Sunday, October 20, 2013

Finding Your Italian Ancestors Seminar

On October 12, I attended a free seminar hosted by the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society, “Finding Your Italian Ancestors.” The presenter was Paola Manfredi, a native of Italy and accredited Italian Genealogist. Paula earned a degree from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT with a specialization in family history and genealogy. Her experiences include conducting research on microfilm and at archives all across Italy, teaching Italian research classes at BYU, and presenting at conferences in the US and internationally. Paola also managed Italian record acquisition for and is experienced in researching, reading and translating old hand written Latin, French, and Italian documents. She currently works at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, UT and travels extensively throughout Europe visiting archives and exploring their record holdings.

I am so glad I attended. I have Italian ancestors on both my father's lines. My maiden name is Ficarra. I've traced and cited sources on this line only through my grandfather Philip. He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana about 1887. There is a big, brick wall between his birth and when he enlisted in the regular army in 1910. I can't find his parents in any census or city directories. I did find my uncle Philip age 4 (he was from my grandfather's first marriage), enumerated with Philip's older brother and his family in the 1920 Louisiana census.

I've had better luck with my father's mother's family. I've traced and cited sources from Ross and Christina Catania marriage in 1898 in St Mary's Parish, Louisiana through their deaths.

The Italian seminar was so eye-opening for me. I really didn't know where to start. Paola's seminar came at the right time for me. I felt like a newbie starting all over again. I'm excited and full of optimism once again. Her handout was full of links, descriptions and Italian history. She broke down Italian words, gave us the English version, what to look for and what the phrases in documents meant. She explained the Italian Civil Registration Records, civil jurisdictions and archives.

Localities: Finding a town, Italy before 1861, Historical maps of Italy, Finding a parish or a diocese.

Records: State Archive are located at the provincial level. Gave us clues how to search for a microfilm, search by name and search for records on line at

Transcribed Vital records of Italian Towns, 2 links
More Italian Records Online, 6 links
Names, 4 links

Since the seminar I bought the book, “Finding Your Italian Ancestors A Beginner's Guide” by Suzanne Russo Adams, AG.

I'm looking forward to plowing through those Italian brick walls.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

1905 Wisconsin States Census

I've been updating my genealogy program this week. I noticed (duh!) that I hadn't entered any census information for my ancestors. Since I was working on my mother's maternal line, Bartunek, I thought, “Why not start with this line.” Wow, what a concept!!

My great-grandparents, John and Frances (Hajek) Bartunek were married June 1893, in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. Between 1894 and 1917, they had seven children. My grandmother Jennie (born 1901) was their third child. The first four children were all born in Chicago between 1894 and 1903. Children number five, six and seven were all born in Clark County, Wisconsin.

Since I hadn't been able to located them in the 1900 U.S. Population Census. I started looking for them in the 1905 Wisconsin state census on Yippee, I found them in Town of Hoard, Clark County! 

Schedule No. 1—Population.
Enumeration of the inhabitants in the Town of Hoard in the county of Clark, State of Wisconsin, on the 1st day of June, A. D 1905.
Sheet No. 6

Column 1:
Number of family in the order of visitation.

Column 2:
NAME of each person whose place of abode on June 1, 1905, was in this family.
Enter surname first, then the given name and middle initial, if any.
INCLUDE every person living on June 1, 1905.
OMIT children born since June 1, 1905.
(Line 1) Bartunek, John
(Line 2)        “         Frances
(Line 3)        “         Mary
(Line 4)        “         Bessie
(Line 5)        “         Jennie
(Line 6)        “         Joseph

Column 3:
Relationship of each person to the head of the family.
(John)   Head
(Frances) Wife
(Mary)  D
(Bessie)   D
(Jennie)  D
(Joseph) Son

Column 4:
Color or race.
(John)   W
(Frances) W
(Mary)   W
(Bessie)    W
(Jennie)    W
(Joseph)   W

Column 5:
(John)  M
(Frances)   F
(Mary) F
(Bessie)  F
(Jennie)   F
(Joseph)   M

Column 6:
Age at last birthday.
(John) 33
(Frances)  31
(Mary)   11
(Bessie)   9
(Jennie)  4
(Joseph)  2

Column 7:
Whether single, married, widowed or divorced.
(John)  M
(Frances) M
(Mary)  S
(Bessie)  S
(Jennie)  S
(Joseph)  S

Place of birth of each person and parents of each.
Column 8:
Place of birth of this person
(John) Bohemia
(Frances) Bohemia
(Mary) Illinois
(Bessie) Illinois
(Jennie) Illinois
(Joseph) Illinois

Column 9:
Place of birth of Parents of this person.
(John) Bohemia
(Frances) Bohemia
(Mary) Bohemia
(Bessie) Bohemia
(Jennie) Bohemia
(Joseph) Bohemia

Column 10:
of each person FOURTEEN YEARS of age and over.
(John)   Farmer

Column 11:
Months employed.

Column 12:
Owned or rented.
(John)   O

Column 13:
Owned free or mortgaged.
(John)   M

Column 14:
Farm or home.
(John)   F

2013© Gayle Ficarra Wolcott

Monday, July 8, 2013

Book Review

Finding Family

Last week I attended a book club meeting with a few people from our genealogy society. We try and get together once a month to discuss and share the books we have on our shelves. Sometimes we have eight people in attendance, sometimes we have only three or four.

This month, one member discussed a book she borrowed from another member of our society who bought the book from our Ways and Means Sales table at one of our general meetings. She said she couldn't put it down and finished reading it in one sitting. She gave it to her daughter who also finished reading it in no-time flat. That intrigued me.

When we got up to leave, I asked to borrow the book and then pass it onto another member who also said she was interested in reading it. This past week I started and finished this wonderful, easy to read and hard to put down book from Richard Hill called “Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA”.

I love a good mystery, in fact, that's mostly what I read on my Nook. This book kept me up late at night; I was sneaking a few chapters as I ate lunch or while a passenger in the car. Let me quote what is on the back of the book:

“...this isn't fiction. It's an engrossing account of an adoptee trying to reclaim the biological family denied him by sealed birth records. This fascinating quest—including the author's landmark use of DNA testing—takes readers on an exhilarating roller-coaster ride and concludes with a twist that rivals anything Hollywood has to offer.”

The book is only 249 pages but they are packed with insightful and helpful tips anyone could use. The chapters were tight, didn't ramble and moved the story along in a nice easy clip.

I'm not adopted, nor is anyone else in my family, but I would highly recommend this informative, delightful and sometimes humorously funny mystery.  Our society's Ways and Means chairperson will be purchasing more of these books for our sales table.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

2013 Jamboree - Day 3

I had another great day here at Jamboree. Morning classes started with:

8:30 a.m.
D. Joshua Taylor, "Preserving Digital Files: A Step-by-Step Guide"
Wonderful presentation. Joshua went into detail of how and when to start preserving our digital files. He shared some stories of what NOT to do and how to avoid disaster. So glad I went to this class.

10:00 a.m.
Rhonda R. McClure, Was My Ancestor Naturalized?"
Since I'm starting on researching naturalization records, this was a class I didn't want to miss. Rhonda stated when laws took effect and the naturalization process.

11:30 a.m.
John P. Colletta, "Your Immigrant Ancestors How to Discover Their True Stories"
He described the original records and published materials available along with three immigrant stories.

After lunch I perused the exhibit hall, asked a lot of questions, picked up brochures; even won one of the raffles.

2:00 p.m.
Leland Meitzler, "Researching Your Germanic Ancestors Using Online Resources"
My maternal line is German. Haven't done much German research but after Leland's class, I won't be short on websites and links. Good talk.

3:30 p.m.
Cyndi Ingle Howells, "Advanced Googling for Grandma"
This is the first time I've seen Cyndi. I've been using her website since I first started by family research. This advanced Google search left me in awe. She is just amazing. Excellent presentation!

I was able to get a ticket for the Saturday night banquet. The guest speaker was, D. Joshua Taylor, "Games, Stories, and Adventures: The Future of Family History." Enjoyable table conversations; met some great people from around California. I don't always go to the banquets, glad I did tonight.

Friday, June 7, 2013

2013 Jamboree - Day 2

 Had a great day. Got to sleep in, then went down and had a quick cereal breakfast on the "green" between the hotel and the convention center. I attended the JamboFREE Italian Research Roundtable session. Met wonderful people. The moderator was so helpful. She brought several of her own books on Italian records from home. She let us browse through them. She is at the immigration table in the exhibit hall. I have Italian brick wall; I'll be stopping by her booth throughtout the weekend. She'll also be able to help me with my German ancestor questions.

I signed up for the three day conference and was also able to get a ticket for Saturday night banquet. I bought the syllabus (as big and heavy as a phone book). Looked through the book over lunch to help me pick which classes to attend this afternoon. Here's the classes I took:

1:30 p.m. - Lisa Louise Cooke, "Pimp Your iPad: How to Turn Your iPad and Other Tablets Into an Ultimate Genealogy Cruisin' Machine."
EXCELLENT!! I bought her book, but this was what I needed to fully understand some of the Apps.

3:00 p.m. - D. Joshua Taylor, "ArchiveFinder and ArchiveGrid: Treasures in Archival Records."
Lots of great information. Kind of felt over-my-head, but was able to keep up when he got into the ArchiveGrid information.

4:30 p.m. - Daniel Poffenberger, "The Parish Chest: Beyond the Christening, Marriage and Burial Registers."
His talk was on Church of England parish records. I don't have any English ancestors but his talk was very informative and funny.

I'll be checking out the vendors in the exhibit hall; hike down the High-Tech Hallway in the hotel to take a Test Drive in the Tech Zone. Maybe signup for a one-on-one consultation with a Research Assistance from the Southern California Chapter of APG.

There's a wide variety of classes to choose from. Looking forward to tomorrow's sessions.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

2013 Jamboree - Day 1

I've been coming to SCGS Jamboree for about 10 years.  I look forward to all three days.  I've always blocked out those days early on our family calendar. Sent in my registration, packed my bag and my genealogy info.

This year was no exception. I downloaded the 2013 App; got it all setup with my schedule. I had reserved a room at the Marriott for three nights. I even got here extra early just to get a parking spot in the lot.  Didn't want to have to park over at the airport and then schlep my luggage.  I was so ready, prepared, excited, just forgot one little thing.  I forgot to send in my early registration.  Tomorrow, I'll be standing in line at 12 p.m. as a walk-in registrant.

This won't dampen my excitement about being here in Burbank. Hope I get into all the classes I want.  If not, I have backup classes I can dash to.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

2013 NGS Conference - Day 4

I set the alarm last night so I could get up early enough to shower and actually sit down in the Paradise Cafe for breakfast.

My first class was at 8 am, presented by Elissa Scalise Powell - Baker's Dozen Steps to Writing Research Reports. She gave a very detailed lecture of the process of compiling and writing that all important report that I should have been doing all along. I've been jumping from ancestor-to-ancestor, record-to-record, collecting information I thought I needed. Not realizing that I should be documenting all the steps of positive and negative research results. I've taken several of these classes from the different Skill Building Tracks during the conference. I'm so glad I attended this session.

My next class was at 9:30 am, presented by Laura Murphy DeGrazia - Of City Slickers and Straphangers: Tracing Urban Ancestors. This speaker was fun to listen to. She was from Long Island New York, and even poked fun of her own accent. When I was at Rootstech this past March, I hung out with a woman who was also from Long Island New York. If I closed my eyes, Laura sounded just like her; her topic was great. Stressed the need to know the locality, ethic and religious background of your ancestor who was a city-dweller. She gave us great examples of her written works, problems and strategies with URLs for more research.

I took a break and went over to the Exhibit Hall and purchased a book from the NGS booth. I got a signed copy of his new book, Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones. I attended several of his sessions this week. Several of the speakers have referenced different books in their talks. "Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians" and "The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy: 3rd Edition". Since one of the book sellers was marketing a 10% discount and free shipping, I ordered both books. That will save me from having to schlep them home in my luggage.

At 2:30 pm I'm going to attend the session, presented by Gordon Atkinson - Getting to Know Fold3. I took Gordon's first class on Wednesday, very informative so I believe this one will be an overview of the resources available on Fold3. Looking forward to it. Our local library has a free trial of Fold3 until June.

After that class I'm going to drop off my excess baggage in my room, then jump on the Monorail for a ride to the end, MGM Grand. I'll be back in time to attend Dick Eastman's After the Conference Dinner being held tonight at our hotel

Thursday, May 9, 2013

2013 NGS Conference - Day 2

Today's conference sessions were really good for me. They kept my interest and even if I knew some of the content, I learned a new tip, trick, or how to search on a particular website. I'm full of hope that when I get home I'll be able to try out and use all the new resources I now have.  Here's a rundown if the classes I took today:

8:00 am
"How to Find What You Are Looking for on Fold3" - Gordon Atkinson
I once won a subscription to (predecessor to Fold3). I didn't like their format and felt it was clunky to use, and I never got any "hits" for my family. I'm now looking forward to searching Fold3.  I plan on uploading my father's WWII information and search some of the non-military records as well.

9:30 am
"Cloud Genealogy" - Shamele Jordon
I'm familiar with the "Cloud." I use Dropbox, Evernote, Box and several other products. This speaker made her presentation not only interesting and enjoyable, she was funny and entertaining too. I learned so many new facets of Apps I already have and use. Enjoyed her talk very much.

11 am
"How to Find Your Relative on the Internet Without Really Searching" - Daniel Horowitz
This class was for the program. I have uploaded my GEDCOM file to the site. The speaker explained about the Smart Matching and Smart Research tools to help the genealogist discover information and help relatives to participate and benefit from social networking. Good speaker and I'll definately use his search techniques as I get more familiar with the site.

12:15 pm
Board for Certification of Genealogists Luncheon "Blackguards and Black Sheep: The Lighter Side of the Law"
At lunch, I sat next to a very nice lady from San Angelo, TX.  She gave me a clue to one of my brickwall dilemmas.  I had been pondering about that dilemma for years.  You just never know who you'll be sitting next to at these luncheons.

2:30 pm
"Information Overload? Effective Project Planning, Research, Data Management & Analysis" - Elizabeth Shown Mills
Yes, the title sounds very weighted (especially after a heavy lunch). Ms Mills is an excellent speaker. I was riveted to my seat. I felt like I was looking over her shoulder as she showed us how to make and use a Research Report Template and a Research Notes Template. She made all the steps in the process easy to understand to made me want to start all over with my database.

4:00 pm
"How to Create an Exciting Interactive Family History Tour with Google Earth" - Lisa Louise Cooke
I've taken classes from Lisa many times. Her presentations are informative; she gives you a step-by-step instruction, and she makes you feel, "Yes, I can do this!" Her presentation really pulls you into her story and you get excited along with her as she "flies" you to the next destination. She gives you links to various internet sites and explains just what you'll find there and why you need to check out that website.

This has only been the second day of the conference and I'm jazzed and excited to use all my new resources. Can't wait until tomorrow's sessions.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

2013 NGS Conference - Travel Day

I'm in Las Vegas this week to attend my first National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference. This is actually my third conference this year. January I attended the Family History Expo in Mesa, AZ. March, I went to Salt Lake City for Rootstech 3. In June I'll make my annual trek to Burbank, CA for Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree.

I flew in early this afternoon, got my room; settled in. I then went in search of the convention center so I could pick up my conference materials. I plan on attending the 8 am opening session, then spend some time to scope out the exhibit hall.

Here's the sessions I hope to attend on Wednesday. The first in each group are the sessions I hope to get a seat; the second choice is my backup:

11 AM, W121: Debunking Misleading Records - Thomas W. Jones
11 AM, W129: The Ultimate Genealogy SuperSearch Engine - Daniel Horowitz

2:30 PM, W142: The Genealogical Proof Standard - Elizabeth Shown Mills
2:30 PM, W143: Basic Military Research - Craig Roberts Scott

4 PM, W155: Divorce Records in Genealogical Research - Pam Stone Eagleson
4 PM, W152: Impossible Immigrant! I know Everything About the Man Except Where He Came From - F. Warren Bittner

I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Copyright (c) 2013, Gayle Ficarra Wolcott

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Dance at the Family History Library

I had a successful research trip to the Family History Library yesterday.  Even got to do the HAPPY DANCE a few times.  Found some voter registration cards from the 1930s from my former “brick wall” family down in New Orleans.  Found death and marriage certificates from the Chicago area.  Really got the hang of the microfilm scanners.  Especially the 15 minutes before the library closes.  Hurry, hurry, hurry!

Today I’m off to look at a 1900 Wisconsin Census for a “missing” great-great grandmother on my mother’s side.  Got my fingers and toes crossed.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Family History Library Trip

I am currently in Salt Lake City to attend my first Roots Tech conference. The conference starts on Thursday, but I'm here today so I can get in some serious research at the Family History Library before the conference starts.

Last summer my husband and I drove through Salt Lake and I was able to do some research for a couple of days. I'm hoping to find some answers to some questions I've had for sometime. I wish I had more time to prepare. Time seems to slip away when you're in the middle of research.

Before my in-laws passed away, my father-in-law helped fill in gaps in their family information so I don't usually research my husband's line. But last week, I uncovered my in-laws (and other ancestor's) marriage license applications. [HAPPY DANCE!] I was able to print the document and show my husband and sister-in-law, they were actually impressed. To find more like that would make this trip a success. So glad to be here.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Post - Family History Expo

I had a great time at the Arizona Family History Expo last month held in Mesa, Arizona.  So many knowledgeable speakers and so many classes to choose from.

On opening day, Friday, January 18th, I attended:

Opening Keynote Address, Ancestors & Other Persons of Interest by Barbara Renick
Breaking Through Your Brick Wall by Cathi Weber
Five C's to Success in Genealogy Today by Barbara Renick
Census Techniques and Strategies for Finding Elusive Ancestors by Danielle Batson
Evaluating What You Have Found:  The Third Stage of Research by Barbara Renick

On Saturday, January 19th, I attended the following classes:
Cemeteries Go Digital by Geoff Rasmussen
Coming to America:  U.S. Immigration, 1820-1954 by Danielle Batson
U.S. Naturalization: Navigating the Records by Danielle Batson
Closing Keynote Address by Holly T. Hansen

Sometimes when you choose a class that you know nothing about the subject, or you think you already know the subject pretty well, you get pleasantly surprised.

I enjoyed each and every class I attended.  The one that really stuck with me was the class given by Geoff Rasmussen, Cemeteries Go Digital.  The very next day I downloaded the smartphone app of  I then got to use it on the following Monday morning.  My sister and I visited the Veteran Cemetery in Phoenix.  We located our uncle's and friends of my sister's headstones.  I took photos of all their headstones with the OneBillionGraves app, uploaded the photos right there in the cemetery to the OneBillionGraves server.  By the time we got home, the headstones were already transcribed on the Internet.

I will definitely be using this app more and more.  I love learning new techniques and strategies.  The Family History Expos are closer to you than you think. Give them a try, you won't be sorry! 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 Family History Expo in Mesa, AZ

Tomorrow I'll be attending the Family History Expo in sunny Mesa, AZ. I have two reasons to be glad to be here. My only sister moved here last year. So I flew in on Wednesday and I get to visit while attending the Expo. The second reason is the Expo itself.

I've attending the Arizona Expo several times and always enjoy the speakers, facility and of course the desert weather in winter. I've been trying to figure out which lectures I'm going to attend tomorrow. Such a variety and so many choices. The Exhibit Hall is always fun. New, experienced, and returning vendors, all good. I try and stop at each and every table to hear about their products.

I'll put my good walking shoes on and be ready...can't wait!