Vincenzo is approaching 90 and ready to put the finishing touches on his family history project. He had completed all he could do on all lines except his OWN surname. He visits relatives in Italy regularly and over the last few years has often dropped by to discuss his latest findings and ask for guidance. This time he asked for my help in finding his ancestors birth record to complete his line. The birth was 1813, so completion of the line wasn’t even close, but he couldn’t wait any longer to put his work in print. We had discussed this issue in the past and I reminded him that he should have searched for the baptism in the parish of San Michele Archangelo in Arpino as this was noted on his marriage record from Isola del Liri where he married. He confessed that he had done this with the help of the sacristan and a local history professor but they hadn’t located anything.
I promised to put this issue to rest.
Knowing that they had already looked in the parish records I went to the town anagrafe office where I know they have civil census dated 1814 and birth indexes from 1809. The indexes are not in good condition (I hope they will be our next digitizing project) but will be useful. A first pass in the birth index didn’t reveal anything so I went to the 1814 census. This family was the only one of this surname in the town in 1814. Father, mother, and two sons, one of which was Vincenzo’s ancestor. Back to the birth index where a more careful study found the elusive record. 1813 just as predicted. This means the date of the civil census is not accurate as Felicantonio is the father we were looking for and is shown as unmarried in the census. It didn’t matter. This birth record together with the census record would take Vincenzo’s family line back to a respectable 1762.
Knowing what records are available in a town and parish can speed up a search and break down brick walls!