More DNA

Well, I might have hit a dead end in my Civil Registration records for the De Grandis side for now, after a little growth spurt in my tree. But the good news is that progress is being made, albeit not by me, on the Morianti side of things.

A male descendant of Arnaldo Morianti is having both his autosomal and Y DNA tested. Great news! Not only is he one generation closer to Arnaldo than my father is (meaning he inherited more DNA straight from Arnaldo, containing more potential information from that line) but he is also testing his Y chromosome, meaning that the search for the true paternity of Arnaldo, a foundling orphan, could be very easily uncovered – if luck is on our side.

Either way, since I now have the De Grandis side fairly well mapped, any shared matches between my father and his Morianti relative (and me, potentially! Though I am a few generations removed) that are not obviously from that side, could be excellent hints at the true parentage of Arnaldo.

This could be the second paternity mystery that is over a hundred years old that DNA might be able to solve for me this past year – previously, a close cousin match on my mother’s Latvian side strongly pointed to a local baron being the father of an illegitimate girl born to an unwed mother in rural Latvia, 1893.

Fingers crossed for some good matches!

My Italian Surnames

Much like the surnames of other countries and ethnic groups, the origin of Italian surnames can mostly be summed up in a few different categories – Patronyms (son of Pietro “Di Pietro”), Occupational (“Contadino = farmer”), Geographical (“Genovese” = from Genoa), Personal Traits(“Russo” – red hair, “Basso” = short) and Nature (“Colombo” = pigeon). I’m finding a heavy emphasis on the patronyms though, probably due to the great variety in how they are used. A great many of them are based on short forms, and nicknames – for example Cecchetto is derived from Cecco, a short form of Francis or Francesco.

Some areas of Italy also used an alias – “detto” – much like French Canadian “Dit” names. The purpose of these was to distinguish between different branches of a surname.

Here’s my Italian surnames, so far:

De Grandis – Personal Trait “large”

Lucato – Patronymic “son of Lucca”

Ambrosi – Patronymic “son of Ambrogio”

Cecchetto – Patronymic “son of Francesco”

Tognon detto Magiollo – two patronyms, Tognon is from Antonio and Magiollo from a very old given name “Magiolus”

Peron detto Basso – Patronym, based on the name Peter, plus Basso “short”

Morianti – Entirely made up for foundling orphans. Exploring it’s possible origins though, “Mori” is of the same name family as “Moro”, and “Morosini” – the name of a largish family from the area and the surname of a DNA match. There is also a Morandi family in Castelfranco Veneto. Whether or not you would make up a surname so close to an orphan’s real family name though, is questionable.

As I was leafing through pages in the civil records, I started noticing some familiar names, people I know from near me, locally. Being fairly exotic names, I checked a few to see whereabouts in Italy they can be found, and overwhelmingly they were concentrated around Venice. It then dawned on me that Castelfranco Veneto is a twin city to Guelph, Ontario – a city where I currently spend 5 days a week. I already obviously knew Guelph had a large Italian population, but apparently many here descend from Castelfrancians as well! What a coincidence.

A few other surnames that caught my eye just for being interesting, in the Castelfranco area were Rebellato, Del Dio Loco, Squizzato and Stangberlin.

The Death Registration of Giacoma Tognon

I must be on a good luck streak right now. I’ve been indexing the civil registration records available at FamilySearch.org pertaining to my family’s surnames and it’s been very fruitful. Here’s the latest, my 4x great grandmother Giacoma Tognon’s death record, just months before her husband Giuseppe:

Giacoma

In the year 1900, on the fourth day of May. Giacoma Tognon, 76 years old, of the frazione of Campigo. daughter of Giacomo and Caterina Peron. Married to Giuseppe Ambrosi.

The Death Registry of Giuseppe Ambrosi

On a roll now, I found my 4x great grandfather Giuseppe Ambrosi’s death record, and in turn, my 5x great grandparent’s names. Ambrosi, Giuseppe.jpg

In the year 1900, the 18th day of September. Ambrosi, Giuseppe, aged 78 years of Campigo frazione, Castelfranco Veneto. Son of Ambrosi, Bortolo and Cecchetto, Margherita. Widow of Tognon, Giacoma.

Giuseppe was 78 in 1900, so it could be assumed he was born around 1821/1822. His parents, Bortolo Ambrosi and Margherita Cecchetto would have been born around 1795.

Civil Registration: Death of Giacomo DeGrandis

I’ve found the civil death registration of my 3 great grandfather Giacomo DeGrandis AND IT LISTS HIS PARENT’S NAMES! Yahoo! One generation further into my Italian family tree! I was scanning my father’s list of DNA matches, disappointed at the lack of Italian matches when I finally spied one. After contacting him, we learned that our Italian families both hail from the Treviso province, just a little down the road from each other. That was amazing enough, since it lent weight to all my Italian research so far – surely I must have the right families (and my father’s true biological family, for that matter – him being adopted, you just never know!) if we are getting scientific, DNA matches with deep ancestry in the same area as my researched ancestors. Inspired by his genealogical success (previously, I believed a tree like his was impossible to build, due to a lack of records from the area!) I took a gander again at FamilySearch‘s database for Castelfranco Veneto and realized Giacomo’s death record as available in 1920.

I’m not going to pretend I can translate the whole thing in detail! Luckily Italian is close enough to French to be familiar, but these entries are very long-winded and official. I am just a beginner to these records! But I highlighted the important parts, that I took away from this:

In the year nineteen hundred and twenty, the month of February, thirteenth day. Giacomo, son of Bortolo DeGrandis and Celeste Luccato. Husband of Santa Ambrosi.

Giacomo DeGrandis.jpg

Ukrainian DNA

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Something I am noticing amongst my father’s DNA matches is a recurring coincidence: adoptees. Amazing, really, because even in his more immediate biological family, adoption is a major theme.

I discovered, amongst the French Canadian cousin matches, a handful of matches with Eastern European ancestry (two of whom with adoption stories). Four of them caught my eye; two in particular share the same common segment of DNA with my dad and are within estimated 2nd-5th cousin range. All 4 recount ancestry from western Ukraine. This is good – it confirms that I’m on the right track again and that my what we know to be my father’s parentage is indeed his biological parentage. It also speaks to the fact that the Ukrainians in my tree likely were truly ethnic Ukrainians, not just people passing through, and had been in the same area for centuries.

The next step is exploring these matches’ family trees; with such a close relation as 2nd-5th cousin, I should be able to sniff out some leads. The family tree I know of so far goes back to my father’s great grandparents and their parents.

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