Alberti Lost and Found: Detours, Potions and back to Pienza
Sometimes I think I should have paid better attention in my English and journalism classes in college. I use too many analogies, changes tenses constantly, use too many commas and don’t even get me started on my use of run on sentences. Luckily this is a blog. Blogs are more grammatically relaxed aren’t they? That is what I tell myself each time I sit down to sum up the latest Alberti family discoveries. I am sure someone reading this cringes at all the errors. That said, I have been paid a few very generous compliments on my writing style and research ability over the last few weeks. I have an incredibly awesome and supportive family. So with that confidence boost and a new laptop (thanks Brant!) I will share the latest finds in the hunt for Alberti.
To help set the scene for my superfluous research retelling - an analogy for you.
Remember when Alice lands at the bottom of the rabbit hole? She finds herself in a hallway full of locked doors. There is a key on the table, but it doesn’t seem to fit any of the doors around her. Finally, she pulls back a curtain she hadn’t noticed before and finds a tiny door. The key fits the lock but she is too large to go through the door and enter the beautiful garden beyond. So she drinks a mysterious potion and eats a tiny cake all in an effort to get through to the other side. Nothing works out and Alice ends up crying so much she is drowning in a sea of her own tears. She has to ask a little mouse to help her swim to shore and must abandon her hopes of passing through to the beautiful garden.
Hallway of Doors
I will explain this week’s Alice/Alberti analogy in two parts. First let’s talk about the key and the hallway full of doors.
As you know, I have been trying to find proof of our Alberti nobility. Logically this is accomplished by identifying the names of each previous generation from Alberto Alberti until nobility appears on a birth or marriage record. I know with 100% certainty that Albert’s mother and father were Giuseppe Alberti and Maria Fieravanti. This also confirms that the record that started it all (Alberto’s birth record) is in fact, our Alberto. Hooray!!
There are a few records that confirm this for me. These records are also all NEW finds since the last post:
1. Albert and Laura’s Niagara Falls marriage record. This is the first time Albert writes his mother’s Italian surname (On other records they are Mary and Joseph. I think Albert had a bit of a sense of humor).
2. Albert’s original birth record from 1854 with his parents listed (untranslated by the Firenze researchers).
Finding the marriage record with Maria’s name written on it was a huge confirmation. It’s time to move forward…or perhaps, backward to find the parents of Maria and Giuseppe.
I already know from the 1841 Pienza census that Maria’s father is Serafino Fieravanti. No mother is listed for her at that time. The only hint I have for the parentage of Giuseppe is from Alberto’s birth record. On the very last column, under CONOME o NOME del Compare e della Comare (name of the godparent or midwife) is: Rogai Gaetano. We have talked about him before. It was very common for grandparents to be listed as godparents on Italian birth records from this time. That said, on the other sibling’s records there have been names listed in that column that don’t have any Alberti link. So who the heck is this Gaetano guy?
I know what you’re thinking right now. I thought she said this analogy was about doors that could not be opened. Finding two new Alberti records seems like two wide open portals to me. Weelllllll – sort of.
I blame myself and Ancestry.com for what happened next. In the last blog I posted about the “hints” that appear on the family tree and I promised to get back to you about the suggested parents of Giuseppe Alberti.
Potion and Cake in Trento
I’ve processed what happened and I am now ready to talk about Bona Bruschi and Pietro Alberti of Trento, Mori, Italy.
I like to start my research broad and work my way down when I find new clues. My first Google search of Alberti + Trento, Italy returned a nobleman. Vescovo di Trento Alberti, The Prince Bishop of Trento. This is the point where my desire for a noble Alberti took over my good ol’ Midwest common sense. I jotted that name down in my notebook and set off to find out everything about the Albertis of Trento.
I discovered very extensive birth records for their children. All nine of them. Two of the boys were named Giuseppe Alberto Alberti. One born in 1819 and the other in 1827.
On the birth record for the older Giuseppe, under the godparent column on the far right, was the name Signore Francesco Salvadori del Wiesenhoff, a Nobleman (Nobile in Italian).
Wiesenhoff is about as royal as it got in the 1800s. Trento is located very near the Austrian border. Italy was under Austrian rule at the time. The Wiesenhoff title was awarded by the Austrian crown to confirm the noble title of a very old and very noble Italian family from Trento: The Salvadori of Mori. In fact, some very deep searching generated a small mention of a Salvadori and Alberti marriage alliance in 1592.
While all this is extremely interesting and might make a delightful topic for a PhD dissertation on the noble families of 16th century Italy, I have bad news. I pulled back the curtain in my hallway of doors and peeked through an opening that revealed a beautiful picture. As much as I want a connection to this little mountain town, and to tell you all that we are descendants of The Prince Bishop of Trento and the Baron Salvadori of Mori, we aren’t. I drank the potion and ate the cake and it still doesn’t fit.
A Sea of Tears
Yes, Bona Bruschi and Pietro Alberti had sons named Giuseppe Alberto Alberti. I can see how easy it was for other researchers on Ancestry.com to accept these people as the correct parents of our Giuseppe Alberti. The reason why I can’t allow this family a spot on the tree comes down to the dates the Trento Giuseppe’s were born (1820 and 1827) and the mysterious Gaetano godfather from Alberto’s birth record.
This is part two of the analogy. While I didn’t actually cry a sea of tears over this genealogical defeat, I did get extremely frustrated. I wasted a week searching through years of Trento records from the 1800s. I was drowning in records for Albertis from a different city, 250 miles from the confirmed ancestral home of Pienza.
Lead to Shore
It was time to go back and start over. I know from my research that Italian marriage records typically list the names of the bride and groom’s parents. So I returned to my safe little cove of Pienza records to look one more time through the years 1816 to 1860. Maybe I just missed something.
I know that Maria was around 15 in 1844, so that year seemed like a semi-comfortable place to start looking for their marriage record. Remember from the census I found a few months ago, Giuseppe is 17 years older than Maria. She was the only child living in the house with her father at this time. He was getting on in years and perhaps anxious to have her married off and cared for. I was a bit relieved when I found the May 8th,1850 record of their wedding. Maria at age 20 and Giuseppe age 40.
Maria and Giuseppe’s Marriage record from 1850
The best part about this find? Not only does it provide Giuseppe’s mother and father. It also shows the parent’s of Maria. Four new confirmed ancestors to research!
The mysterious godfather Gaetano has been identified at last. He is indeed Giueppe’s father. His mother’s name is also a familiar one, Assunta Pioli. She passed her name on to her third daughter Assunta or “Assontina” as we know her.
Maria’s parents are Serafino Fieravanti and Prlanina Mucciarelli. An interesting tidbit from this record is Maria’s occupation. She is listed as “Benestante” or well-off. We know her father was a Blacksmith/Landowner, but maybe there is more to that clue? I haven’t had much success following the Mucciarelli family yet. The records from the 1790s to early 1800s are very challenging to translate so it’s slow going. I haven’t given up on finding that family castle just yet.
This marriage record is the little mouse that led me to safer shores. It also led me to straight to a pretty surprising find. While I was looking for Maria and Giuseppe’s children last month, I only read birth records for 1854 and after. I was looking for Alberto’s records and those of this two mysterious sisters. Until I found this marriage record it never occurred to me to look at any earlier dates. What a surprise to find that there were actually six Alberti children born between 1851 and 1865!
Oldest to youngest they were: Albertina, Fanny, Alberto, Anna, Assunta and Gaetano
Albertina - born 2/17/1851
Fanny - born 1/29/1852
Alberto - born 3/11/1854
Anna - born 7/3/1855
Assunta - born 6/6/1863
Gaetano - born 2/27/1865
A much larger family than we ever knew of, and more sisters as well! There is a curious eight year gap between Anna and Assunta. I am looking in to what was going on in Tuscany during 1855. Probably some kind of sickness or another war. Maria was 34 when her last son was born. My guess is he was her last child. The town vital records available online end in 1865. Until I can get back to Italy this is all I can find out online. A bit of a dead end for now.
I will leave it here. As usual this is another long post. In the next few weeks I will be receiving some very exciting documents from the Jackson County courts. The Wills of both Laura and Albert, Albert’s official U.S. Naturalization papers and Albert and Charlotte’s divorce decree. Fingers crossed they provide more details into Albert’s life. Stay tuned!!
I visited the Alberti graves over the weekend. A homage of sorts, I suppose. It's the closest I will ever get to meeting my great grandfather.
While visiting the cemetery a feathered friend stopped by to watch over my activities. He let me get very close. I took a photo, thanked him and went on my way.