Welcome to Baselice



This site is dedicated to the families of the small town of Baselice, in the province of Benevento, in the region of Campania, Italy. Baselice is a hilly town, a bit hard to get to, but when I finally made it there in 2005, I felt a strong connection to my grandfather, Adamo Leone, and all of his roots. I’ve devoted a few years to documenting the family relationships of the town by viewing the microfilmed documents provided by the Mormon Church.

I’d like to invite all Baselice residents and descendants to use this site as a meeting place and reference library. In a town of approximately 2,000 people, where families have remained in place for dozens of generations, everyone is related somehow.

Getting Really Productive



I’ve been taking a disciplined approach to my research lately, and it is paying off huge dividends. While this applies more to my own family tree than to my Baselice tree of people born no later than 1860, I feel it is a tip well worth sharing.

In short, I’m now working with a plan: documenting what I have, seeing what I need, and getting as much of it as possible.

It began two years ago when I wrote a program called Census Taker (it’s free, but it will only work on a Windows XP or Windows 7 computer) and generated a list of everyone in my tree who should be found on any U.S. census from the beginning through 1940. So I’ve got a Word document of names with their birth and death dates (if known) and a string of census years during which they are likely to have been alive. (Note: The Census Taker software does not produce an alphabetical list, so I had to do that manually. If I were a better programmer, I’d do a few more things to my program.)

I’ve also got an Excel file that I call my Document Tracker, which is an alphabetical list of everyone in my tree for whom I have any documentation. Then there are columns for the types of documents, including birth/marriage/death certificates, censuses, draft registration forms, immigration and naturalization records, etc. The last column is what I still need to find.

So, I am now going through the alphabetized list of who’s-on-what-census, doing a search on ancestry.com, and noting everything I find in my Document Tracker. Then I fill in the what-I-still-need-to-find column, and delete the person from the who’s-on-what-census list.

Since I started using this plan (what I have, what I need, what I can find), I’ve added scores of census forms, new family members, verified birth and death dates, and fixed any missing documentation or lack of sources from my early days of genealogy. Each time I sit down and use this approach, I beef up my tree substantially.

My Iamarino tree, which includes 12,000 or more people from the Baselice tree, is getting close to 19,000 people. Even without the Baselice names, that’s a huge tree! But better still, it’s well documented. I add each image (census form, ship manifest, draft card, etc.) to each person to whom it applies as a photo.

So how about this for a New Year’s resolution: No more scattershot name-grabbing happy-to-find-more-people genealogy. Develop a plan and reap the rewards!

Happy 2015, everyone!

Finding and Fixing Errors


I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but there is a significant amount of human error involved in these vital records from the 1800s. The most common error happens when a child dies very young, and the next born child of the same sex is given the same name. For example, let’s say Maria Leone dies as a baby in 1815 and another girl is born to the same parents in 1816. She will also be named Maria Leone.

The error occurs when Maria gets married and the civil servant accidentally pulls the birth record for the deceased Maria instead of the newlywed Maria. Before I realized this was a possibility, I had a number of dead toddlers married with children! All you can do is go with logic and write it off as a human error.

I was reminded of this phenomenon a few days ago when I decided to use the new, improved error finding report in Family Tree Maker. There are many options from which to select, such as a marriage date occurring after a death death, a birth date occurring before the child’s mother is 13 years old, or a birth date occurring more than one year after the child’s father has died.

After running this report, I revisited my raw data file (a simple text file of every fact I collected from the Baselice documents) and made several corrections to my Family Tree database. There are still a number of clear errors, but I don’t know if I will be able to find the definitive truth. One example is a man that I had to make older because his parents’ birth and death dates are documented, and they would have been either too old or far too dead to have him. But making him older made him too old for his own children. So something is wrong; perhaps a generation is missing.

Many times I believe the error happens because the entire population of the town used such a small number of names. Every family has an Angelamaria, for example. So perhaps I’ve given a child to the wrong couple—a couple with the exact same names as another couple.

I will continue to revisit the error report and my raw data, and hopefully make correct assumptions. Meanwhile, here is a link to the latest database containing a staggering 15,970 people!

The Reason We Do What We Do

When I had to choose a name for my personal web domain, I thought about why I spend so much time on genealogy. “For the cousins, of course!” So I chose www.forthecousins.com. But here’s the man whose unknown past spurred me to tackle this research project: my grandfather, Adamo Leone, seen below with his brother Noé (my grandfather is on the right).

My inspiration: Noe and Adamo Leone

These guys are the reason I took on this massive project. They are my Uncle Noé Leone and his brother, my grandfather, Adamo Leone. Two Baselice boys.

Have Your Found Your Ancestors?


Immediately after my last post I started a new job that has taken me away from my genealogy hobby. But lately I’ve had a bit of free time, so I’ve been enhancing my non-Baselice tree, adding facts and documents that were missing, such as census forms and ship manifests.

I recently posted a note on a Facebook page devoted to Baselice (https://www.facebook.com/groups/700487333325608/), letting people know about my extensive Baselice database. I got a few Likes (mostly from my cousins in America), but no inquiries yet. My dream is to have someone come forward and share their knowledge of the people who were born in Baselice after 1860.

I also posted a request for advice on how to find out if my grandfather’s brother, Noé Leone, died in World War I. I only know that he did not die in Baselice.

So, while I wait for these couple of seeds to sprout something, I was wondering if any of you have discovered solid links to your ancestors in this database. Let me know.

The Leg-work Is Done!!!


So, was it worth more than five years of my life spent squinting at microfilm and entering data into my computer to get 16,375 names of people, almost all of whom are related to me through blood or marriage?

YES! It was!

I have finally finished transcribing every vital record (birth, marriage and death) from my grandfather Leone’s town of Baselice, Italy, between 1809 and 1860. Only by gathering every single fact and entering it into a database like Family Tree Maker could I tell who was related to me. The town never had much more than 2,000 residents at any time, and the vast majority of them were related, albeit distantly.

My one regret is that I was eager to export all of my relatives from my overall Baselice Family Tree file into my personal Iamarino Family Tree. Since I did that before finishing this project, for the past year I have had to make any edits, additions, and corrections to both files. I can’t remember why I didn’t realize that was going to happen.

Go to the Family Trees page on this blog to download the Baselice GEDCOM file for use in your own family tree software. If you have membership at Ancestry.com, the tree is there in a nicer format at http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/61798328/family.

If you have relatives from this town but do not have Ancestry.com membership, email me at diannohama@optimum.net and I believe I can send you an invitation that will allow you to see it.

So what’s next? I am continuing to fine-tune the tree. I’ve found a number of discrepancies in the documents that have to be resolved, plus I am tracking down some of the families that moved to neighboring towns. There are documents for them available on FamilySearch.org.

I want to let the Comune of Baselice and current residents know that I’ve done this work. If you have any ideas for publicizing this work, let me know. I hope we’re related!

Working on the Final Reels of Microfilm


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Last summer when I moved out of my Pennsylvania home, I put this research project on hold until I finished relocating. Now I am home in New York, and I’ve ordered the last four reels of Baselice microfilm. They are on permanent loan at my nearest Family History Center. The reels cover the years 1824-1843, and I hope they will fill in many gaps in my family history.

My strategy with the last of the film is to go straight to each index—the listing of people included in each set of birth, death and marriage records—and scan them for the last names that are most important to me: Leone, Iamarino, Iammucci, Pisciotti. In a Notepad file on my laptop, I type in the person’s name and what I can glean from the index. Then I back up and find the individual documents, taking down all of the pertinent information.

Lots of times I will see an irresistible last name, like Pallotta or Bozza, and I’ll take down that information because I know it will somehow be a relative of mine. I have followed this format for 1824-1839 so far and will continue tomorrow.

When I’ve finished grabbing the most exciting people from the indexes, I will go back and take down information for absolutely everyone, as I have in the past.

After each session’s notetaking, I return home and plug the information into my Family Tree Maker file to see what I’ve learned. One of the best new discoveries was that a Leonardo Pisciotti about whom I had gathered information, turned out to be the brother of my great great grandmother Caterina Pisciotti.

Each time I update my tree, I synch it with the version I keep on ancestry.com. A bit less often I will update the GEDCOM version that I keep on the free RootsWeb site.

It seems, now, as if I really will finish this project some day, and then I’ll exhaust every measure to share it with other descendants of Baselice.

Articles Published Online


I’ve started submitting instructional genealogy articles for online publication, and since this Baselice project has taught me almost all I know, I thought I would list the articles here. Please contact me if you have any questions about them.

Note: Yahoo Voices had published the first three articles on this list, but they’ve closed up shop. I’ve provided a PDF of those articles below.

Italian Words You Must Know


Locating vital records for your Italian ancestors won’t do you much good if you can’t read any Italian. Here are four web sites and some of my own tips to help you extract vital information from those vital records.

1. https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/Italy_Language_and_Languages#Key_Words

Here are some key Italian words and their meanings as they relate to birth, marriage and death records.

Italian: English
anno, -i: year(s) [di anni venti = 20 years old]
battesimo, -i: baptism(s), christening(s)
cognome: surname, last name
domiciliato: residing
figlia, -o: child, daughter or son
fu: was [can indicate that someone is deceased: fu Giuseppe = son of the late Giuseppe]
genitori: parents
giorno: day
madre: mother
marito, sposo: husband
matrimonio, sposato, coniugato, conjugato, maritato, -i: marriage(s)
mese, -i: month(s)
morte, morire, decesso, -i: death(s)
nata, -o, nascita, -e: born, birth(s)
neonato, neonata, infante, bambino -a: child (baby)
nome: name [il nome di Maria = the name of Maria]
ore: hour [alle ore nove = at nine o’clock]
padre: father
parrocchia, parroco: parish
professione: occupation [di professione contadino = a farmer]
pubblicazioni, notificazioni: marriage banns
seppellimento, sepolto, sepolture, -i: burial(s)
sposa, moglie: wife
suddetto: same as above, ditto
vedovo -a: widow

2. http://translate.google.com/?langpair=en%7Cit#it|en|

Google’s translation tool does a better job than any other I’ve tried.

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_name#Italy

This page explains a bit about how surnames work in Italy. It’s also important to know that Italian women keep their maiden name for life, and that names may be presented Last-name-first, First-name-last.

4. http://italian.about.com/od/grammar/a/aa042600a.htm

Almost every Italian vital record I have viewed spells out dates and years rather than using numerals. So you must know your numbers!

1 uno
2 due
3 tre
4 quattro
5 cinque
6 sei
7 sette
8 otto
9 nove
10 dieci
11 undici
12 dodici
13 tredici
14 quattordici
15 quindici
16 sedici
17 diciassette
18 diciotto
19 diciannove
20 venti
21 ventuno
22 ventidue
23 ventitré
24 ventiquattro
25 venticinque
26 ventisei
27 ventisette
28 ventotto
29 ventinove
30 trenta
40 quaranta
50 cinquanta
60 sessanta
70 settanta
80 ottanta
90 novanta
100 cento
1800 mille ottocento
1900 mille novecento
2000 due mille

How I Got Started


It’s critical to know the exact town your ancestors came from in Italy because the records are kept at a very local level. In my own family, my grandmother and her siblings always said their father and mother were from Pastene and Avellino, respectively. But my own discovery of ship manifests, birth records and draft cards showed me that he was from Sant’Angelo a Cupolo, which is the municipality that contains Pastene, and she also lived in Sant’Angelo a Cupolo, but her older brothers were born in Tufo in the province of Avellino, not in the city of Avellino as we had believed.

If you are searching the records of the wrong town, you will never find your ancestors’ vital records. My two grandfathers came from the neighboring towns of Baselice and Colle Sannita, but the only time someone from Colle Sannita appears in Baselice documents is when a man from Colle moves to Baselice to marry a woman from Baselice. This phenomenon has enabled me to trace some distant relatives with my maiden name into the next town.

So how did I begin this journey when I knew so very little about my grandfather Adamo Leone’s ancestry? Thanks to Italian ancestry message boards, I made a friend in Italy who was willing to do a little legwork for me in exchange for my research of his ancestors who’d been in America. This friend, Luigi, went to the town hall in Baselice armed with the names and approximate birth dates of my grandfather’s parents and two siblings. The town hall furnished him with documentation of their birth, marriage and death dates, but they did not supply the names of my grandparents’ parents.

So now I knew my great grandparents’ exact birth dates. I looked at the FamilySearch.org (http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/FHC/frameset_fhc.asp?PAGE=library_fhc_find.asp) and discovered that they had microfilmed vital records for the town of Baselice from 1809-1860, so I began ordering them for use at a local Family History Center. I located my great grandparents’ birth records and voila, there were the names and ages of their parents.

I continued looking at the rolls of film, scanning for the surnames I knew the best: Leone, Iammucci, Pisciotti, and occasionally finding familiar surnames from the neighboring town, like Iamarino, Pilla, Cocca, and writing down all the information in notebooks. This was far too slow a process, so I started entering the information straight into Family Tree Maker. But even that was too slow and could lead to redundancies if I didn’t do a thorough check to make sure I didn’t already have one of the people mentioned in a particular document.

So I decided I would type every pertinent fact from every single document into a plain text file, zipping through the documents at a very brisk pace. Then I would go home and transfer the data from the text file into Family Tree Maker, doing my due diligence to avoid redundancy. I developed my own shorthand for capturing every bit of information succinctly. Here’s an example of each type of document:

Birth record:
-Caterina Pisciotti b 26 dec 1819 to Giovanni di Nicola 26 and Dorodea Petruccelli 26

This is my great great grandmother. She was born on Dec. 26, 1819 to Giovanni (age 26) the son of Nicola and Dorodea Petruccelli (age 26). When available, I also included the date of baptism, which was almost always the same day or the next day.

Death record:
-Nicola Pisciotti 68 d 4 jan 1819 di Giovanni di Rosa Bianco widow of Rosa Pecora

This is my 4th great grandfather who died at the age of 68 of Jan. 4, 1819. He was the son of Giovanni Pisciotti and Rosa Bianco, and he was the widow of Rosa Pecora. If the document said “fu Giovanni” rather than “di Giovanni” I would know that Giovanni had died before Jan. 1819, so I am careful to record whether it says “di” or “fu”. This also tells us that Rosa Pecora, Nicola’s wife, died before Jan. 1819. That’s a lot of information.

Marriage record:
-Antonio Maria Colucci 23 di Nicolagiovanni 54 di Isabella Marucci 50 to wed Angelamaria Marucci 20 di Lorenzo 58 di Agostina Pisciotti 56
–banns 3 jan 1819
–banns 10 jan 1819
–wed 18 jan 1819
–church 18 jan 1819

These are distant cousins. From these facts I know everyone’s birth year and that they’re all alive in Jan. 1819. In Italy at that time, a couple had to twice announce their intention to marry, usually one week apart (Jan. 3 and Jan. 10, 1819), and then they were married civilly (Jan. 18, 1819). There was also a church wedding, which was sometimes the same day, but more often it seemed to be weeks later. I don’t know if the couple was allowed to live together and consummate the marriage before the church ceremony. You would think not!

So, from these thousands and thousands of gathered facts, I used Family Tree Maker to help piece together extended families. I found six siblings for my grandfather’s mother, siblings for each of her parents, and many as seven generations of ancestors for my grandfather, about whom I had known next to nothing. Through marriage, I have some connection to a enormous amount of the people in the database. The extended family tree becomes far too large to ever print or even understand, although I would like to try to wallpaper a room with it some day. (Maybe when my son moves out…)

Within the span of microfilmed documents covering 1809-1860, I have had to skip the years of 1825-1843 because I am relocating and ran out of time. Once I’m settled, I plan to order the film for those years and complete the project. Then it’s on to my other grandfather’s town of Colle Sannita! I would desperately love to document my grandmother’s roots in Sant’Angelo a Cupolo, but Family Search has not microfilmed their documents.

This is a huge time commitment, but I have absolutely no regrets about doing it.