form, "formato internazionale" or "estratto per riassunto", just to be safe. It says I will be willing to pay for the processing and shipping. I included a 5 Euro note because we had some Euros in the house from my last trip to Europe. Maybe that'll pay for the shipping. Or it will be a tip for the clerk. If it works and I get the birth certificates, it will be money well spent.

Hopefully this will all work.

Ufficio dello Stato Civile
Comunie di Montemaggiore Belsito
Piazza Roma
PA 90020 Montemaggiore Belsito

Egregi Signori,

Mi chiamo Thomas Palmeri, ed abito negli Stati Uniti all'indirizzo sopradetto. Cerco informazioni sulla mia nonna, Rosarina (Sarina) Millonzi. Nata nel comune di Montemaggiore Belsito. Cerco questi dati per conoscere meglio la mia famiglia, e per trovare i miei parenti rimasti in Italia.

Vi sarei molto grato se poteste spedirmi l'estratto dell'atto di nascita di Rosarina (Sarina) Millonzi. Nata nel 14 Ottobre, 1915. I suoi genitori erano Rosario Millonzi e Carmela Parisi.

Ho allegato copia del certificato di nascita di mio padre e mio certificato di nascita. Si prega di inviare come "formato internazionale" o "estratto per riassunto" con il nome della madre e del padre.

Vi ringrazio in anticipo per la vostra gentilezza e premura, e vi prego di addebitarmi tutte le spese postali e dei certificati.

Ho incluso 5 euro per alcuni dei costi.

Distinti saluti,

Thomas Palmeri