COINCIDENTAL OR DIVINE INTERVENTION?
I read obituaries. There I said it, and I am not embarrassed at all. Believe it or not, if you are a sleuther, like me, you can find a plethora of information in two to three paragraphs. It's funny that a person's life can be summed up in a little 3 x 5 space, but it could be the beginning of a researching path that can open many doors.
About two years ago, as I was perusing the daily death notices in my local paper, I came across a woman who was over 100 years old. These always fascinate me the most, and not to be too biased, but the majority of the people who reach 100+ in my region of the world have some roots in Italy. This woman was no exception. I do not remember her name, but my eyes bugged out when I saw that she was born in Vizzini, Catania, Sicilia, Italia. Obviously, I was interested because one branch of my tree is rooted right in Vizzini...my maternal grandmother. As I continued to read, with pen in hand, I jotted down some information. The information that was most useful to me was the fact that this woman belonged to an Italian club. The members of this club all have roots in Vizzini. I had heard about this club as a child, but I never knew too much and, as I grew up, I thought it was just an urban legend...the elusive Land of Oz. Well, anyway, I was able to obtain the address of this club using the Internet. The club was only a bridge away in Brooklyn, New York, so I was feeling lucky that I would be able to uncover some fantastic things.
About two weeks after I sent the letter, I was starting to feel a little dismayed and figured that since I did not know the secret password, I was not going to be contacted. I couldn't have been farther from the truth. I came home from work one day and checked my answering machine messages. It is something my husband and I don't do often to our discredit. There was a message from a gentleman named Salvatore and he happened to be the Vice President of this club. He said that my letter almost got thrown out, but he happened to notice it on the desk and read it. When I called him back, I spoke to his wife, Marianne. The moment I heard her voice, I felt a connection. After a lovely conversation, I invited Sal and Marianne to my house for dinner. They live not 15 minutes from my house...another coincidence? Besides the fact that there is about a 35-year age difference between us, we became fast friends.
Both Sal and Marianne were born in Vizzini and were able to tell me many things about the little town. Not only that, but they go back to Sicily every summer and offered to tour us around Vizzini when my husband and I visited in 2014! Due to their generosity, I not only stood in the town of my ancestors' births, but I was also able to walk in the house of my ancestors, see the church in which they were baptized and married, and visited the cemetery where their bodies remain. It was truly a religious experience for me.
When we returned to the States, Sal and I were kicking around the idea of building a website that would link and connect all individuals with a root in Vizzini. We launched the website last year and are in the process of sending out an application (census) to all those that we know who have ancestral roots in Vizzini. We are very excited to start on this endeavor and hope that it will be a successful undertaking. We have such a good relationship and it all started with an obituary.
If you have roots in Vizzini, Catania, Sicilia, Italia, or know someone who does, please visit our website:
Left to Right: Elizabeth (Me), my husband Kevin, Marianne, and Sal in Vizzini, Catania, Sicilia, Italia on 7 JUL 2014.