Making Friends and Answering Questions on the Family

Mass Mailing Italy 2004 - 2005


            I recall on numerous occasions looking at the Italian phone book on the internet and typing in the name Pietrocola. There would be up to one hundred thirty to one hundred fifty addresses, depending on which phone book was used, of people who have the name Pietrocola in Italy. Looking at each address I saw that some were people I knew in Vasto and most people I did know at all. What made me really surprised was that a lot of the Pietrocola addresses were all over Italy. But, I did notice that there are many Pietrocolas in the Abruzzi region and also there were many Pietrocolas in the south. In one particular town of Montescaglioso, in the province of Matera, in the deep south, there was a huge cluster of Pietrocolas in that region. Also, there were many Pietrocolas in the Bari region. For a person like me, who has a theory that all Pietrocolas are related, it seemed odd that many Pietrocolas would live in that south of Italy. Also, there was another cluster of Pietrocolas in San Agata in the Puglia region. I decided to mail each Pietrocola in Italy a letter to promote my website and see if I can get more information on my family tree.


            The first step was to write a letter describing the Pietrocola website and to get people to visit it. I wrote the letter out in English and I knew I had to write the letter correctly so, since my Italian is not the best in the world, so I turned to Giorgio Pietrocola. Giorgio Pietrocola is a high school teacher in Rome who I contacted when I did an internet email search back in the spring of 2004. I knew he spoke and wrote English because he constantly corrected my bad Italian and offered to write to me in English. But, I wrote to him explaining that I would rather write in Italian because it forces me to practice my Italian. I emailed the English letter and asked him to translate the letter to proper Italian. A few days later he sent the letter back written in beautiful Italian.


            The next step was making copies of the letter, purchasing labels and envelopes, and putting the letters together. Finally it was off to the post office to mail out the letters to Italy. But, it was more expensive than I thought. Each letter cost eighty cents and I mailed out about one hundred thirty letters. So, we are looking at over one hundred dollars in postage.


            After a few weeks the responses started to arrive. The responses from Italy were less than I expected and came in different forms. Beside Italians emailing me about the family tree, I received two letters in the mail, and three phone calls. But, the overall result was that I was able to add another twenty two names to the family tree.


            The phone calls were odd because I knew that making phone calls to the United States or to Italy was expensive. I wished that the people who called would just write a letter and mailed it to me. That way I can take my time translating the letter. Anyway, the first two calls were people who left messages on the answering machine. I called them back at the proper time knowing that there is a six hour difference between Italy and where I live. Luckily two of the people spoke some English. One person was from Milan and told me that he was an English Italian translator during World War II. The second person was a lady from Casalbordino, which is close to Vasto, lived in the United States and moved back to Italy. Each of these people had little information about being related to anyone on the family tree. The third phone call was crazy because I picked up the phone and the person who I was talking to spoke no English. But, he did have a friend that translated the conversation. It sounded like they were in a restaurant with all the noise in the background. It was funny, even though I explained that I spoke little Italian, the person, who received the letter, wanted to talk to me personally. I tried my best speaking in Italian and he was happy that someone was trying to connect with his roots. Unfortunately, all the people who called were not related.


            The emails came from all over Italy. Most of the responses did not know much about their family history and therefore it was impossible to make a connection to the family tree. But, there were two very important responses that came from Italy that expanded the family tree and another email that finally ended my theory that all Pietrocolas are related. The first response came from a Massimo Pietrocola who wrote that his he was a descendant of Federico Pietrocola and Rosalinda Bottari who are both on the family tree. Massimo Pietrocola shared some information and then he later contacted another relative, Arnaldo Pietrocola, who lives in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Arnaldo Pietrocola, who must be the family historian, contributed huge amounts of information about his part of the family tree. It was odd receiving all this information from a person in Amsterdam. It turns out Arnaldo had a restaurant in the Netherlands. After receiving all the information from Arnaldo I was able to expand the family tree by another twenty two family members. The email that ended my theory of all Pietrocolas being related came from a Leonardo Pietrocola. In fact, I had to send portions of Leonardo Pietrocola’s email to Giorgio Pietrocola for a better translation since I could not understand all the information in his email.  Leonardo Pietrocola lives in Valenzano in the province of Bari and has study the history of the province and his family tree. Leonardo explained in his email that the name Pietrocola started in the Montescaglioso, in the province of Matera and his ancestors moved to Valenzano in the seventeen hundreds. This is about the same time my family tree started in Vasto. Leonardo also explained that the name Pietrocola started my having two names put together. “Pietro” is a common name and the “cola” is part of the name Nicola. Most likely the “Ni” of Nicola was dropped, as with other Italian names, and was added to the end of “Pietro.” After coming to the conclusion that the name Pietrocola also started in Montescaglioso, in the province of Matera, I started referring people who responded to my letters to Leonardo since some people who responded lived in that area of Italy.


            One interesting email came from a Fabio Tejeda from Spain. His family came from Monteodorisio near Vasto. According to Fabio his great grandfather, Daniele Pietrocola, moved from Monteodorisio to Argentina and from Argentina Fabio moved to Spain. He knew when his grandfather, Daniele Pietrocola, was born and wanted out more information. So, I went to the nearest Mormon Church in New Jersey and found Daniele Pietrocola and his sister’s, Angela Pietrocola, birth documents from Monteodorisio. It turns out that Daniele Pietrocola’s father was a Giovanni Pietrocola who was born in 1859. I am hoping to find Giovanni Pietrocola’s birth records in a few months.


Ellis Island Website 2005


            Another avenue I explored over the months is the Ellis Island website. The website has all the records of immigrants that went through Ellis Island. One day I was looking for my grandfather’s records, but I could not find any records of a Gregorio Pietrocola. But, I recall reading how some names were misspelled when people came through Ellis Island. So, I typed in my grandfather’s name as “Pietracola” and not “Pietrocola.” It turns out I did not find any information on my grandfather, but I did find information on another Pietrocola, not found on the family tree. A year ago, when I sent out email on the family tree, I contacted a Melissa Pietrocola, but it turns out that her family was from Naples. I knew that portions of the family tree moved to Naples, but there was no way to make the genealogical connection. It turns out that the person I found was a Genaro Pietrocola, who is the great grandfather of Melissa Pietrocola who I contacted a year ago. I contacted her again and gave her the information on her great grandfather which included his birthday. The only problem is that since you have the birthday you have to go to the Mormon Church to find more information. But, Naples is a big city and finding a birth document would take a long time. 



Contacts in Vasto 2005


            One of the biggest discoveries of my family tree did not come from my research in the United States, but from Vasto, Italy. Last fall I contacted a Carl Rossetti, who is a direct descendant of Gabriele Rossetti. He has his own family tree website and we have been in touch, due to our mutual relationship to the Rossetti family, but he gave more important contacts from Vasto. First, Carl Rossetti informed me of a person named Nicola D’Adamo from Vasto. Nicola D’Adamo is a historian of Vasto and even knows some of my second cousins in Vasto. He referred to me another Vasto historian named Paolo Calvano from Vasto. Paolo Calvano has written history books about Vasto and even has a copy of my family tree. It turns out that there are two Pietrocola family trees. One is my family tree that I received from Carlo Pietrocola back in 1993 and it turns out that Paolo Calvano had another family tree. But, what is more intriguing is that the Pietrocola family tree from Paolo Calvano has more information than the family I received from Carlo Pietrocola. In fact, Paolo Calvano sent me an email with one hundred and eighteen updates to the family tree I have on the internet. Most were misspelling of names, some wrong dates, but there was at least another addition of eight more Pietrocolas to the family tree. But, the main question is where did Paolo Calvano get his family tree? It turns out that another Vasto historian named Vittorio d’Anelli has my family tree. Vittorio d’Anelli is famous for writing the history book, Histonium ed il Vasto, and must be one of the quintessential Vasto historians since he, or his family, have been dedicated to the history of Vasto. I always knew if I ever went back to Vasto I had to contact Vittorio d’Anelli because I always felt he would have information on my family tree.