The Evolution of Discovery
As the author of this website, I , like many other retirees, started with just a general interest in learning more about their ancestors. In 2012 I started scanning the many thousands of photos that I had taken in my life and well as the thousands that my mom had taken in hers. All of my mom’s photos, (taken with a Kodak Brownie), and their associated negatives were in many cardboard boxes stored in my sister Rose’s basement. In the process of scanning those photos I ran across one very old and faded photo of an Italian cleric. Scribbled on the back of that photo were 2 things that were barely legible. The first looked like “Dom Amino” and the second was “confessor to a king?”. I scanned it and put it aside as I had no idea who the person was. Two years later during a trip to Ireland, I spent a few days with an Irish cousin who just happened to be very, very passionate about Ireland and history in general. I returned from that trip very energized and excited. At this point I started an effort to build a family tree for both my Irish and Italian sides.
At some point I engaged both my sister, Rose Luglio, and an Italian cousin,Lorraine Lombardi, in the effort to flesh out the family tree. During the emails that were going back and forth, Lorraine became very interested in discovering who the Italian cleric in the photo was. We decided to get together for a “Dueling PCs” effort in searching the internet every which way to see if we could find clues. Lorraine came up with the brilliant idea to focus the searches on Italian Kings in the 1800s since we were unsuccessful in finding any Dom Aminos. Halfway through dinner Lorraine found an article about Umberto I, the 2nd King of Italy. Lorraine passed me the url so I could read it, and at the bottom of that article was a photo of a Monsignor Valerio Anzino attending the wedding of Umberto I’s son in 1896. It was the same person !! We had struck gold !! At this point we understood the scribbles on the back of the photo. The “Dom Amino” was actually meant to be “Dom. Anzino”. “Dom”, like “Don”, was originally a title reserved for royalty, select nobles, and church hierarchs. Now that we knew the identity of the person in my faded photo, we issued new searches and quickly discovered that in fact, the Monsignor was a very important person in Italian history. What we didn’t know at that point, was how or if we were related to Monsignor Valerio Anzino.
After the discovery of the Monsignor, my family tree efforts went into high gear. In addition to building out the tree itself, I stated a parallel effort to learn how to research more effectively. I don’t remember the specific date at which I made the family connection to the Monsignor, but I do remember a lot of hooting and hollering on my part! Monsignor Valerio Anzino was a first cousin to my great grandmother Ippolita (Gotta) Marchisa. Ippolita’s mother, Angela (Anzino) Gotta, was a sister to Valerio’s father, Giovanni. Finding and confirming this connection just added more fuel to my genealogy fire.
It’s now 4 years later and I spend on average 50 hours per week on genealogy. I’ve made 2 trips to Italy focused on genealogy, and have engaged the services of a registered Italian genealogist, Iuri Silvestri, when I’ve been there. Iuri has turned out to be a very valuable partner in my effort to learn more about Valerio. We became good friends in the process. In addition to many days spent in Fubine, Italy, (birthplace to 4 sets of great grandparents as well as Monsignore Valerio Anzino), we spent time in Torino, Roma, Quattordio, Mazze, and a few other towns.
In my first trip to Italy in 2016, in a happenstance encounter, I met a woman in Fubine, Giuseppina Anzino, who had met a woman from Milano, Laura Santoro Ragaini, a few years prior. Laura had been in Fubine inquiring about Valerio Anzino and left her phone number with Giuseppina. When we were visiting with Giuseppina, she called Laura, and as luck would have it, Laura just happened to be attending a funeral in a town near Fubine. Laura graciously accepted our invitation to meet at Giuseppina’s house in Fubine. Laura had spent many years trying to research her connection to Monsignore Valerio Anzino, but was not successful. She had in her possession photos of Monsignor Valerio Anzino dating back to around 1860. In addition to the photos there were many stories told to her by her grandmother about the Anzinos. The combination of the photos and stories convinced Laura that she had a family connection to Monsignor Anzino. Laura’s photos and family stories have proven invaluable in my research. It took me a year and a half to find Laura’s specific connection to the Monsignor. I confirmed that connection with a visit to a church in Quattordio, Italy in June of 2018. Laura accompanied myself and Iuri Silvestri on that trip to the church to find the records that would confirm her family connection to Valerio. I was specifically looking for the death or marriage record of Laura’s great,great,great grandmother Caterina Sala. If we found either the death or marriage record from the mid 1800s and if Caterina’s mother was Gerolama Mandelli, then I’d be 100% convinced. When Iuri found the death record and showed it to me, my eyes raced to the section that listed Caterina’s mother’s name. There it was…Gerolama Mandelli !! I jumped up and started hooting and hollering! Laura, Iuri the genealogist, the priest, and the local Quattordio historian must have been thinking “Those Americans are an emotional bunch!!”.