Wednesday, April 6, 2011
La famiglia medievale Seghieri
Monday, April 4
As we ride our bikes out of the driveway, we see a tractor coming down the road, and third cousin Fausto Seghieri is at the helm. He apparently has come to help out his mom and dad on their yard. He stops the tractor and says he has a piece of paper for me. He jumps off and runs inside the house of his dad, Mario, and comes out with an amazing document. When we first met, some weeks ago, I asked for more information on his family, meaning his uncles and cousins, and he said he would write this down and I could come get it later. Now I have the paper in hand, but instead of it being information about current family members, he has given me information tracing our family line back the birth of Francesco Seghieri in 1543, complete with the first and last names of each descendant’s wife.
After having spent a couple of hours in the church archives in Pescia trying to find out similar information on the Spadoni side and only getting back to around 1750, I can appreciate how much work this represents. I thank Fausto as profusely as I can, and he hops back on the tractor.
After Lucy and I finish our bike ride, I head straight to the computer and enter in the information I have obtained. The names go thus: Francesco, Marco, Andrea, Seghiero, Andrea, Giovanni, Giuseppe, Seghiero, Torello and then Anita, my grandmother. Fausto and I share the same great-great grandfather, Seghiero.
Suddenly I am inspired to go back to Fausto to get the information I am missing about his side of the line. My great-grandfather Torello was the brother of Natale, Fausto’s great grandfather, and I want to fill in as many details as I can about Natale’s descendants. I print out what I have of Natale’s family tree and head back to Mario’s house to see if Fausto is still around. He has left, but I am still in luck, because his brother Ivano, whom I have not met, is working in the yard and is happy to help me. After a few minutes of awkwardly trying to write while standing up, I am invited to sit inside at the table, where I am joined by Mario and his wife Loretta, who help Ivano recall names and dates. I am slow at writing information, mainly because I have to think so much when they give me numbers.
“Lui é nato ventotto settembre mila nove cento ottantuno,” they will say, and my brain slowly processes one number at a time while I try to repeat the whole thing so I won’t forget it. That would translate as, “He was born 28 September, 1981.” I write this down and show it to Ivano for verification. After about fifteen minutes of this, I suggest that maybe Ivano should be writing this, and he makes the wise suggestion that he continue without me and I come back in two or three days, which I gladly accept.
Before I leave, one more breakthrough occurs. A Seghieri who lives in the long old Seghieri house is married to a tour guide who works in Lucca and speaks perfect English. Nobody thought to tell us this before, but now they give her a call and she comes right over. Her name is Elena Benvenuti, and she has to leave in a minute to go to work, but she will be glad to meet with me on Thursday of this week. Her husband is related to Libero Seghieri, whom we met last year. Libero has done some work on his own family tree, but he and I were unable to find a family connection at the time. Now that I know how I am related to Mario, Fausto and Ivano, that could be the key to fit together many more pieces of this gigantic puzzle.
“Are Libero and Mario related?” I ask.
“Yes, I can’t tell you how, because I am not a Seghieri,” Elena answers. “But if we get everyone together, they can tell you how they are related. We can find out.”
This is very encouraging news for me, because I am eager to find out how I am related to the other people here, especially the ones who run the Casolare dei Fiori, where we are staying. It is also heartening to find out that there are relatives here who are interested in their family history and have done their own research. It would be helpful if I could find someone on the Spadoni side who shares this interest, but I will take what I can get.