Category Archives: Records Search

Huge Road Block.

In an effort to get on top of my application, I finally found the time to contact the people in the Vital Records office in New Orleans.  For your recollection, the death certs for both of my great-grandparents need to be amended.  The birth dates for both of them are incorrect on the Louisiana death cert. Months back, they sent me the form to amend a birth/death certificate, but it was the wrong form and I’ve just done nothing since.

Well, this morning I called up the lovely people in New Orleans.  The woman who helped me was also named Kathleen, so I was hoping for good things.  And while she extremely nice and really wanted to help me, she couldn’t do anything for me.  Since the death certificates are over 50 years old, they are stored in archives. And once a record goes to archives, the Department of Health Vital Records Division cannot do a thing.  I would have to contact the people in archives.

So I picked up the phone and called Louisiana State Archives.  They were not helpful. They weren’t even nice.  According to the unnamed woman (she wouldn’t even tell me her name!), once a document is in archives, it is officially an historical document and she cannot make changes. There is no loophole.  It is official… even if the data is wrong!

Here I am trying to correct their error.  I’m trying to fix their account of ‘history.’ She would have nothing of it. I tried explaining that the Italians are very picky about their facts. They need everything to match–names, dates, the whole lot. The unnamed woman says to me, ‘I see it all the time.  Documents don’t always match up. But it’s okay. You just gotta roll with it. Dates are quite commonly off by a couple of days or years.’ What?! That’s crazy talk.

So I said to her, ‘But if these dates are off, couldn’t it be seen as two different people?  I mean, how many people do you know name Jim Landry or Chris Billeaud or John Smith, for that matter? They could all be born in and around the same time and you’d be willing to mix up their identities because the documents are there and you’re just gonna roll with it.  How can you accept these inaccuracies when I want to help you fix them?’

She apologized for offering me no help and wished me luck on my journey to nowhere, as my problem cannot be fixed.

So, I now ask you,

Are you personal friends with anyone at the Italian Consulate? LA, Houston, New Orleans?? Do you have a friend who has a friend with a connection at the Italian Consulate?  I need a connection.  Preferably one that can convince the Italians to accept me and my flawed records.

In the mean time, I’m going to try and get an appointment with the Consulate General in Houston during my trip back in December. Last year, they were on holiday while I was in town and couldn’t meet with me.  Hopefully this year, they decide to leave for vacation a bit later.

Current mood: Frustrated. Disappointed. Meh.

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Update with no real update

I received not one but two messages from USCIS today.  You’d think this would be leading to good news. Productive news.  Alas, this is not the case.

I first received an email asking if I’d yet received the certified copies of the Certificate of Naturalization for Liborio Marcello.  Answer is no, but at least they are working on it and diligent in making sure I do in fact get this certified copy.

About an hour after that, the mail arrived at the office with, lo and behold, a letter from USCIS telling me they’ve come up empty on my request for Anna Liggio Marcello.

While yes it’s true I’ve gotten close to squat in actual documents today, I do know that (1) the Certificate of Naturalization for Liborio is most likely almost in my hands and (2) since there is no record on Anna, I just need to write the lovely people in DC and get my official letter stating there is in fact no record.

Getting closer… kind of.

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FOIA Friends

Naturalization Papers are still in the process of being certified.  It’s been nearly six weeks and all they need to do is put a couple little stamps on a few sheets of paper.  You wouldn’t think this would be such an intensive task that needs six weeks to complete.  But that is life I guess.

My new friends in the FOIA office are Danny and John.  Both very helpful and very friendly.   Danny has just called me back to let me know why the certification is taking so long. Apparently they were holding off on certification until they found the records for Anna as well. But now that they know that I’d prefer they just certify Liborio’s and send those along while finishing up with Anna, they’re going to get right to it!

Still no marriage license, but I’m going to go with my plan to have everything but the marriage license and see if I can squirm my way through the system.  If there’s any truth in astrology, I might be in luck! The Gemini is supposedly very sneaky in getting what she wants through scheming and flattery… I think it’s the twins working together maybe.

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21 November 1909

Today would have been my grandfather’s 99th birthday. I never got to meet him. Though I sometimes feel like I have from all the stories I’ve been told and all the photos and old home movies I’ve seen. I know he was a remarkable man and it does truly make me sad sometimes that I never got to hold his hand or hear him say cute grandfatherly things.

But venturing from that sad thought brings me to the wonder that is today. Ninety-nine years ago today my grandfather was born to two immigrant parents in DeRidder, Louisiana. Two immigrant parents who on this day had yet to make any formal declaration of becoming US citizens, giving that cute little baby boy Italian citizenship without any of them realizing it. How do I know this?

Well, two days ago I received a package from the US Immigration and Citizenship Office. My request for research on Liborio Mancuso Marcello has been completed. I have copies of all of his naturalization paperwork. Granted the lovely researchers ignored my request for certified copies, so I have to go back to these people and request that they actually do that. Which, on the time line they’ve been working, will most likely take another six months.

Apart from that development, I’ve been to one Italian language meetup where I was less than satisfactory in my Italian speaking. BUT practice is practice. There are a couple more Italian get togethers in the area before Christmas. So if I get myself off to those, there you have it, more practice.

Plus, my younger brother has just recently started studying Italian as well! That’s right, we’re getting the train moving. Soon everyone will be speaking Italian with me!

Io so che volete a parlare italiano con me… don’t lie to yourself, i know it’s true!

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The Gender Issue

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.

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Storm’s a-brewing…

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:

Rise in Water Levels for Imke

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.

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Time spent with the Mormons

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.

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