A couple months ago I signed up with Ancestry.com to search out relatives and build a family tree. Its amazing how much info the Mormon church has in it‘s archives(they own Ancestry.com). They have the largest repository of genealogical records in the world. When I first started the tree I knew the names of maybe 20 or 30 relatives, now I’m up to over 500 and 8 generations out with no end in sight (Italians sure seem to have a lot of children and spouses.)
So anyway, in my on again, off again pursuit of adding to the family tree, one of my dreams has always been to locate some of my Italian relatives still living in Italy. I know they still live there because my great grandmother went back there to visit them in the 1970′s. Unfortunately, she never kept any letter or address books, so we were never able to find out who they were.
Well, thanks to a few old photos and some brilliant detective work by another cousin, whom I just met a few weeks ago on Ancestry.com, the mystery has been solved. We were able to identify and make contact with an Italian relative still living in Sicily who has a daughter that lives in Chicago. This is big deal around the breathinstephen household.
One of the reasons I was never successful in tracking down relatives still living in Italy, was because the family name was misspelled. We always thought that the Italian family name was Maita, but it turns out that before my great great grandfather came to America, the name was actually Maida ( with a D instead of a T). No one really knows why the spelling of the name was changed, but I’m sure things like this happened all the time during the mass immigration era of the early 1900′s. Could be that the name was misspelled on a legal document when they entered the country and no one thought of correcting it. Who knows, but whatever the reason, it was that simple spelling error that through us off the path.
And what am I going to do with this new found knowledge? Go to Italy and meet them of course. They’re probably just as surprised by all this as we are. We’re certainly going to have a lot of stories to share…..about 100 years worth.
If you’re looking for help in building your Family tree, I can highly recommend the kind folks at “LEST WE FORGET”