Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Connection discovered with one branch of Chicago Spadoni family

Genealogical research is very much like doing a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes you swear a piece must have fallen on the floor and slid under the carpet. No amount of searching can turn up the elusive piece that fits in a certain spot. You think you have tried them all, yet logic tells you that you must have seen that certain piece and yet not recognized it—so you have to start over again – and sometimes someone else comes along and pops the missing piece into place with no seeming effort.
Manon Spadoni, one of Narciso's daughters,
and my 12th cousin.

I tried for two months last spring to find out how Narciso Spadoni, who emigrated from Borgo a Buggiano, Italy, to Chicago in 1906, fit into our ever-enlarging Spadoni family tree. I had established contact in 2012 with Narciso’s great great granddaughter, Wendy Manganiello, and we both had been eagerly waiting to find out how we were related. Since then, I had connected Spadoni families from Seattle, Tacoma and Alameda to our Gig Harbor family, and also found a distant cousin in Italy who has become a good friend. The connection to Narciso, however, eluded me. I had traced his ancestors back to Francesco Spadoni, born in 1764 in Borgo a Buggiano. All of Francesco’s descendants up to Narciso were also born in Borgo a Buggiano. 

I ran into a dead end because I couldn’t find any birth information for Francesco’s father, Simone. I knew Simone’s name from Francesco’s birth record, but I couldn’t find any record of Simone’s birth in Borgo a Buggiano. I also checked Ponte Buggianese, Buggiano and Stignano. It seemed this puzzle piece had fallen under the table. And then along came another person, who just happens to put puzzles together for a living, and he found the piece for us, probably very quickly. 

I had told Wendy of my frustration at the end of my last trip to Italy, and she took the logical step of hiring Andrea Mandroni to put the rest of the pieces together. Andrea is an extremely astute researcher who volunteers at the parish archives in Pescia and thus has access to all the regional church birth, marriage and death records. He found that Simone’s birth was registered at the parish in Marginone, about five miles from Borgo a Buggiano. Andrea then traced Narciso’s family tree back to another Francesco Spadoni, born about 1455 in Marliana—the common ancestor in our two lines. That makes Wendy’s great grandmother, Manon “May” Spadoni, my 12th cousin, and Wendy my 12th cousin thrice removed, since she is three generations younger (over the years, the generations can get out of alignment—Manon was born in 1903 and I in 1953). Thus we are as distantly related as the records can get, since we have no evidence that the Francesco of 1455 or his father had any brothers. 

And what else is known of Narciso and his descendants? I have used some researching tools at and am also hoping to get more details from Wendy. Narciso married Giuseppa Bonaccorsi in Borgo a Buggiano in 1899. She came to America a year after Narciso, in 1907. Like my own grandfather Michele, they had seven children; four were born in Italy, including Manon, and three in Chicago. Two died before reaching adulthood.

In the 1910 census, Narciso is a laborer in a machine factory. In 1920, he is a shoemaker and has his own shop, while eldest son John, 19, is a tailor, and 17-year-old Manon is a seamstress. Narciso is a baker in 1930 and a handyman in a restaurant in 1940. He died in December of 1940.

Narciso’s brother, Frank (still another Francesco), came to the United States in 1901. He settled in Chicago, where he worked making statues, according to the 1920 census, and at a foundry in 1930. However, he died in 1932 without having married. I assume there may still be some people descended from Narciso who bear the Spadoni surname, and perhaps they still live in the Chicago area. Wendy lives in Florida and apparently doesn’t come in close contact with her Illinois relatives.

If anybody reading this is a descendant of Narciso, please contact me, as I’d like to learn more about your family, and I can give you lots of information about your Spadoni heritage.

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