We’re cousins!

 Palmeri  Comments Off on We’re cousins!
Jan 212017

When I first started researching the Italian side of my family tree, once I had discovered the actual name of my great-grandfather’s hometown of Serradifalco from the botched version my father had told me, a quick google search of “Serradifalco genealogy” turned up the excellent web site on the Coniglio family: http://www.conigliofamily.com


The site is maintained by Angelo Coniglio. His parents, Gaetano Coniglio and Rosa Alessi immigrated to Buffalo from Serradifalco a little over 100 years ago, around the same time as my great-grandparents Angelo Palmeri and Maria Giambrone immigrated to Buffalo.

His web site is filled with wonderful information on Serradifalco, including a partial translation (here) of a history of the town, the original Italian of which I’ve included in pdf form on my site, as well as lots of stories and essays related to his family in particular and to the Sicilian-American experience in general.

At the time when I was starting on my genealogical research, I knew no Italian – I am only now at an intermediate stage – and his excellent translations of various Italian vital records he has posted on his site (for example, here) were simply indispensable to me in trying to read the records I found searching through microfilm.

At some point, Ange emailed me after having found my own web site – this one here – and we corresponded occasionally on Serradifalco, genealogy, and dual citizenship. Ange graciously sent me some records of my family members that he found during his searches.

Given that Serradifalco was a small town and that his parents and my great-grandparents immigrated around the same time to Buffalo, it was likely that they knew each other, but could they have also been related? Were Ange and I cousins? No, at least based on the records either of us had found.

Then sometime last fall, Ange emailed that his DNA and my DNA on AncestryDNA had a small positive match. We could be distantly related.

Just recently, he found a death record with the name Butera. My fourth great-grandmother was Diega Butera – I had it misspelled as “Batera” on my family tree, having mis-read the difficult-to-read script in the records. It turns our that Diega’s sister, Maria Butera, is Angelo Coniglio’s second great-grandmother.

That makes us fourth cousins twice removed; in other words, Ange is fourth cousins with my grandfather, Joseph A. Palmeri (1911-1967). My great-grandfather Angelo Palmeri and his father Gaetano Coniglio, who both emigrated from Serradifalco, were third cousins, so even if they knew each other, they may or may not have known that they were related to one another. I’ve only discovered my own third cousins over the past several years.

Here is the death certificate for Diega Butera, born in 1777:


Since I’m now part of Ange’s family tree, that also means that I get to go back two more generations (our common ancestors) because of his research.

Diega Butera’s parents (my fifth great-grandparents) were Antonino Butera (who died sometime between the marriage of his daughter Maria in 1787 and the death of his wife Onofria in 1817) and Onofria Porto (Patracino) (born abt 1752, died 9 Mar 1817 in Serradifalco).

Antonino Butera’s parents (my six great-grandparents) were Pietro Butera (who died before 1759) and Leonarda (who died after 1759).

Onofria Porto’s parents (my six great-grandparents) were Angelo Porto (who died before 1759) and Carmine (who died after 1759).

Only a few other branches of my family tree goes back this far in time – two on my mother’s side in Scotland and France, and one on my maternal grandmother’s side from Montemaggiore Belsito Sicily.

Jan 312013

According to a recent post on the Italian Citizenship Message Board, this is the process for checking the status of a jure matrimoni application:

First you register here: https://cittadinanza.interno.it/sicitt/registrazione_user

After registering, login again (https://cittadinanza.interno.it/sicitt/index2.jsp) and add your husband file with the K number and the date you have submitted in consulate.

Now I just need to figure out what the "K number" is.

Jan 052013

After nearly 18 months of work, we stopped at the Italian consulate in Detroit to get our passports. In addition to some paperwork and a few hundred dollars in fees, plus a signature and finger prints for my older son and I, we left with our passports in hand. 

Nov 232012


[1] Birth certificate of the applicant
29 Sep 2011 original birth certificate located in our files
17 Oct 2011 need to order a long-form birth certificate from Buffalo for $10
28 Oct 2011 long-form birth certificate arrives
29 Oct 2011 sending a request to NY State for apostille for $10
12 Nov 2011 request for apostille returned because they require an Erie County Clerk certification
14 Nov 2011 request to Erie County Clerk to sign and certify our birth certificates for $3
22 Nov 2011 request returned because I forgot to include a check, resent
3 Dec 2011 apostille received from NY State
23 Mar 2012 sent off for translation by Gabriella
29 Mar 2012 followup with Gabriella about translation
3 Apr 2012 translation arrives
3 Apr 2012 sent off to NY consulate for authentication/verification ($14.50)
23 Apr 2012 authentication received from NY consulate
*** DONE ***

[2] Certified full copy of marriage certificate issued by the Italian Town Hall, "Estratto Del Certificato Di Matrimonio"
17 Sep 2012 marriage certificate received from Serradifalco
*** DONE ***

[3] Certificate of residence of the applicant
10 Nov 2012 paperwork completed
*** DONE ***

[4] Certificate of citizenship of the Italian spouse (this will be issued by the consulate of residence at the time of application)
issued by consulate

[5] Certificate of family status (same as above)
issued by consulate

[6] Police clearance or certificate of criminal records (certificate of good conduct) issued by the central authority of each state of which the applicant has been a resident since the age of 14, accompanied by a translation into Italian; for us, that means New York, Indiana, Tennessee – consulate said "this office will certify the translation"
21 Mar 2012 emailed NY State to ask about process for obtaining a criminal record suitable for apostille
26 Mar 2012 background check packet comes from NY State
24 Sep 2012 finger prints obtained ($12.00)
24 Sep 2012 fingerprints sent to NY State for background check ($60.75)
24 Sep 2012 fingerprints sent to TN for background check ($29.00)
24 Sep 2012 fingerprints sent to IN for digital prints ($12.00)
24 Sep 2012 fingerprints sent to IN for background check ($10.00)
4 Oct 2012 background check received from IN
4 Oct 2012 sent background check to IN Secretary of State for apostille
4 Oct 2012 also requested another background check since the first was not signed and sealed
6 Oct 2012 TBI background checks arrive, but last name is misspelled on the address line
6 Oct 2012 send back to TBI for new copies
9 Oct 2012 NYS background checks arrive, but they are not signed
9 Oct 2012 sent these (unsigned) background checks to see if they will can be apostilled ($10)
9 Oct 2012 wrote to NYS Police asking them to issue background checks with signatures
13 Oct 2012 corrected TN background checks arrive today
13 Oct 2012 background checks sent out for apostilles ($4)
17 Oct 2012 background checks returned, need to forward to Davidson County Clerk first
17 Oct 2012 sending background checks to Davidson County Clerk, asking them to forward to Secretary of State
18 Oct 2012 background check request returned by Safran in order to submit to the IN State Police
18 Oct 2012 request to notarize IN State Police background check returned inexplicably
18 Oct 2012 resending requests to IN State Police
19 Oct 2012 received background check from NY State, but only in married name, not maiden name
19 Oct 2012 sending background check to NY Secretary of State for apostille ($10)
19 Oct 2012 sending a new request to NY State Police for background check in maiden name too
24 Oct 2012 background check request returned uncompleted by Indiana
25 Oct 2012 need new set of fingerprints for Indiana
25 Oct 2012 need to resend background check request to Indiana
25 Oct 2012 apostilled Tennessee background checks arrive today
25 Oct 2012 New York background check request returned
25 Oct 2012 Indiana Secretary of State department calls and they may be able to apostille the background checks
25 Oct 2012 sent Tennessee background checks to Gabriella for translations
26 Oct 2012 called NY Secretary of State and they gave me names of people who could sign background checks for apostille
26 Oct 2012 called NY Department of Criminal Justice Services to get signatures
26 Oct 2012 NY Department of Criminal Justice Services calls to say background checks are signed and being delivered
30 Oct 2012 apostilled background checks arrive from Indiana
30 Oct 2012 sent Indiana background check for translation
2 Nov 2012 letter for background check arrives from New York
2 Nov 2012 mailing off background check and the letter to NY State for an apostille
3 Nov 2012 another NY background check arrives today with an apostille
3 Nov 2012 sent NY background check for translation
18 Nov 2012 translations arrive
19 Nov 2012 $100 for translations paid
*** DONE ***

[7] F.B.I. Clearance with finger prints form (in addition to the above certificate/s), with translation into Italian – consulate said "this office will certify the translation" 
Certificate of good conduct issued by 
Federal Bureau of Investigation
CJIS Division
Attn. SCU-MOD/D2
1000 Custer Hallow Road
Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306 
Tel (304) 625-3878 
24 Sep 2012 fingerprints sent to FBI for background check ($18.00)
3 Nov 2012 FBI background check arrives
3 Nov 2012 mailing FBI background check for an apostille by the Department of State in DC ($8)
3 Nov 2012 sent FBI background check for translation
18 Nov 2012 translation arrives
21 Nov 2012 apostille of FBI background check arrives
*** DONE ***

[8] Payment of Euro 200.00, proof of bank transfer – consulate said "copy of the wire transfer is fine" – someone on the Italian Citizenship Message Board warned "Be sure to watch for any 'incoming wire transfer' fees that may be discounted from the 200E that you send, depending on what method that you use. Would had to 'deposit' 200E, then find out later than the application may not get accepted because there as a 10E incoming wire transfer fee that was subtracted from the 200E, only giving them 190E."
10 Nov 2012 wired 200E ($268.99 after currency conversion and fees)
10 Nov 2012 xoom cancelled the wire transfer
10 Nov 2012 emailed xoom customer service to try to understand why
11 Nov 2012 retried with Western Union ($275)
23 Nov 2012 transfer completed
*** DONE ***

[9] Valid passport for both spouses
10 Nov 2012 copies made
*** DONE ***

[10] Proof of residence: Driver's license, utility bills, bank statement
10 Nov 2012 copies made
*** DONE ***

Nov 152012

I while back, I did a mass mailing to a lot of Palmeris listed in the Buffalo phone book. I ended up finding a bunch of grandchildren (and one child) of the Palmeri brothers, Angelo, Calogero, Pietro, and Salvatore.

This week, I got a message from a grandson of a Pasquale Palmeri, who was also born in Serradifalco. Apparently, Pasquale, born in the 1860s, was a cousin of the Palmeri brothers and came over with them to the United States. Pasquale and his wife Ida and their family lived on 7th Street in Buffalo, the same street that my great-grandfather Angelo and his brother Calogero lived on.

He also sent a photo, probably taken in the days when the Palmeri brothers and Giambrone sisters – and their cousins – worked as farm laborers down in Eden, picking peas. I gave him the link to the Story of Charles and Barbara, and he recognized my great-grandmother, Maria (Giambrone) Palmeri, and her sister, Barbara (Giambrone) Palmeri – women that he could never identify in this photo.

Oh, and the Jim Palmeri in this photo is the person who accidentally shot Josephine (Palmeri) Christopher with a BB gun in the story of Charles and Barbara.

back row: Jim Palmeri, Lucy Palmeri, her husband Charlie Palmeri
middle row: prob. Barbara (Giambrone) Palmeri, Ida Palmeri (mother of Jim, Charlie, and Sam),
unknown, Maria (Giambrone) Palmeri
bottom row: Alfred Portale (married to Connie Palmeri), Pasquale Palmeri in front of him (son of Charlie and Lucy),
Sam Palmeri, unknown, Ida Palmeri (daughter of Charlie and Lucy)

Nov 032012

Another copy of the NY background check with an apostille arrived today. I think someone from the NY Secretary of State's office must have gotten the background check notarized and then they apostilled it and returned it. Very nice.

In addition, the FBI background check came today. Send it off for an apostille by the Department of State in DC.

Oct 262012

Today I called the NY Secretary of State's office. They confirmed that if I can get signatures on the criminal background check by the director of assistant director of DCJS (Joseph Morrissey or Donna Call) they can apostille the document. Today I spoke to DCJS and they will be issuing new background checks with one of those signatures.

Oct 252012

One state down, two states and the FBI to go. Tenneessee background checks arrived today, apostilled.

New York sent back the background checks without signatures, seals, or apostilles. I did call and get some information about someone I might call in order to get the background checks signed, sealed, and apostilled.

Oct 192012

Today we received background checks from NY State. The background check itself was still blank. But it was accompanied by a letter than was signed and notarized that said that the background check would be blank. Odd. They can notarize a letter but can't notarize the background check. So I stapled them together and sent them off for apostille by the NY Secretary of State.

Unfortunately, even though I asked for the background check to be listed in my wife's married name and maiden name, they only came in her married name. Since she never used that name while living in NY, that could be a problem for the consulate or for Rome. So I sent a letter thanking them for sending the notarized background check but asking for another one in her maiden name.

Oct 162012

My brother wishes to apply for Italian dual citizenship. He lives out west, so he would apply through the San Francisco consulate. Their web site says this:

As of 10 October 2012, in accordance with memoranda issued by the Ministero degli Affari Esteri (MAE), this Consulate will no longer refer to the files of other Consulates or Comuni (municipalities) in Italy. Therefore, if you are applying after a family member has already received recognition of citizenship by descent from the same ancestor, you will be required to present all family documents from scratch, either in original from the relevant U.S. agencies, or as copie conforme (authenticated photocopies) issued by the Consulate or Comune which recognized your family member’s citizenship. The latter method is generally recommended and faster, but incurs a fee.

Today I emailed the Detroit consulate to ask what the procedure would be for me to obtain a cope confirme of my application materials for him to use in San Francisco. The birth certificates for my grandfather and mother were the only ones our family had. To get new copies would require a court order because NY State will not release a birth certificate to anyone but the person named or their parents.

17 Oct 2012
Response from the consulate: Your brother must contact our Consulate in San Francisco, we have new regulations.

Oct 092012

Well, the NY State background checks arrived today. Despite noting that they needed to be suitable for apostille, both in the cover letter and on the application, they arrived unsigned. We're sending them off the the NY Secretary of State with a letter asking if they can apostille them and if not to please either call the NY State Police or send us a letter with clear instructions as to what they need in order to apostille a documents. It appears that writing in every possible margin of a form is not enough for people to issue signed background checks. Only TN sent them right (well, except for a spelling mistake).

Oct 042012

The background check arrived today from Indiana. All it says is "A thorough search of our files by NAME, DATE OF BIRTH, SEX, RACE, and FINGERPRINTS DOES not reveal a criminal history record …"

I forwarded it on to the Indiana Secretary of State for an apostille, which fortunately is free (unlike most states).

Unfortunately, the background check did not have a signature or a seal on it, so I don't know if it will be accepted for an apostille. So in parallel, I wrote the Indiana State Police again for another copy of the background check, hopefully with a signature and a seal this time.

Sep 242012

A jure matrimoni application requires "police clearance or certificate of criminal records issued by the central authority of each state of which the applicant has been a resident since the age of 14, accompanied by a translation into Italian."

Today, my wife obtained her finger prints from the Nashville Police Department ($12).

We need to pay for background checks: NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services ($60.75), Tennessee Bureau of Investigation ($29.00), Indiana Digital Finger Prints ($12), Indiana State Police Background Check ($10), and FBI ($18.00).

Sep 182012

Today, I contacted the Detroit consulate about the procedure for obtaining our Italian passports. Here is the information I received:

For now you must forward:
– application form for you and children
– two pictures
– acquisition of consent ( atto di assenso) from wife for you and children
– copy of the US passports
– please do not send money at this time.

Application and "atto di assenso' can be print from our web page www.consdetroit.esteri.it

Sep 172012

Two letters arrived from Serradifalco, Sicily today. One had birth certificates for me and my two sons and the marriage certificate for me and my wife. The other had AIRE documents for me and my two sons; the AIRE is the registry for Italian citizens living abroad. It's now officially official. We are Italian citizens.

my Italian birth certificate (redacted of course)

our marriage certificate (redacted)

my AIRE registration as an Italian citizen living abroad

Sep 122012

Until a year ago, I did not know that my great-grandfather had two other brothers, Salvatore and Pietro. While I have been able to put together a list of their children from the 1920 and 1930 census records, I had no information about who their children married and who their children were.

In part to flesh out the family tree, and in part to be able to share my findings with other Palmeris, I sent about 20 letters out to Palmeris living in and around Buffalo, I told them about the family tree I was putting together and I provided the information I have about the Palmeri family.

In the past two days, I have gotten emails from one of Pietro's grandchildren and one of Salvatore's grandchildren. Both were willing to work with their cousins to fill out the Palmeri family tree.