Angela Persico is a fellow blogger who blogs over at http://angelablogslibraryschool.wordpress.com/. Her blog is about genealogy and she posts lots of helpful tips on how to get started! I got the chance to ask her a few questions on how she got started with her own genealogy conquests and what she’s found so far from it.
What got you interested in genealogy?
A: I kind of got interested in genealogy by accident. Both of my grandfathers were full-blooded Italian, so Italy has always been a dream destination of mine. I was looking into how to become a dual citizen and found that in order to do so, your ancestor(s) must not have been naturalized after coming to the US (thereby giving up their Italian citizenship). My father is less than interested in genealogy, so I decided to look into my mother’s grandfather who came to the US from Alberobello, Italy. We had no idea if he had been naturalized, so I ended up joining Ancestry.com to see if I could figure it out. We also had no idea what year he came to the US, so I had to figure that out first. His whole life then became a really fun mystery to solve, because it turned out that we knew hardly anything about him except for some less than credible stories passed down by his children. After just a few searches on Ancestry.com I was hooked.
How long have you been interested in genealogy?
A: I became interested in it about 2 years ago. I had just graduated from college, had no job, and was looking for something to do! I’ve had my ups and downs with it and have given it up for months at a time out of frustration or because I thought there was nothing more to learn, but whenever I come back I seem to find something new about a family member that I never caught before. When I get sick of working on my own family history, I try to work on my friends’ who seem to have more interesting families than I do!
What have you learned while tracing back your own family?
A: Just in general, I’ve learned that I have Italian, Slovak, Polish and Swiss roots. Unfortunately, I don’t appear to be related to anyone famous…All of my ancestors came to the US in the 1890s-early 1900s and seemed to stay in the same general area their whole lives. Aside from them being my family, they aren’t all that interesting, but there have been a few scandals. My great grandfather (whom I mentioned previously) owned a restaurant in Utica, NY and I’ve found newspaper articles of him being arrested 2 or 3 times for selling alcohol during prohibition. Another good one is an article I found about my great grandfather having my great grandmother arrested on the night before their wedding because she stole $75 from him. And they still got married! On my mother’s side I’ve managed to trace my family back to the 1700s in both Italy and Slovakia (thank you, FamilySearch.org and the local Family History Center!), I believe something like 11 generations for one line. So far, they have all come from relatively small towns and stayed in the same place for centuries, making them pretty easy to trace. But while my great aunt swears we come from Italian royalty, I’ve yet to find any truth to it.
What do you hope your readers will get out of your blog?
A: One of the main reasons I want to blog about genealogy is to discuss my family and my research and hopefully connect with distant relatives or people with ancestors from the same towns as mine. I plan to discuss my experiences, my triumphs and disappointments in my research, as well as tips and suggestions for doing your own genealogy research. I hope that readers will find it an interesting and enjoyable read, but also feel like they’ve come away with greater knowledge on the topic of genealogy that can be applied to their own research. I would also love for there to be a sense of community and have it be a place where readers can come with questions and concerns about their research and be able to provide advice to me and others. Basically, I hope that we can all learn from each other and become better genealogy researchers because of it.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever found out while doing genealogy research?
A: I’ve done a pretty extensive family tree for my boyfriend and have traced his surname back to the 1630s when his 10x great grandfather William Godfrey came to Watertown, Massachusetts from England. Shortly thereafter he helped settle the town of Hampton, New Hampshire. While that is definitely interesting, the coolest (and perhaps creepiest) thing I’ve ever found was in an old book about Hampton, where it discussed how one of William’s grandsons Moses Godfrey was killed by suspected witchcraft as an infant in 1680 and the investigation that followed. We’re actually going to visit the town next week to see what else we can learn!
Be sure to check out Angela’s blog and start your own genealogy journey! 🙂