Geneablogy: An occasional Journal about our experiences exploring our heritage

Friday, November 22, 2002

My 6G grandparents Domenico Rapa and Cecilia di Missere were in the Catasto, as was their son, my 5G grandfather Antonio Rapa. I didn't learn a whole lot from this one. The information in this entry seems to have been compiled in 1753. Antonio, who was born in January, 1749, is listed as four years old, and Isabella, born in April, 1751, is shown as two. Also, Maria Costa, who was born on 27 Dec 1753 and lived until 22 Apr 1822, is not shown in the Catasto, so I think that's a pretty good indication of when this entry was recorded. Domenico is shown as being 38 years old, which places his birthdate around 1715, and Cecilia is shown as being 39, making her birthdate about 1714. Unfortunately, that doesn't really do anything to clear up the question about who Cecilia's parents are, because either of the ones who show up in the baptismal records could plausibly be her, having been born in 1715 and 1716.

Other children from this family shown are Salvadore, age 7; and Tomaso, age 6. Oddly, those dates would place this record as having been compiled in 1751. That's why I can't take the dates like "about 1714" too seriously; there's too much leeway for them to vary by a few years.

Carlo Manzo and family also show up. This record is interesting because I had only seen his wife's name in Latin before, and wasn't sure what the name would be in the vernacular. The name is rendered here as Pressea Piazza. They are my 7G grandparents. My 6G grandfather, Domenico Manzo, appears here as a one year old. He was born on 10 Dec 1751, so that's a vote for 1753 as the compilation date. Other son Francesco is shown as eight years old, and he was born on 5 Feb 1745, so that's another indication that 1753 is the date here. Carlo is listed as 40 years old, so he was born in about 1713. And he wasn't born in San Potito, but rather in nearby Sippicciano, a frazione of Piedimonte d'Alife. He worked as a plowman. Pressea was 37 at the time of the Catasto, which places her birthdate at about 1716. There is a baptismal record for a Praxidis Dorothea Piazza, daughter of Domenico Piazza and Antonia di Biaso, on 10 Oct 1712, but I don't know if this is her or not. The date is a few years off. The name is right, though; Domenico Manzo's baptismal record, written in Latin, gives his mother's name as Praxide Piazza. Likely but not proven.

My 6G grandmother, Pietronilla Izzo, appears with her parents, Ambrosio Izzo and Cristina Riccio, my 7G grandparents. This is interesting because I can pinpoint reasonably well that Pietronilla got married to Andrea d'Amato in about 1754. The record appears to be from either 1752 or 1753; son Francesco, born in March, 1741, is listed as 12 years old, while daughter Nunzia, born in March, 1745, is listed as 7 years old. Pietronilla, born on 20 Dec 1735, is shown aged 16, which suggests 1752. Her future husband Andrea d'Amato appears aged 19 years old on his family's entry, and since he was born 1 Dec 1732, that suggests his family's entry was created in roughly 1753. And according to the baptismal records, Pietronilla and Andrea had their first child, my 5G grandmother Angiola d'Amato, on 19 Oct 1755. So roughly 1754 looks like a very good fit for their marriage.

Ambrosio Izzo is 40 years old in this record, making his birth date about 1713. And Cristina Riccio's age is 37, I think, making her birth date about 1716. I know from Petronilla's baptismal record that Ambrosio's father was Filippo Izzo, but I don't see Ambrosio in the baptismal records, or in fact any Izzos born to a Filippo Izzo. There is a Cristina Riccio born on 23 Jul 1713 to Domenico Riccio and Anastasia Sauro, but as usual, without other documentation it's hard to prove that this is the right one.

There is a Filippo Izzo in the Catasto, along with his wife, Anna di Muccio. He's the only Filippo in the Catasto, but since I can't find Ambrosio in the baptismal records, I can't state for sure that this is his father. I think it is, but I need more proof, like a marriage record or death record that states who his mother is as well. Filippo and Ambrosio are both carpenters, so that's something that makes me think there's a connection. Filippo is listed as 72 years old. None of the people on this record appear in the baptismal records, but taking 1752 as a reasonable guess, that would place Filippo's birth date as about 1680, plus-or-minus, give-or-take. That would have made him about 33 years old when Ambrosio was born. Anna di Muccio was 64 years old, which would place her birthdate at about 1688, and she would have been about 25 when Ambrosio was born, prime child-rearing years. So I think it's likely that Filippo Izzo and Anna di Muccio are my 8G grandparents, but not proven.

Thus endeth my sojourn through the basics of the Catasto Onciario. There's a lot of information there about how wealthy all the families were and such, but it's going to take a lot more work on my part to parse out what's said there. I haven't found too many sources on how to read a Catasto Onciario, and my Italian isn't good enough to just read it cold.

Catasto Onciario Records

Baptismal Records

Posted at 7:42:12 AM Link to this entry


Wednesday, November 20, 2002

My friend Mario found Laura's great great grandmother Lucia Nannariello and her daughter Mariantonietta (listed on the manifest as Mariangela) on the Ellis Island web site. They came over on the SS Liguria, arriving in New York on 6 Nov 1902. This time, Lucia's name was mistranscribed as Marmariello. I had found an earlier entry for them on the SS Lahn on 27 Oct 1902, but their records had been crossed out, which Mario pointed out to me. He suggested that they probably had missed the ship and come over on the next available one. The short interval between the two records would certainly make that a plausible explanation. Thanks a ton, Mario!

Posted at 10:36:35 PM Link to this entry


Tuesday, November 19, 2002

In my previous entry about the Catasto Onciario of San Potito, I traced back from my 6G grandmother Maria Clemente Piteo. Her husband, Deodato Riccio, also shows up in the Catasto. I already knew that Deodato's parents were Fabio Riccio and Hieronyma Sanillo (my 7G grandparents), so I didn't find out much from this entry. I learned that Fabio was a farmer (campiere), age 52, and that he was therefore born around 1701. I couldn't find him in the baptismal records. Hieronyma Sanillo was age 45, and so born around 1708 according to the Catasto. There's a Hieronyma Sanillo born on 11 Nov 1710 to Potito Sanillo and Cecilia del Santo, but without another record saying whose parents are hers, I don't consider it proven that it's the same person yet. They had six children alive at the time of the Catasto: Michelangelo, a plowman, age 23; Potito, age 19; the aforementioned Deodato, my 6G grandfather, age 13; Stefano, age 6; Maria Celeste, age 16; and Angiola, age 9.

My 5G grandmother, Mariantonia d'Orsi, was born on 15 Oct 1745 to Pasquale d'Orsi and Catarina d'Amato. Pasquale and Catarina appear in the Catasto. Their son Costanzo, born 13 Aug 1751, is listed as two years old, suggesting that this entry was taken in about 1753. Pasquale was 36 years old, which would make his birthdate about 1717. But among the residents of the house was Pasquale's mother, Felice Riccitello. The only child born to Felice Riccitello and her husband, Giuseppe d'Orso, with the name Pasquale was Crescenzo Pasquale d'Orso, born 6 Jun 1713. Felice's name was new with the Catasto, and Giuseppe's new with the various baptismal records of the time. Giuseppe d'Orso and Felice Riccitello were therefore my 7G grandparents.

The Catasto lists Felice as a 61 year old widow, which would make her birth around 1692, and shows that Giuseppe was dead by 1754.

The Catasto lists five children for Pasquale and Catarina: Giuseppe, age 5; Costanzo, age 2; Nicoletta, age 15; Onorata, age 12; and Mariantonia, my 5G grandmother, age 9. There are also a number of Pasquale's siblings in the house: Filippo, a married peasant farmer, age 25, and his wife Beatrice Scappaticcio, age 22; Anna, Pasquale's sister, age 31 and a nun; and Colomba, age 25 and also a nun.

Catarina d'Amato's age was 35. There is a Catarina Francesca d'Amato born on 18 Mar 1719 who would be the right age. Her parents were Giovanni d'Amato and Angela di Jesu. Without some other record mentioning her parents, I don't know if this is her. Interestingly, both Giovanni d'Amato and Angela di Jesu were still alive as of the Catasto in 1754. This Giovanni d'Amato, son of Francesco, is not the same Giovanni d'Amato who was the father of Andrea d'Amato; that Giovanni, son of Ferdinando, was my 7G grandfather. But then, if this Catarina is indeed the right Catarina, then that would mean that both Giovanni d'Amatos in San Potito in the early 1700s were my 7G grandfathers.

The other Giovanni d'Amato's record in the Catasto proved enlightening as well. I knew from Andrea d'Amato's baptismal record that his father was Giovanni and his mother Nunzia Coluccio. So I was able to pick out the correct Giovanni when not only Andrea but Nunzia's sisters showed up in one household. As mentioned above, the Catasto distinguishes this Giovanni d'Amato by mentioning that he's the son of Ferdinando d'Amato. That name is new, and Ferdinando is my 8G grandfather. The Catasto places Giovanni's age as 55. Andrea is shown as being 19, and he was born on 1 Dec 1732, so that places this entry at about 1752. That means that Giovanni was born in about 1697. Giovanni is listed as a farmer (campiere), and Andrea as a plowman. Giovanni is not listed as a widower, but Nunzia is not present in the household, so it's an open question whether she was still alive in 1752-4 or not.

Also in the household were two of Giovanni's sisters-in-law, which would make them Nunzia's sisters. Livia Coluccio was age 56, putting her birthdate at about 1696, just before the baptismal records start. Lucrezia Coluccio was age 53, and is listed as the wife of "speziale di medicina" Pietro Riccio of Tra di Prata. A Lucrezia Antonia Coluccio shows up in the baptismal records, baptized on 10 Oct 1699, the daughter of Giovanni Coluccio and Angela di Pietrosimone. If this is the same Lucrezia, Giovanni and Angela would also be the parents of Nunzia, and therefore my 8G grandparents, but without another record, I don't consider that proven yet.

Catasto Onciario Records

Baptismal Records

Posted at 2:33:31 AM Link to this entry


This is an object lesson in how not to conduct customer support over the Internet.

Genealogical Computing magazine is published by and covers exactly what the title describes, the intersection of computers and genealogy. One of their columnists contacted me this past summer because he was interested in writing about the use of weblogs in genealogical research, and my blog Geneablogy is damned near the only one out there doing this. Sure, I said, I don't mind at all if you use my site as an example in your column. I've seen the magazine on the newsstand a few times over the years and picked it up, and it seems like a good magazine. The columnist who contacted me, Drew Smith, writes the magazine's Cybrarian column, and based on the columns I've read and such, he strikes me as a decent, intelligent, interesting person filled with good ideas. All these are things that sadly are the polar opposite of the customer service experience.

So after a couple of months of looking for GC on the newsstands, I gave up and subscribed back in September. The column in which my site was mentioned appeared in an issue published in mid-October. Despite the fact that my credit card was charged for a subscription, I never received the magazine. Okay, maybe three weeks before publication wasn't enough time to ensure I got the issue I was interested in, but maybe I can contact to find out what happened to my subscription and maybe get them to send me a copy of the issue.

First stop: The Shops Prominently featured on the front page of this section is a link for Customer Service. Sounds like the place to go. They tell you to e-mail if you have any questions or concerns. That sounds like me. So I e-mailed them a polite message asking about my subscription and explaining that I was really interested in the issue that went out last month, and why.

The message bounced.

Not only did it bounce, it bounced with extreme prejudice. shut down this address, and now they want you to visit a site that's basically an extended FAQ with a search engine. Okay, so I went there, and I entered the question "how can I find out about my subscription to Genealogical Computing?" I was rewarded with a page that told me how to buy an ad in their magazines. Bzzzt! Wrong answer!

At this point, I was getting a little perturbed, so I went looking for an e-mail address for some of the big guys. No such luck, just boring corporate biographies. The closest I came was an e-mail address for the editor of Ancestry Magazine, which was mentioned on the same page that told me where to buy an ad. Hmm, that might work.

The message bounced.

At this point, I've now tried three methods to reach, and I'm getting more than a little pissed. I returned to the glorified FAQ and tried again. One option that's well hidden is to contact if your question isn't answered by the FAQ. That option only appears after the FAQ has failed. Okay, if this is the sanctioned way to send them a message, I'm game. I added some words detailing my frustration with their byzantine support system, and asked yet again for their help.

First the system asked to verify my e-mail address.

Then they presented me with some likely FAQ sections that might answer my question, none of which had anything to do with my problem.

Then, and only then, are you offered the opportunity to actually send your message to a place where it might actually be viewed by a human being.

This is bullsh¡t. How many hoops did I have to jump through just to find out what happened to a subscription I've been charged for?

Maybe I'll hear back from But at this point, I'm not expecting much. Their message has gotten through loud and clear, and it's that they don't want to hear from their customers. Ever. I've never seen such an annoying "customer support" system, one that's clearly designed to frustrate any attempts to actually get some help.

When I first got to their main site, I saw that they had a sale on access to their databases, and I was tempted to sign up. Uh-uh. Forget it. No company that treats its customers like this is going to get me to spend that kind of money on a service when I know I'll never be able to get support for it without giving blood. Congratulations, guys, you just lost a sale for $120. No doubt you'll make that up with the savings from ever having to answer a question from a customer.

Postscript (added 26 Nov 2002): For the record, I'd just like to say that once you reach a living, breathing human being at, the results seem to range from reasonably accomodating (the response I eventually received through normal channels) to above and beyond the call of duty (the response I got when I went outside normal channels). I wound up making an end run around the customer service procedure that ultimately found its way to the managing editor of Ancestry magazine, Jennifer Utley. She was familiar with the article that discussed my weblog, and tells me that an envelope containing three copies of the magazine containing said article are winging their way to me even as I write this. The editor of Genealogical Computing, Liz Kelley Kerstens, was also most gracious and helpful, and I would like to thank them both.

That said, I still find the gauntlet one has to run in order to contact their customer service department through normal channels wrongheaded and frustrating. It's the epitome of penny wise, pound foolish. I know that people inside the company are aware of this posting, and I hope they take this message to heart and rethink their customer service procedure and in particular, the wandering maze they force users to enter when they need to contact the service department.

Posted at 12:03:59 AM Link to this entry


Monday, November 18, 2002

More from the Catasto Onciario of 1754. According to the baptismal records, my 5G grandfather, Giovanni di Pietrosimone (husband of Vittoria Masuccio, who was the daugther of Michelangelo Masuccio and Anna Maria Paterno), was born on 28 Dec 1753 to Agostino di Pietrosimone and Angiola Coluccio (my 6G grandparents). Despite being born six months before the official date of the Catasto, he does not show up in it. His parents, Agostino and Angiola, however, do. Agostino, a 46 year old peasant farmer, and Angiola, his 44 year old wife, have only one child alive and living with them at the time of the Catasto, their 13 year old daughter Mariana. Baptismal records record Mariana as having been born on 25 Feb 1740, so that points to this family record being recorded in 1753. That would put Agostino's birthdate at about 1707 and Angiola's at about 1709.

There are quite a few other people living in the di Pietrosimone household. Or perhaps it should be the Coluccio household, since most of them are Coluccios. Agostino's brother-in-law (and therefore Angiola's brother) Vincenzo Coluccio was also a peasant farmer, age 29 and married to Costa di Biase, age 49. Nicolina Coluccio, Angiola's sister, age 22, and her husband Cosimo Santillo (son of Basilio), age 23, are living in the house as well, with their one year old daughter Cristina.

The most interesting listing here, and the one that allows me to push back another generation, is Anna Maria Piteo, who is listed as socera to Agostino. That's a corruption of the Italian word suocera, which means mother-in-law. Anna Maria Piteo was the widow of the late Paolo Coluccio, and they were my 7G grandparents. I didn't have those names before. Anna Maria was 61 years old in 1753, which places her birth date at about 1692.

I don't see either Agostino di Pietrosimone or Angiola Coluccio in the baptismal records. The first child listed for Paolo Coluccio and Anna Maria Piteo in the records is a Giuseppe Coluccio, born 5 Apr 1715. There are other children. Angiola's sister Nicolina was born 5 Mar 1727. I don't know how complete the baptismal records are that early. I suppose it's possible Agostino and Angiola were born in another parish, in, say, Piedimonte. In any case, I'm delighted to have pushed back another generation here.

Sticking with Piteos, my 6G grandmother, Maria Clemente Piteo, was born on 13 Oct 1746, as discussed in my entry for March 13, 2002, the daughter of Nicola Piteo and Portia Farina. These names I already had. I also had a name for Nicola's father, Casimiro. Nicola and Portia are in the Catasto. Nicola is listed as the son of the late Casimiro, so I know that Casimiro was dead by 1754. Nicola was 52 at the time of the Catasto and working as a peasant farmer. Portia was 42. They had four children alive at the time of the Catasto. My 6G grandmother Maria was five years old, and given her birthdate, that places the time of this record at roughly 1752. The other three children, all sons, were Giuseppe, age 17; Domenico, age 15; and Angiolo, age 2.

This was enough to send me back to the baptismal records, where I found Nicola Piteo baptized on 5 Mar 1701, son of Casimiro Piteo and Diana Piazza. Diana's name is new, and she is my 8G grandmother. Given Nicola's birthdate, Casimiro and Diana were likely born no later than about 1683, possibly much earlier. Nicola is the only child of Casimiro and Diana to appear in the baptismal records, so if they had others, it may have been before the beginning of the existing records in 1697.

A Portia Farina shows up in the baptismal records at the right time. Someone by that name was born on 16 Feb 1710 to Nicola Farina and Angela Leggiero. But I can't say for sure if it's my Portia Farina. It probably is, but I don't have anything else saying who her parents were. A marriage or death record that tied Portia to Nicola Piteo and listed her parents would be helpful.

Catasto Onciario

Baptismal Records

Posted at 9:34:46 PM Link to this entry


Things have been quiet on this blog for the past few months, but I've been feverishly working away on a big project, abstracting the Catasto Onciario for San Potito, which was submitted to the King on 6 June 1754. The Catasto is basically a census of the village, but is also a delineation of the assets of each family, so the royal government knew how much tax to extract from them. The Catasto is divided into three parts. The first is an index by first name in reference to the second section, and I transcribed that entirely. The second, which forms the bulk of the document, is a detailed family-by-family inventory of assets and taxes. Each family's entry starts out by listing everyone in the household, with the relationship of each person to the head of household spelled out, something of clear genealogical value. That is the portion of the second section I abstracted. The rest of that section spelling out assets is going to have to wait. The third section is a list by first name of the head of household showing how much each household owned, and I transcribed that section in full as well. I've tried to submit the resulting database to Rootsweb's user-contributed databases, but the fields defined by the data don't match very well to the fields they've defined for Italian censuses. I don't think anyone ever contributed a Catasto Onciario from the 1750s to their databases. I'm still waiting to hear back from them about how I can submit it. In the meantime, I'll probably eventually post a searchable database of the information here on my own web site. I haven't started working on that yet.

The Catasto was submitted in 1754, but by cross checking against baptismal records, it appears that it was actually compiled over a few years, with some entries reflecting the state of a family as early as 1751.

I've been digging through the information I've abstracted, and I've been able to answer some questions and push some lines back another generation, sometimes in conjunction with the baptism records I have thanks to my friends the Sennellos. I'll be making a number of postings about that in the coming days. Here are a couple.

The Catasto did nothing to clear up whether the Michelangelo Masuccio who is my 7G grandfather with his wife Teresa Fattore is the same person as the Michelangelo Masuccio who is my 6G grandfather with his wife Anna Maria Paterno. In 1754, Michelangelo Masuccio was living with his wife Teresa Fattore. Their daughter Maria, my 6G grandmother, was ten years old at the time of the Catasto. Her baptismal record puts her birthdate as 26 Apr 1741, so the Catasto listing for this family appears to have been compiled in about 1751. Michelangelo was 40 years old, which would place his birthdate as about 1711, and is listed as being from Castello, a frazione of nearby Piedimonte d'Alife. Teresa is listed as being 38, which would place her birthdate at about 1713. But since the ages in the Catasto are supposedly approximate, these dates are flexible. There is a Teresa Fattore in the baptismal records born in 1718, but without further proof, it's hard to know if that's the right one. I kind of need to see a marriage record for Michelangelo and Teresa that lists their parents. That would prove if the Teresa born in 1718 is the one who married Michelangelo, and would also prove if this Michelangelo is also Anna Maria Paterno's Michelangelo, because thanks to the baptismal record of Judicta Masuccio, Michelangelo and Anna Maria's daughter born in 1779, I know that Anna Maria's Michelangelo's parents are Ambrogio Masuccio and Violante di Lello. If the marriage record with Teresa Fattore showed the same parents, then I would have proof for what I strongly suspect, that they're the same person.

In addition to Michelangelo and Teresa and their daughter Maria, the Catasto also lists three sons: Ambrosio, age 5; Pasquale, age 2; and Giuseppe, age 1. Ambrosio was born in late 1745 (baptised Francesco Ambrosio), and Pasquale was born in 1749, which points toward this entry being compiled in 1751. Giuseppe, on the other hand, was born 1 May 1752, so he may have been added later.

Because Michelangelo was officially from another village, he wasn't liable for any tax in San Potito.

The listing for the family of Gennaro di Matteo, my 7G grandfather, contained a very interesting piece of information. Gennaro was originally from San Lorenzello, near Cerreta, about ten or fifteen miles from San Potito. That's a village where Laura has ancestors, too. I haven't pushed her Faicchio/San Lorenzello lines back at all yet, but it's entirely possible that when I do, we may wind up being distant cousins. Of course, it's entirely possible that we won't be, too. This entry appears to have been compiled in 1751 as well, based on the age of son Domenico, given as four years old. Domenico was born in 1747. Gennaro is listed as 35 years old. That would place his birthdate around 1716. His wife, Cecilia Lombardo, is listed as 40 years old, which would place her birthdate around 1711. There is a Cecilia Lombardo, born to Salvatore Lombardo and Vittoria Martino and baptized on 27 Sep 1712, who might be her, but I would need more proof, like a marriage or death record showing that the Cecilia Lombardo married to Gennaro Matteo had those parents.

There are also three children listed. Son Giovanni, my 6G grandfather, was 8 years old. The previously mentioned Domenico was four. And daughter Lucia was ten.

Gennaro was another one of those people from elsewhere, and was also subject to no tax in San Potito.

It's getting late, so I'll continue this later this week.

Catasto Onciario records

Baptismal Records

Posted at 12:07:15 AM Link to this entry