After the devastating loss (theft) of my watercolor journals over a week ago now, I decided I was ready to do a little more writing. Thank you to those of you who read about what happened and wrote to offer me your condolences. I use that word because truly I felt as if someone I loved had died and my grief was profound. I’m trying to get over it and move on. I know that many people have lost things far more precious and even though I don’t want to negate my feelings (in the words of my friend Elizabeth) it is nevertheless true and I know I have to move on and get over it.
On Tuesday we decided we should return to Polizzi Generosa to try to locate my grandfather, Gandolfo Lore’s birth records and were delighted at how easy they were to find, since I knew the date of his birth and the names of his parents. We entered the office of the Comune in the city of Polizzi Generosa and a lovely young woman named Theresa was enlisted to search through the ancient ledger books, for the year and month of my grandfather’s birth. Sure enough, there he was, entry # 37 of that year, with the names of his parents clearly spelled out. These old ledgers are really something to see, as I have described before, all hand written in the most lovely formal script, like a wedding invitation. Some are harder to read than others and this is partly due to the different way that the letters are formed and some due to the fact that, as now, some people just have more legible handwriting! The only thing that sort of stumped me was the date of his birth. I had in my records, that his birthday was the 22 of February 1900. In the ledger, it was recorded as the 16th. I have asked my sister to do a bit of research on her end to see what she could find, but there seemed to be no mistaking the records that I found are the birth records of Gandolfo, my mother’s father!
We also learned, and I think I mentioned this before, that St. Gandolfo is the patron saint of Polizzi Generosa and that many, many baby boys are given this name! That and the fact that Lo Re (spelled that way, with the capital “R”) is a name that is recognized as being one that is common in this particular city. We are finding that this is the case with Italian last names, that certain names are common in certain cities and that you can be pretty sure that if someone’s name is Lore, that they came from this particular city. Interesting.
We learned the names of my great great grandparents also and if you are interested, here they are:
My grandfather’s name was Gandolfo Lore.
(somewhere along the line he changed it from the Lo Re spelling)
His parents were Margarita (Maria) Di Martino, born 12 December 1866 and Stefano Lo Re, born 31 December 1860.
Margarita’s parents were Giuseppe Di Martino and Salvadora David (another common name in Polizzi)
Stefano’s parents were Vincenzo Lo Re and Rosa Giocomarra
These are not names I have ever heard mentioned in my family and it thrills me to know that I now know who they were. Unfortunately, this is as far I can take this with the city, because their records do not go any further back. I’m delighted to know that this is the area they came from and that their families always lived in this city, in this area and knowing that I can trace them to this place is wonderful to me.
I know that this city has origins, which date from the 4th century BC. I know that some of my ancestors could have been Byzantines, Arabs or Normans. I know that the surrounding countryside is rich with natural beauty, tall mountains, green pastures, abundant wildlife. That traditions handed down through the ages, were surely handed down in my own family from Salvadora to Margarita (Maria) who passed them to my grandmother Clothilde who married Gandolfo and from Clothilde to my mother Mary and from her to me. A continuous line that spreads throughout the centuries in this Sicilian village across the ocean and back again. I felt this connection so vividly, standing in this city, seeing the names of these great-great grandparents written in ink, laid down in this book and now I do the same, I write down these names and pass them on, to my children, to their children, to protect and preserve and to feel proud knowing that this is the place of their “origine” as they say in Italian and it is a wonderful feeling to know where I came from and to know that this is the place, this is the land, these are the people.
If you care to learn more about this city, visit their website at http://www.polizzigenerosa.it