Feb 242012

My great-grandparents, Arthur Burke and Margaret DeGuehery, were married on 25 May 1910 in SS. Columbia-Brigid R.C. Church in Buffalo. I wrote the church to ask for more information about my great-grandparents and especially about the Burke family. While they did not have information about by Burke great-great-grandparents, the certificate did give another hit to a Brady name, John H. Brady, who witnessed the marriage. Brady is in the Burke-Brady-Howard troika that I am still trying to unravel.

I wrote back the church giving them birth dates and possible birth years for my great-grandfather and his parents to see if they might have some information about them.

Feb 242012

My aunt had found a certified copy of my grandfather's birth certificate in my grandmother's records. It was old. Not sure if it was an original from 1911 but it was old. I wasn't sure if it would be accepted but I sent it to Erie County for their authorization. They sent it on to NY State for an apostille because NY State called today for some extra information – apparently I transposed a digit on my credit card number – so that means both Erie County and NY would accept it. Great!

Feb 222012

I asked the help desk for the New York Supreme Court whether I needed a separate petitions to go with each proposed order or whether similar issues should be lumped together in the same petition with multiple proposed orders. This is what they said:

Even though the information may be similar or the same, you should prepare a separate petition for each proposed order you are requesting to be signed.

Update 12 Mar 2012

Another update. I asked them about court fees and the like. This is what they said:

As previously stated, Erie County does not require an index number nor an RJI be purchased unless you want the original documents to be on file with the Erie County Clerk. If you do want the original documents filed with the Erie County Clerk's Office, you would need to purchase an index number and the fee would be $210.00. That fee would cover all the petitions since this is regarding one specific case.

Feb 202012

Today I emailed the Italian Consulate in Detroit asking, (1) What the process is for making an appointment? and (2) How far out appointments are being scheduled? We'll see what they say.

Here are some links to relevant sites:

Italian Consulate in Detroit

Italian Consulate in Detroit's Citizenship page

Citizenship Criteria from the Italian Interior Minister

Citizenship Information from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The consulate is located in the Buhl Building, 535 Griswold, Detroit, Michigan, Telephone: (313) 963-8560.

Update 20 Feb 2012

Quick response back telling me that I could have an appointment on March 19 or March 29. That was too close for me since I needed to get translations and I still need to get my grandparents' marriage certificate. But it was cool to know that they had appointments so close out.

I also found an interesting suggestion about going to the consulate even if you think you might have things to amend:

I tend to prefer waiting for the consulate's guidance in such matters, at least before investing too much effort and expense. The consular officer is the person who needs to be satisfied, so his/her views are controlling. Also, if you have to go back to try to re-amend a record it's at least embarrassing.

I also have a hypothesis that some officers want applicants to overcome at least one obstacle — that there's sort of an informal "obstacle quota." So if you're going to have to jump through a hoop or two anyway, why take the easiest hoops off the table before your first appointment? That's just a hypothesis about human nature, though.

Update 21 Feb 2012

Both the consulate and posts online confirm that there is no need to bring my children to the consulate appointment. The consulate did say to bring their passports however. 

Now I'm just waiting to hear if my translator can get the translations finished before 19 March. If so, I will try to take the 19 March appointment, assuming it's still open.

Update 21 Feb 2012

My translator said that she could get the translations to me between the 10th and 15th of March. So I emailed the consulate asking if they still had the 19 March 2012 at 11am appointment slot open. If they do, I'm taking it.

Feb 192012

After getting feedback from the online forums, I have decided to take the plunge and get my documents translated into Italian. It turns out that even though I'll ultimately need to get the documents (some of them at least) authenticated by the NY consulate I don't necessarily need to use their approved translators like I might if I was going through them. Detroit is not as picky apparently, so I am using a translator that many people recommend, Gabriella Einaga (gabriella_einaga AT hotmail DOT com).

I sent my great-grandfathers marriage and death certificate, my grandfather's birth and death certificate, my dad's birth and marriage certificate, my birth and marriage certificate, and my sons' birth certificates. I'll need to forward my grandfather's marriage certificate once I get it. From what I learned online, I may not need any birth or death certificates from the females in my family tree, but we'll see.

The cost is reasonable, between $15 and $20 for most vital records. Possibly more for some. 

Only waiting for two more items. One is the apostille for my great-grandfather's birth certificate. That was old, so there's a chance they might not do it. If they don't, I'll need to use their rejection letter to obtain a court ordered release (and probably get an a.k.a. added as well at the same time).

If I get that and if I get my grandfather's marriage certificate, then all I'll need to do is get them translated too and I can make an initial appointment with the consulate in Detroit.

Feb 182012

Because my great-grandfather's last name was misspelled "Palmieri" rather than "Palmeri" on his early documents from the US, I wrote the commune of his birth, Serradifalco, to ask them to confirm that no one named "Angelo Palmieri" was born in Serradifalco on his birth date. I sent this letter last month and just got a reply today, with that confirmation.

A poor translation of their return letter says something like this:

  • Twenty-seven days in that month of January of 1886 and born in Serradifalco Mr. Angelo Palmeri, just recorded document in the records of this district of the State Civil No. 30 Part 11 Series 11;

  • That in the register of births of that year 1886 is not to be born other person bearing the name Angelo Palmieri was born in Serradifalco on 27/01/1886.

Feb 162012

Once I get my grandparents' marriage certificate, I will need to get documents translated into Italian. In an earlier post, I listed approved translators and the estimated cost. Today I'm checking out the Italian Citizenship Message Board to confirm what does and does not need to be translated.

This page has a number of things that others needed to have translated: http://italiancitizenship.freeforums.org/what-did-you-need-to-have-translated-t1402.html

Basically, it's variable. Everything from all documents to no documents. Summarizing, at a minimum all BC, MC, and DC in the direct line, including mine and my children's, need to be translated. It might be easiest just to have everything translated I suppose.

I emailed someone who went through Detroit to see what they needed to have translated for their application. This is their response:

My initial appointment was at the end of August 2011. I went in with all my direct line documents translated and apostilled. My line is GGF GF F Me, so I had a lot of documents. Needless to say all of documents were from NY and NJ. I was given back my BC MC and my children's BCs to have authenticated. All the other documents were accepted as is. The DC were not even looked at nor retained by the consulate. I probably did not need them. I had the documents authenticated and returned them in mid November. Two months later I had my acceptance letter. I also just received my BC from my commune.

I can only say good things about my experience in Detroit, they are very reasonable and understanding.

I followed up by asking what forms this person had apostilled and translated. They said they only did that for their direct line:

By direct line I mean the male descendants in my case. It would be the same for you. Do not Apostille or translate your mother or GM or GGM. You will need spouse only if she is applying with you ( married prior to 1983). You will need minor children if that applies.

So for me, that means getting the following translated:

– GGF marriage certificate
– GGF death certificate
– GF birth certificate
– GF marriage certificate
– GF death certificate
– F birth certificate
– F marriage certificate
– my birth certificate
– my marriage certificate
– my children's birth certificates

So at the cost of $50 per document, that means about $500 or so plus shipping.

But here's another response that I got regarding translations (for Detroit):

Detroit does have a list of translators but they do not require you to use it. I think the same holds true for the other consulates that post lists of translators. If you use one of the "required" translators you will be less likely to have an issue with them rejecting your translations. If you do your own translations you run the risk of rejection and posibly more delays. I translated my documents with the help of the templates here and my limited knowledge of Italian. They were accepted for authentication by NY and Newark.

Feb 152012

Any records from states that fall under the jurisdiction of other Italian consulates need to be authenticated by them before handing them over to the Detroit consulate. For that means the NY consulate for the vast majority of my vital records and Philly for my great-grandparents' marriage. I was uncertain of the process so I posted to the Italian Citizenship Message Board. This is a response I received from someone who had gone through Detroit before:

I went through Detroit and had to have documents authenticated in both NY and Newark. I will post this evening in Templates the letter, release and instructions. In most cases the documents are sent to the citizenship department of the consulate, however some are done by the notary and some by the legal departments. The fee currently is $8.10 per document (fee changes quarterly) and is based on art. 71 A. NY took approximately 2 months to return my documents. Philly has a faster turn around, but I don't know the specifics. NY will not process documents while you wait if you deliver them personally, Philly will do them while you wait. The documents must be apostilled and translated.

Update: 16 Feb 2012

This person now posted the templates and information on the message board. I repeat the details here:

To authenticate documents that originate in a consular jurisdiction other than the one to which you are applying send the following:

1. Original apostilled document (BC, MC, etc.) and copy.
2. Translation.
3. Request letter (template attached)
4. Release (template attached)
5. Payment – enclose a money order for $8.10 per document (fee changes quarterly and can be located on the consulates' tariff schedule as Art. 71A). NY and Philly post a tariff schedule, I am not sure of the other consulates but the fee should be the same at all. NY and only NY accepts Visa or Mastercard in addition to a money order, they charge a one time $4.00 transaction fee. (Alter the template letter if you are enclosing a money order.)
6. Self addressed stamped envelope (your choice of delivery method, first class mail, priority mail, fedex, etc.)
7. Copy of your photo ID.

You can personally deliver your documents for processing and some consulates will process your documents while you wait. NY will not process your documents while you wait so be sure to include your SASE. Processing in NY is approximately 2 months.

Template Statement

Template Letter

Feb 132012

Searching through some online boards, I found this suggested wording for a court order of one-and-the-same:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED and DECREED that the following be and is hereby established:

1) The person named XXX XXX XXXX, born in XXXXXXXXXX, Kingdom of Italy on (DATE), to (FATHER'S NAME and MOTHER'S NAME) of XXXXXXXXXX, Kingdom of Italy, is one and the same person as YYY YYY YYYY, born (DATE), in XXXXXXXXXX, Kingdom of Italy; "


… the petition would be called a "Petition for a Miscellaneous Order" and the order is titled "Miscellaneous Order" because it's not part of any contested case (e.g. Johnson vs. Smith).

Feb 102012

I've received the naturalization records for my great-grandfather with his name spelled incorrectly as Angelo Palmieri and a letter of no-record-found with his name spelled correctly as Angelo Palmeri.

Recently, I sent a request to USCIS asking for a letter of "one and the same". It included all of the documents I have pertaining to him, including his birth and death and naturalization certificates.

Today I received a letter. It states that "we've confirmed that Angelo Palmieri and Angelo Palmeri born on January 27, 1886 are the same person."

Feb 102012

So, today I'm emailing and writing churches in the City of Buffalo to see if any have a record of the marriage of my grandparents, Joseph Palmeri and Sarina Millonzi.

I'm also writing the clerks and courts of the City of Buffalo to see if they have any record of an official name change for my grandfather from "Joseph Palmieri", as on his birth certificate, to "Joseph Palmeri", as he went throughout his adult life. 

We'll see what happens.

Update 13 Feb 2012

The Erie County Clerk returned my email. This is what they said:

Mr. Palmeri: The search for a court action to change a name would be filed in our court. However, an immigrant is allowed legally to change his or her name by simply having the new name stated on the Certificate of Naturalization. So there may not have been a formal action.

If you would like us to search for the court action, you may make your request in writing to the Basement Record Room, Erie County Clerk's Office, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, New York 14202. The cost will be $5 for every two years searched per document type (court action). The more information that you can provide, the easier potentially it will be for us to search (and the less expensive for you.)


Years ago, if the parent changed the name, the surname of the minor child was also changed, so there might not be a record of the change of name, but there would be an amended Birth Certificate. However, it is possible that the spelling of the name was not officially noted and that your grandfather just used the name as you know it. 

Update 28 Feb 2012

Another response from the Erie County Clerk:

Thank you for contacting the Erie County Clerk’s Office.  CHRISTOPHER L. JACOBS has requested that I respond to your email.

Your request will engender a search charge.  Please make your request in writing to the Erie County Clerk – Basement Record Room, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, New York 14202.  You may simply copy this email and mail with your check.  As a suggestion, since we will not know the actual cost until the search is completed, you may send in a check with the amount blank and a note that the check is not to exceed a certain amount.  We will return a receipt.

The cost for a search is $5 for every two years per name, per document.

The cost for copies is $1 per page and certification is an additional $5.

Please indicate the name(a) under which you would like us to search.

Feb 092012

Today my father called to say that he and his sister had found copies of their father's birth and death certificates. That saves both time and hassle, especially since the birth certificate requires a court order in NY State. Now I only need to have court orders to amend the documents that need to be amended.

They also said that they were going to try to get a copy of their parents' marriage certificate. There was none in my aunt's records. But they will try to get one issued from the City of Buffalo or New York State. Fingers crossed. 

Feb 092012

Today I did some searches of marriage records from Montemaggiore Belsito. Two of my great-grandfather, Rosario Millonzi's, great-grandparents were Giuseppe Maggio and Providenza Tripi, married in 1820; their parents were Giuseppe Maggio and Oreola Civillo, and Castrenza Tripi and Carmela Difrancesco. Two of my great-grandmother, Carmela (Parisi) Millonzi's, great-grandparents were Nunzio Parisi and Nunzia Dolce, married in 1822; their parent were Giacomo Parisi and Francesca Buscaino, and Antonino Dolce and Carmela Arcana. These great-great-great-great-great-grandparents were born in the 1700's.

marriage of Nunzio Parisi and Nunzia Dolce, 1822 in Montemaggiore Belsito

Feb 082012

My distant cousin from Canada sent me some more information on the Downie family that he found. It includes a death record for my great-great-great-grandmother, Margaret Ogilvie (Downie) Cuthbert, and pictures of two of her brothers, William and Anthony. He also sent a picture of another Cuthbert named John, but I don't know if that's a brother or a cousin (most likely a cousin since no "John" appears in other family records).

death record for Margaret Ogilvie (Downie) Cuthbert

Feb 082012

This was originally posted by zsnyder to the Italian Citizenship Message Board. I hope he or she does not mind me reposting here. It's primarily for my benefit since I'm using this blog to record my efforts. But perhaps someone else will find this someday that does not stumble across the original post. I know that it took me a long long time to find examples of people who tried to get a court order on their own without a lawyer. So hopefully these re-posts will help someone else's search. Just give credit to the OP, not to me.

After collecting all of the documents requested by the consulate for my jure sanquinis application I noticed that my grandfathers birth certificate contained numerous errors.

The names of him, his father and mother all contained misspellings and his birthdate was off by a few days when compared to his documents from later in life. To make matters worse, he didn’t go by his given Italian name (Natale) but a shortened version of the english translation (Christmas to Chris). This shortened name was recorded on every government document since birth.

I took a shot and contacted the consulate to see what they thought and the response was to fix the birth certificate or find another another route.

Reading the wonderfully informative posts by jschotz and his dealings with amending certificates in court I started to form the case to amend my grandfathers birth record.

I had the birth and marriage records of my great grandfather and great grandmother so that should take care of their names.

My mothers marriage record had my grandfather listed as Chris (Natale) Mento so that helped with fixing his name.

I then contacted the church where he was baptized to see what information they had. Turns out they had him on record with his given Italian name, the date of birth that matched what was listed on later documents, the correct spelling of his parents names, his godparents names (not needed but a nice genealogical find) and in a column noted “Notunda”, his name listed as Natale (Chris) Mento when he married my grandmother.

So now I have two pieces of evidence for each correction with the exception of his birthdate.

For the second piece of evidence I contacted the National Personnel Records Center and requested any information they had on him during his enlistment in the Navy. They sent me his discharge papers which listed a birthdate that matched the baptismal record and his name listed as Chris Anthony Mento.

With these documents in hand I wrote up my case.

*** I should state that I am not a lawyer and comments about my case from here on are only my opinion. What worked for me may not work for you. ***

I decided to file in Philadelphia as they have an e-file service and since I have family in the area, a place to stay should I need to appear. Through the website I chose Trial Division – Civil, Program: Petitions, Case Type: Miscellaneous Petition. It generated a case number, I uploaded my documents and exhibits and paid the fees.

Three days later the Protonotary entered the documents into the system. When I saw the update I printed out two copies of the papers that had his stamp of approval and sent them to the Philadelphia County Sheriffs office to have them served to Department of Vital Records in New Castle, PA. I sent two copies as one was to be served and the court in New Castle also wanted a copy for some reason. I also had to send two checks to the Philadelphia sheriff as they don’t deputize outside the county. The first check was for them to mail my documents to the sheriff in New Castle and the second was for the New Castle sheriff to serve Vital Records. Also included in the packet was a SASE and a sheriffs return service document that would be mailed back to me when Vital Records was served.

Here is the semi-redacted Notice to Defend, Petition and Exhibit Statement:

Notice to Defend.pdf


Exhibit Statement.pdf

I found this template for writing up briefs. It’s for Apple’s Pages application but I saw many others for Word and Word like programs. Makes life much easier.

Court Brief Template

You may notice that Linda Caniglia is listed on the Notice to Defend but not on the Petition or Order. Well, apparently she retired the year before but is still listed on official documents. I was asked by a clerk of the court at a later date to change the respondent to Pennsylvania Department of Health, Division of Vital Records. I assume if you file in PA for corrections that the later is what you want to use.

I haven’t included any of my exhibits but I did want to post the Exhibit Statement for reference. The original birth record says it’s illegal to duplicate this copy by photostat or photograph. The last thing I wanted to do was submit something to the court that would jeopardize my case. jschotz recommended going this route and it seemed to work well for me. The court never asked to see the birth record.

Two weeks after filing a judge was assigned to the case and about a month after filing the Pennsylvania Department of Health responded with a letter of no opposition.

I thought the case was proceeding rather quickly but boy was I in for a surprise. By this time it was mid-November, two months after filing, and nothing has been updated on the website about my case. My appointment with the consulate was only a month and half away.

I called the court and after being transferred around for a while I ended up speaking to one of the friendliest and most helpful clerks. It seems that my case was causing all sorts of confusion in the court.

The first issue is that I had my mother listed as a petitioner. Since she does not reside in Philadelphia county the court felt that it had no jurisdiction and the case should be filed in the county of her residence. I explained that she was listed to lend credence to the petition as she is the daughter of my grandfather. The clerk understood but instructed me to remove her entirely and resubmit the Petition. I asked if I need to file a motion or pay more fees and she no, just email it to her.

Several days later another issue pops up. The clerk that I've been dealing with calls and says they need a letter from Pennsylvania Department of Health stating that I’ve attempted to amend the birth certificate, that PDH DVR has denied my request and that a court order is needed. I send the request to DVR and they fax me a letter a week later which I scan and email to the clerk I’ve been dealing with.

PA DOH letter.pdf

I give her call after sending the email to make sure the letter is acceptable and if she thinks there may be any other issues. She says everything looks fine. I ask her if she has any idea when the hearing might be and if I should file a motion to do it by phone. She says there won’t be any hearing. That seemed odd. We hang up and the next day she calls me and says the judge wants to sign off on my case and that I need to send her an order right away.


By the end of the afternoon I have the order signed by the judge sent to me by fax but I’d have to wait for the ones with a seal to come by mail before forwarding to DVR to have the amendments made.

I should note that two items were left off of that order. One was line 5, which I’ll get to in a moment and one piece that jschotz had on his:

Issue a new certified long form copy of corrected record to said Petitioner within fifteen (15) days of service of the Court Order upon the Respondent.

That last section is important as I found out the hard way that DVR will sit on the corrections. Even though I had overnighted the Order along with an overnight return envelope they sat on the correction for weeks.

It’s now December 20th and I’m about to leave the country, I still don’t have the corrected birth certificate and my appointment is in two weeks. I call DVR and they tell me the correction is being held up because the new birthdate is two days after the original file date. Their system won’t allow this. I’m absolutely furious that they just now bring this to my attention. 

I contact the clerk in Philadelphia about this issue and she asks me to add in line 5 to the Order and email it to her. I tell her I’m leaving the country the next night and she says not to worry about it. The judge signs the new order right there and it’s faxed to DVR along with official versions going out in the mail. Can you say life saver?

December 30th the corrected birth certificate arrives and my appointment is five days later.

In short:

Look everywhere for documents. Sometimes you’ll be surprised at what you find.

Collect all of the evidence you can to make your case. It’s not like it’s a murder case. The judge just wants to see how you’re getting from point A to point B.

Make a copy of everything that you will use in court send it to PDH with along with the application form and correction form. Tell them that you need a letter explaining that a court order is needed to make changes when they deny you.

Write up your case and have others proof it for you. Keep it simple and to the point.

It may seem daunting but the court is there for you.

Feb 072012

As I've noted on several posts, my great-grandfather was born Angelo Palmeri but several records, including his marriage certificate and his naturalization documents, spelled his name incorrectly as Angelo Palmieri. 

From the USCIS, I've received a complete copy of the naturalization documents spelled "Angelo Palmieri" and I have received a letter of no record found spelled of "Angelo Palmeri".

I wrote a letter to the USCIS asking for a letter stating that the Angelo Palmieri on the naturalization documents is a.k.a Angelo Palmeri. An earlier post gave the text of that letter.

I included draft text for a letter they might send to me:

Our letter XXXXXX XX, XXXX reported that we successfully retrieved a copy of the records of naturalization for Angelo Palmieri, born January 27, 1886 in Serradifalco, Italy.

File Series   File Number
C-File          C-XXXXX

We sent you The Declaration of Intent for Angelo Palmieri dated August 23, 1917, the Petition for Naturalization for Angelo Palmieri dated March 11, 1921, and the Certificate of Naturalization for Angelo Palmieri dated July 5, 1921.

Angelo Palmieri, born January 27, 1886 in Serradifalco, Italy was also known as (a.k.a.) Angelo Palmeri, born January 27, 1886 in Serradifalco, Italy.

It is our determination that the Declaration of Intent dated August 23, 1917, Petition for Naturalization dated March 11, 1921, and Certificate of Naturalization dated July 5, 1921 for Angelo Palmieri belong to one and the same person as the birth certificate for Angelo Palmeri from January 27, 1886 in Serradifalco, Italy, the marriage certificate for Angelo Palmieri from November 5, 1910 in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, and the death certificate for Angelo Palmeri from September 29, 1969 in Erie County, New York.

Today I had a conversation with someone from UCSIC. They said they would send me a letter. Hopefully, it will have text bearing some resemblance to the text I suggested.