Geneablogy: An occasional Journal about our experiences exploring our heritage

Friday, November 30, 2001

Michele Rapa and Nicoletta Matteo, my 4G-grandparents, were as far back as I had gotten on that line in April. I had rough birthdates for both, but that was about it. I had found a marriage record, but it was for Michele Rapa and Maria Cecilia Matteo, which confused me. I detailed the confusion here in my entry for April 14, 2001. In short, I suspected that Nicoletta and Maria Cecilia were in fact the same person. The marriage record shows the bride's parents as Giovanni Matteo and the late Francesca Riccio. When I found a death record for Nicoletta Matteo, it also gave her parents' names as Giovanni Matteo and the late Francesca Riccio. As detailed in April, I found a number of children whose parents were Michele Rapa and either Maria Cecilia or Nicoletta Matteo. The key here was son Marcellino Rapa. Marcellino's birth record on 10 Nov 1822 gives his mother's name as Maria Cecilia. But his death record on 29 Apr 1863 gives his mother's name as Nicoletta. Bingo! One person, two different names given for his mother. I believe this is a crucial link in tieing the two names together. It's clear now that Maria Cecilia and Nicoletta are one person. I don't know why some of the records show her as Maria Cecilia, but there you go.

Nicoletta's death record showed that she was the wife of Michele Rapa, and that she died on 3 Oct 1842 at the age of 50. She worked as a peasant farmer, and her parents were Giuseppe Matteo (5G-grandfather) and the late Francesca Riccio (5G-grandmother). I was unable to find a death record for Francesca Riccio anywhere, which made me suspect that she died before records began in 1809.

When I got the 1802 Census from the Sennellos, I looked for Nicoletta and her brother Nicola, and found them living with their father Giuseppe and his second wife, Marta Contenta.

[ 1802 Census for Giuseppe Matteo, Marta Contenta, and family ]

So in fact, Francesca had died before 1802. The Census details which children were the progeny of Giuseppe and his first wife and which came from the second marriage. Nicoletta was the eldest, born on 29 May 1791 (and in fact, the marriage record for Michele and Maria Cecilia/Nicoletta says that she was the "maggiore", or eldest surviving child of her parents). Daughter Carmela, previously unknown, was next, born 2 Apr 1794. Son Nicola Matteo was born on 12 Sep 1796, and he was the last child born to Francesca Riccio. The next child in the family was Giacomo Matteo, born to Giuseppe and Marta Contenta on 18 Dec 1800, so Francesca clearly died between 12 Sep 1796 and early 1800. The other child born to them by 1802 was Giovanigiuseppe, born 23 Sep 1801.

As for the parents, Giuseppe was born on 30 Nov 1768, the son of the late Giovanni Matteo. Marta Contenta, the stepmother, was born in Sepicciano, so an exact birthdate isn't available in the Census, but she was 27 in June, 1802, so her birthdate would be about 1774-5. Her father, still alive at the time, was Filippantonio Contenta.

Knowing now that Giuseppe had remarried and that his wife was Marta Contenta, I was able to pinpoint his death record. He died on 5 Aug 1844 at the age of 75 (the death certificate says 78, but that doesn't add up). He was the son of the late Giovanni Matteo (6G-grandfather) and the late Maria Masuccio (6G-grandmother). I see no entry for Maria Masuccio in the 1802 Census, so it's possible that she was dead by then as well. That's all I know about Giovanni and Maria is their names. Hopefully I be able to find them in the church records when I get my hands on them and find out a little more.

In the course of my research, I had also found two other children of Giovanni and Maria. Vincenzo Matteo (6G-uncle) was born about 1767, and when he died on 17 Aug 1837, he was married to Antonia di Chello. Serafina Matteo (6G-aunt) was born 15 Feb 1772 according to the 1802 Census, was married to Nicola Pietrosimone, and died on 24 Feb 1837.

As for Michele Rapa and his family, I've found a fair amount too. His death record from 22 Jul 1854 says he was the widower of Nicoletta Rapa, and the son of the late Antonio Rapa (5G-grandfather) and the late Angiola d'Amato (5G-grandmother). His son Domenico (my 3G-grandfather) was one of the people who reported the death to the mayor. Michele and his first wife, Rosa di Palma, were married on about 17 May 1810 and had three children before she died on 25 Aug 1816.

I went to the Census to find Michele and his parents.

[ 1802 Census for Antonio Rapa, Angiola d'Amato and family ]

Sure enough, he's there, living with Antonio Rapa and Angiola d'Amato. The Census gives Michele's birthdate as Christmas Day, 25 Dec 1780. His older sister Annantonia Rapa was born 4 Oct 1775 (and died 24 Apr 1845, the widow of Pasquale Grasso, according to my research). His younger brother Giuseppe Rapa was born on 22 Aug 1791, or at least it looks that way; the last digit of the year is tough to read. (He died 19 Nov 1868 in San Potito.) Sister Annamaria was born on 26 Oct 1796 (and died 12 Nov 1868, a week before her brother Giuseppe). And sister Vincenza was another Christmas baby, born 25 Dec 1798 on her brother Michele's 18th birthday.

Antonio Rapa, the father, is listed as having been born 25 Jan 1759, the son of Domenico, who was still alive. His wife, Angiola d'Amato, was born 19 Oct 1755, the daughter of Andrea, also still alive.

I can't find my scan or paper copy of the death record of Antonio Rapa, but it was fascinating. It wasn't entered in the book in it's normal format; rather, it was appended at the end of the book, and noted that the mayor of Piedimonte informed the mayor of San Potito that Antonio Rapa of San Potito had died on 20 Sep 1816 in the "casa di detenzione", which I interpret to mean jail. I'm dying to know what my 5G-grandfather was doing in jail at the age of 57 when he died. Sounds like maybe I've found a black sheep. :-)

That death record lists his parents as Domenico Rapa (6G-grandfather) and Cecilia Missere (6G-grandmother). I found one sister of Domenico's, Maria Rapa, whose death certificate on 22 Apr 1822 shows her to be the wife of Angiolo Leggiero. Finding them in the 1802 Census gives Maria's birthdate as 21 Jun 1753. So Domenico and Cecilia must have been born no later than about 1735.

Antonio's wife Angiola d'Amato survived her husband by quite a few years. I was surprised to find her death record almost forty years later. She died on 17 Jul 1846, still listed as the widow of Antonio Rapa, at the age of 90. She was born in San Potito and had worked as a peasant farmer, although hopefully not at the age of 90. Her parents were Andrea d'Amato (6G-grandfather) and Pietronilla Izzo (6G-grandmother).

Back to the Census once more.

[ 1802 Census for Andrea d'Amato and Pietronilla Izzo ]

We find Andrea and Pietronilla living together, with what appears to be their son the priest, Don Tomaso. There was actually more people under this, but it was unclear to me at the time I scanned who they were, so for now I'm just showing these three. Andrea, the son of the late Giovanni d'Amato (7G-grandfather), was born on 1 Dec 1732. That would mean that Giovanni must have been born no later than, say, 1714. Pietronilla, daughter of the late Ambrogio Izzo (7G-grandfather) didn't give an exact birthdate, but was 62 years old in 1802, putting her birthdate at about 1740. That means Ambrogio would have been born no later than about 1722.

I haven't found a death record for Pietronilla Izzo. Perhaps she died between 1802 and 1809. I've found a death record for an Andrea d'Amato, but it's not clear that it's the right one. This Andrea died on 4 Jan 1817 at the age of 84, which would place his birthdate in 1732, which fits. But he's listed as the husband of Pietronilla Riccio, not Izzo. I need to look through marriage records to see if I can find a marriage record for Andrea d'Amato and Pietronilla Riccio that lists him as the widower of Pietronilla Izzo. It also lists his parents' names as Giovanni d'Amato and Nunzia Coluccio. It's quite conceivable that the wife's last name on the death record is a mistake; there don't seem to have been too many women named Pietronilla in San Potito. So I think it's likely that this is my 6G-grandfather, but I don't consider it proven yet. If this is him, then Nunzia Coluccio would be my 7G-grandmother.

I think I've made an awful lot of progress on this line, pushing back two and three more generations since April.

Death Records

Marriage Records

Here's a chart showing Nicoletta Matteo's ancestors, and another one showing Michele Rapa's ancestors to wrap all this up into an easily-digestible form.

Posted at 5:13:33 PM