It’s been 6 years since I started resurfacing the lives of my ancestors, and I still struggle most with my paternal side.
My paternal grandfather was born in a small Sicilian town called Chiaramonte Gulfi. You can read a little bit more about the town in my previous article, “Surname Saturday: Are We Related? Mangani“
At that point in time I had found some information about my great-grandfather, Giuseppe Mangani. But nothing much on my great-grandmother, Salvatrice Cutraro.
The family moved when my Nonno was very young, to another small town called Ramacca, in the province of Ragusa.
How I Found My Bisnonna’s Death Record Online After 6 Years Of Searching
My Nonno had always told us the story about his mother’s death in childbirth after delivering twin girls who also did not survive. He was only 7 years old at the time of her death. He went to school the day after she died and the funeral service for his mother went past the school. The teacher told him to go outside and watch.
In my visit to Ramacca, I was able to get a photo of her personal record, but nothing for her twin girls, because I did not know their names. This happened in 1938 so although FamilySearch records sometimes extend back to this time, it’s usually too recent for the records to be catalogued.
I checked, and to be sure, the records for the church in Ramacca stopped at 1936 – a frustrating 2 years before the records I wanted. I periodically check for updates to non-transcribed image records, where most of the information I need can be found. But in the years I have been searching there was nothing.
But, after another night trawling through records I decided to see if I could order a microfilm that might have the record on it.
If you don’t know anything about the FamilySearch library I would highly suggest you take a look. They have an actual mountain in Utah, called Granite Mountain, that houses many of the microfilms. (Yep, think Richie Rich.) The rest are stored in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
Lo and behold at the very bottom of the list were records showing the years containing 1938!
But not only that, they had been photographed, and uploaded onto the internet. Somehow the FamilySearch website is missing a few film collections in their categorization so unless you look through the catalog you would never find them! (Ugh, thank you website issues!)
In my morbid excitement I clicked through the records, used the indice (index) to find my great-grandmother’s name, Salvatrice Cutraro, and found her death record.
The Details of Italian Genealogical Records
Can I just take a moment and say how AMAZING Italian genealogical records are? These are tiny, remote towns in Italy, and I can find state-made birth, death, and marriage records containing information about the person, their time of birth, time of death, their parents names, witness names, and place of birth or death. Then I can find more records, albeit in Latin, from the Catholic Church. It certainly beats the haphazard record-keeping of the Americans.
Latin Catholic Church Death Record
I don’t know how to read Latin. I don’t even really know how to read Italian. But using combination of logic, and Google Translate (let’s be honest), I can decipher the essentials.
Death of Salvatrice Cutraro, Parrocchia di Maria Santissima, Ramacca.
Basically, the record above reads that she died on 20 December 1938. Her name was Salvatrice Cutraro, daughter of Mariano, and wife to Giovanni Mangani. She was 32 years old. The rest of the writing are names of those to make the notice official. The record was published in the Ecclesiastical Records of the Parrocchia di Maria Santissima in Ramacca.
The church still exists today, under the name Parrocchia Natività Maria Santissima, I’m not sure if the name was changed or simply abbreviated in the record book.
Parrocchia Natività Maria Santissima, Ramacca
The cause of Salvatrice’s death on the civil personal record states that she died from autointoxication, which is a state of being poisoned by toxic substances produced within the body. It is possible that this was a result of childbirth.
The Fate Of The Twin Mangani Girls
The civil records might shed more light on the death of these two infant girls, but I can only speculate that the death of a mother in childbirth is a danger to any child left behind.
There wasn’t any formula milk, so if there were no lactating mothers nearby to feed them, they would surely die. I imagine a close-knit town like Ramacca would have someone to help the girls so it’s possible they died from other causes.
I was only able to find the death record for one child, but the baptismal records for two, so we know at least that Salvatrice did bear twin girls.
Sebastiana Mangani, born 19 December 1938, and baptized the same day at 4am. Daughter of Salvatrice Cutraro, and Giovanni Mangani.
Sebastiana Mangani, died on 27 December 1938 at just 8 days old. Her death is also recorded by the church on 28 December 1938. (Click on the images to view the records in greater detail.)
Giovanna Mangani was born on 19 December 1938 and baptized on the same day at 5am. She was also the daughter of Salvatrice Cutraro, and Giovanni Mangani. (Yes, they even translated names into Latin – so incredibly frustrating.)
Missing Death Record for Giovanna Mangani
The 1838 to 1946 Ramacca Atti di Morte do not record Giovanna Mangani’s death.
I believe that she may have died shortly after birth and that her birth record will note her death. A stillborn child was recorded in the birth records, along with a note of their death, but not given an entry in the death records. I don’t believe Giovanna was born stillborn because the Catholic Church do not baptize children born morte.
Unfortunately I cannot access the 1938 Ramacca birth records because they are not online yet and have yet to hear back after requesting the information from the Comune di Ramacca.