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My Italian DNA Success Story

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  • My Italian DNA Success Story

    About a year ago I solved a major family mystery using the FTDNA website. I just discovered this board and wanted to share it with you all as proof that even the most stubborn genealogy problems are solvable.

    My great great grandparents were Pasquale Felitti (born. 1869 Vietri di Potenza, Italy - died. 1915 New York, NY USA) and Nicoletta Trimarco (born. 1869 Castelluccio Cosentino -died. 1950 New York, NY USA). The two of them were immigrants to the USA from Italy in 1888 and 1881 respectively. The settled in East Harlem in New York City and married in 1891. There had been a family story that the two of them were somehow related to one another and people always called them "cousins". Growing up, I always wanted to know exactly what the relationship between the two of them was, and if it was true at all. When I started on my family tree back in 2005 this was a top priority. I figured that all I would have to do would be to trace back far enough and eventually I would find a common surname. I was wrong.

    Vietri di Potenza (southern Italy) has great records in the USA. The LDS has spectacular records and getting copies wasn't too difficult. Pasquale Felitti's parents were Vincenzo Felitti b.1829 - d. 1896 (son of Pasquale Felitti and Maria Theresa di Parisi of Vietri di Potenza) and Maria DiLorenzo b. 1837 - d. 1908 (daughter of Vincenzo DiLorenzo and Angiola De Leo of Castelluccio Cosentino).

    Nicoletta Trimarco's records were much more difficult to obtain. Nicoletta's mother was Maria Filomena Basile b.1841 - d.1871 (daughter of Nicola Basile and Nicoletta Manzi of Buccino). Nicoletta's father was named Domenico Trimarco. Oddly, his mother was named Laurenza Trimarco and all documentation did not list his father. Now, Domenico Trimarco was from Castelluccio Cosentino. Immediately I suspected that Vincenzo DiLorenzo (Pasquale Felitti's grandfather) may have been the father of Domenico Trimarco. Documentation in the USA indicated that Domenico's father may have been named Vincenzo as well. Again, all documents in Italy pertaining to Domenico Trimarco and all his siblings listed that the father was unknown.

    I had my theory but no way to test it until I started using Family Tree DNA. I have a Trimarco relative who is a direct male descendent of Nicoletta's father Domenico. If Domenico Trimarco (father to Nicoletta) was the son of Vincenzo DiLorenzo, then he would have his Y-chromosome. Now all I need was a living direct male descendent of Vincenzo DiLorenzo through his documented marriage to Angiola De Leo. It took about 5 years, but after much searching through records I eventually found one. I did 67 marker tests on both individuals and they matched at all tested markers. The theory was successfully proven! Now this would not account for a brother or other male relative of Vincenzo DiLorenzo being the father of Domenico Trimarco, but I do have multiple documents from USA sources that indicate that Domenico was the son of a "Vincenzo". This was before the 111 marker came out (or else I would have added that too).

    In the end, my great great grandparents Pasquale Felitti and Nicoletta Trimarco were 1/2 1st cousins. In other words, Pasquale's mother Maria DiLorenzo was the half sister of Nicoletta's father, Domenico Trimarco. Pasquale and Nicoletta shared on common grandparent, Vincenzo Michelangelo DiLorenzo (born. 1801 in Castelluccio Cosentino). I later found out that Vincenzo DiLorenzo was mayor of Cosentino and was even jailed later in life for trying to overthrough the local government in the town where he lived.

    In the end, Y-chromosome DNA was the essential piece in solving this problem. I've skipped a lot of details here, but the whole project took about five years and countless hours searching records in Italy and elsewhere. Along the way I learned many more things but I never took my eye off the final goal. It was worth every second!

  • #2
    Brilliant! Thank you for sharing this!

    Comment


    • #3
      Well done

      Thanks for the story and congratulations on being a first class family history detective. History and YDNA research complimenting each other again.

      Comment


      • #4
        Bravo!!!

        Originally posted by KCWelch View Post
        About a year ago I solved a major family mystery using the FTDNA website. I just discovered this board and wanted to share it with you all as proof that even the most stubborn genealogy problems are solvable.

        My great great grandparents were Pasquale Felitti (born. 1869 Vietri di Potenza, Italy - died. 1915 New York, NY USA) and Nicoletta Trimarco (born. 1869 Castelluccio Cosentino -died. 1950 New York, NY USA). The two of them were immigrants to the USA from Italy in 1888 and 1881 respectively. The settled in East Harlem in New York City and married in 1891. There had been a family story that the two of them were somehow related to one another and people always called them "cousins". Growing up, I always wanted to know exactly what the relationship between the two of them was, and if it was true at all. When I started on my family tree back in 2005 this was a top priority. I figured that all I would have to do would be to trace back far enough and eventually I would find a common surname. I was wrong.

        Vietri di Potenza (southern Italy) has great records in the USA. The LDS has spectacular records and getting copies wasn't too difficult. Pasquale Felitti's parents were Vincenzo Felitti b.1829 - d. 1896 (son of Pasquale Felitti and Maria Theresa di Parisi of Vietri di Potenza) and Maria DiLorenzo b. 1837 - d. 1908 (daughter of Vincenzo DiLorenzo and Angiola De Leo of Castelluccio Cosentino).

        Nicoletta Trimarco's records were much more difficult to obtain. Nicoletta's mother was Maria Filomena Basile b.1841 - d.1871 (daughter of Nicola Basile and Nicoletta Manzi of Buccino). Nicoletta's father was named Domenico Trimarco. Oddly, his mother was named Laurenza Trimarco and all documentation did not list his father. Now, Domenico Trimarco was from Castelluccio Cosentino. Immediately I suspected that Vincenzo DiLorenzo (Pasquale Felitti's grandfather) may have been the father of Domenico Trimarco. Documentation in the USA indicated that Domenico's father may have been named Vincenzo as well. Again, all documents in Italy pertaining to Domenico Trimarco and all his siblings listed that the father was unknown.

        I had my theory but no way to test it until I started using Family Tree DNA. I have a Trimarco relative who is a direct male descendent of Nicoletta's father Domenico. If Domenico Trimarco (father to Nicoletta) was the son of Vincenzo DiLorenzo, then he would have his Y-chromosome. Now all I need was a living direct male descendent of Vincenzo DiLorenzo through his documented marriage to Angiola De Leo. It took about 5 years, but after much searching through records I eventually found one. I did 67 marker tests on both individuals and they matched at all tested markers. The theory was successfully proven! Now this would not account for a brother or other male relative of Vincenzo DiLorenzo being the father of Domenico Trimarco, but I do have multiple documents from USA sources that indicate that Domenico was the son of a "Vincenzo". This was before the 111 marker came out (or else I would have added that too).

        In the end, my great great grandparents Pasquale Felitti and Nicoletta Trimarco were 1/2 1st cousins. In other words, Pasquale's mother Maria DiLorenzo was the half sister of Nicoletta's father, Domenico Trimarco. Pasquale and Nicoletta shared on common grandparent, Vincenzo Michelangelo DiLorenzo (born. 1801 in Castelluccio Cosentino). I later found out that Vincenzo DiLorenzo was mayor of Cosentino and was even jailed later in life for trying to overthrough the local government in the town where he lived.

        In the end, Y-chromosome DNA was the essential piece in solving this problem. I've skipped a lot of details here, but the whole project took about five years and countless hours searching records in Italy and elsewhere. Along the way I learned many more things but I never took my eye off the final goal. It was worth every second!
        That is huge! Congratulations. My wife's family is also from Potenza (Muro Lucano.) There are many people from Basilicata that are living in NYC. It's interesting that you have a Pasquale Felitti in your line because I know a Pat Felitti in NYC. It gives me cause to wonder.

        Comment


        • #5
          Congratulations!

          Makes all the banging one's head against the wall seem worthwhile.

          I am also working on an Italian mystery. My sons' great-great-grandfather is listed as "d'ignoti genitori" and "figlio dello statto" where his parents' names should be. The Capua Caserta civil registration records came online at Ancestry.com a few months ago. I had wondered why the surname Fiero was so uncommon. Every Fiero I knew was related to my ex-husband's family.

          I got one of my sons to do Y-DNA and Family Finder. He only has a few matches on FF that do not match me. One is from his dad's Irish side - another brick wall there but not the Italian one.

          As you have proven - patience and persistence are the keys!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by GayeSherman View Post
            Makes all the banging one's head against the wall seem worthwhile.

            I am also working on an Italian mystery. My sons' great-great-grandfather is listed as "d'ignoti genitori" and "figlio dello statto" where his parents' names should be. The Capua Caserta civil registration records came online at Ancestry.com a few months ago. I had wondered why the surname Fiero was so uncommon. Every Fiero I knew was related to my ex-husband's family.

            I got one of my sons to do Y-DNA and Family Finder. He only has a few matches on FF that do not match me. One is from his dad's Irish side - another brick wall there but not the Italian one.

            As you have proven - patience and persistence are the keys!
            If you don't already know, "d'ignoti genitori" translates to "of unknown parents" and "figlio dello statto" is "son of the state." You probably already know this though. I hope it pans out for you, as in many cases babies were dropped on steps of orphanages throughout history. I too am going through a similar circumstance. Good luck!!

            Comment


            • #7
              KC,

              Thanks much for sharing this great story. It's encouraging for all, but I feel especially useful for the Italian-diaspora community since we're relatively under-represented in genetic genealogy. Hopefully you story will provide the impetus for others to test.

              Vinnie

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by KCWelch View Post
                My great great grandparents were Pasquale Felitti (born. 1869 Vietri di Potenza, Italy - died. 1915 New York, NY USA) < snip >
                Vietri di Potenza (southern Italy) has great records in the USA. The LDS has spectacular records and getting copies wasn't too difficult.
                What a wonderful surprise to see Vietri de Potenza mentioned here. My husband's maternal grandparents were born there; they immigrated to the U.S. via Boston in 1909 and settled in Chicago. Did you obtain the LDS records via your local family history center by ordering certain reels? If so, I will try that route to learn more.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hello! Thanks everyone for the many replies. I am quite proud of this success, particularly since the paper trail led to a dead and and it couldn't be solved without DNA. I remember sitting at my desk when the paper trail had truly dried up and feeling so defeated. I then realized that DNA might be the answer. I've been hooked on this hobby ever since.

                  I actually hired a pro-genealogist in Utah to retrieve the records for me. Since I don't read or speak Italian and have limited free time this was an essential piece of the puzzle. She's a real professional - Kathy Kirkpatrick with the company Gentracer. Her rates are very reasonable and I've done many projects with her. Her reports are fantastic as well. I highly recommend her.

                  Thanks again everyone for posting!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It's very interesting that you say Italian DNA is underepresented on this site. The two relatives I had tested have YDNA that hails from a small town in Italy - Castelluccio Cosentino in Salerno. The two of them overall really don't have that many matches overall. In comparison, I have a lot of matches at all marker (except for 111, in which case I have none). I think that the YDNA of Castelluccio Cosentino is almost non-existent on this site, except for a very few number of people. It's fascinating to see that as this site grows in members, there's increasing potential for new discoveries!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by KCWelch View Post
                      It's very interesting that you say Italian DNA is underepresented on this site. The two relatives I had tested have YDNA that hails from a small town in Italy - Castelluccio Cosentino in Salerno. The two of them overall really don't have that many matches overall. In comparison, I have a lot of matches at all marker (except for 111, in which case I have none). I think that the YDNA of Castelluccio Cosentino is almost non-existent on this site, except for a very few number of people. It's fascinating to see that as this site grows in members, there's increasing potential for new discoveries!
                      I am an adoptee and have been given some minimal information from NY State where I was born, and they reported that the ethnic background of my birth father is Italian. My DNA results support that. However, I rarely get any matches with FF with people who have Italian surnames. The most recent one (Costigliola), I believe actually lives in Italy or somewhere in Europe, but he has never answered my email. I have always believed that fewer Italians test, and that is one reason that I have fewer overall matches here (40), and with 23andMe (398). I keep hoping for a break though, and wish I had the ability to do Y-DNA testing!

                      Judy

                      Comment

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