Cracking another genealogy case
STEUBENVILLE – Sandy Day is the local historian and genealogist at the Schiappa branch of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, but some days she’s more like a detective out to crack a case.
Questions from people researching their roots is nothing new for the 18-year library system employee, including inquiries from across the ocean, but a recent one has distinguished itself on several counts.
A family from Italy has not only successfully gathered geanology information with Day’s assistance, they’re coming to Steubenville because of it and want to return home with Steubenville-related history items for a special emigration exhibition that’s held in their town – Spoltore in the province of Pescara.
Angelo Paratore and his wife, Anna, will be visiting Steubenville in mid-April along with their daughter Julia, according to Day, as Steubenville is where Anna’s ancestors lived from about 1907 to 1930 before their return to live in Italy.
“It is very unusual that a family researcher in another country tells me they are planning a trip here to visit our city,” Day said. “Usually, they request research, and that is it, so hearing from someone in Italy is not that unusual for us. Having someone state they are coming here to visit the city after the research is performed, now that is news,” she added.
The ancestral information request first arrived in the form of an e-mail sent Feb. 27 to Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci’s office, according to Day, who said that was a logical starting point for Angelo Paratore, especially since he knows people in Italy with that surname.
Knowing Day’s interest and expertise in genealogy, Shirley DiCarlantonio, Mucci’s secretary, passed it along to Day.
“She forwarded this e-mail to me on March 4, as she was on vacation when the e-mail arrived,” said Day, who initially communicated with Angelo by phone.
“I contacted him directly just to verify exactly what he was looking for because his first e-mail was a little sketchy, not too detailed, and I heard back from him the same day,” she said.
Day delved into the search for information on Anna’s ancestors, which generated a flurry of back-and-forth e-mails offering progress and discoveries.
“The family name is Giuliani,” Day said. “However, I found it spelled as Guiliani. Anna’s grandparents were Camillo and Marianna (Anna) Propseri Giuliani. Anna Giuliani Paratore’s father, Pasquale Giuliani, was born in Steubenville on Feb. 16, 1914. He is the son of Camillo, who would be Anna’s grandfather. I contacted the city health department to see if his birth certificate is on file there, and it is. They will not give it to me, only to his family. I instructed Angelo by e-mail that he needs to bring $23 in U.S. cash to be able to obtain a copy of the birth certificate, which he plans on doing,” Day said.
“I have a copy of their passenger list of 1905 that sailed from Naples, Italy, to New York. Camillo Giuliani listed his destination as Steubenville. They came to Ellis Island from what I could tell. He was listed in the directory here as a laborer but we don’t know exactly where he worked,” she said.
Day was referring to the 1913 Steubenville City Directory in which the name Camillo is spelled Cammillo. It shows Cammillo and Anna as residing at 416 Adams St., Steubenville, that they lived in the rear of the building in what perhaps was an apartment.
“It’s proof they were here,” Day said.
That same building today houses Adam’s Antiques, information Day provided to the genealogy-minded family, who hope to be able to go inside it when they visit Steubenville around April 12-13.
Also of interest to them is a historical photo or photos of Adams Street to take back to Italy to be part of the Emigration Exhibit.
While Day said she personally has not been able to fulfill that request, the family will be presented with two Steubenville history-related books for the exhibit. One is the “Images of America, Steubenville” book compiled in 2005 by Day and Alan Hall, director of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County; the other is “Greetings from Steubenville: Historic Postcards.”
“The reasons they are seeking this information now is because Angelo, Anna and their daughter are coming to Steubenville in mid-April to see the city Anna’s family resided in, and his town of Spoltore (Pescara) Italy is having an Emigration Exhibition this year, and Angelo wants to represent Steubenville at that event,” she explained.
The travelers, who have plans to visit with relatives in New Jersey and Pittsburgh, also have hopes of meeting Day and the mayor during their stay in Steubenville.
Day said she had hoped to find “tons and tons” of information on the family, but didn’t. “They weren’t here maybe 20 years, 25 years,” she said of the research absent of marriages or deaths that under normal research circumstances would offer “the vitals you always look for” and with it, additional material.
Still, this “cracked case” ranks high on the research request list, which keeps Day’s job ever so interesting.
There was an inquiry from Spain, for example, regarding a genealogy search.
And earlier this month, a man from Sweden was seeking information about whether the rock band KISS had performed at St. John Arena on March 6, 1977.
Turns out it was probably at St. John Arena in Columbus, a bigger venue.
“I never know what research questions I’m going to have brought to me,” Day said, offering a bit of advice to would-be researchers of their family roots.
Don’t be hesitant or reluctant to reach across the miles in the pursuit of information.
“No matter how far fetched they think their research is, if they have ancestors maybe in another country, maybe they might have a similar reception on that end,” Day said.
Despite a common assumption that everything of a genealogical nature is available at the click of a computer mouse, that’s not necessarily so, according to Day.
“It isn’t all online. They could not find the birth certificate online for his wife’s ancestor, and while they did find the passenger list online, they wouldn’t have found this city directory record online that shows the family did live here,” Day said.
“The other part of this that is interesting is that a lot of times, people come in from different states looking for their family, and they’ll look to see if they lived in Steubenville in the city directories to try to find if the house is still standing.”
For the Paratore family, it means they can get the birth certificate at the city building and head not far from there to see the house where relatives once lived.
“It is really cool,” Day said of the end result.
“I have a fun job. It’s all about helping people find their roots.”