Sunday, August 16, 2015

How Can You Have an Anonymous Mother?

I requested the Certicati di Nascita (birth record) of my great grandmother Giulia Montagna from Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. I had her date of birth from her death certificate in Alabama, Her parents' names from her marriage in Manhattan, NY and the place of her birth from her husband's naturalization papers.
I sent an email to the State Archives in Bologna and requested they look for the certificate and notify me of any charges:

 Gentile Direttrice:

 Sono alla ricerca della mia storia famigliare, gradirei, se le fosse possibile, richiedere il suo aiuto.

 Per favore, mi potrebbe spedire i Certicati di Nascita di Guilia Montagna, nato il 10 ottobre, 1878 e tutte le informazioni sui suoi genitori. Credo che siano Georgio Montagna e Elisabetta Bonnine.  Se questi certificati includono anche i nomi dei loro genitori, se per cortesia, potrebbe inviarmi anche i loro. Se ci sono altri bambini nati da loro sarei grato per queste informazioni.

 Se vi è una tassa per le informazioni, si prega di avvisare che cosa è e come si vorrebbe pagamento.

 Gentile Direttrice, la ringrazio infinitamente del suo aiuto. Nel caso che i dati non siano disponibili la pregherei di inviarmi comunque una nota negativa.

 Inoltre, se i documenti non ci sono per quel periodo, o se Lei conosce altre fonti, Le sarei grata se potesse suggerirmi come proseguire la mia ricerca.

 Le invio i miei piu' sinceri e cordiali saluti.
 Beverly Norman

No, I do not speak Italian, but there are forms to be found on the Internet, and Google Translate. I had my fingers crossed That it would be understandable.
38 days later, I had a response in my inbox! There was no charge for the document (whew!)


SUBJECT: sending reproduction birth certificate of Julia Maspucci then Recognized As Giulia Montagna born in Bologna in 1878. With reference to the request object, I send photo reproduction of the document taken
from register of civil status of the town of Bologna Relating To Those born in 1878. best regards Signed DIRECTOR

Giulia Elvira Teresa ... Maspucci. I never has a middle name before, and was not expecting a different last name!

Maspucci ?? So what the heck happened? Was she adopted? This was not the typical fill in the blank form I was expecting. I needed some help. I turned to the Italian Genealogy group on Facebook .

They came through with a translation for me. Here is a mashup of the conversation:

October 10, 1878 Born at 11 am and the child was presented to the officer of vital records in the town of Bologna before 12 on the same day / same month and residing in the same city by a woman named Maria Massucci, (not Maspucci) age 57 years, midwife, residing at (street) # 28 "Via Republicana" (?) (she was presenting the child born to a woman / lady -that Wished not to be Identified) (Did not give consent) Child was given the name Giulia Elvira Teresa and the last name of Massucci. On 27/02/1896 marriage act # 449 for Giorgio Montagna & Elisa Bonini (?) Could the "9" be "7"? the marriage act 27 February 1876? It looks like she (Julia) was the "legitimate" daughter of Giorgio Montagna (sp?) And Elisa (sp?) Bonini / Bonnini (sp?) and that they (her parents) were married (marriage Celebrated in) Rome - Feb. 27, 1896.
The notation on the other side is where she is recognized as the daughter of Georgio Montagna, hence her new last name.
The information was entered into the ledger in 1882.

One of the members of the group went the extra mile and requested a translation from in Rome. Here is Their response:
Giulia Massucci was born in Bologna on Oct. 10 1878 to a woman who does not want to be mentioned, and she was given the name "Giulia Elvira Teresa" and surname Massucci (this is the first line of the second page).
The side note on the first page states that on Oct 14 1886 she was recognized by her father Giorgio Montagna. (From now on her surname should be Montagna)
The side note on the second page states that Feb 2 1896 Giorgio Montagna married Elisa Bonini and they both legitimated Giulia.
The double "s" in old documents was Often written as "sf". This portion of the document has notes about the marriage.

What could be the reason for the anonymous mother? She could have been unwed. She could have already have been married to someone else. The father could have been married to someone else.

After doing some reading in the excellent resource, "Italian Genealogical Records" by Trafford R Cole, Psy.D., I found another possibility. 

Beginning in 1866, the town officials were responsible for recording all births, marriages, and deaths. The child had to be personally presented to the town official to register the birth.
After the Kingdom of Italy was formed, Pope Pius IX was totally against the new country. He had controlled the city of Rome and the central portion of the country know as the Papal States. The Church lost the battle (literally). The Pope did not give in quietly, and prohibited all faithful Catholics from participating in the political system. 

A power struggle arose between the Officials and the Church. Many people were married by the Church, but did not register the marriage with the city officials. The town would not recognize the marriage and would record all of the children resulting from these marriages as illegitimate. The couple would finally be forced to remarry in a civil ceremony and recognize their "illegitimate" children. From 1865 to about 1880 there are many cases of the marriage being recorded after the couple had several children. 

I may at some future date try to see if there is a church record in Bologna for the marriage of Georgio Montagna and Elizabetta Bonini. Giulia's baptism should be there too.

If you have any thoughts on this, I would love to hear them.