"A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots."


Ciolli Ancestral Lines in Pescasseroli and Opi Italy

by  Phyllis Zeck

Below is continued research from Kathy at GenTracer.  She has dug deeper into our family roots to uncover more about our Ciolli ancestors.  This may be the last research project that Kathy is able to give to us from the United States.  When I met with Kathy in Salt Lake City last month she said that continued research could be done at the family church, the Parish of St Pietro & St Paolo in Pescasseroli.  However researching the church records could be tricky.  The church index is by first name, then by last name (in Latin form).  

I was able to add many new names to my Ancestry.com tree such as Baldassare Ursitti and Alessandro Cucuzza (my 5th great grandfathers) and Maxine Serone (my 5th great grandmother).  Click here to read some Family Group Records and Source Citations.  Thank you Kathy, for your research.

Click here for some updated reports:   
GEDCOM Del Principe, Mattio Mar 25, 2014
GEDCOM Ciolli, Medici Carmine Mar 25, 2014
GEDCOM Ursitti, Baldassare Mar 25, 2014

Click here to see more family Pedigree views:

Del Principe Family Tree

The research goal was to extend ancestral lines in Pescasseroli and Opi, L’Aquila.  The project began with the birth, marriage and death records of Opi for 1828-1837 (FHL #1227908). They included:

#2, (source #1) the marriage of Angelico Ursitti to Nunziata Maria Celesta d’Arcangelo, filed on 2 October 1831. The groom was 33 years old, born in Opi and a landowner living in Opi. He was a son of the late Domenico Ursitti and of Nicodema Serafina Cocuzza, a landowner living in Opi. The bride was 20 years old, born in Opi and living in Opi. She was a daughter of Filippo d’Arcangelo, a landowner living in Opi and of the late Mariantonia Bevilacqua. The list of allegati (supplementary documents filed in connection with this marriage) included the birth extracts of the bride and goom, the death of the late Domenico Ursitti (the father of the groom), the death of the late Baldassare Ursitti (the paternal grandfather of the groom), the death of the late Mariantonia Bevilacqua, mother of the bride. The margin note on the far right shows that this wedding occurred on 30 December in the parish of Opi. This is longer than usual between the intention and the marriage, but since both the bride and groom were landowners, that made them just below nobility in social stature and this might have been an enormous wedding celebration that took a long to time plan and organize. Of course, it’s also possible that a family member’s ill health delayed the wedding. Source #1

2, (source #2) the marriage processetti (supplementary documents) for the above marriage. This 8 page file started with an extract of the birth of the groom. This extract was produced by the parish of Santa Maria Assunta in Opi, click here for a 360 degree view of the church. On 17 November 1798 was the baptism of an infant born the same day at 1700 hours. The child was born to the married couple of Domenico Ursitti, son of Baldassare Ursitti of Opi and to Nicodema Serafina Cucuzza, daughter of Alessandro Cucuzza and Maxine Serone of this place and named Angelico [Ursitti]. 

Page 2 was an extract of the birth of Nunziata Maria Celesta d’Arcangelo, filed on 9 May 1811 in Opi. The birth was reported by Filippo d’Arcangelo, a citizen, 26 years old and living on strada la Piazza #77. the female child was born at 3 am on 8 May to his legitimate wife, Mariantonia Bevilacqua. She was a daughter of Agostino Bevilacqua and of Barbara Norci, residents of the town of Gallinaro (Frosinone province).

Pages 3-4 were an extract of the death of Domenico Ursitti in the town of Villetta (L’Aquila province), filed on 21 May 1829. The death was reported by Arcangelo Celiolonio, 42 years old and a laborer and by Benedetto Clemente, 22 years old and a quarry worker living in this town. The death occurred on 21 May. He was from Opi and at the hospital in Velletta. He was 60 years old, born in Opi and a landowner who lived in Opi. He was a son of the late Baldassare Ursitti, a landowner who lived in Opi.

Page 4 was an extract of the death of Baldassare Ursitti reported in the parish of Santa Maria Assunta in Opi. It was reported on 18 December 1790. He was from Opi, about 59 years old. He received the last rites. His son was Domenico Urisitti.

Page 6 was an extract of the death of Mariantonia Bevilacqua, filed in Opi on 7 August 1822. The death was reported by Carlo di Vito, 35 years old and a landowner living in Opi and by Gioacchino Rossi, 51 years old and a landowner living in Opi. She died on 6 August, was 30 years old and the wife of Filippo de Arcangelis. She was born in Gallinaro and a landowner living in Opi. She was a daughter of Don Agostino Bevilacqua, a landowner living in Gallinaro and of Barbara Norci, a landowner living in Gallinaro. Pages 7-8 were another copy of the Solemn Promise to Marry located above (Source #1). Source #2

The birth, marriage and death records of Pescasseroli for 1812-1817 (FHL #1360874) included:

#2, (source #3) the marriage of Leonardo Antonio Visci to Donata Cesidia Gentile, filed on 21 June 1813. The groom was 19 years old and a shepherd living in Pescasseroli. He was a minor (under 21 years) son of Nicolangelo Visci, 60 years old and a shepherd living in this town and of the late Maria Domenica Ciolli. The bride was 23 years old and a homemaker living in this town. She had reached her majority (over 21 years) and was a daughter of the late Antonio Gentile and of Lucia Santercole, 50 years old and a homemaker living in the home of her late husband and giving her consent. The intended wedding was announced on 6 June and 13 June. Source #3

#8, (source #4) the marriage of Ascenzo Notarantonio to Maria Luisa Ciolli, filed on 28 September 1815. The groom 22 years old and a landowner living in this town. He was a minor child (under 21 years) of Nicola Notarantonio, 56 years old and a landowner living in this town and of Scolastica Mascia, 46 years old and a landowner living with her husband and giving consent. The bride was 20 years old and a landowner living in this town. She was a daughter of Fortunato Ciolli, 60 years old and a landowner living in this town and of Gemma d’Arcangelo, a landowner, 60 years old and living with her husband and giving consent. This intended marriage was announced on 17 September and 24 September. Source #4




Abigail Rose Turns One

by  Phyllis Zeck

IMG_0066Miss Abby turned one year old on March 7th.  I can’t believe how fast the time has flown by.  As I was contemplating this I decided it was time for me to start on two projects for Abby.  

Project #1.  Start a savings account for Abby’s wedding dress.  Now you may think I’m jumping the gun here, but you see how fast her first year sped by!  

I had opened a savings account for Ashley when she was a teenager and I put money into it that my mother gifted to Ashley.  I was saving for Ashley’s wedding gown.  

In 2011 Ashley and I went shopping for her wedding gown.  She tried on many gowns of course, but the moment she put on that very special gown and I saw tears in her eyes, I knew she had found the gown of her dreams.  She whispered “This is the gown I want mom” as she spun around and hundreds of tiny rhinestones sparkled in the lights and glittered in the mirrors.  I told Ashley that the gown is a gift from her grandmother.  My mother had passed away seven years earlier but she was still able to have a significant role in Ashley’s wedding day.  


Now I will start a savings account for Abby.  God willing I will be with Abby on that special day and watch her dance the first dance in her husbands arms, but if not, Abby will feel my presence when she puts on her wedding gown the morning of her magical day.

Project #2.  Start filling Abby’s hope chest.  I have my mother in law Yvonne Zeck‘s Lane hope chest at the foot of my bed and I’ve been storing blankets in it for many years.  I emptied out the blankets last week and took a deep breath of that magnificent cedar smell.  This hope chest will be Abby’s one day.  What should I put in it?  The first items were a lace doily and a hand embroidered handkerchief that had both been purchased in Italy in the year 2000.  I also put in my 8th grade and 12th grade yearbooks and a Life magazine that my mother had given me which was published on July 9, 1956 (the day after I was born). 

I put in the teddy bear that I’ve been saving since 2002. When Ashley was in high school she was on the dance team.  Each spring one of the dance team moms bought teddy bears and sewed costumes to match the dance teams costumes.  Since I was team advisor for the dance team (for 11 years) I got a teddy bear also.  I decided I would put mine aside from 2002 because that was the first year we won our state competition and it was Ashley’s senior year.  Then I put a framed photography of Ashley on the dance floor at the Memorial Coliseum into the chest.  Dance is very important in our lives and I hope that Abby catches the dance bug also!

hope chest IMG_0008

Next I wanted to put Ashley’s baby book in.  I got out a chair, went into my closet, and brought down several boxes.  The first box sent me reeling, inside were some old photographs that I had never seen! I brought the box downstairs and my sister Lori and I went through old and new photos.  Some photos were of ancestors we did not recognize.  I follow many genealogy blog posts and have always been so jealous of people who share their stories of long lost boxes of photos they had just discovered.  Now I had one of those boxes of my very own!  The next few hours were spent going through the photos.  As time permits I will post them here so that you can enjoy them (and help me figure out who they are).

As you can see I did not get too far filling Abby’s hope chest before I got side tracked.  It will clearly take me the next 17 years to fill it up.



Where Are My Great Great Grandparents Buried?

by  Phyllis Zeck

The foothills of Pescasseroli

The foothills of Pescasseroli, Italy

Last year I sent an email to cousin Salvatore in Pescasseroli, Italy.  I wondered if he would take a photo of Filomena Ursitti and her husband Don Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli’s head stones (my GG grandparents) who were married 05 Sep 1854 in Opi.  Salvatore told me “That will be very hard to do.  Back then people were buried under the ground.  After 10 or 15 years they were exhumed and their bones were put in a big hole inside a chapel or cemetery with other bones.  This hole is called an “Ossario” osso=bone.  Roughly till the last decades of 1800 the ossario was inside the parish church of San Pietro e Paolo of Pescasseroli”.  Salvatore said “Some families had a private chapel with some stone or concrete cells (loculi) where they put the coffins”. 

I have to tell you I was shocked to hear this.  In America we place such an emphasis on burying our ancestors and tending to their graves, this was hard for me to comprehend. Kathy Kirkpatrick (from GenTracer) and I had some time set aside to meet for coffee in Salt Lake City last month.  She was the perfect person to ask more about this.

Kathy told me that Italian families lease grave sites.  If no one pays the lease, the body is moved to a communal site and the grave site is leased to someone else.  The cemetery may keep the headstone of the name and photo of the dead, even though the skeletal remains have been moved, or the headstone might simply get tossed somewhere.  Cremation is not done often in Italy, families prefer to bury their ancestors.

Kathy explained that the Italian government donated land for cemeteries in Italy for our fallen hero’s from World War II.  Click on the following links for a brief video and some stunning photographs.  Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial.  Florence American Cemetery and Memorial

You will all be happy to know that I plan to live until I’m 99 years old!  When I pass away I will be cremated and I want Ashley and my grandchildren to sprinkle some of my ashes around the homeland of my ancestors, in the foothills of Pescasseroli. 



My DNA Kit

by  Phyllis Zeck

DNA KitI finally took the plunge and joined the growing masses of genealogists who have had their DNA tested.  One of my goals at the RootsTech conference this year was to learn more about DNA testing.  I signed up for Saturday’s lunch hosted by Ancestry.com.  It just so happened  that the topic was DNA.   The three different types of DNA testing were discussed.  Mitochondrial (mtDNA) is passed by mother to both male and female children.  yDNA is passed down the male line from father to son.  Autosomal (atDNA) is used to look for connections among family lines both maternal and paternal and will trace ethnic ancestry. My kit was $89.00 for an Autosomal kit and I saved $10.00 in shipping by purchasing it at the conference.  Click here to read a brief pdf guide about DNA.

My mother’s grandparents on her father’s side were born in Italy.  My mother’s mother Bertha Marie Christina Reher was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1901. I don’t know where her parents August Reher and Caroline were born.

My father’s mother was Grace M Norder born in 1908 in Monroe, Wisconsin. Grace’s father Edwin C Norder was born in Wisconsin in 1880. Grace’s mother Tillie was born in 1881 (birthplace unknown).  I don’t know anything about my father’s father, Frank Winike.  He abandoned my grandmother and father when daddy was a little boy and I have been unable to locate him in any online record databases.  Wow, I just realized that I have a lot of research to do on dad’s side of the family.

My Ancestry.com kit is an atDNA test so I expect a large chunk of my lineage will be from Southern Europe which includes Spain/Portugal and Italy/Greece. The instructions said the test was quick and easy to take.  No more swabbing the inside of your cheek.  I had to spit into a tube “up to the wavy line” (about 1/4 of a teaspoon).  It was obvious that the person who wrote the instructions was a young whipper snapper who was not on a ton of medications that leave your mouth dry!  This process did seem to prove very entertaining to my sister Lori, and after about 20 minutes of exhaustive spitting I had reached my goal.

Now I must wait patiently for 6 to 8 weeks to get the results of my test. Those of you who know me well know that this will be a challenge. Ancestry.com has 2.7 million subscribers and close to 300,000 members have taken the DNA test so far.  I think my chances are good that I will find some new cousin matches.



Happy Valentine’s Day!

by  Phyllis Zeck

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