Friday, April 20, 2018

Using the Corippo Parish Register

We know from his naturalisation papers that Giuseppe Scettrini (my great-great grandfather) came from the village of Corippo in the Canton of Ticino, Switzerland. And from his marriage and death register entries, we know that his parents were Giovanni Scettrini, and Giovanini (Johanna) Maria Scilacci, and that he was born around 1835.

Corippo is found in Valle Verzasca. The nearest larger town to Corippo is Locarno.

Back in the 1990s when I was researching more about Giuseppe’s ancestors in Corippo, I was able to order the microfilm for the Corippo Parish Registers in to my local Mormon Family History Centre. The film number was 1751127. This film had not previously been ordered by anyone in New Zealand, and it was brought into the country for me. I remain grateful to the Mormon Church for this service.

The parish church in Corippo is named Sancta Maria Virgine de Monte Carmelli (Blessed Mary Virgin of Mt Carmel).

The parish registers in Corippo at the time were all written in Latin.  I had reason to be appreciative of the three years I had studied Latin in high school to School Certificate level, as it enabled me to translate a lot of the important details.

One of the treasures of this register, was that entries commonly named the father of those named. So for instance, when Giuseppe was baptised, each of his parents were named, but so also were the names of the fathers of each of his parents. This clue to the names of 'three generations' made it much easier to trace entries back with more confidence.

The family name is spelled Scettrini in Italian, but in Latin in the parish registers, it appears as Scitrini when in the nominative case. However, one of the characteristics of Latin is that endings alter depending on the ‘case’ of the noun. Thus it appears as Scitrino in the genitive case, eg when someone is the daughter of someone else.

The register was not always easy to read. The handwriting of some priests was more legible than others. Additionally, the entries varied in length and detail according to the priest of the time. (Sometimes there was considerable detail about such things as the degree of consanguinity that I didn’t try to translate.)

There were so many Scettrini families in Corippo at the time, that sometimes our line was called Scettrini-Benada, or even just Benada.

At times family members descended to a pasturage area, Vira Gambarogno, nearer the lake, Lago Maggiore. This meant that occasionally I could not find the entry for a direct ancestor I was trying to find.

I constructed some family group sheets as well as I could. However, then I had some truly fortunate contact with a man called Rae Codoni who hailed from California. Rae had done extensive research into his Codoni ancestors from Corippo. (We worked our that I am a half fifth cousin with his daughter Anne, the half being because of a remarriage.) I was very glad to be able to compare my draft findings with his, and am truly grateful for all the information he so generously shared with me.

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