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.

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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.

My Paternal DNA

The results of my father’s DNA test are in! They were earlier than expected too (Thanks, FamilyTreeDNA!)

The good and bad news is – they’re exactly what I expected! Heaps upon heaps of French Canadian matches, most of whom are related through multiple channels (related seven ways to Sunday, if you will). I am going to comb through his matches and try to pick out Eastern European or Italian ones, since those are the two lines I am most interested in because I know the least about.

His ethnic admixture can be summed up in one phrase – “Pan-European”. North, Central, Eastern, Western, Southern European, with a pinch of Ashkenazi to round it out. What can I glean from this? Well, likely his biological parents; who are half French Canadian, half Ukrainian and half French Canadian, half Italian respectively; are definitely confirmed to be his biological parents – the matches and admixture certainly fit the bill. For someone who can be said to be 50% French, 25% Italian and 25% Ukrainian, you can see that deeper than that, his French people likely descend from Celtic tribes – you see this in the British Isles-y, Iberian Peninsula-y bit. His Venetian Italians account for the southern European/Mediterranean/possibly some of central European. And his Ukrainians were likely a mix of ethnic Ruthenians(surnames Koszlak and Rozdobudko), some Ashkenazi Jews(possibly the surname Fink) and a more Baltic, northern Polish link (Bruchanski?).

All in all, despite no hidden surprises, at least his DNA is a hint that I am on the right track with my paper trail, and no major non-paternal events (read: illegitimate kids) seem to be popping up.

Without further ado, here’s some admixture interpretations, courtesy of FamilyTreeDNA, GEDMatch, and DNA.Land:

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My DNA Results

Well, I’m finally posting after receiving my DNA test results. The results are in…. and no big surprises. So far as ethnicity and admixture predictions, it seems safe to use the term “Pan-European”. I’m a mix of Baltic (mostly from my entirely Baltic mother), Mediterranean, Central European, East European and West European. As broad as that is, it seems to fit in with my known ancestry – 8 great grandparents with 4 being Latvian, 2 being French Canadian, 1 Italian and 1 Ukrainian.

My problem with this result is that it doesn’t really help define anything, which I was afraid of! It’s been suggested to me that some clues to be gleaned from this could be that my Ukrainians possibly had Polish and German backgrounds, as my Baltic and West European results were comparatively high compared to Eastern European.

Another fear of mine was that due to the endogamy in the French Canadian population (Endogamy is the fancy word for cousin marriage), that any DNA matches of French background would be related to me through so many different lines that even close matches would actually be much further back than they appeared. Well, I was right. Most of my matches appear to be French, and indeed related many ways. I received disappointingly few Italian sounding matches – I was hoping that with foundling orphan Arnaldo Morianti, DNA might give me some clues as to his biological parenthood.

Still, there were a few interesting hints hidden in my DNA. Trace amounts of Sub-Saharan African show up using certain admixture tools – this can happen amongst Italians – along with just enough, a tiny sliver of Native American identified DNA – believable, when you know French Canadian history.

I ended up asking my father to test, to get more information. Who knows what could be hidden in the 50% of his DNA that I did NOT receive from him! More ethnicity detail and Italian cousins, I’m hoping! His results are due soon.

In the meantime… here’s some interpretations of my admixture!Screenshot_2016-02-12-11-43-18

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New Method

After trying it out with my mother’s side of the family and becoming totally hooked (mentioned on my maternal family genealogy blog), I decided to finally order a DNA test from Family Tree DNA for myself. While I’d like to eventually order a test for my father as well (testing him would give me insight into another generation further back), I am testing myself this time, both to give me a little insight into both my mother’s and father’s sides, and also because after spending a year reading about DNA and understanding my mother’s, I’ve become very curious about my own DNA.

Theoretically, any ethnic admixture or match mentioned in my results that are NOT in my mother’s, definitely came from my father. I hadn’t tested this side of the family yet, or been very interested in doing so, because I thought to myself: any French Canadian matches of mine will be super easy to find links to (because of such readily available documentation). Almost too easy, and I expect a huge pile of French matches to sift through, due to the endogamy within the French Canadian population (my 2x great grandfather is the product of two first cousins, there are Meloches and Belleperches on several family lines). This will cause many of my French matches to share more total DNA with me, effectively making them appear to be a closer relation than they really are.

The Italians… well they’re a bit of a lost cause because records just simply don’t exist for the area I’m researching past about 1860. Also I have the unfortunate brick wall of having a foundling orphan in that family line. And the Ukrainians I am being a big baby about researching, due to so many different languages and ruling powers, so I have been stuck for a number of years.

Based on all that, I am excited to see my admixture breakdown more than anything. The Venetian foundling orphan could have been from anywhere, really. As for the Ukrainians, well Ukraine is a relatively new country and in the past, their hometown was part of lands owned by various other empires and kingdoms, so ethnically they could also hold a surprise (I’m expecting Carpatho-Rusyn, but you never really know). At one point both my Italians in Veneto and my Ukrainians in Galicia were both ruled by the Austro-Hungarian empire. The French likely hold less surprises ethnically, but maybe a small amount of Native American admixture will show up? Or Puritan!  It will be interesting to note the surnames of Italian matches too – they could hold the secret of Arnaldo Morianti’s parentage. That would be the third parental mystery DNA solves for me this past year. I’m under the assumption that Morianti is a made-up name given to Arnaldo and his brother Vittorio by the orphanage that took them in, as was often the case. So if I notice a recurring surname amongst my Italian matches that is not DeGrandis or Ambrosi I suppose I have a candidate for parentage.

Needless to say, I’m anxiously awaiting my results!

Minnesota Death Certificates: Harry Kosslak and Mary Faduck

A very good source of information about an ancestor can be the civil record certificates that they leave behind – birth, marriage or death (BMD) certificates. These can be obtained by contacting the government office for wherever said person was born/married/died, either in person or by mail, electronically, by phone, etc.

The state of Minnesota is lucky to have the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS), who offer a range of services for a very reasonable fee. I used Ancestry.com‘s Social Security Death Index (SSDI) to find out that there were two Koszlaks who died in Minnesota, then used the MNHS’s online form to order (Uncertified) death certificates for both Harry (Hawrylo) Kosslak and Mary (Maria) Faduck, my great-great grandfather Daniel (Danylo)’s siblings($9.00 USD a piece).

Though I always love to add visuals to my blog posts, I won’t post the actual certificates due to their detailed, personal nature, but I will write about the highlights of their information from a genealogical standpoint.

Harry Kosslak, husband of Maria Lewko died April 16, 1954 in Minneapolis at age 68. His death certificate is fairly vague in the areas I had hoped to find more information – his birthplace is listed as unknown, his mother unknown, his father listed only by his surname: Kosslak. He is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Minneapolis, one of the city’s oldest cemeteries. He lived at 4644 Knox Ave. N in Minneapolis at the time of his death.

Mary Faduck (nee Koshlak), widow of George Faduck died more recently than her brother Harry on October 9, 1981. Her certificate is clearer and more concise – Her birthplace is listed as “Galecia”, her country of origin “Austria Hungary”. She was also buried in St. Mary’s cemetery, and lived at 4648 Knox Ave N (possibly even the house right beside her brother’s, depending on how the numbering goes on that street!). But most importantly, Mary’s parent’s names are recorded: Prokov Koshlak and Christine Finko.

In Harry’s passenger manifest from the SS Kaiserin Victoria, he lists his father as “Prokop Koszlak” from Novosilka, strengthening my belief that Prokop is my great-great-great grandfather’s name. Christine Finko, however, likely spelled her name “Krystina Fink”.

Harry is the oldest Koszlak child that I know of and can prove, born in 1888 and Mary is the youngest, born in 1895. This suggests that Prokop and Krystina were probably married somewhere between 1873 and 1887 (my guess is closer to the 1887 range) and were likely born between 1855 and 1870. You can guess that based around the fact that Krystina probably did not give birth to children younger than 18 years of age, or older than 40, and that given that they were devout Greek Catholics, they were married at least 9 months before any children were born.

So, for $18.00 USD, I discovered that my great-great-great grandparents were Prokop Koszlak and Krystina Fink, both born between 1855 and 1870 and married between 1873 and 1887 in Novosilka, Pidhaitsi, Ternopil’, Ukraine.

P.S. In Danylo’s passenger manifest when he first came to North America, he states that he is going to visit his brother Jakiv Koszlak in Minneapolis. Sometimes in those days people fudged some details of family relations and whatnot in order to gain access to North America, so I keep that in mind. Not only that, but Ukrainians are known for referring to their first cousins as brothers and sisters. Jakiv was born in 1876. Neither Harry/Hawrylo or Jakiv/Jakob are mentioned in Daniel/Danylo’s obituary (perhaps because they were both already passed away?), and I have not been able to find any further information about Jakiv. Maybe he returned to Ukraine. As of now, the only solid, 100%-for-sure sibling of Danylo’s I can link to with actual records is Mary. I’ll include Harry as well, seeing as his father is also listed as Prokop from Novosilka in his passenger manifest and numerous other hints and clues, but for now I will exclude Jakiv until can find more proof that he is indeed related.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 22: Zacharie Cloutier

Click HERE for last week’s ancestor.

Zacharie Cloutier has been well researched and documented, he’s got his own Wikipedia article (and a cheese named after him, mmm). He was a master carpenter from Mortagne-au-Perche in Normandy, France. Born in December of 1590 and baptized in the parish of St-Jean-Baptiste in Mortagne-au-Perche, he was one of nine children born to Denis Cloutier and Renee Briere. Aged 25, Zacharie married young widow Xainte or Sainte Dupont in July of 1616 at St-Jean-Baptiste. In 1619 Zacharie and his father Denis were part of a group that travelled to New France with Samuel de Champlain as labourers charged with clearing land, building structures, and cultivating crops, but this group was always meant to return to France, which they did when their work was complete. Several years later though, he returned with his wife and family, settling down in the colony of Beauport near Quebec city, having been recruited as a settler by Robert Giffard. In 1652 he received a land grant from Sieur Jean de Lauzon in Chateau Richer and transplanted his family to that settlement. Zacharie died September 17, 1677 and is buried together with his wife in the parish cemetery of Notre-Dame-de-Chateau-Richer. He lived to be a righteous 87 years old – good for today’s standards, let alone the 17th century.

Zacharie and Xainte had 6 children, and only 5 of them survived to adulthood. Despite this smaller family size, Zacharie is touted as being the number one French settler with the most descendants – he reportedly had 10,850 by the year 1800. I am descended from Zacharie from more than one of his children.

Among his other descendants are:
All Cloutiers in North America
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
Madonna
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton
Celine Dion
Marcheline Bertrand and Angelina Jolie
Jack Kerouac
Beyonce and Solange Knowles
Avril Lavigne
Alanis Morissette
Canadian Prime Minister Louis St.Laurent
Shania Twain

…many more…

And possibly YOU if you’re of any French North American heritage! The relation is distant – most of these people are my 8th cousins at best, but the simple fact is, without Zacharie, none of us would be here!