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Have I broken down my brick wall???

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  • Have I broken down my brick wall???

    My main reason for getting involved in genetic genealogy back in the fall of 2005 is that all the indications I have are that my great-grandfather, Nunzio Maddi, was abandoned as an infant. He was born about 1845 in Sicily. Since I have exhausted the paper trail evidence, both through researching microfilmed records myself and paying a Sicily-based researcher to check the actual town hall records, I decided that DNA testing gives me the only hope, however slim, of finding out the true surname of Nunzio's father.

    There was a family story all the Maddi cousins heard as children that Nunzio was actually the son of a nobleman, but was given to a Maddi family to raise. I had forgotten about this story until I started researching the microfilmed records for my family tree back in 2001. Within a year or two I found my grandfather's 1875 birth record from Mezzojuso. Nunzio was listed as the father and described as "Nunzio of unknown parents, also known as Maddi" (in Italian, of course). So, it seems that the old story about him was true. He was abandoned, although there's no proof that his father was a nobleman. Nunzio was listed as 30 years old on his son's birth record, so I scoured the microfilmed records for births in the 1840s in Mezzojuso. I did not find any Nunzio Maddi (or Proietto, a surname given to abandoned children in Sicily). Some of the years were missing on that microfilm, so I hired a researcher in Sicily to check the town hall records. The records there were complete, but there was still no Nunzio Maddi or Proietto.

    So I tested at FTDNA for 37 markers and had my results in Oct., 2005. Since then I've upgraded to 67 markers and added 9 additional markers from the "advanced orders" menu. I have a total of 76 markers with which to compare with others.

    I expected that it would be years before I found a close match and possibly never get a match in my lifetime. I thought this since most of those involved in genealogy and genetic genealogy have British Isles ancestry, but I would have to match to someone with Italian, probably Sicilian, ancestry. So, I realized that, although DNA testing is my only hope to break down my brick wall, it's in the category of searching for a needle in a haystack.

    On Sunday I received an e-mail from a Mr. Vallongo telling me that he and I matched closely in the Ancestry.com database. When Ancestry.com bought Relative Genetics and set up a results database last year, they invited anyone who had tested with any other company to set up a free account and enter their results, which I did. The more public databases you're in, the better.

    So I logged into my Ancestry.com account and there was Mr. Vallongo at the top of my match list. The closest match I'd had previous to him was someone with whom I'm estimated by Ancestry.com to have shared a common ancestor 40 generations ago. So I moved the slider to the left to see how close this new match is. It stopped at 6 generations! That's about 180 years ago, at 30 years/generation. Then I put my marker results and his in a spreadsheet and saw that we match on 42 of 43 markers. I put the marker comparison in the McGee Y-DNA Utility, which estimated a common ancestor 270 years ago, 9 generations.

    So, right now we're looking at a common ancestor 200-250 years ago. I've convinced him to test 37 markers at FTDNA, with a discount given since he's already tested at Relative Genetics. This will make it easier to compare results and, if he upgrades to 67 markers, we'll have 76 markers to compare. That will allow us to fine-tune the estimate for when the common ancestor lived.

    Mr. Vallongo's grandfather came from Calabria, which is the "toe" of Italy, right next to Sicily. It seems that the original surname spelling in Calabria was Vallelonga. I don't know how to make a paper trail connection between Calabria and Sicily. How do you account for a connection between paternal lines that originate 200 years ago in small, rural villages that are about 209 miles apart? There are no listings for anyone named Vallongo or Vallelonga in Sicily, according to the Italian online telephone directory.

    However, doing some research online I found that the surname Vallelunga (one letter difference from Vallelonga) is the second most common surname in Trabia, Sicily. Over 200 people there have that surname. And Trabia is only about 20 miles from Mezzojuso and both are in Palermo province.

    So now my strategy is to recruit people named Vallelunga in the U.S., with ancestors from Trabia, to test at FTDNA. Perhaps I will find another close match with such a person that makes it more likely to find a connection to Mezzojuso and my great-grandfather about 200 years ago. Hopefully, the next few months will tell. But at least with genetic genealogy I now have some strong clues to find the answer to the question I started out with - and much more quickly than I even hoped for.

  • #2
    Mike,

    Congratulazioni! Che belle notizie! Buona fortuna di scoprire di piu del'historia della tua famiglia!

    Congratulations! What wonderful news! Good look with discovering the rest of your family's history!

    Vinnie

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    • #3
      Congratulations, this seems a very promising avenue. As you've certainly checked (eg gens.labo.net ), both surnames seem to be very localized, Vallelunga in the one comune near Palermo, and Vallelonga in a couple of places on the Calabrian coast. This simplifies things. If the two turn out to be related, then it's very likely that one of the people from one place went to the other.

      cacio

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      • #4
        Congratulations MMaddi

        The Vallongo/Vallelonga/Vallelunga's probably travelled back and forth by boat between Calabria and Sicily.

        I remember reading that J Man's direct paternal line is from Calabria. Maybe he would know of any more Vallelonga's?

        I used to go to school with kids named Valle. They were of Italian descent and the name was shortened. So maybe add Valle's to your list too?

        And I see "Villavallelonga" listed in vinnie's signature. Maybe there is a connection there too?

        Elizabeth
        Last edited by rainbow; 28th April 2008, 03:10 AM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by rainbow
          Congratulations MMaddi

          The Vallongo/Vallelonga/Vallelunga's probably travelled back and forth by boat between Calabria and Sicily.

          I remember reading that J Man's direct paternal line is from Calabria. Maybe he would know of any more Vallelonga's?

          I used to go to school with kids named Valle. They were of Italian descent and the name was shortened. So maybe add Valle's to your list too?

          And I see "Villavallelonga" listed in vinnie's signature. Maybe there is a connection there too?

          Elizabeth
          Elizabeth,

          While I would be very happy to be one of Mike's relatives, the use of the name "long valley" (translated into English) is found in several places in Italy due to the geography of the country. That's why I include the region, Abruzzo, in my signature to distinguish it from other similar place names.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by vinnie
            Elizabeth,

            While I would be very happy to be one of Mike's relatives, the use of the name "long valley" (translated into English) is found in several places in Italy due to the geography of the country. That's why I include the region, Abruzzo, in my signature to distinguish it from other similar place names.

            Thanks for the explanation.
            When I googled Abruzzo the other day I saw that it used to be part of The Two Sicilies, and so I thought there may be a distant connection anyway since MMaddi's family legend is that Nunzio was the son of a nobleman.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom...e_Two_Sicilies
            That and the Vallelonga. I didn't know it was found in several places. I guess the placename surname is almost similar to the commonplace Williamson in that not every Williamson is descended from the same William, but from a William.
            Last edited by rainbow; 28th April 2008, 05:50 PM.

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            • #7
              While they were part of that Kingdom, the Abruzzese are actually the northern most of the southern Italians, and don't like to think of themselves as southerners, *especially* Sicilian; there's a great deal of prejudice against the Sicilians because we're "to blame" for all the Mafia ills of Italy despite the fact the Sicilian people have suffered the most from it. Linguistically and culturally the two groups are quite distinct - my two grandmothers had to speak in English with each other. At the Italian festivals in my home town, tee shirts are sold that read: "I'm half Italian and half Sicilian - and you think you have problems!"
              Last edited by vinnie; 28th April 2008, 09:04 PM.

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              • #8
                Fred's 37 marker results at FTDNA came in early. The first 12 markers weren't scheduled to come in for another week and a half and the rest of the markers the following week. Thanks to FTDNA for fast results!

                Besides our difference on DYS464d (he has 17 and I have 15, easily explained by a recLOH), we have one additional difference, on CDYa - he has 39 and I have 38. This means we now have a 46/48 match.

                Plugging our 48 marker haplotypes into the McGee utility, here's what I get:

                50% probability level - common ancestor 3 generations ago
                75% probability level - common ancestor 5 generations ago
                95% probability level - common ancestor 11 generations ago

                It seems impossible for the common ancestor to be 3 generations ago, as my great-grandfather was 3 generations ago. It seems very unlikely that my great-grandfather was having children in Sicily under the Maddi surname and also having children 200 miles away in Calabria under the Vallelonga surname, which is the surname of Fred's grandfather.

                So we're looking at a common ancestor anywhere from 4 to 11 generations ago. I've proposed to him that he join the Italy Project, so that we can more easily compare results and Vince can help us investigate this close match. I've also proposed that he take advantage of the FTDNA discount offer in effect until next Monday and order the upgrade to 67 markers. I've offered to pay for half of the $69 discount price.

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                • #9
                  Fred, my close match, and I have started to contact other Vallelongas with e-mail addresses we've been able to find. We have contacted people potentially representing 4 other Vallelonga lines from Fabrizia or the nearby town of Nardo di Pace, which once was part (frazione) of Fabrizia.

                  I ordered LDS microfilm for Fabrizia for 1868-1888 and 1889-1905. The later film came in last week. I spent an hour and a half researching the births from 1889-1893 and the marriages and deaths from 1889-1892. I found 10 Vallelonga babies born to 6 different sets of parents. So there may have been as few as 6 or so Vallelonga households in Fabrizia in the late 1800s. Also, there was only one marriage involving a Vallelonga bride or groom in the four year period. This makes me think the Vallelongas may have been originally from another town and perhaps immigrated there in an earlier period, say the early 1800s. Just a guess on my part, which may be wrong.

                  Today I set up a Vallelonga project, with the website at https://www.familytreedna.com/public/Vallelonga Fred and I are the only two members so far. You can see our comparison at 37 markers on the yDNA results table. Fred's upgrade to 67 markers is due today, but given the backlog of orders from the June discount offer, his results may not come in this week. I've written to the Vallelongas we're in touch with and invited them to take advantage of the new discount for 37 marker tests, available until Aug. 31, and join the project.

                  We'll see how many do that.

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                  • #10
                    Looking at matches yesterday 3/11/2018

                    Mike,
                    You popped up a couple of times yesterday while I was cruising matches in Ysearch. I thought it unusual since I'm R-L45/S353. R1b1a2a1a1a. Surname Taylor. but on the other hand, very few of my predicted Y matches are taylors.

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                    • #11
                      Good luck and I'm glad you're making progress. Back when Ancestry had YDNA testing, they had a free search feature. I found a man with the same surname and we determined our connection. We were briefly Facebook friends.

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                      • #12
                        Mike- did you ever find any info?

                        Mike I am curious if you found any info on your great grandfather? I stumbled upon a “Nunzio Terminella” on familysearch and he was born around the time you were approximating. The info on his birth is from an actual document in Italian cursive- I haven’t taken Italian in years all I could gather is that it discusses his birth and something about paternity- I am guessing Mr. Terminella is accepting that he is the father and this is being notarized? I don’t see anything about a mother. Let me know if you need the link.

                        AB

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MMaddi View Post
                          My main reason ....- and much more quickly than I even hoped for.
                          If you have not tested autosomally (family finder), consider doing so-it can fill in some of your blanks!
                          Last edited by rmm0484; 2nd May 2018, 02:48 PM.

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