POINT Chapter 15 Meeting - February 4, 2006

POINTers In Person
Chapter 15
Northern New Jersey


Pursuing Our Italian Names Together

February 4, 2006

Albert Marotta (#1018)

The Northern New Jersey chapter of POINTers In Person met on February 4, 2006 at the
Elmwood Park Municipal Building.  Thirty people attended.

 The seventh paragraph of the November 5, 2005 minutes was corrected and amended to reflect that
 “a member reminded the chapter that the National Geographic Society…has launched the Genographic Project  to study migration patterns by collecting DNA…”

Maria Carparelli (#2100) informed the chapter that plans for lunch after the meeting at a pre-selected nearby restaurant had been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.  She mentioned that the keynote speaker for the “Roots in the Boot” Conference (July 14-16, 2006) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will be John Philip Colletta.  This conference will feature Italian-American Family History, Genealogy and Culture.

Maria displayed photographs of sculptures of the six Piccirilli brothers, which were part of an exhibition, “Freeing the Angel from the Stone”, which she and her class toured at The Italian American Museum in Manhattan.  Also The Italian American Museum presented, “Ghost Town – Borgo Fantasma”.  It is a new exhibit of color photographs by Rosaria Vigorito, documenting the remains of the Town of Vecchio Romagnano al Monte (near Salerno) after the Campania region’s massive earthquake of 1980.

About 15 people expressed interest in a trip to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum scheduled for April 1.  Geri Mola donated numerous Italian books in Italian to the chapter.  They were gifts to her and her family from visiting Italian dignitaries.  The chapter has learned that Lucille Kent’s (#3038) mother and Maryanne Graham’s (#3654) father were to celebrate 100 years of life in the upcoming days.  Health and happiness to all.

Maryanne Graham (#3654) presented the treasurer’s report.  The chapter has 89 members;
64 of them have kept their dues current.  She also collected the annual dues, since February is the beginning of our fiscal year.

Ken and Edna Franz gave an interesting presentation entitled, “Border Crossings and Name Changes”.  Since Ken is of German heritage and his wife, Edna, has English and Canadian ancestry, the chapter was able to expand its horizons beyond the problems encountered while researching Italian genealogy.  Ken focused his presentation on his wife’s French-Canadian ancestry.  Their interest in family history began as they were preparing for their marriage.  Each was the eldest of their clans and decided to use spreadsheets of family trees in order to learn who was who in the other one’s family. One quarter of Edna’s family line was French-Canadian; many settled in Bath, Maine.  Her family roots extended into the Canadian Maritimes, Arcadia, and Beauce (Province of Quebec).

Ken took a county college genealogy course to learn fundamentals of family history research.  He now teaches a similar course.  A good researcher will always try to confirm data from the Family Bible and from oral family tradition with documentation.  However, every clue is useful.  Ken considers serendipity, a good research tool : “looking for A, you find B”.  He learned that some of the family names were not valid French-Canadian names.  Since most French Canadian immigrants were illiterate, spelling of names was generally done phonetically.  This was true even for first names, which could also change when crossing the border.  Researching the census can reveal various name spellings, but within a family grouping which the researcher knows is his.  Deeds can be especially helpful, since many record a change of name by stating, “also known as”.  Ken saw names evolve from phonetic English of the French original, to Americanized names revealing little trace of their French origins, with some French names appearing in between as seeming aberrations.  Following the trail of these spelling puzzles led him to uncover numerous previously unknown ancestors.  Voila, serendipity!

Ken and Edna found the French-Canadian Genealogical Society of Connecticut Library in Tolland, CT to be most helpful.   Even the use of a college dissertation provided light on the early trails and destinations of their ancestors.  They also discovered that property deeds held hidden treasures besides explanations for spelling questions.  When property was handed down within a family, sometimes a formal will was dispensed with and a change of generational ownership would be reflected solely in the deed.

Future meetings will be held on:
     May 6, 2006
     August 5, 2006
     November 4, 2006
     February 3, 2007
     May 5, 2007

For details, see our website:     https://sites.rootsweb.com/~njpoint/

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