52 Ancestors: Starting My Family Research

Posted by: Eileen A. Souza

The 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, initiated by Amy Johnson Crow, is a series of weekly prompts to get you to think about an ancestor and share something about them. The guesswork of “who should I write about” is taken care of. The first theme is Start.

This image is taken from a photo from the 1915 News-Item of all married men from Vigolo Vattaro, Austria with my grandfather, Candido Furlani on the left.

This image is taken from a photo from the 1915 News-Item of all married men from Vigolo Vattaro, Austria with my grandfather, Candido Furlani on the left.

Candido Furlani was known as Condy Furlani and he is my paternal grandfather. I never got to know him as he died in 1938 of pulmonary tuberculosis or black lung at the age of 49. When I began researching my family, I started with him. This was in the mid-nineties and early days for the world wide web.

When I started this research, there was no one alive able to answer my questions and growing up my parents would never speak about their family. My father’s middle name was Condy. Once I asked him about it and he explained that it was his father’s name. So I knew that Condy was my grandfather; that he was Tyrolean and that he had lived in Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. Then, I quickly ran into the proverbial brick wall.

It was time for a research trip to Mount Carmel. While searching the internet for a place to stay in or near Mount Carmel, I stumbled on a site dedicated to the Tyroleans who emigrated from Vigolo Vattaro, Tyrol, Austria and there was a photo of my grandfather–my first genea-miracle. I thought, “OMG, my grandfather is on the Internet.” It was from this web site that I learned how all these men and women came from this town in Austria to Mount Carmel. Many of them were coal miners, including my grandfather.

My second genea-miracle occurred with my discovery of the Family History Centers via Cyndi’s List. I found my nearest center and paid a visit. The staff was very knowledgeable and helpful getting me started. They were able to discover that the Family History Library had microfilmed all the baptisms and marriages for Vigolo Vattaro back to the 16th century. I ordered my microfilms and became a regular visitor to the center. I was able to find my grandfather’s baptismal record in the church register. I have traced his family back to about 1750, but there is still much more on the microfilm–a work in progress.

Vigolo Vattaro is now in Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy. About fifty residents of Vigolo Vattaro, Tyrol, which prior to WWI was part of the Austrian-Hungary Empire, immigrated to the US from about 1880 through 1915 and settled in Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania to mine for anthracite coal. At the end of WWI, the 1919 Treaty of Saint-Germain divided the Tyrol, with two parts remaining in Austria and the south-western portion being absorbed by Italy as Trentino and South Tyrol provinces.


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2 Responses to 52 Ancestors: Starting My Family Research

  1. Pamela S. (Grant) Damm says:

    My grandparents families are from Vigolo Vattaro. My great grandfather, Antonio Tamanini worked as a rock tunnel miner at the construction of a railroad tunnel in Ariburg, Austria from 1880-1883. Antonio and his cousin came to the United States in 1883. He worked as a rock miner in Mt. Carmel, PA. until 1886 when they returned home to marry their sweethearts. Antonio married Paolina Swatzer from St. Anton. In 1911, my great grandparents moved to Vineland, NJ where many other Tyrolean families lived.
    My grandmothers parents were Lucia Salvadori and Jacob Daldon, both born in Sagren. My grandmother, their first child, was born in Maidrich, West Fallis, near Essen in the Alsace-Lorraine region. Jacob and Lucia, and family moved to the US in 1904. They loved in Mahanoy City, Pa, then Oneida, PA, then to Vineland, NJ.
    There are many Tamanini’s and other Tyrolean family members living and buried in Vineland, NJ.

    • Thank you for your comment. It is wonderful to hear from another Vigolani descendent. In my tree, I have a Catterina Marchi who married my 2nd great-grandfather, Giovanni Furlani, in 1854. Catterina’s brother, Domenico Marchi married Madolina Tamanini. Is Madolina connected to your tree?

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