In the times of intercontinental snail mail and language barriers, what do you do when your certified hand- written Italian birth certificates arrive with the wrong gender written?? Confused? Yes, as was I. I requested additional certified copies of my great-grandparents birth certificates from Italy so that I can amend their Louisiana death certificates. Welllll, I received my additional copies, and lo and behold, Liborio AND Anna are listed with gender: maschile. For those of you not completely familiar with Italian or any latin based words, that would mean “male”.
It’s funny, ironic, and a bit annoying.
Two years ago, when I finally switched over to the dark side and caved into applying for a California driver’s license, there was a small mishap on the issuance of my license. I passed my written test with flying colors, however, when my license arrived in the mail, it declared “Sex: M”… yes, it’s true. For about a week, I was a man in the eyes of California. The old man at the Hollywood DMV told me he couldn’t fix the license without proof. He told me he didn’t doubt my story, but he gets a lot of men coming into that DMV claiming to be women. Fortunately I had my birth certificate as proof and did not have to drop my trousers. So now that this mishap has happened again (side note: this happened to my sister on her college ID as well), I simply find it funny and well, ironic. But not in that Alanis Morisette rain on your wedding day sort of way…
I’m going to go ahead and have my lovely father bring these documents in to the Louisiana Records Office and attempt to amend the death certificates. My hope is that the wonderfully nice old women there don’t notice the word maschile on both birth certificates. I’ll let you know how that works out for me.
Alright, there’s a storm in the Gulf… again.
And as has been discussed at great length, my great-grandparents were married in the Houston-Galveston area. The document which has still yet to surface looks like it may be washed away with the onset of Ike. Now, this may be news to some, but Anna (the resilient maternal force that started my family stateside) lived through the great storm of 1900 in Galveston. My Uncle Leo, a great poet, once wrote a poem about Anna living through that storm. Perhaps I’ll post it later for your inspiration. But it just seems like there’s some kind of a theme with her and these great storms in Galveston. My hope is that my missing document will be as resilient as she was in that other storm.
Well since the 1900 disaster, Galveston has built some pretty sturdy storm walls. Storm walls that aren’t looking quite high enough to stop this:
Now I know hurricanes are fickle little (and sometimes not so little) things. But in the event that my missing document “is washed away,” where does this leave me? Do you think the Italian Consulate will accept a letter from the state saying, “Ike ate her homework”?
I hope, for the sake of Galveston and all the people who stayed and decided not to listen to the authorities, that this storm doesn’t do the damage they are predicting. And that those ridiculous news anchors who continually rally the panicking cries will learn to do something productive with their time.
In the meantime, I’m just going to hope that my missing document is sealed away in some airtight/water-resistant space that the county clerks previously forgot to check.
This past Saturday I spent the entire afternoon at the Mormon Temple in Los Angeles. I recognize that this statement is slightly misleading, as it has baffled some to think I was converting or something. To clarify, I was not there to abandon my Catholic roots, but to research my Italian ones. Those fun loving Mormons have a wonderful system of gathering documents and records and the like and then archiving them in their system at Family History Centers nationwide via microfilm/microfiche. The temple here in Los Angeles apparently has the second largest Family History Center outside of their Salt Lake City headquarters.
Mormon Temple Los Angeles
Marilyn and Barbara were my two wonderful research assistants that day. While they were dually impressed with my research thus far, they hoped they’d be able to help me finish off some loose ends I’ve been trying to tie up… mainly, when and where were my great-grandparents married???
To no avail, we found nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Please excuse my ho hum attitude. We did in fact find a few clues. Nothing substantial, but it is something. Here’s what I’ve found:
- Liborio’s brothers were living in Beauregard Parish at the beginning of WW1 and had filled out War Registration Cards. Not sure what this does for me…
- I found no record of Anna or Liborio’s families on the 1900 census in Texas or Louisiana. I did however, find a Bar**** Marcello (someone scratched out the last half of his name on the census report) with the same birthday and immigration date as my great-grandfather but living in New Haven, Connecticut. To note, he went by Barney when he moved to the states and listed Barney on all later census reports.
- Though I have no idea why Liborio would be in New Haven in 1900, I did find many other Marcellos living in New Haven as well. Perhaps they came through New York in 1892 and were living/working in the Northeast before migrating down south. Why his family would head to Deridder, Louisiana from New Haven is beyond me at the moment. But it’s a possible lead…maybe.
- Finally, my last clue. I found a family tree online that stems from my great-grandmother’s family, possibly a brother. I’m just not sure. Well, they had found a marriage certificate from 1903 in Dickinson, Texas. WHICH IS WHERE NONNA LIVED (before she became nonna)! Now, their last name could be common, how do I know it’s even the same family?! How? Well… linked to this marriage certificate, was a story about the groom Antonio. A story provided by his great-granddaughter who happens to be have the same surname as some of our cousins! Kind of a round about connection, but it at least tells me the Liggio family was celebrating weddings in Dickinson, and perhaps buried somewhere in Dickinson lies a marriage certificate that could be the key to my Italian Citizenship.
All in all, the Mormons didn’t give me any concrete facts on my direct family line. But they were very eager to help. And it’s possible I’ve been steered in the right direction.
I’m thinking it’s a good thing I left out the part of my history which includes impersonating Mormons in a New Orleans bar. They might have scowled and judged me. And then promptly kicked me out of their safe haven of family records.