How The Search For My Roots Began

When I decided to take a vacation to Sicily (birthplace of my maternal grandparents) I knew I wanted to thoroughly cover the island – not just a 4/5 day tour. So I selected a 16 day tour through Road Scholar – The Treasures of Sicily.

Once I’d booked the tour, I decided that even though I had been unsuccessful many years before trying to find my grandparents immigration information that I would try again before going to Sicily. This time the research was successful and did not take long to find Ellis Island immigration documents for Vincenzo Palmeri and Francesca Giaramida from Santa Ninfa, Sicily. Finding them in the 1930 U.S. Census assured me that I the right people because the address where they were living was the same one I would visit them at as a child in Akron, Ohio. Having found Grandma and Grandpa Palmeri, I decided to see if there was anyone related to me still living in Santa Ninfa or nearby. There had been a devastating earthquake in 1968 and all contact with the family there had been lost. I reached a bit of stumbling block when I was unsuccessful in contacting the local “clerk” for the town via email or telephone.

One last Google search brought me to someone who recommended a couple of researchers in Palermo, Ciro Grillo and Giovanni Montanti. I emailed them the Ellis Island information I’d found about my grandparents immigration (departure date, arrival date, ship’s name) and their approximate dates of birth. Within a few weeks Giovanni was able to send me copies of my grandparent’s birth certificates. From there he found that my grandfather’s brother stayed in Santa Ninfa and from that discovered that I have at least 50 relatives in a town of 5,400!! Oh how I wish my mother could have been around for this news.

And so my journey to find my Sicilian family roots begins. I have decided I will leave the Road Scholar tour near the end and go to spend three days in Santa Ninfa meeting MY FAMILY!!

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7 thoughts on “How The Search For My Roots Began

  1. Welcome to Sicily Diane!!!Looking forward to meet you in Palermo and go to Santa Ninfa to visit the town and the land of your grandparents and meet your relatives!!

  2. Pam Howell

    I am enjoying your trip immensely. Aloha, Pam

  3. What a wonderful story! I too, used Giovanni to do family research in my quest for acquiring dual citizenship. During the records research, Giovanni discovered relatives still living in my (maternal) grandfather’s home town. He “introduced” me to them, showing them our placement on the family tree. I was able to meet them and visit with them when I vacationed in Sicily in 2007.

    I hope your visit creates wonderful memories that will last forever.

  4. Frances Donatelli

    Thank you so much for sharing your trip. I can’t wait to hear about our relatives, so excited you get to meet them. I’m sure your mom’s smiling at you. Take care of yourself cousin.

    • I can’t believe it will only be a few more days before I get to meet them. I have the printout of the photo you sent to bring to show them. If I understand correctly a first cousin to our parents is there.

  5. Roman Bachli

    This is very touching, Diana, and I am happy to have been in your group “to hold hands” before and after you visited with your new-found old family. – What a difference a few decades make: I came over, from Switzerland, at the beginning of the jet age (1961), and thus was never cut off from family or friends there: I could go back to visit just about every year, and they came and come to visit me in NY frequently.
    Also, no earthquakes in Switzerland – touch wood! tocca ferro!

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