Oct 252012

Several weeks ago, I wrote Montemaggiore Belsito, Sicily, to see if they could send me some information about my great-grandfather's siblings who stayed back in Sicily.

Cruciano Giuseppe Millonzi was born in Montemaggiore Belsito 19 June 1873 and married Anna Maria Sabini on 12 Mar 1901. He was "eliminated by emigration in the municipality of Ravanusa on 07/12/1933 reinstated on 19/05/1936 by Bisacquino emigrated to Ravanusa 05/05/1937 reinstated on 02/07/1947 by Ravanusa (AG), died in Montemaggiore Belsito on 3/4/1949."

Cruciano Millonzi was born in Montemaggiore Belsito 11 Aug 1876 and married Nunzia Dolce on 10 Feb 1923 in Montemaggiore Belsito. He married Angela Ingrassia on 12 Feb 1927. He died 21 Oct 1945 in Montemaggiore Belsito. Cruciano and Nunzia had a daughter Rosario Millonzi born 13 May 1925 in Montemaggiore Belsito who married Giuseppe Dominuco on 10 Apr 1948 in Montemaggiore Belsito; they moved to Montedoro (Caltanissetta) on 14 May 1948; she died 7 Jan 2009. Cruciano and Angella had a daughter Ignazia Millonzi born 25 Dec 1927 in Montemaggiore Belsito who married Pietro Montana 10 Apr 1948 in Montemaggiore Belsito; she moved to Montedoro (Caltanissetta) 14 Apr 1948.

Carmela Millonzi was born in Montemaggiore Belsito 18 Dec 1881 and married Gaspare Silvestre 22 Nov 1902 in Montemaggiore Belsito. She died 31 Jan 1946.

Sep 052012

Yesterday, my cousin Elyse sent me some great photos of the Millonzi family that she got from her great-grandmother, Concetta, my great-grandfather's sister. 

Back Row (left to right): (1) unknown woman, (2) probably Concetta (Millonzi) Fiorella (1896-1994), (2) probably another Millonzi sister (possibly Lillie or Carmela), (3) unknown man, (4) family donkey. Middle Row (left to right): (1) Rosario Millonzi (1887-1971), (2) unknown, (3) Ignazio Millonzi (1846-), (4) possibly Phillip Millonzi. Front Row (left to right): (1) probably Giuseppe Millonzi (1873-), (2) Ignazio Millonzi (1884-1977), (3) unknown man and child, (4) Rosaria Salemi (1853-), (5) unknown woman.

Back Row (left to right): (1) Rosaria Millonzi (1887-1971), (2) unknown man, (3) unknown man, (4) probably Giuseppe Millonzi (1873-). Middle Row (left to right): (1) probably Concetta (Millonzi) Fiorella (1896-1994), (2) Ignazio Millonzi (1884-1977), (3) probably another Millonzi sister (possibly Lillie or Carmela), (4) Rosaria Salemi (1853-). Front Row (left to right): (1) possibly Phillip Millonzi, (2) unknown woman, (3) unknown woman and child, (4) Ignazio Millonzi (1846-).

Ignazio Millonzi (1884-1977)

Rosaria Salemi (1853-)

Ignazio Millonzi (1846-)

Sep 052012

My great-grandfather was a prisoner of war during WWI. He was captured during the the retreat from the Battle of Caporetto in northeast Italy and was a prisoner of war for 14 months in an Austro-Hungarian or German camp. According to family lore, he was so hungry he had to eat his shoes. My great-grandmother's family heard nothing of him after his capture. Her brother was a monseigneur and was able to get someone from the Vatican to track him down and check on him in the camp. When the Germans found out that my great-grandfather was a tailor, they took him off hard labor and had him make clothes for the officers. Soon after he was released, he emigrated to the US.

Someone suggested contacting the International Red Cross: http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/icrc-archives/index.jsp

Perhaps they have a record of him? It'll take 6-12 months to get a response.  

Update 5 Sep 2012

The IRC is digitizing their records. So no requests can be made until 2014. 


Aug 282012

I ordered the military service records from the Italian archives in Palermo for my great-grandfather, Rosario Millonzi. He fought for Italy during World War I and was a prisoner of war (captured by the Germans and Austrians). Here is the letter I used to order them:

Achivo di Stato di Palermo
Corso Vittorio Emanuele 31
90133 Palermo

Mi dispiace. Scrivo un po' italiano.

Mi potete aiutare a trovare i record militari per il mio bisnonno?

Il mio bisnonno, Rosario Millonzi, è nato 27 settembre 1887 in Montemaggiore Belsito, Provincia di Palermo. La sua moglie era Carmela Parisi. I suoi genitori erano Ignazio Millonzi e Rosaria Salemi.

Ha combattuto nella WWI (prima guerra mondiale). Era un prigioniero di guerra.

Potete inviare i suoi documenti militari?

Ho incluso una copia del mio passaporto. Avete bisogno di altro?

Grazie mille.

Update 4 Sep 2012

Here is the response I received. Basically, it tells me to try this other office.

In merito alla sua richiesta, si comunica che presso questo Archivio non si conservano le liste di leva relative al comune e all'anno da lei indicati. Ad ogni modo può chiedere il foglio matricolare del suo bisnonno al seguente ufficio:
Comando Regionale Militare Sud
Centro Documentale di Palermo
Piazza Indipendenza, 7
90129 Palermo
Fax: 091 6453601 – 1673601
e-mail: cedoc_Palermo@esercito.difesa.it

Jun 212012

Monsignor Mercurio Maria Teresi was born in Montemaggiore in 1742 and is somewhere in the early stages of being considered for sainthood by the Catholic church. My great-grandfather Rosario Millonzi's grandmother was a Filippa Teresi born in 1813. We could be related to a future saint.

We learned this visiting Montemaggiore Belsito, home town of Rosario Millonzi, my great-grandfather, and Carmela Parisi, my great-grandmother. My grandmother and my uncle were also born there soon before they all emigrated to the US in 1920.

According to http://www.monsignorteresi.it, with the help of google translate, he was born 10 October 1742 to Cruciano Teresi and Margaret De Nasca in Montemaggiore Belsito. Two of his uncles, Don Antonio and Don Philip Teresi, were priests. He apparently showed singular piety, but was denied study to the priesthood because he seemed dull of mind. But after constant prayer before the statue of Our Lady, it was said that she laid her hand on the back of his head and he received such an intellect that at 18 years of age he had written his first work on the Immacolate Conception of Mary, followed from another book written at 20 years of age. He undertook and completed his studies in theology at the Jesuit Collegio Massimo of Palermo. In April 1765 he was ordained priest by the Bishop of Cefalu and immediately returned to the diocese and was appointed Spiritual Director and Professor of Moral Theology at the Episcopal Seminary of Cefalu. Two years later he left the Chair and the seminary to pursue priesthood with all the enthusiasm to the Saints missions. He spent nearly forty years of his life evangelizing the vast Diocese of Sicily. First he went to Nicosia, where he stayed for a whole month, then reached Mazzarino, Newfoundland, Sperlinga, Palermo, Messina, Catania, Siracusa, Agrigento, Mazara, Monreale, Palermo, etc.. He paid this feat with great sacrifices, hardships, dangers and misunderstandings of all kinds. Although overwhelmed by the apostolic work, he learned the value of spare time in order to write and publish various works of a theological, ascetics, enriched by historical thoughts and lessons learned from the Fathers and Doctors of the Church and the texts of Sacred Scripture. In 1797 he was appointed parish priest of Montemaggiore Belsito for about 5 years. The fame of sanctity reached the ears of King Ferdinand III of Bourbon and his wife Queen Caroline who wanted him to attend their court as a preacher and confessor, recognizing in him the man of God who spread the word and works with the "bonus odor Christi ". Ferdinand III was captivated by his words and example of his life. Bishop Teresi, spiritually linked by a great affection to the Society of Jesus, said the return of the Jesuits in Sicily and also the restoration of the Archdiocese of Monreale, abolished in 1775. Both the favors were granted in 1803 and in obedience to the Pope and the King accepted the post of bishop of Monreale. Although the charge did not alter his style of apostolic life, continuing to favor the poor. He led with firmness and gentleness, the archdiocese and died April 18, 1805 in Monreale. Tradition says that in the same hour in which he died (the 2 am) the bells of the parish church of Montemaggiore Belsito, which he had raised to a minor basilica, gave themselves the announcement of his death. "The fame of holiness of Mary Teresi Mercury" as said by Pope Pius XI in the Papal Bull with which raised the Monreale Cathedral Basilica Minore 28 August 1926 "in recent times has increased and extended everywhere."

Apr 172012

I had emailed some churches looking for my grandparents' marriage certificate. Someone at one of the churches I wrote actually did some research for me – finding a bunch of things out I already knew, but it was really generous of them to do the searches. One things they found that I didn't have was my great-grandparents' obituaries from one of the Buffalo newspapers.

The one thing these list is names (including married names) of siblings. I had them for my great-grandmother's siblings, but I didn't have them all for my great-grandfather's siblings, and I wasn't sure how many siblings he even had. Turns out a couple I thought were his sisters must have been cousins. They immigrated with my great-grandparents, listing right before them on the Ellis Island manifest, but they were either his cousins or nieces or something.

Apr 072012

I wanted to share some details of the story of how I finally found my grandparents’ marriage certificate.

When I started my document gathering in September, I first focused on what I thought would be the “harder” documents to get, like my great-grandparents’ Italian birth certificates and their marriage certificate, my great-grandfather’s naturalization records, and the like. I left the “easy” documents to later, in part to spread out the cost.

Well, my grandparents’s marriage certificate was not easy. I’ve mentioned many of these details in other posts, but I thought I’d collect it all into a single story.

First, my grandmother is 96 years old, in a nursing home. My aunt was unable to find a copy of her marriage certificate in my grandmother’s records. Requesting the document was a challenge. In NY State, and probably many states, you cannot order a certified marriage certificate unless you’re a spouse, unless both spouses are deceased. That’s a challenge if one of the spouses is very elderly, in a nursing home. Fortunately, my aunt has power of attorney. But the state requires a copy of my grandmother’s photo ID. Well, my grandmother never drove and never had a driver’s license, and hasn’t had a passport since the 1960s (which has long since disappeared). (So despite what George Will says, there are lots of legal US citizens, many poor or elderly, who have no photo ID.) Without an ID, you can mail a utility bill, in the person’s name, and a letter from a government agency, in the person’s name. That’s a challenge if someone’s in a nursing home – they have no utility bills. The best my aunt could do was a bill from the nursing home addressed to my aunt with a RE: my grandmother and my grandmother’s retirement check addressed to my grandmother at my aunt’s address. Fortunately, this was enough for the state to release the marriage certificate.

Second, no one was certain about the date of their marriage. Sadly, my grandmother could not help. We were able to narrow it down based on when my aunt and father were born, and based on a comment I remembered that my parents could have been married in the 25 year of my grandparent’s marriage. What this means is that the request only included a 3-year search range, not an exact marriage date. i suppose that’s an invitation for a “no record found” since searching over years requires some diligence.

My aunt sends the request off to the City of Buffalo. And we get “no record found”.

That’s odd since we knew that both my grandmother and grandfather lived in Buffalo. And it’s almost inconceivable that they would have gotten married anywhere but one of the Italian Roman Catholic churches on the West Side of Buffalo.

So we try three tacks.

First, my aunt mails off a request to NY State. We originally requested through Buffalo because it’s $10 rather than $30, and a lot quicker.

Second, I send letters and emails off to just about every city and town clerk around Buffalo, on the off chance that they might have gotten married elsewhere.

Third, I send letters and emails off to just about every Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo and the neighboring communities. We knew the church that my father was baptized in and that my grandfather was baptized in. And my grandmother’s cousin knew the church that my grandmother was active in as a young adult.

None of the towns and none of the churches had any record of my grandparent’s marriage.

So now I broaden the search even further. I try Niagara Falls. Who knows, maybe they wanted to have a reception in the Falls and got marriage in a church in the Falls – at that time, there was a large Italian community there as well as Buffalo. Nothing from them.

I’m stumped. I ask my dad, my aunt, and cousins again. Everyone mentions the churches we already tried. One of the churches suggests that we try to contact the church that my grandmother was baptized in since that church’s records might note where and when my grandmother was married, even if it wasn’t in that church. Well, my grandmother was born and baptized in Sicily, so that does not seem like an easy option. I do email my grandfather’s baptismal church, but they have no record.

I email one of my cousins who was a bit of a family historian before I took over doing genealogy. He said, you know, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was your great-grandparent’s church – my GM’s church. Well, that church closed down years and years ago. I ask my dad. He says, sure, that was my mom’s church; didn’t I tell you that. He didn’t. But I’m happy to have a new lead.

So I email a few churches and ask if they know if any church might have a record for NBVM. One does. I email that church. They email me that they found the record – I receive that email two hours after my visit to the Detroit consulate. They mail me my grandparent’s marriage record.

Now I send a copy of that back to the City of Buffalo, along with a copy of their certified “no record found” they had sent my aunt. A couple weeks later, I get a certified copy of their marriage certificate. And a few days after that, my aunt gets their marriage record from New York.

I guess one irony is that if I had just mailed NY months ago, and waited, and waited, and waited, I would have gotten their marriage certificate anyway (since we did). But of course, when we’re going through this process, you get a heightened level of impatience. And especially when I knew I had my March consulate meeting, I was working hard to try to find their marriage certificate, my only missing piece.

Another irony is that Detroit ended up not requiring my grandparent’s marriage certificate – accepting the “no record found” (along with my grandfather’s death certificate) as sufficient.

Apr 052012

After I received the marriage certificate from the church, I sent back the "no record found" to the City of Buffalo (along with a copy of the church's certificate).

Today they sent me the certificate. I guess now they actually searched a bit harder.

Mar 202012

Here is my grandparents marriage certificate from Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They were married 10 Jun 1939. Witnesses were John Palmeri, probably one of my grandfather's Palmeri cousins, and Mrs. J. D'Arata, who I don't know.

my grandparents' marriage certificate from NBVM Church in Buffalo

interior of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, where my grandparents were married

Mar 162012

According to one of the churches that responded to my request to find my grandparents' marriage (they did not have it), her family church in Buffalo could have a record of her marriage: "If that was your grandmothers baptismal church, all her sacraments would be recorded there, under her maiden name, and also it would tell you the church your grandparents were married in."

Holy Angels
Holy Cross
St. Margaret's
St. Mark's

St. Anthony's
St. Joseph's

Mar 152012

Desperate to find any possible leads on my grandparents' marriage, I emailed one of my cousins asking if he might have any idea where it could have taken place. He told me that my grandmother's parents' church was Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the west side of Buffalo. That church is closed and I would have never found it searching as I have. I emailed another church and they told me that the records for Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary are now held at Our Lady of Hope church in Buffalo. I emailed them. We'll see if they find anything. Fingers crossed that the Italian tradition was to get married in the wife's church.

Update 19 Mar 2012

Today I received an email from Our Lady of Hope Church: "I found the marriage in our books and mailed out the certificate to you last week, probably on Thursday"

Mar 102012

Okay, so no record was found in the City of Buffalo for my grandparents marriage abt 1939. I assumed it must have been in Buffalo since that's where they had lived their entire lives. But apparently not. We'll see if my aunt can get a copy of their marriage certificate from NY State. In the meanwhile, I'll email and write the town clerks around Buffalo to see if any others can track down a marriage certificate for me.

At least "no record found" is official (certified, with a raised seal). Perhaps the Detroit consulate will be okay with this. It's better than nothing I suppose.

Update 12 Mar 2012

Other cities and towns who have checked their records:

Depew – NO
Lackawanna – NO
Hamburg – NO

Mar 052012

No records of the marriage of my grandparents were found at St. Anthony's, Holy Angels, Holy Cross, or Blessed Sacrament in Buffalo. I'm broadening my search to include St. Paul's, St. Mark's, St. Margaret's, St. Ann's, and St. Joseph's Cathedral. We'll see if any of them find anything.


St. Pauls' – No. 

St. Margaret's – No. But the suggested St. Lucy Church (now closed – records are are at St. Columba-Brigid Parish – 716-852-2076 – 418 N. Division St., Buffalo, NY 14204) or Annunciation, Our Lady of Loretto or Nativity Parish (all are now closed – records are at Our Lady of Hope Parish 716-885-2469, 18 Greenwood Pl., Buffalo, NY 14213) or Holy Spirit Parish – 716-875-8102 – 91 Dakota Ave., Buffalo, NY 14216.

St. Mark's – No.

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

Nov 302011

One advantage of searching marriage records, apart from simply finding dates of marriage, is that it lets you confirm someone's grandparents. The marriage record for someone's parents lists the bride and groom's parents.

My great-grandfather was Rosario Millonzi. His parents were Ignazio Millonzi and Rosaria Salemi. I had confirmed that earlier from his brother's death certificate, which I obtained from the City of Buffalo, and later found by great-grandfather's birth certificate. Today I found Ignazio and Rosaria's marriage record. It lists Ignazio Millonzi's parents as Cruciano Millonzi and Filippa Teresi and Rosario Salemi's parents as Maestro Giuseppe Salemi and Carmela Maggio.

From my great-grandfather's birth record, I knew the approximate birth date for my great-great-grandfather, Ignazio, because it listed his age at the time of Rosario's birth. Sometimes the birth record also lists something like "Ignazio figlio di Cruciano" or "Rosaria figlia di Giuseppe", noting the father but rarely ever noting the mother. In the case of Rosaria, there was only one birth record with a "Rosaria Salemi" abt 1853, so I knew fairly confidently that her parents were Giuseppe Salemi and Carmela Maggio. In the case of Ignazio, I was able to pinpoint the birth year and thought his father might be Cruciano. But when I searched the Montemaggiore records, I found two possible sets of parents, with the same father's name but two different mother's names. It was only by finding the marriage certificate, which lists the couple's parents, that I was able to confirm that Cruciano Millonzi married Filippa Teresi.

Ignazio Millonzi (age 25) and Rosaria Salemi (age 17) were married 11 Oct 1871
in Montemaggiore Belsito

Nov 112011

In poking around microfilm shipped to the local LDS church, I found some of my most distant Italian ancestors so far.

My great-grandfather was Rosario Millonzi (1887-1971), his mother was Rosaria Salemi (1853-), her mother was Carmela Maggio (1824-), and her parents were Maestro Giuseppe Maggio (abt 1803-) and Providenza Tripi (abt 1808-). Those are my great-great-great-great-grandparents.

Here is a snapshot of Carmela Maggio's birth certificate from 1824.

Carmelo Maggio Atto di Nascita, Montemaggiore, 13 May 1824

Oct 302011

Until a few months ago, I was 1/2 Italian, on my dad's side, and 1/4 Irish and 1/4 French, on my mom's side. My mom's parents were both 1/2 Irish and 1/2 French.

Now, things are a little different. My dad is still full Italian. So that 1/2 is intact. My mom's side is a bit more complex now. 

My maternal grandmother is a Wilson and Cruice. I now know that Wilson side is probably "Scotch-Irish" since census records list Samuel Wilson's parents as being from Belfast and since Samuel Wilson listed his religion as Presbyterian on his marriage record. The origins of the Scotch-Irish lie primarily in northern England and the lowlands of Scotland. They came to Northern Ireland in the 1600s. According to lore, the Cruice family escaped the French Revolution to Ireland. While we considered that part of the family "French", given that Patrick Cruice's wife is Bridget Sweeney, and given that Patrick Cruice's mother appears to be Mary Golden, both decidedly non-French last name, it seems likely that the Cruice side is more like 1/4 French and 3/4 Irish. 

My paternal grandfather is a Burke and de Guehery. The Burke family is Catholic Irish, but we don't know what the Brady family is (Anthony Burke married Maria Brady), but we'll list her as Irish until we know more. We now know more of the history of the de Guehery family. Margaret de Guehery's mother was Marion Cuthbert, who was Scottish. Her father was Emmanuel de Guehery, who was 1/2 French and 1/2 German.

So that makes me:

1/2 Italian (1/8 Palmeri, 1/8 Giambrone, 1/8 Millonzi, 1/8 Parisi)

7/32 Irish (1/16 Burke, 1/16 Brady, 1/16 Sweeney, 1/32 Golden)

1/16 French (1/32 de Guehery, 1/32 Cruice)

1/32 German (Mack)

1/16 Scottish (Cuthbert)

1/8 Scotch-Irish (Wilson)

Sep 122011

As I search LDS records for Montemaggiore Belsito, I am recording, in some way, all members of the Millonzi, Salemi, Parisi, and Sciolino families. My great-grandfather Rosario Millonzi's parents were Ignazio Millonzi and Rosaria Salemi. My great-grandmother Carmela Millonzi's parents were Angelo Parisi and Agata Maria Sciolino.

Maybe my efforts will be useful to someone else searching for their families from Montemaggiore. I make no promises for completeness or accuracy. In some cases, I could not read the stylized hand writing.

Click on the link below to access the transcriptions.

Registri dello stato civile Montemaggiore Belsito (Palermo), 1820-1910
Nati 1852-1858 | FHL INTL 2004859