Monday, July 28, 2014

Missing Baby Monday Mystery

I'm sure that my family is not the only one that was unaware of several babies born to our great grandparents but did not survive to adulthood. The way I found out about our missing babies involved quite a bit of a luck.  I had been searching for my great aunt Loretta's birth record. I knew she was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1903 from her death record and several census records. I was fortunate to have the help of a New Jersey research expert. When she found Loretta's birth record, we were surprised by the fact that it said Anna Pirolli had given birth to twelve children! We only knew about 7 kids including our grandfather Luigi. No one had any idea there were more. It makes sense though. In those days, women had lots of babies. Especially if they were Italian. I think most families had lots of kids to help out with the work around the house and to go out and earn money for the family. I know that Giovanni and Anna did not have a farming family so they weren't having lots of babies to help out on a farm. There wasn't any reliable birth control at that time either. The Catholic Church encouraged having large families. Probably the main reason for having so many children was the fact that they knew at least a few of the babies would die in infancy or as toddlers. So, if they wanted to keep their family going, they had to have lots of kids.

After I found out that I had 5 missing babies to locate, I started digging. The first place I looked was in Marcianise. Marcianise is the commune in Caserta, Italy where I found Giovanni and Anna's marriage record.  It is also the place where Anna gave birth to her two oldest children. It seemed like a good idea to check there for missing babies. I was rewarded with a birth record for Elisabetta Famoso who was born on March 10, 1884. I haven't figured out when she died but it was definitely before 1902 when they traveled to the United States. I have been told that she didn't die while living in the commune of Marcianise because if she had, there would be a notation on her birth record. That means she probably died in Frattamaggiore which is the commune where the next oldest child was born. I have written to the commune of Frattamaggiore but haven't heard back from them yet so that question is still open.

The next bit of luck came because I have found the records of the commune Trani, Bari online at the Antenati. The Antenati is a website create by the Italian Government (I think).  It holds a treasure trove of information. I love searching through that site.  I was again rewarded for my efforts with a death certificate for Carmela Famoso. She died on June 23, 1891 in Trani, Bari.  See #400 below.

So, think about this: Anna Pirolli Famoso gave birth to a baby boy named Biagio Nicola Famoso on October 1, 1891 after her three year old daughter had died on June 23, 1891. That is so tragic to me.  I don't know if it was a sudden or unexpected death or if she died after a long illness. The death records I have seen from Italy do not contain a cause of death.

I hope that I will be able to add a few more records to this post at some point in the near future but so far this is all I have on the missing babies.

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