Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Transcription Tuesday--New Sparks and Rhodes Letters!!!

 Well, as COVID seems to be providing me with more spare time, I am working on cleaning out all the boxes of data and mixed stuff that we packed up for our move to Texas.....

And I found several letters that I didn't know that I had, providing info to aid my search for my English Rhodes and Sparks roots!!! 

I've placed here, and will move them to the Rhodes/Sparks Letters separate page  after I finish them all. The first is from Jane Sparks, a sister of John Gill Sparks and addressed to him, and his wife Sarah Rhodes. Each letter I find adds another name to be researched, and another link in the family chain!!

Letter from Jane Sparks to John Gill and Sarah Rhodes Sparks, copy obtained from Patsy Davies in 1980 and transcribed by Susan Fairchild Barry on 11 Sep 2021.  Photocopy of letter attached.

                                                                                                March 3d 186[ 4? 9?]

Dear Brother and Sister

  I am very well of myself and am living

in Burley and I am very unhappy about you

not sending me a letter. I send you a letter and

you never sent me no answer back and you ask

me what I thought about going into Canada

and I told you then I could not come by my-

self, we have had a very hard winter here

and am left by myself and I mention John

Shoesmith and he die very suddenly at Ilkley

and Ann is living at Otley and she is very well

for anything I know and Elizabeth is residing

in Leeds and I got a letter from her last Friday

and she sends her best respects to you she would

like to see you but she thinks it will be not in

this world and Elizabeth has one son and his

age is fourteen and he would like to see you.

     William is living at the bottom of Holling[s?]

Hill [s or,] is William writing to you or not

I have sent this letter William Smith and

John Craven and if they come to your house

you must treat them very kindly for I know

their parents remarkably well and you must

give my best respects to Mr and Mrs Wie and

please to let me know if Elizabeth has got

married or not but let me know in the next

letter and I have sent my mother funeral chard

and I have sent you a English newspaper

             So no more from your



                  Jane Sparks



I'll try to add one each week until they are all here!   Thanks to the family members who saved these and didn't throw them away!!


Friday, May 7, 2021

Follow Friday -- The Patriot War -- a bright shiny object

Well yesterday, I succumbed to what Brenda Wheeler from National Institute of Genealogical Studies calls  a BSO -- bright shiny object --- something that takes us away from our planned genealogical task.  I was on the Clayton Library's microfilm catalog,  which was what I originally planned to write about for Follow Friday.  I was looking to see whether they had NY Civil War or 1812 service record microfilms for  one of my ancestors to use as an example .... and I noticed they had a listing for

Now I know most conflicts and military sources, but this was a new one for me. 1837-8 ?  Too late for War of 1812, Too late for Texas Independence, too early for the Mexican War, and too early for the Civil War....uh oh,   I was hooked!   So I started to Google the war of 1837, got  Patriot War, followed it, and I learned a lot!
The Wikipedia listing is here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriot_War and

    I knew nothing about the Canadian Rebellions of 1837 and 1838 or the Republic of Canada formed by William McKenzie  and his followers in the US and Canada.  This was a failed attempt for the prospect of a declaration of independence and secession of Canada from Britain !  And on  "Navy Island " between Ontario and New York!
     And volunteers from the State of Louisiana?    Now I can't wait to get to the Clayton library and check out the names on the microfilm!!!! Perhaps it will help with finding info for members of my DAR chapter from Louisiana!!! But I obviously didn't have what I intended to post today.
    So I guess it is a great lesson that checking the microfilm catalog for things other than just surnames is a great idea to find unusual records and history!!!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Travel Tuesday -- Friuli, especially Raveo, home of my grandmother

Hard to believe it's been almost a year since I embarked on my trip to Italy in search of my mother's genealogical past and to show my husband and daughter a little of the culture, arts, food, and people of Italy.

  I was most interested in visiting the area my grandmother was from. Close to the Austrian border, and in a part of Italy that I had never seen.  I'm not really great yet at using embedded Google maps, and couldn't get it to display all the town names when I made it. The top red is Raveo, the main town

of the family. The yellow pin is Enemonzo, the town they moved to after grandmother was born in Raveo, and the latest home.  The green pin is where we stayed in Tolmezzo, and the middle pin is the town of Colza, which we discovered as birthplace of one of the ancestors in some of the records, but I only passed through it, it's  a frazione (subdivision) of Enemonzo now. From Tolmezzo to Raveo is about 7 miles,  From Raveo to Enmonzo is about 4 miles. The towns are in the Carnia Valley.  It is a beautiful area and off the beaten tourist track. I think only skiers in ski season or really serious summer hikers visit the area.  There is only one bus from Udine (capital of region) to Tolmezzo most days... of course we missed it, necessitating a long expensive cab ride!!!

I spent most of my 2 1/2 days in the region ensconced in the archives of church records, so I will have to go again in the future to really look at the land and connect with the people....maybe next year? I'll have to rent a car, as this area isn't covered well by public transit, so I'll avoid winter, as the area gets lots of snow!

Wikipedia has a great history of the region. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friuli . The Friuli language -- not an Italian dialect, it's a separate language--- is spoken as well as Italian..... I can't follow it at all, and my Italian was somewhat better, but I'm glad my cousin and the genealogist I was with spoke English! 

According to the relative  I met in Raveo, there are about 300 people in Raveo now (486 in 2004 according to Wikipedia) and probably never had more than 1000 people.  Since our family lived there from at least 1700 to 1890, I must be related to everyone in the town!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Family Friday --- who are these people???? Fessias???

Well, I'm in New York visiting with my cousin Dolores to share the info I found in Raveo, Italy, and she has pictures with no names we are trying to figure out.  I think these are of my Fessia line, specifically of Pietro/Pedro older brother of my grandfather who went to Chile instead of coming to America with the rest of the family.....
So I'm going to post them here, let the relatives in Chile know of this post, and hope that they can identify the people in the photos ( use left to right or by rows)....  Then I'll get back to the Italian research posts, I promise!!!!

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo Three

Photo 4

And we think this one may be of Giovanni Battista / John, the youngest brother of Augosto and Pietro who lived in Utica  ?????

Thanks everybody!!!!!!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Matrilineal Monday My Italian journey part 3 -- the Raveo story including the surnames, and research lessons I learned.

Well this portion takes place after the Fessia journey in Gaglianico (part 2), but it has a lot of new information, and I want to get it all down on paper before I forget!!! So part 2 will be out of order.

I thought I knew a lot about Italian research, from the classes at National Institute of Genealogical Studies, researching the microfilms at Salt Lake, transcribing and translating documents, and reading all the books on Italian research I could find!     But there is always something new to learn.

My grandmother  Maria Jacomina Teresa Antoinetta Antonipieri emigrated from the Friuli region of Italy with her first husband Angelo Felice  in 1911.   I thought she was born in Enemonzo, and her parents moved there from Raveo, a smaller town about 5 km away. So I started in Raveo.  A cousin(?),  and now dear friend, Danilo Antonipieri,  whom I had found on Facebook, [love social media for finding relatives!] had picked me up in Tolmezzo where I was staying, and then drove me to Raveo.....

The town is small. maybe 300 people now, and is set in the beautiful Carnia valley, very close to the Austrian border.....

I had hired (through Ancestry.com --progenealogists.com) an Italian genealogist, Gabriele Musumeci, to set up appointments with the local parish keeper of the records, and to be there to translate since although I read Italian fairly well, I don't speak it well.... and he was worth his weight in gold!  (Although even he had to ask questions because they tend to sometimes use words in Friulani, a separate language, which sorta sounds like Italian, Slavic and German mixed....)

It was a beautiful day, and Signore Bonanni met us at the parish office.  When we asked to look at records of Antonipieri.... he pulled out a beautiful book separate from the church records, which when opened, contained pages of hand-drawn family trees!   Neither Gabriele or I had ever seen such a wonder, and I was so excited I could barely keep from happy dancing trough the room!  The book was prepared by the priest about 1900 for all the families in the town. He also raised funds in 1894 to rebuild the church, and a plaque is located on the church.

If there is sainthood granted for genealogists, I nominate Father Barnaba Colledani!!!   The book didn't contain all dates for everyone, but made it easy to prepare a bare bones pedigree to start looking for data.....    My thoughts were that we sure did need to get a LDS camera crew here to digitize the book and the church records before another earthquake  (there was a bad one here in 1979) destroys the records!

Here is a sample of the trees, this one for the Noselli  family [tree #71, page 65] which is one of mine.  I took pictures of whole pages with my iPad, and then zoomed portions, as there was, alas, no copy machine!!!  I wanted to be able to read every thing... but we only had about a half day to look at the records.  Signore Bonanni allowed us to use all the  church record books  which went back to about 1862, although the majority of records started about 1700,  unlike the priest at Gaglianico.....

and of course Antonipieri "Chiandat"  was the first tree in the book, followed by  the next page Antonipieri "Bonella" and the a third page Antonipieri .... which led to the first new lesson in Italian genealogy....... Some towns use the old Roman system of a first name, a surname, and a name to denote the branch of the surname family which was called cognome then (or vulgo in the Latin Raveo church records) , which now in Italian means surname!  In Roman times, the surname was nomen, with a praenomen (first name), and then a cognome, which could be a branch or nickname.... found this on Wikipedia which I love!
so New Lesson #1 ...  named family branches!!
 Now how to enter into Rootsmagic.... guess I'll use Nickname slot as it puts " " around it....

We found my great grandfather Daniele Anonipieri at the bottom of the  Antonipieri "Bonella" tree [#2, page 4].  the top of that tree  (also a Daniele) was in the first row of children of the previous Antonipieri "Chiandat" tree.  We asked Signore Bonanni if he knew why the split, and he said that Daniele had gone "on coook" [ not sure of spelling, that's just what it sounded like...]  When we asked  what that meant, he explained was like the Cuckoo bird. who moves into another bird's nest... instead of the wife ( Maria Ariis called Bonella) coming to live with his family, he went to hers, hence the new branch of the tree Antonipieri "Bonella"!  Even though both households were in Raveo!

We spent the afternoon at the parish archive in Enemonzo, returned to Raveo the next day for a half day to finish looking for records.... In the two days, we managed to take pictures and locate records  giving names back to before 1700, about 7 generations!!!!!! Have never managed that in US records in all my 40 years of genealogy. Of course it helped that they remained in the same town for 200 years!   The surnames in my tree include several Bonannis from different branches, Ariis ( diff branches) , Vriz/Vritz, Noselli, Iaconissi, Valino, Buttini, Pascoli, Piazza. I suspect that the reason the priest created the trees was to make sure the people weren't too closely related.... although we found one marriage in the family which had a papal dispensation for the marriage.  Here's my grandmother's parents' marriage entry (second one).

It turns out that they were related also, about 4th cousins.....   I'll add more info in part 4 about both Enemonzo and Raveo research, as this is getting too long!   And I'll update my ahnentafel page with the new generations. But I'll close with a picture of Signore Bonanni (l), Danilo Antonipieri (r) & me(c) in front of the old Bell tower.   Ciao!!!  Arrivederci!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

My Italian Journey- the beginning background

This is a start to a set of blogs about the search for my Italian roots, half of my heritage. I have spent most of my 40 years in genealogy researching my father's side of the family.  I have done a couple of "Surname Saturday" posts to at least publish my mother's parents' surnames so that I might connect with relatives around the world, because that's where the Italians have gone--- everywhere!

I was able to do a little more on my Fessia line than the Antonipieri  line  (see posts of January 30, 2010 and  August 17, 2009) [OMG was it that long ago?!].
I found Fessia cousins in Chile through Facebook, and also some Antonipieri  cousins. It helps to have "rare" Italian surnames!

The only documents I had were my grandparents' death certificates (with parents listed as unknown--- really?!) and the names of their parents as remembered by my mother, who only knew one  grandparent who came to America.  It helped when the LDS church microfilmed the province records in the Piemonte region of Italy.  On my trips to Salt Lake, I had to request them from the vault, 4 at a time,twice a day, as instead of filming all one town across the years, each film (or 2) covered one year across many towns..... There are decennial indices, however, they are from the start of the Italian country, so 1876, 1886, etc.... rather than 1870, 1880 etc like I went looking for originally.... but those records only go back to 1866 and a couple of 1840s baptisms attached to later marriages.... and they haven't microfilmed those earlier church records yet, at least not in the areas of Italy I need..... and they hadn't filmed anything in the Friuli province of Italy where grandmother was from...
And of course over the years I had sent letters in Italian with International Reply Coupons, and International money orders for donations/costs--- which disappeared into a black hole somewhere, as I never heard any reply!!!

So although I've been using the records from FHL, I decided to see what else I could learn, and started to plan my "bucket list" trip to Italy,since I'm retired now.  I'm pursuing an American professional certificate [40 courses, like a degree!] at National Institute for Genealogical Studies [www.genealogicalstudies.com], and the electives are allowed from any of the country certificate courses. I took  the course on Italian Civil Records:Part I, Although I was very good at translating and transcribing the records already, I learn something new from every course. I I found out about a private Facebook group  for Northern Italian research, and of a website for the Italian Archives!!!!   And wonder of wonders, the Italian Udine province archive main page had a choice of English!!! They have a project to list something for everyone born between 1850 and 1900.
you can search on surname , or surname and first name.... I found a listing the marriage of my great grandparents,with just the year 1878, but the birthplace of Raveo, and the names of their parents!!!! For the first time in 40 years, I filled in the 4 names in that generation!!  And really started making  trip and plane reservations.

I went back to Salt Lake with Leland Meitzler's  Christmas Tour, and made arrangement through Progenealogists (now owned by ancestry,com)to hire a genealogist to make appointments at the parishes in Gaglianico (BI) Piemonte,and Raveo and Enemonzo (UD) Friuli, and perhaps to even have the genealogist to meet me at the locations.....  A real necessity because although I can translate genealogical documents, and understand about half of the conversations, I don't speak the language well at all!
The trip itinerary changed from mostly genealogy, to a tour of Italy,since my husband and daughter were also going, but I had carved out at least 2 days in each area for my research....

Then I talked to my 2nd cousin Dolores Tafuri, who has the pictures postcards and even my Grandmother's Italian passport!!!!  She made copies  of everything,  and I was astonished at what was there.... so I had lots to take with me.....   and the next posts will be about the trip, the genealogical lessons and the data ..... I'm still on cloud 9 and I've been home a month!!!
Ciao til next blog

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

One of my veteran ancestors- Grandpa Fairchild

Although I haven't blogged in some time, it seemed fitting to post on Veteran's Day. I have done some posts in the past listing my veteran ancestors and the wars they served in, but today I thought I'd do a more in depth biography.  It's too soon to do an adequate biography on my father, and we are in the centennial of WWI, so I decided to profile his father, my Grandpa Fairchild, a veteran of WWI.
He died when I was only 5, and I have limited memories of him, but they are full of the love he showed to us.  The rest I pieced together from what my parents told me, and the photos, documents and letters that have remained in the family ....This will be a LONG post!

Grandpa and my Dad ---date of picture unknown (about 1930?)

      Victor Miller Fairchild was born April 18, 1895 in Portville, Cattaraugus county, New York to Fred W. and Lucy Gertrude Miller Fairchild, Grandpa did not have an easy early life.  His mother died a short 2 years later, after giving birth to his sister Marian. Vic and his sister were raised primarily by his grandmother and aunts, until his father remarried in 1903, when Vic was 8 years old.  He attended school in Portville, graduating from Portville High School , where he played baseball, a sport he avidly followed the rest of his life. I don't know why he decided to become a dentist, but he attended the University of Buffalo, receiving his DDS in June 1917, and his license to practice in October 1917.  He was back home in Portville, NY.
But his life would be changing.    Victor had registered for the draft at the age of 22, while in Buffalo on June 2, 1917, just one week before the date on his degree. He had not claimed exemption from the draft, and the next item I have is from the post card he wrote home from the train on the way to Fort Dix, NJ postmarked Jul 25, 1918. Whether he volunteered or was drafted, I do not know.  I have an entire set of letters and cards he sent home to his parents from that one to the last letter he sent from France in July 1919.   They provide a fascinating look at the day to day life he spent in the army, although not as a true combat soldier. Most are written on paper from the YMCA or Red Cross, and most envelopes and letters have an officer's signature that they have been reviewed....

 I have a picture of a tent, marked on the reverse " My first home at Camp Dix. The second night it rained and we didn't have the ditch dug and there was 6" - 8" of water in the tent"
Grandpa is middle back row
He must have been drafted because his first letters describing the life at camp- "drilling, pulling weeds, carrying bales, filling ticks (mattresses or pillows?), digging ditches, working in kitchen, putting up buildings" and also that he might have a chance at filing commissioned officer papers at induction, and complaints about the men in the regular barracks, his address was Company 32, 8th Battalion. Although he failed to become an officer, he changed companies and moved into a separate barracks. He was then in Co E, 348th Infantry. Then he was assigned as a Dental Assistant and would be in the 87th Division  The letters continue with the preparations for going overseas, and he warned that he would not be sending letters of great detail, because he didn't want holes cut in them.  A great example is the letter describing the trip overseas as he wrote it as it occurred, and the version he wrote home after the Armistice was signed   "Dear Father, I certainly had one fine trip across the Ocean and was not seasick".... I'll transcribe those and post as a separate page ... but  from the latter letter, he went over on the Mauritania, the sister to the Lusitania, which had been torpedoed.... the next picture is of the postcard sent home, and the letter of the trip.... the only hole, the actual date in August of the journey (26).

He could only tell them he was in France, but not where, he wished he could speak French, as "it would come in handy" He said he was eating about twice as much as he did at home, and when he got home, he wanted to "live behind the candy counter" at his father's store. He has been on the move in France, and has seen quite a few German prisoners....  In October, the address on the letters becomes Sanitary Detachment 335 Machine Gun Battalion still part of the 87th I think.... and he's able to get a "warm shower bath once a week" He spoke of sending his friend at home a card, but couldn't put his address on it, so asked the parents to give it to the friend...  He sent home a coupon in mid October that would allow his folks to send him a 3 lb Christmas package and his suggested contents for "hard candy like lemon or lime drops, 2 or 3 packages of Sen-Sen,  some gum, a knife to replace his lost one, and whatever they wanted to send in the remaining room".  He describes the locales, astonished that the French wear wooden shoes, and use 2 wheel carts rather than 4, and that it rains a lot....
He writes of the celebration when word came that the Armistice was signed, and the letter carries the name of the town-- Angers, for the very first time.  He then writes a day later that he hopes that it will be the last letter, and that they expect to move and be home before Christmas.
In December, the 335th moves from Angers to St Nazaire, and he's not sure how long they will be there.. He heard of a friend's death (Leon Barber) from his parents... He receives a bunch of his hometown newspapers, and is happy he will have more time to read, but that the medical and dental units may be kept in France longer, as they will process all the soldiers through for examinations and shipping home first.
        Around Christmas, he asks if his Dad might cable him some money so that in January when he might get 14 days leave he could go visit Paris and some of the rest of France.... his $8.50 pay wasn't going very far....  By February, he still hadn't gotten leave, because Paris had been closed to soldiers... and due to his moving to Dental Infirmary, Camp 1 in the same place, letters had not been reaching him... In March he writes" Last week I thought sure I would have to go to Russia but they picked two other dental officers to go from here"
Also in March, he is moved to an "Isolation Camp," as he came down with the mumps!  There were many soldiers getting them every day.... he was to be in quarantine for 18 days....
His leave request for London hadn't come through..... ( he's now in Camp # 3)
In May, his leave request for London finally was approved, and he thought that he would try to go throughout England and Scotland as much as he could as well in the time.
Then follow several letters written on Knights of Columbus paper (strange for a Presbyterian!) from Paris, London, and Dublin Ireland,   He's writing that they will go to Belfast, Glascow and Edinburgh. When in Paris the YMCA took them out to Versailles, where the Peace conference was being held, and that he stood by the table upon which the Peace was to be signed.  His next letters from St. Nazaire describe his leave journey, and that they were at the Firth of Forth on Queen Victoria's birthday, and there was a big celebration.  His letters in June describe the dwindling number of soldiers and consolidating of barracks and mess halls, and his desire to get home. The last letter is dated July 6th, and states that they were relieved of duty,  he was packing and had to go get "deloused" whether he wanted or not ... they were to close the port by the 20th and any remaining soldiers would have to go to Brest to go home. He figured he would have about a week before he would get on board a ship,

            Following his return, he set up in dental practice in Olean, a larger city next to Portville. At some point, he met Grandma, who was a nurse in a nearby town in Pennsylvania.  They were married at her sister's home in Lock Haven Pennsylvania in June  1921, and Dad, their only child, was born in 1923.   They lived in Olean for the rest of his life. He was an elder in First Presbyterian Church, served on the Select Service Board for WWII.   He was a member of the 8th District Dental Society of New York, the New York State Dental Association, Delta Sigma Delta Fraternity, and the City Club of Olean, and went to many baseball games in Buffalo and New York City, getting a baseball signed by Dizy Dean and his team in the early 1950s.  He died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage (stroke) just 10 days after his 63rd birthday... he was so beloved, that over 500 people (non-relatives) attended and signed the pages of the memorial book at his funeral.

          There are many unanswered genealogical questions I have about him. Did he know that when he was in Scotland, it was close to the birthplace of his birth mother's  father and grandfather? Did he know that Dr. Raub, one of the other dentists in town, was a second cousin?  My Dad never answered those, and others either, so I can't fill some familial blanks, but I do know about Grandpa's life during the Great War, due to the letters and postcards, which either his dad or stepmom kept, and then he and Grandma kept also........

Thanks Grandpa, for your service, along with that of Dad, my brother, our Civil War, Revolutionary War, and colonial wars ancestors, for allowing us to live in a great, peaceful and free country!!!!
  Happy Veteran's Day everybody!