The Marriage of Salvatore Maggio and Maria Grazia Mortillaro

One of the hardest branches of my tree to research, I’ve found, is the Italians. Tracing them from the late 1800s in Baltimore isn’t a problem; it’s the immigration records and Italian records that give me trouble. Partly, it’s because I don’t speak Italian and partly because the records aren’t online or they aren’t indexed. The spelling of names is also inconsistent; names tend to become Americanized over time. Linking a Mary to a Maria is simple enough, but DiPaula…we know that it most likely was changed at the time of immigration, but what was it originally? DiPaola? DePaola? DePaolo? DiPaulis? Space or no space?

Cefalù, Italy

Cefalu, Italy

The one thing I do know is that most of my Italian ancestors came from Cefalù, Sicily. Recently, I discovered that the civil records for Cefalù were available online through Family Search. The problem is most aren’t indexed, the handwriting is hard to read, and they’re in Italian. It’s going to be a long process, but I was able to find the civil marriage record for one couple because I knew the year they were married and there was an index available luckily.

I was slightly disappointed that there wasn’t more new information in the record I didn’t already have, but I was elated nonetheless. Thanks to a couple of reference pages (Italian Genealogical Word List and Italian Marriage Document Translation), I was able to translate most of the marriage record.

Marriage record for Salvatore Maggio and Maria Grazia Mortillaro

Marriage record for Salvatore Maggio and Maria Grazia Mortillaro

In the year 1890, on the 15th of October, at 7:15 PM in the city hall of Cefalù, open to the public.

Before me [name of official, usually the mayor] an official of the civil registration, officially appeared personally:

1st Salvatore Maggio, unmarried, age 24, cobbler, born in Cefalù, resident of Cefalù, son of Vincenzo, resident of Cefalù, and Maria Culotta, resident of Cefalù.

2nd Maria Grazia Mortillaro, unmarried, age 18, housewife, born in Cefalù, resident of Cefalù, daughter of Luigi, resident of Cefalù, and Rosa Carnaggio, resident of Cefalù.

[block of text; formalities]

Witnesses:
Baimondo Vaccaro, 21, decorator
Matteo Marsiglia, 24, cobbler

[script; hard to read handwriting]

The new information I was able to gleam from this (other than beginning a hobby of learning Italian) was the date and location of the marriage, that Salvatore’s father’s name was Vincenzo, and (most importantly) everyone was from Cefalù, including the parents. So now I know to keep looking for more records from Cefalù.

Scottish Roots & Scotland’s People

I finally gave in and signed up for ScotlandsPeople in order to search and view the documents, hoping to gain more information on my Scottish ancestors. The way this site works is they let you “search” for people but do not allow you to view the results without payment, only allowing you to see how many results are in which category. You have to purchase credits (30 credits for about $11) to see any details . It costs one credit to view the actual search results, and another 5 credits to view the document.

My overall thoughts of this website, while comprehensive and vast, is not worth the price. I do not like their style of payment and would rather pay a flat fee to view as many documents as I want. Because of this, I was not able to explore as I wished to see if I could find new people. Instead I confirmed a couple dates and relations I already knew, though I did find a father for someone. Also, I thought this site would provide more  detailed and substantial information that I have found elsewhere, but other than occupation, the same information could be found for free on FamilySearch.

My conclusion: only pay for this site if looking to view the actual documents of information you already know.

With that said, here is what I did find:

The parish birth records for Burton Thoms

The parish birth records for Burton Thoms

The records states that Burton Thoms was born to William Thoms (who was a weaver) and Isabella Anderson in Dundee on January 15, 1803 and christened January 23, 1803 (there are two dates listed, one next to the father and one next to the mother; as the first is always earlier than the latter, I assume this is the birth and christening dates).

The parish records for the marriage of Burton Thoms and Jean Strachan

The parish records for the marriage of Burton Thoms and Jean Strachan

On the 13th of March, 1825, Burton Thoms, weaver, and Jean, daughter of William Strachan, weaver, were married, both in this parish [Dundee].