Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Random and intriguing Seghieri, Capocchi and Spadoni discoveries

Saturday, March 22
The Seghieri shield in marble.
Thanks to some research and meetings arranged by Elena, I have many random details to add to my knowledge of my Montecarlo ancestors. It started when she showed me a reference in a local history book to an altar in the Montecarlo church of San’Andrea that was built at the expense of the heirs of Robiero Seghieri in the early 1600s. The same book also said that in the crypt of the church, there is a tomb of the priest Segherio Felici Seghieri, who was the bishop of Pitigliano and Sovana, cities south of Siena. It says the tomb is covered by a marble slab on which is written a Latin epigraph honoring him upon his death, which occurred in 1759.

To find out even more, Elena and I went to see Doctor Sergio Nelli, the third time in three years we have met with this amazing historian to find out more about the Seghieri family. He has spent many years transferring legal contracts, court documents, church records and acts of law from Montecarlo into his computer database. This allows him to search by name and find references to anyone with the name Seghieri, and there are perhaps 100 or more listings.

Some were highly respected leaders, while others were not so noble. He found a reference to a Francesco Seghieri who was on a list of people banned from a festa in Pescia for bad behavior at previous events. A priest, Antonio Seghieri, is accused in court of being drunk and shouting profanities directed at aggrieved individuals. There is a Simone who had the nickname “Molester.”

However, there is also evidence that this same Simone founded the most noble and wealthy line of the family, one which produced numerous knights, lawyers, doctors, professors, mayors, priests, bishops, and nuns—including the descendants who financed construction of the Montecarlo altar. Leopoldo Seghieri, a doctor, went to Torino and volunteered his services in the army of King Vittorio Emmanuele in 1860 during the war to unite Italy. However, in the same era, a priest named Pietro Seghieri is listed as opposing the unification.

This Simone was "a man of high integrity."
A later Simone Seghieri Bizzarri, a descendant of Molester, was a knight, lawyer and the gonfaloniere (mayor) of Altopascio; he was noted in Dr. Nelli’s documents to be a man of high integrity about whom nobody could say a negative word. While my family line split from these wealthier and more renowned Seghieris in the 1500s, the two families kept in close contact throughout the years. I have found a contract between members of the wealthy and noble Seghieris and my great great grandfather Giuseppe Seghieri. The contract allowed Giuseppe and his brother Giuliano to farm the Seghieri Bizzarri land and use and maintain their buildings, in return for cash and specified amounts of wine, oil and other items. Among other things, my ancestors had to provide the Seghieri Bizzarri family two hens at Carnevale and two capons at Christmas.

Elena and I had heard there was an altar in the church that bore the coat of arms for the Seghieri Bizzarri family, but we had not been able to find it. I had expected it to be toward the front of the church, in an area roped off and marked with signs that an alarm will sound if someone crosses the ropes. Elena had figured it to be on the south side of the church, but she found no Seghieri shield on this altar. No, Dr. Nelli said, it is on the north side, and with this information we were able to locate it quickly, and I took a photo of the coat of arms carved in marble. Elena also contacted a friend who came with keys to the crypt. After turning off the alarms, he led us down the stairs, where we were able to view the Latin epigraph to Bishop Segherio Felici Seghieri.

This is really special, Elena said. It is very rare that anyone is ever allowed to go inside the crypt.
Dr. Nelli also gave me some interesting information about the family of my great grandmother Ines Capocchi, the wife of Torello Seghieri. He had just begun doing some research on this family, and he gave me names and some dates for descendants going back four more generations than I had previously found. He also told me that the first Capocchi, Iacopo, had moved to Montecarlo from Pistoia around 1500. The surname Capocchi likely came from his given name. It gradually morphed from Iacopo to Iocopocchio to Capocchio to Capocchi. Unfortunately, my ancestors temporarily moved out of Montecarlo for a time between the 1600s and 1700s, and so the trail between Iacopo and Ines is missing a few links. It may be possible to search the archives of surrounding churches to find the missing generations, though.

Elena and I also made a stop just down the hill from Montecarlo to meet Fausto Spadoni, a man I had heard about several times but not met. He had once worked as an accountant for the comune of Montecarlo, and I had wondered if he might have been a descendant of one of the brothers of my great grandfather Pietro, who had lived in Pescia before moving to San Salvatore in the late 1800s. His brothers Francesco and Angelo also moved somewhere near San Salvatore, so maybe Fausto was one of their descendants. Unfortunately, he is not, he said. His grandfather Guido had lived in Buggiano, not Pescia.

Fausto Spadoni, left, with Paul Spadoni in Fausto's home.
However, I showed him the research done by Carlo Spadoni, which traces the origins of the Spadonis of the Valdinievole to Stignano, and before that, Marliana. He copied some pages from Carlo’s book and gave me a brief synopsis of his immediate family tree. He also solved another mystery. I had heard that a previous mayor of Montecarlo had been a Spadoni. That was his father, Ilio, Fausto said. He had been mayor from 1959 to 1974. We exchanged e-mail addresses and promised to keep in touch, especially if one of us discovered more information that could tie our family trees together.

1 comment:

  1. How handy that so many Italians had the habit of engraving things in marble. Definitely makes your sleuthing of ancient history more fruitful!


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