Tag Archives: DeGrandis

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 15: Giacomo DeGrandis

Click HERE for last week’s ancestor.

I thought I’d explain in my next few posts why the rest of my 52 ancestors challenge might end up being heavy on the French Canadian information. This is because the French Canadians left a magnificent paper trail in their wake in the form of Catholic church records. Tracing my other ethnicities, particularily from the comfort of my own home on a computer has it’s limitations. So next up: some of my (current) dead ends.

Giacomo DeGrandis was born circa the year 1845 near the modern comune of Castelfranco Veneto, within the province of Treviso, region of Veneto, Italy. Castelfranco is a medieval town, complete with town walls and a castle, both of which are well preserved to this day. At the time of Giacomo’s (Italian for “Jacob”) birth, the region of Veneto was part of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, a kingdom within the Austrian Empire. Venetia had long been it’s own self-governing republic (697-1797) with it’s own unique culture and language. Residents considered themselves Venetians and continue to do so to this day. They spoke Venetian, similar to Italian but definitely unique. During Giacomo’s youth, he would see Venetia and Italy’s wars of Independence (Risorgimento), culminating in 1866 when Veneto became unified with the Kingdom of Italy.

Giacomo was quite likely an agricultural worker, either on a farm or (of course, in Italy) a vineyard. Veneto is known as the birthplace of Prosecco wine (and tiramisu!) and still produces some of the most expensive wines in the world. However Castelfranco Veneto is also at the junction of three railways, and a railway station was opened in 1877, so it is also possible he was a railway worker of some kind.

Giacomo married Santa Ambrosi on February 15, 1876. Their daughter, my great great grandmother Maddalena was born June 22, 1886 in the frazione of Campigo, comune di Castelfranco Veneto. Of course, they likely had more children in between, in the 10 years of marriage before Maddalena’s birth. Typically, especially for a Catholic majority society, I’d expect parish records of Baptisms, marriages and burials to be the first place to begin my genealogical search. But in Italy a more readily available, albeit less detailed source of information is civil registration records – births, marriages, and deaths. SOME… and I stress SOME civil registration records are available digitally online through FamilySearch.org, but another way to access a larger archive of these is to write to the stato civile office in the comune in which you are searching, which is the route I went -however I got the bare minimum of Maddalena’s birth, Giacomo and Santa’s marriage, and both of their deaths.

I do know of one other child of Giacomo and Santa, his name is Giovanni, born in 1880 and he served in the Italian military (a link to search that database HERE). He apparently immigrated to Germany and the U.S. in the early 1900’s, but I can find no further documentation on him. I am also told Maddalena had a sister named Josephine (Giuseppina). I DID find records for a Josephine De Grandis born in 1901, she married a man named Edward Barduca/Bardina. But on her marriage record, she lists her parents as Angela Dario and Valentino DeGrandis. The records indicate she was related somehow, and indeed there are many DeGrandis and Dario families in the Castelfranco area at the time, but perhaps she was a niece of Giacomo’s rather than a daughter. Maybe some records were fudged at some time to gain passage to Canada by declaring a closer relation than was real, I can’t be sure.

Giacomo lived to be 74 years old – he died February 13, 1920, just two days shy of his 44th wedding anniversary. 74 years is quite good when you consider that he lived through some major wars (Risorgimento and WWI) and was likely quite poor. His widow Santa lived another 12 years without him, and without their daughter Maddalena and her family as well, since she immigrated to Canada in 1923.

52 Ancestors, Week 1: Arnaldo Morianti

Arnaldo was born December 3rd, 1882 in the comune of Castelfranco Veneto, Treviso, Italy, not far from Venice. He had at least one brother, who was named Vittorio “Vito”. Arnaldo and Vittorio are said to have been foundling orphans. This means basically their parents abandoned them – likely either their economic situation was poor and did not allow the parents to care for them properly or they were illegitimate. This was definitely not uncommon in Italy at the time, and usually churches would govern over the care of these children, in orphanages. If the children arrived anonymously at the orphanage, occasionally the orphanage authorities would give them names – “Esposito” is a common one for example, it means “exposed”. I have an inkling that “Morianti” is also a made-up surname, as the only holders of this surname I have found so far either descend from Arnaldo or Vittorio. In any case, Arnaldo grew up and worked as a laborer in Castelfranco Veneto and at age 28 he married Maddalena DeGrandis on February 7th, 1911 in Castelfranco Veneto. Their first son, named Augusto Luigi was born almost exactly 9 months later on October 4, 1911. A strong custom in Italy is to name your first born son after the paternal grandfather. This could hint at Arnaldo’s parentage, if he had known of his parents at all. Unfortunately, I will probably never know if this is the case for sure, given Arnaldo’s foundling history.

On February 25, 1912 Arnaldo set off from the port of Genoa on the SS Ancona, a steamer operated by the Society di Navigazione a Vaporetti Italia, bound for the port of New York. He was leaving his wife and new baby son behind in Italy, as many other young Italian men did at this time in history. The Veneto region of Italy was extremely poor, and many of them were lured to Canada by higher paying jobs working on the railroad, in the mining and forestry industry, or in some of the new factories sprouting up after the industrial era. They would work hard for a few years and then return home, bringing the money home to their families. The ship passed through the port of New York, USA and he signed his name at Ellis Island on March 13th, 1912.

He didn’t stay in Canada long, and returned to Italy in 1914. This is the year World War One broke out, and trans-Atlantic immigration screeched to a halt. Italy joined the side of the United Kingdom and France, effectively ending it’s former alliances with the German and Austrian-Hungarian Empires. Interestingly, the SS Ancona was torpedoed and sunk in 1915 by an Austrian u-boat, causing the loss of 200 lives. Veneto, being in the northern part of Italy, close to the Austrian border was a major battlefront for the duration of the war, and Venetians would have felt the effects of the war quite deeply. Arnaldo and Maddalena had 2 more sons in Castelfranco Veneto at this time, one in 1916 and one in 1919.

At the end of the great war, Maddalena was pregnant with their fourth and final son and Arnaldo left for Canada again, this time aboard the SS Grampian. He landed in Quebec, Canada on November 2nd, 1920 and like his last voyage to Canada, was bound to meet his brother Vittorio in Montreal. Shortly after his arrival, he moved to Windsor, Ontario to work at Chrysler’s assembly plant. Vittorio is said to have gone to Argentina. On June 3rd, 1923 Maddalena and his four sons boarded the SS Conte Rosso and joined him in Canada with the intent to stay. The family became naturalized Canadian citizens exactly 90 years ago today on July 22, 1924. Arnaldo worked as a laborer in Windsor for the remainder of his life, and passed away on his 71st birthday – December 3, 1953. He rests in St. Alphonsus Cemetery in Windsor, Ontario. His headstone can be seen HERE.

Document: SS Conte Rosso Passenger Manifest

This is the passenger manifest for my great great grandmother Maddalena DeGrandis’ trip to Canada from Italy with her four sons to join her husband Arnaldo in Windsor, Ontario.

Morianti, Guerrino - Conte Rosso Passenger Manifest

SS Conte Rosso
Passengers sailing from Genoa, Italy, June 3, 1923

Family Name: DeGrandis, sons Morianti
Given Names: Maddalena, sons Augusto, Guerrino, Elio and Bruno
Ages: 37, 11, 7, 3, 2
Sex: Female for Maddalena, male for her sons
Married or single: married for Maddalena, single for her sons
Calling or Occupation: Housewife for Maddalena, Scholar for Augusto and Guerrino, none for Elio and Bruno
Can read/write? Yes for Maddalena, Augusto and Guerrino
Language: Italian
Nationality: Italian
Race or People: North
Last Permanent Residence: Treviso, Castelfranco Veneto
The name of the nearest relative in the country whence alien came: Santa Ambrosi, Maddalena’s mother and the boys’ grandmother, widow in Castelfranco Veneto (Treviso)
Final Destination: Ontario, Windsor

Document: Maddalena DeGrandis Birth Registration

DeGrandis, Maddalena - Birth Stato Civile

COMUNE DI CASTELFRANCO VENETO
Provincia di Treviso
UFFICIO DI STATO CIVILE
ESTRATO PER RIASSUNTO DAI REGISTRI DEGLI ATTI DI NASCITA rilasciato completo di generalita ai sensi dell’art. 3 del D.P.R. 432/1957

DE GRANDIS, MADDALENA
e nata a CASTELFRANCO VENETO
il 21.06.1886

Paternita: DE GRANDIS, GIACOMO
Maternita: AMBROSI, SANTA

come risulta dall’atto Nr. 268 Parte 1 Serie – Anno 1886

ANNOTAZIONI

Ha contratto matrimonio con MORIANTI, ARNALDO il 07.02.1911 nel Comune di CASTELFRANCO VENETO.

Esente da imposta di bollo ai sensi dell’art. 7, comma 5, della legge 29 dicembre 1990, no 405.

Castelfranco Veneto, 20/05/2009

Diritti: esente

L’UFFICIALE DI STATO CIVILE

My great great grandmother, Maddalena De Grandis’ civil birth registration. as provided by the Stato Civile of the Comune of Castelfranco Veneto. Here’s the jist, in English (there is a lot of official jargon I’ll leave out):

Municipality of Castelfranco Veneto
Province of Treviso
OFFICE OF MARITAL STATUS
EXTRACT FROM THE SUMMARY FOR THE REGISTERS OF THE ACTS OF BIRTH

MADDALENA DE GRANDIS
was born in Castelfranco VENETO
21/06/1886

Father: GIACOMO DE GRANDIS
Mother: SANTA AMBROSI

COMMENTS

She entered marriage with MORIANTI, ARNALDO the 07.02.1911 in the town of Castelfranco Veneto.

Document: Maddalena DeGrandis’ Border Crossing

Maddalena Border Crossing

MANIFEST
Port of Detroit, Michigan June 26, 1928
Family Name: Morianti
Given Name: Maddalena
Accompanied by: Husband Arnaldo
Age: 44 years, 7 months
Sex: F
Married or Single: M
Occupation: Housewife
Place of Birth: Castelfranco, Italy
Nationality: Canada
Born: Italian
Read and write: yes
Languages spoken: Italian
Money shown: None
Last Permanent Residence: Canada, Windsor
Destination: Detroit, Michigan
Passage paid by: Husband
Ever in U.S.: ?
Going to join: Sister Josephine DeGrandis 11821 Russell St, Detroit
Purpose in coming: to visit
Height: 5 ft, 2 inches (?)
Complexion: Dark
Hair: Blk
Eyes: Brown
Name and address of nearest relative or friend in the country from whence alien came: Friend Mr. Carasin, 331, Wellington St, Windsor
Port of Landing: New York
Date of Landing: 1920
Name of S.S.: Ancona

This is a record of my great great grandmother Maddalena DeGrandis crossing the US/Canada border at Windsor/Detroit, apparently to visit her sister Josephine (Giuseppina in Italian). I am not sure if Josephine really was her biological sister though. I did find records for Giuseppina as well, noting her birthplace as Castelfranco Veneto.  However, in her marriage record to an Edward Barduca, her parents are not the same DeGrandis couple in this record as Maddalena’s. Perhaps they were actually cousins?

I found this record on Ancestry.com, in their collection “Detroit Border Crossings and Passenger and Crew Lists, 1905-1957