YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN...DISCOVERED...WELL, MAYBE!
Every once in a while, you have to give yourself two thumbs up for a job well done. It's okay to pat yourself on the back every now and then, but don't get too confident. That's usually when that brick wall presents itself again.
For many years, my maternal grandfather told me he was from "the heart of Naples". Not really knowing where the "heart" was, I just took his word for it and let it go at that. Being a young girl at the time, I was not concerned about my questions not being answered because I just assumed that Grandma and Grandpa would be around forever. How I wish I knew then what I know now, but hindsight is 20/20, right? Had I known that my maternal grandfather would pass when I was twenty-two years old, I would have planned accordingly. I remember the stories he would tell, but I never thought to ask too much about his family.
As I conducted my research, I realized that this was the only branch of my tree that couldn't be traced back further than three generations. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE TO THE HERITAGE HUNTER! While searching for some clues at my maternal grandparents' house, I came across an updated copy of my grandfather's birth certificate. Consider the photo below...
"Comune di Napoli"...well, Grandpa was correct. He was from Naples, but Naples is a big place. There are smaller sections within Naples with different names. When I consulted Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org, I discovered that there were over thirty different areas to search through. Oh, good. Normally, I would spend the entire weekend with toothpicks holding my eyelids open, but I was becoming frustrated. Where in the heck was this branch of my family?
Ah-ha!! A clue! It seems that on this document, my grandfather was born in the "Mercato" section of Napoli. Alright! Now I'm getting somewhere. When I returned to my websites of choice, they did, in fact have a section labeled "Mercato". There was just one small problem...the records were only available prior to 1865. Well, isn't that special? My grandfather was born in 1911; his parents were born in 1884 and 1891 respectively. Dead end! Not only that, but when I decided to peruse the set of documents anyway, FamilySearch stated that I couldn't view them on my home computer, but rather, I would have to view them from an approved FamilySearch site. We do have one in Staten Island, but I won't be able to get there until the summer when I have some time.
What can I do in the interim? If you have information regarding an ancestor's place of birth, like the town's name, you can always send an inquiry letter to the State Archives there. You can request information regarding birth, marriage, death, and even a family status report. It usually takes a couple of weeks to receive a response if you receive any at all. Sometimes, if you are contacting certain areas in Italy, they ask you for a small free. I once had to pay five euro for a document they sent me. Not too bad for receiving a vital piece of family information. My next step is to write to the State Archives in Naples and see if they can assist me further.
I have to laugh though because my maternal grandfather had a very interesting sense of humor. He liked practical jokes and occasionally played tricks on us. I can see him now...laughing devilishly from beyond just waiting for me to crack the case.
"Very funny, Grandpa! You stick that tongue out at me! I'll crack the code...you just wait! Hey, Grandma...how about a little help?"