Super Sleuth

Super Sleuth
Digging Up The Past One Relative At A Time

Thursday, April 7, 2016


I've always loved coming across the box of old photographs at Grandma's house.  Each picture was a treasure and each story behind it was equally as rewarding.  However, everyone seemed so serious in the early 20th century.  Whether it had to do with bad dental hygiene or just nothing to be happy about, it was very seldom that you would see a relative from that era donning a big smile or a goofy grin.  That is why I think the following picture is so humorous. 

This photograph was dated 17 August 1939.  I find this comical because you can almost hear the conversation that is going on.  First of all, let me introduce you to the players.  From left to right:  my great-grandfather Gaetano d'Angelo, my screaming aunt as an infant, my maternal grandmother Giuseppa d'Angelo; on the bottom is my great-grandmother Sebastiana Inserra, and in the back is my paternal grandfather Gennaro Ferrara.  When I see this picture, I chuckle slightly because my grandmother looks like she's saying, "Managia!!"  The baby, my aunt, wants no part of this situation and my grandfather looks aggravated behind her inconsolable stature.  My great-grandfather looks as if he's thinking of running away at any moment and my great-grandmother is slowly losing her hearing from the shrieks behind her.  All in all, a fantastic family moment captured forever on photo paper.  


During one of my sleuthing days, I was running on empty and wasn't coming up with anything monumental, so I tried veering off the main genealogical path and started "branching" off in another direction.  I selected a relative through marriage at random and did an initial search.  I didn't realize that I was about to uncover some information that almost knocked me over.  My great-grandmother's sister was Giovannina Inserra and she was married to a man named Sebastiano Ciaffaglione.  That name stood out to me because it is so different, but I've seen it before way back in the annals of my own family tree in a town called Sortino in Siracusa, Sicily.

While researching my Uncle Sebastiano, I came across his death certificate which stated that his place of birth was "Sortino, Siracusa, Sicily".  Needless to say, my brain kicked into high gear and I wondered if it was possible for my uncle to be linked to my family tree twice.  Three hours later, over a glass of red wine, I had two pedigree charts in front of me.  Not only was my intuition correct, but it turned out that my uncle and my great-grandfather were 5th cousins.  Let me explain:

1.  My great-grandfather was Gaetano d'Angelo.  Going back through the generations on his mother's side, his family did in fact start out in Sortino before they moved to Palagonia and then Vizzini.  He married my great-grandmother, Sebastiana Inserra.
2.  My great-grandmother's sister married Sebastiano Ciaffaglione.  

Not only were Gaetano and Sebastiano 5th cousins, but they were also brothers-in-law!  I wonder if they ever knew while they were alive that they were actually related.  

 My great-grandfather Gaetano d'Angelo (above), and his brother-in-law / 5th cousin, Sebastiano Ciaffaglione (below).

A good day's work I'd say.  Happy hunting!


  1. Elizabeth,

    I want to let you know that your blog is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Jana,

      I am so honored by this! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog and list it on your site. I am very grateful!