Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Message boards and finding my Italian family.

On my return home from Como I sat down and started to work on my family history sorting all the information that I had managed to collect into a yearly sequence and by the time I had put everything together I had information from 1800 onwards, but I was missing a space of several years for my Grandfather, I had the information from Como council that he had left for Genoa in 1899 and his naturalisation records for 1922 where he gives part of his merchant marine service, the other missing link and one of my big challenges was my search for living Desio’s and where to look.
One of my most important breakthroughs was made by leaving messages on message boards. This can be a problem because you can start to receive a lot of spam, but if you are successful you can always change your e mail address which is what I ended up having to do. There are many places that you can add a message, Ancestry have message boards which get used frequently and also Rootsweb have mailing lists but choose carefully on which list you post a message as there are so many and might not reach the people that you want to find. I must say that it was neither of these two boards that eventually helped me but one that I just happened to bump into. I wrote into google a search using variations such as “Como Italian Desio message board” “Desio Italy Argentine message” Famiglia Desio Larghi Como mensaje” and eventually came up with a message board in Florida I am still not sure why I put a message there I think it was because the person running it was called Carlo Desio if I remember correctly and I thought anything was worth trying.

Don’t put too much information about your family, just enough for the person reading the message to see that there is a link, the name of the person you are researching, where he was born if known and a rough year of birth, the only thing I added was the name of his father. Note down where you have left messages so that you can always return to see if there are any replies, not all message boards pass the replies back to you and then cross your fingers. There is no need to return constantly to the boards but go back about once a month.

Admittedly I had forgotten completely about this particular message board and it was only when I was doing a search with Google using my Grandfathers full name that I found it again, over 6 months had gone by and I nearly fell of the chair when I saw there was a reply.

I received several messages from Ancestry and contacted with many Desio descendents but none were actually related with my family, even today we still keep in touch. But this one was special it said that her Great grandfather was called Edoardo Desio and his wife had been Annette Arrigo both from Como in Italy. I replied straight away and hoped for a reply after such a long time; Maria had placed a reply to my email 5 months earlier.

By the next morning there was a reply to my email, I nearly jumped for joy because all the information she was giving me was correct, and indeed this person was part of the Desio family. It turned out that my grandfather’s brother had immigrated to Argentine late 1893 early 1894 (Note the Comune of Como did have a wrong date of him leaving Como) he married very soon after his arrival. Maria had tried to find his arrival to Argentine but had not been able to find it, her family knew the date of Eduardo’s birth and I sent her copies of the rest of the family and filled her in with what I had been able to obtain. So after over 100 years we were able to reunite the two sides of the family, my second cousins still live in Argentine and his daughter Maria lives in the USA, my Spanish really was going to come in useful, what a small world, both brothers leave Italy in two different directions and yet we end up in Spanish speaking countries.
Sadly even today we have not been able to find out what happened to Edoardo father after he left Como and today we still continue our search.

Message boards can be a very useful tool to help you find not only other members of your family but also they can help you find out where your ancestor came from. If you put the surname and Italy into a search engine you can often see links to genealogical pages and messages that have been left by others. Depending on the surname you may be very lucky and find the right town or village, there are many helpful people out there willing to give you advice and help. Often if they share the same surname with you they can suggest as to which area your ancestor may have come from.

The Photograph at the top of the page is of Eduardo Desio and his wife Francisca