Monday, August 23, 2010

An Answer to a Prayer

This blog advertised itself as being about both the Keillors and the Smiths, so in order avoid issues of false advertising, here's a story about the Keillor line.
When you take an unusual, easy to misspell name and join it with a ridiculously common name you have a recipe for a mess. Howard's father's mother's mother was Maria Wressell. I've seen it spelled Wressel, Wressle, Russell - the variations are endless. Her brother married a woman whose last name was Brown. Because of the two issues, I had made a real hash of the memorials on findagrave and my PAF files. It became a shadow hanging over me and the few fixes I could think of didn't work out, so I did the only other thing I could - I prayed for help!The odd part is that I can't remember the details of finding Jim on findagrave, but within the hour, I found that he had posted the correct entries for the couple - the answer for which I had prayed! Additionally, he sent me a good deal of information that helped fill in some holes and fix some other errors.
This is George Cavil Wressell, Jr. 1864 - 1938.

This incident brings to mind one of my favorite gospel quotes of all time: "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other in the kingdom." (LDS President Spencer W. Kimball)George married Eunice Lorena Brown, 1865 - 1906. They are both interred (and recorded correctly, by my new friend Jim) in Lakeview Cemetery, Harbor Springs, Emmett county, Michigan.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Il Cimitero Dell'Unione Italiano

Whenever we travel, I always like to visit new cemeteries, especially if there's a findagrave photo request. On this trip to Tampa, I went to one I've wanted to go to for a long time -Il Cimitero Dell'Unione Italiano. There was a time in Tampa when there were almost as many Italian immigrants into Tampa as there were Hispanic immigrants. As is typical of immigrant groups, they banded together for cultural support. This cemetery is a result of that support.
I didn't have a request for any photographs, but it was such an intriguing cemetery, and, being part Italian, I couldn't resist it. It is a beautiful place! But it was hot and the mosquitoes were annoying, so after walking almost all of the perimeter, I was ready to head back to the car. But that little voice was at it again - "do the entire perimeter, and walk down this path." Hmmm...I'm hot, sweaty and buggy, but I'll do it. About halfway down the path, I was wondering if the little voice had lost it. Then I found it: a Pellegrino family plot. Howard's step-dad is a Pellegrino. Of course, I have no idea if they are even remotely related, as his Pellegrinos emigrated from Sardinia to New York City.After finding the Pellegrino plot, I was headed back to the car when my eye was caught by an unusual gazebo/obelisk combination. I was so touched when I found that it was a memorial to the military sons of the Italian Union. Glad I sometimes listen to that little voice!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Why I'm a cemetery groupie

I found a little over five years ago, and have had some great experiences with it, both giving and receiving. Here is a message I got from someone who had contacted me about transferring some memorials to her. I had taken the pictures several years ago on a visit to our friends in Cleveland, TN. Fort Hill cemetery is huge, so my photographing was completely random - or so I thought. But I believe that there is no such thing as coincidence in family history!

"My sister in law is 82. Her mom and dad divorced when she was three, about 1932. They were living in California at the time. Her father Wallace Raymond had tuberculosis and went back to Tennessee to see his family. He stopped by the house where Colleen and her mom where living to tell them he was leaving and say goodbye. I think he new how sick he was. He died in Tennessee while visiting. His family did not know how to get a hold of Ora and Colleen to tell them he had died so all these years she never really knew when or if he died. Her mom remarried and her husband adopted Colleen.

She is thrilled to finally know and knows now why he never contacted her. He died in 1933 probably just months after going home. A relative saw my family information on ancestry and put two and two together and contacted me.
Such a great thing. I am so happy for Colleen. She is thrilled and wants to know more. The family is exchanging information with her now.
Best wishes and thanks for the help. I wanted to be sure you had the whole story. This is one reason why I love genealogy."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Primos Porteños

As you may know, Boston is quite a melting pot, and I have ancestry from several other nations in Europe in addition to Ireland. My father's mother was Mary Guidetti, daughter of Onesto and Adelcisa (Tassinari) Guidetti. Her parents immigrated to Plymouth, Massachusetts from the province of Ferrara, Italy. In fact, they were from Cento, the same town where Ferruccio Lamborghini is from. (sorry boys, I haven't found a bit of relationship, but I'll keep digging!)
When I was still living in Boston, I remembered that my grandmother's step-brother, Al Gallerani, made frequent trips back to Italy, so I asked him where our ancestors were from. It was from him I learned they were from Cento. If only I'd had the sense to ask him for addresses of relatives! (Although he wasn't related to me by blood, only by marriage.)I wrote to the Italian Consulate in Boston, asking for information about where to write for information on ancestors in Cento. They sent me a name and address for someone with the title of "Il Sindaco" which I later learned is the Mayor. He (or his office) took the time to type out several family group sheets and two family charts, and send a covering letter detailing the emigration of Onesto and Adelcisa. In the letter, I learned that they went first to Buenos Aires before they sailed for Plymouth. Why, I wondered - was that a typical immigration pattern?
As I continued my research I learned that one of Onesto's brothers lived in Buenos Aires, and that he was deceased but left five daughters: Vittorina, Rosa, Rita, Basilia & Ernestina. I spent the next two decades trying to figure out how to contact them. The only address I had in Buenos Aires was dated 1942. Because they were daughters, I would have to know their married names. When the internet became available, I searched all possible sites with no success. Ironically enough, that Little Voice suggested I write to the 1942 address, but to my detriment, I ignored it; as it turns out, the woman living there today is the daughter of the 1942 addressee! See?? It pays to listen to the Voice!

Enter This website is designed to help members of the LDS Church to link their ancestors as families, with the goal in mind of helping researchers find one another and to prevent duplication of ordinance work in temples. One Sunday night I had another Great Moment. I found her! Ernestina Guidetti, and someone named Alejandro had performed temple ordinances in the Buenos Aires Temple in 2009. Someone was out there! Fortunately for me, this entry was accompanied by an email address, as many are not. I emailed him (in Spanish, with much appreciated assistance from my wonderful and patient Spanish-speaking husband :-) and by the next day had a very excited response!
Brother Alejandro is the only member of the church in his family. His grandmother is indeed Ernestina Guidetti, the daughter of Cesar Giovanni Battista Guidetti. This makes her a first cousin to my grandmother Mary Guidetti, and Alejandro and I are 3rd cousins. (that means you have to go back 3 generations to find the common ancestor).
Since that time, news of my existence seems to have spread throughout the family, as I have 4 new facebook relatives, and have had to sharpen my (nearly non-existent) Spanish skills to keep up with the rapid exchange of messages back and forth across the equator!The above photo was sent to me by my new-found Argentine cousins and shows the missing brother, Cesar Guidetti, his wife and the five daughters who now have faces to go with the names I'd been searching for for over two decades.

There are no words to express how grateful I am to have found these cousins, to have faces to put with the names on the page, and to know I am no longer the only member of the Church in my family. What a blessing is!