Wednesday, October 31, 2012

More relatives found through the web

Not every new relative I have discovered results in a face-to-face meeting. I now have established online contact with distant cousins in Minnesota and California on the Seghieri side, and from Seattle, Olympia, Chicago, California and Wisconsin on the Spadoni side. Many, like me, are also exploring their family origins and are excited to establish contact and share information.

The gravestone for Narciso Spadoni and his wife
Giuseppina Bonacorsi, located in Chicago.
Most have found me after seeing that we have a family tree on or after reading my blog. One of the first to contact me was Wendy Manganiello, who is a descendant of Narciso Spadoni, an immigrant to Chicago. Narciso was born in 1877, just six months after my nonno Michele Spadoni, and in the town of Borgo a Buggiano, less than three miles from Michele’s place of birth in Pescia. Wendy and I don’t know how they were related, and we are not even sure they knew, given the hundreds of years that the extended family had already lived in this area. But we have enough information from Italian sources to assure me that all the Spadonis from that little area of Italy are related.

I happened to be in Italy when Wendy first wrote me, so I was able to do a little research on her behalf at the Borgo a Buggiano municipio. I obtained the “stato di famiglia” document for Narciso’s father, which I mailed to Wendy when I returned to the states in May. This document traces Narciso’s line back three more generations to Francesco, born around 1775. If I am able to pick up the trail in the church archives on my next trip to Italy, I may be able to jump back another 100 or more years and find out where Narciso’s line fits into Carlo Spadoni’s Stignano family tree, and that would establish a definite tie to our Gig Harbor and Seattle branches of the family.

Thanks again to the power of the Internet, Diane Rinella of California also contacted me after reading my blog entry about the connection between the Gig Harbor and Seattle families. Her grandfather was Guido Spadoni, who made his way to San Francisco shortly after his U.S. arrival in 1903. He was born in 1885 in Ponte Buggianese, only a few miles from Borgo a Buggiano and Pescia. Now I have promised Diane that I will dig more deeply into her ancestry as well.

She shared with me the fascinating fact that her grandfather’s brother was Italo Spadoni, who achieved fame when he was brutally assassinated in Ponte Buggianese in 1924 for opposing fascism. A street in town is now named after him and a plaque has been mounted in the main piazza in his honor.

Trying to puzzle together the missing pieces that connect the various branches of the Spadoni family has become a passion for me, and it is great to find other family members like Diane and Wendy who share the pleasures of this hobby.

That's Manon (May) Spadoni on the left, on
the day of her wedding to Francesco Niccolai.
I received this photo through my online
correspondence with their granddaughter
I was able to help Wendy by referring her to Italian archivist Andrea Mandroni. For a reasonable fee, he traced the line of her grandfather, Francesco Niccolai, back to the 1500s. Wendy’s excitement over this demonstrates our shared enthusiasm for the ancestry obsession. She e-mailed me in August: “I got my family tree results from Andrea about a week ago and he did an AMAZING job!  I was in tears when I got the package from him!!”

Another magical moment occurred when Wendy (who lives in Wisconsin) read some information that Diane from California left on my blog and realized that she and Diane are doubly related. The mother of Diane’s grandfather Guido was Maria Gioconda Niccolai, a sister to Wendy’s great great grandfather Antonio Niccolai. That means Wendy and Diane are related on both the Niccolai side and the Spadoni side.

Wendy had heard her grandmother talking about visiting family in California many years ago, but that connection had been lost. When Wendy saw on the blog comments that Diane’s grandmother was a Niccolai, she put the pieces together and left an ecstatic comment on my blog: “Oh. My. Goodness. I am so excited right now that I’m not even sure I can put together a sentence.”

Now Wendy and Diane have established on online relationship as well, sharing information, photos and enthusiasm. Diane posted this comment on my blog: “This is all very exciting. Thank you, Paul, for this magic.”

Are there any more Spadonis and Seghieris from Tuscany out there looking to make a family connection? Or even a Capocchi or Marchi (my great grandmothers)? If your ancestors came from Ponte Buggianese, Montecarlo, Pescia or any of the other little towns between Lucca and Montecatini, we are probably related, and I will do my best to find out how.


  1. Hi Paul,

    I am working for a person who is looking for a trio of women (they were in their teens, one was younger, at the time) whom he met in Pescia, Italy between Sept 1944 and early Jan 1945. Their names are Carla, Rosanna, and Elsa Bartolini; their mother was Leonetta Bartolini. He suspects that they were not aware that he survived the last six months of the war. We believe that Francisco and Manon Niccolai were their aunt and uncle. They also had other relatives living in Chicago at that time. This gentleman respectfully reserves his name pending your correspondence.

    Brandi Schwartz

  2. Hi Brandi,
    I am sending you a private e-mail with my offer of help. In it, I will also send you an address for Wendy, who can answer questions about her family tree.

  3. Hi Lucy,

    My name is Matteo Seghieri. Leaving in Ferrara, Italy. My father Mario and my grandfather Giuseppe were from Montecarlo. I just started to research our ancestors. Would like to keep contact with you to see whether we may discover some collateral connection in our trees.


Comments welcome.