Sunday, March 19, 2017

Those Elusive Italians

Ernesta Maddelena Bergamasco
My nana, great-aunt and their siblings have shared quite a bit with the family about their grandparents from Italy, since they grew up around their grandfather. Of course, there's plenty they didn't know, either. Here's what I know of my Italian heritage, which is also my matrilineal/mtDNA line, as it stands now:

My great-great grandparents (direct maternal ancestors) were Bartolomeo Giovanni Michele Galfre and Ernesta Maddelena Bergamasco. They were married sometime after 24 November 1894 in Italy. They had 8 children, including twins born in Sanremo in 1895 who died in infancy.

Bartolomeo was born 22 January 1869 in San Benigno, Torino, Piedmonte, Italy. He died 5 October 1952 in Lakeville, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

Bartolomeo had a brother, Giovanni Battista Galfre. Giovanni remained in Italy, where he married, had 8 children, and several grandchildren. We are in touch with his great-grandchildren, our cousins, thanks to letters, email and Facebook.

Their parents were Michele Galfre (born 1836) and Francesca Manassero (born 1839), both of whom were born in Spinetta, Alessandria, Piedmont, Italy.

Michele's parents were Giovanni Battista Bartolomeo Galfre and Teresa DeMatteis. We still do not know if Giovanni and Teresa were born in Italy or France, but we are told Galfre is a French name.

Francesca's parents were Giovanni Manassero and Teresa Cavallo. At this point, we know nothing more about the family.

We do, however, know a bit more about the Galfre side than we do about the Bergamasco side.

Ernesta was born 12 May 1874 in Moneglia or Chiavari, Genoa, Liguria, Italy. She died 8 March 1925 in Middleborough, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

Her father's name was Guiseppe Bergamasco and all we have for her mother's name is "Giabatta," which fellow Italian genealogists have told me is not a name, or at least not a female one. Of course, my mtDNA has not given me any clues. Neither has my Family Finder (autosomal) test at this time.

We do know Ernesta had 6 siblings: Bartholomew (Bartolomeo?), Angelina, Giovanni, Peter (Pietro?), Peter's twin who died young, and Archie (?). We have different stories about each, such as:


  • Giovanni (John) lived in Boston for a while and visited often
  • Peter had a clothing company in Chile located at Casilla 147, Los Andes, Chile, known as: Fabrica Italiana de Fideos "La Estrella Polar" de Moltedo, Bergamasco y Cia
  • Archie dropped by unannounced as often as he could (which made everyone happy)
  • They had an uncle who was a bishop in Italy.


Ernesta's father supposedly lived to be about 100 years old. The only record I have at this time that names her parents is Ernesta's passport. I wrote to the Stato Civile in Moneglia some years ago and they replied that they did not have a birth record for Ernesta.

However, until this year, Ernesta and Bartolomeo's firstborn twins had remained nameless. During one of my every-so-often "sweeps" of FamilySearch for brick wall ancestors, I found the twins' names - Vittorio and Emanuele Galfre, born 20 October 1895.

So I do hold out hope that as more and more records are transcribed and placed online, I will find Ernesta's birth and/or Ernesta and Bartolomeo's marriage in them one of these days.



Copyright (c) 2017 Wendy L. Callahan

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