Last night I spent a few hours searching through 1800s Pienza birth records for Giuseppe Alberti (Albertos father). No dice. This guy’s early life remains a mystery. I sat back from my laptop and accepted the fact that I had finally hit a wall. This was bound to happen eventually right? The internet can’t provide a never ending stream of Alberti records. When I get stuck my first response is to pivot instead of giving up. By pivot, I mean that I approach what I am searching for from a different angle.
For example, if I search by first and last name and get no results – I might try looking at all the records of that type for a specific year. If that doesn’t work, I move on to search records by location. Or looking for a different kind of record all together from a different source. I find myself casting wider nets and narrower nets over and over again until I locate a new piece of information.
I am not a genealogical expert. There are probably some professional tricks of the trade I would benefit from, but I really enjoy the hunt using my own tactics for now. And boy oh boy did I pivot like a pro in the early hours of July 1st.
What I uncovered has been found by logically breaking down facts, dates, locations and family relationships. I have a notebook that looks like the journal of a mad scientist.
It is full of notes about each Alberti, their birth and death dates, residences, spouse, children and so on. Each person has a page. Next there are questions I want to answer about them, followed by sources I have searched for that information and other leads that popped up along the way.
A family member recently posted a photo to the Facebook comments for the blog- it was of a wall covered in newspaper clippings, pictures and notes connected by multi colored string. The kind of thing detectives in a crime movie might find in the den of an obsessed conspiracy theorist. While I don’t have space for such a wall in my office (or trust me I would), my brain probably looks just like that chaotic wall if you could peek inside while I string together clues about our ancestry.
Pivot like Poirot
Now back to that pivot…I think I have to give credit to watching episodes of Hercule Poirot as a kid for this one. I remember him always going back to beginning when solving a mystery. The first place I searched for Alberti was Ancestry.com. Want to guess what I found at that time? Absolutely nada. A few photos from FindAGrave.com of headstones I already knew about.
It felt like a long shot to return to this website. Blame it on the lateness of the hour and my desperation to find more information about the elusive Albertis of Pienza, but I went for it. I activated my 14 day free trial and decided to start building out a virtual family tree.
Ancestry.com is actually very user friendly. I was zipping along for hours. Entering names, dates and attaching records to each person. Before long I was staring at the sum total of 4 months of my investigational labors in a tidy timeline. Little green leaves included, just like the commercial promised. Each leaf provide a hint to more information about a member on your family tree.
One leaf for Alberto Alberti and one for his father Giuseppe. The leaf for Giuseppe Alberti revealed another Ancestry.com member who located the his birth place: San Stefano, Mori, Trento, Italy. Her entry also includes the names of G’s mother and father: Pietro Alberti and Bona Bruschi both born in Italy. I quickly sent a message to this user in hopes that they can provide me with how they located these facts. Stay tuned on this one…potentially this information could lead me one more generation into the past.
Laura Alberti Opens Doors
The second leaf led me to another user’s profile. A living descendant of Alberto’s second wife, Laura Alberti. On their page were two photos I have never seen before.
Alberto Alberti at age 74 standing in front of the Arno River in Florence, Italy.
Kara and I stood in nearly this same spot on our last night in Florence. We lingered quietly there for a while. It was a really peaceful spot. Knowing now that we were standing in the footsteps of our ancestor some 90 years later is just awesome!
The user included that on the back of the photo was a note that read:
Dear Allena, Me by the river Arno with the old bridge in the background.
Love and Kisses, Uncle Albert.
*Another person to research – one of his siblings had a daughter named Allena.
The second photo is of Alberto and his second wife Laura, on what appears to be the boardwalk at Trieste, Italy. I love this photo. Even at 74, Grandpa Alberti still looks polished and fit. Laura on the other hand is looking a bit weary. Perhaps she was ready to return to the States.
According to Alberto’s US naturalization paperwork from 1925 and a shipping manifest from the SS Cellina from 1928 - They were traveling back to the United States (to San Francisco) from Italy after an extended stay of about 3 years.
Albert’s son Ralph was tragically killed by a hit and run drunk driver in Washington, DC on January 12, 1925. Perhaps the loss of another child (Paul died at age 15 in 1903), motivated his return home to spend time with his family in Florence to grieve.
I’ve been chatting online with Laura’s 2x great niece and she is asking around in their family to see if any more Alberti photos or family artifacts are out there. Fingers crossed everyone! I’ll leave it here for now. I really hope you enjoy the new photos. I am meeting up with Uncle Danny in person next week to talk more about Laura and her timeline. Like all things Alberti, her life has some mystery to it. I hope we can post more about her and the Martz family of Bates County, MO very soon.