Finding Graziani:

Emilito's search for his (1/32) Italian roots

By Emilito (Emil Signes)
Rev. 9: 2010-07-10

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    A brief overview of the purpose and status of the search to date.
Through 1998: Background
    Why Emilito started this project and results through about 1998
1998: I find descendants of Flavio Graziani
    Emilito speaks to Ramón and Esperanza
    At this point Emilito knows he is related to - but not a member of -  the Flavio branch
1998: Ramón sends treasures
    Tons of information on the Graciani of Spain
    An introduction to Flavio Graziani
    The first reference to Villabuona
1999: I meet "new" family
    Emilito meets family in Spain, in Cuba
    And, in Boston, Emilito meets the Graciani from Ecuador
2001-03: Loose ends begin to meet
    Emilito's cousins Betty and Bill visit Villabuona
    Betty and Bill find Flavio Graziani's birth certificate
    A birthday present: Emilito receives his great-great-grandfather Graciani's baptismal certificate in the mail  
    Emilito loses contact with the Alicante Graciani
    Emilito meets Graciani relatives in Seville, Córdoba, Málaga
    Victorina Graciani's baptismal font
    Steve White visits Villabuona
    Emilito meets Graciani relatives in São Paulo
    Emilito finds one of Flavio's descendants living in DC
2003: Emilito finds Romano!

    Finds Giulio Salemmne
May 2003: A Summary as of this date  
    We know that Romano and Flavio are brothers
    We know the Graziani line 4 generations back in Italy
    We know the relationship between their descendants
    We know the names of more than 700 descendants of the Graziani brothers
    We know that the original spelling was Graziani (with one z)
    We don't know anything about the Graziani's years in Italy
    We don't know anything about their voyage to Spain nor early years there
    We don't know the Graziani ancestry as far back as it is possible to go
    We don't know the reason for the spelling changes in the 19th century
mid-2003: Emilito meets more relatives in Spain

    And with each new discovery, new questions
September 2003: Emilito visits Lucca (Forward to the Past I)
    Lots of new information about the Graziani and ancestors
    Emilito visits Villabuona
    Emilito visits the rectory in Piazzanello (parish of Pescaglia)
November 2005: Emilito visits Lucca again (Forward to the Past II)
    Tons and tons of information - back to the 15th century
    Emilito finds dozens of direct ancestors and many miscellaneous facts
2006: Madrid Census Data Speak Out!
    Back to Spain - more on the Graciani
2007: Auntie Nitro and I
    Emilito finds Nitroglicerina in the 1873 census
    Domingo Graciani's first family
2008: Frasquito, Juliana, & Julio
    12 years of census data on Emilito's great-great-grandfather Frasquito Graziani
    A new great-great-grandaunt, Juliana Graciani of Seville
    A new live relative, Julio Linares Graciani of Toledo
2009: We need to insert a generation
    Alejandrina's birth record yields a treasury of information
    The wandering Graziani: 1788 to 1864
Future Challenges


July 2010: The story of this ongoing quest is dedicated to five people without whom the discovery of an unbroken link of 18 generations from pre-Columbian days to the current descendants of Josefa BESTEIRO GRACIANI (the goal) and multiple other branches (the byproduct) would never have taken place:

1. Victorina GRACIANI LORENZO (1862-1931). The last of our (US LAGOS-BESTEIRO) ancestors to carry GRACIANI as a surname, she passed on enough information to her granddaughter Carmen to make eventual connections between "her" GRACIANI and "the other" GRACIANI of Spain.

2. Isabel BESTEIRO GRACCIANI [sic] (1896-1980). Victorina's youngest daughter: her letters to her niece Carmen added much detail and new information to her mother's stories.

3. Antonio GRACIANI VÁZQUEZ (1903-1984). At the same time Isabel was writing to Carmen, Antonio was writing to his cousin César GRACIANI about the history of Flavio GRAZIANI and his descendants.

4. Carmen LAGOS BESTEIRO (1910-1993).  Emilito's mother. Her stories to her children, her quest for information, and her penchant for documentation, kept lots of old family history alive.

5. Ramón GRACIANI RUIZ (1931-2000).  The most recent keeper of the history of the descendants of Flavio GRACIANI MARTÍN; his data enabled us to determine that many old legends were actually truths.

Victorina Graciani LorenzoIsabel BESTEIRO GRACCIANI in 1963Antonio Graciani VázquezCarmen LAGOS BESTEIRO c. 1960Ramon Graciani in 1999
Victorina c. 1930, Isabel 1963 (Havana); Antonio 1951 (Málaga); Carmen c. 1960 (New Jersey); Ramón 1999 (Valencia)

Overview: July 2010

Background.  This is the story of a quest to explore the Italian branch of Emilito's otherwise 100% Spanish heritage.  As of 2008 the the search has unearthed ancestors as far back as Giambattista [no surname, but an ancestor of Emilito's GRAZIANI], born almost certainly before Columbus's 1492 voyage.  Prior to the children of Gratiano (great-great-great grandson of Giambattista, born in 1638), there were no surnames in this branch; Emilito found the first reference to a surname (GRATIANI) in 1677, and in the early 18th century the spelling was changed to GRAZIANI.  At this point, Emilito has found 990 descendants of Giambattista (but he reckons this is probably less than 1% of the actual number).  As far as he can determine, all 10 recorded generations of ancestors of Romano & Flavio GRAZIANI -- the brothers who emigrated to Spain -- were born and baptized either in the parish of Pescaglia or neighboring parishes, then in the dukedom (now province) of Lucca.

Recent Updates.  In 2005 Emilito traveled to Lucca for 10 days; 2 full days, with the help of student Andrea Luciani, were spent at the Rectory in Piazzanello (parish of Pescaglia).  It was there that he found ancestors back to the 15th century.  In addition, even prior to this data being posted on the web in July of 2006 (see: ancestors of Emil Signes and 11 generations of Graziani starting with Giambattista), Emilito found a set of 9th cousins living in St. Louis.  The common ancestors were Mazzeo MAZZEI and Fiora BARTELLONI, born in Pescaglia in the mid-17th century.  He is also in contact with another BARTELLONI descendant in England, possibly a relative as well.

From 2006 through 2009, based on research done in Madrid's "Archivo de la Villa," Emilito has found much new information.  Most spectacularly, he has found a census document from 1873 in which he has found - in print - the legendary characters "Federal" and "Nitroglicerina."  He has also found a couple of unknown branches: descendants of the first marriage of Domingo GRACIANI MARTÍN, and also of another unknown GRACIANI - Juliana - the sister of Emilito's great-great-grandfather Frasquito and may have been the first GRACIANI ever to live in Seville.  Juliana was the mother of Dolores GRACIANI, who was heretofore believed to be Frasquito's brother, and it turns out was really Dolores GUARTS GRACIANI. He found Frasquito's address in Madrid from 1855 to 1859 and 1871 to 1889 as well as many interesting census records from that era.

Still completely unknown - and Emilito admits he doesn't know where to turn - are exactly when, how, why, whence and with whom the siblings Romano and Flavio GRAZIANI emigrated from Italy to Spain (missing years for Romano are 1812-1819 and for Flavio 1814-1827), whither they went (Flavio ended up in Aranjuez no later than 1828, Romano fathered children in the Toledo area in 1820 and 1823 and Alicante in 1832), and in general all their activities between leaving home and fathering their first children. No information on the life in Spain or the death of Romano and Flavio is known. He welcomes suggestions regarding the process of discovery.

Note: Emilito has chosen to write the following article in the first person.

What I Knew as a Child

Italian on My Tree

The child of two Spanish parents, I was nevertheless given the supposedly Americanized name of Emil SIGNES because I was born in “the new country.”  My name in Spanish, however, where they keep both parents’ surnames, is Emilio SIGNES LAGOS.  My mother, Carmen LAGOS BESTEIRO, was born in Havana, and her mother Josefa BESTEIRO GRACCIANI [well, that’s the way she wrote it] was born in Madrid.

I had always known that there was an Italian branch on our family tree.  My mother used to mention our great-great grandfather GRAZZIANI from Italy.  But that's all we really knew about him.  

Not that we ever asked very much.

The GRACCIANI in my grandmother’s surnames came from her mother Victorina GRACCIANI [again, her spelling of choice] LORENZO.   The two c's had replaced the z's, according to my mother, because Spanish rules didn't allow a double z (or even a single z before an i).  That we had, though, a GRAZZIANI in our background was something we always knew.

According to my mother, her great grandfather GRAZZIANI came from the North of Italy, possibly Genoa or Milan.

She had never met her great grandfather, who died more than 20 years before she was born, but she had a close relationship with her grandmother Victorina GRACCIANI, who lived in Havana from 1907 until her death in 1931.  Victorina visited the US several times and actually lived in Paterson for several months, perhaps a year or more, on more than one occasion in the 1920s.

1907 besteiro gracciani arrive in cuba
Havana, 1907: Seated is Victorina GRACIANI [official spelling] LORENZO
Behind her are her children Pepita (Emilito's grandmother), Jorge, and Isabel (Aunt Betty)
This picture was taken shortly after their arrival in Cuba

Federal and Nitroglicerina

Occasionally, the topic of the Spanish Civil War would come up, and my mother would talk about my parents' experiences during the outbreak of that war, and about the communists and the anarchists that had burned down all the contents of the church in my father's hometown.  "You know," she would say, a glint in her eye, "we had at least one anarchist in our family."  

She would go on to tell the story of this distant uncle (she never mentioned the side of the family he came from, nor were we curious/intelligent enough to ask), who was an anarchist.  He named his son "Federal," she said, because he wanted whatever government there had to be limited to small local federations.  Knowing, however, that violence would be needed to achieve these ends, he then named his daughter "Nitroglicerina."  As the story went, when these children grew to adulthood, they had themselves christened "Segundo" and -- possibly -- "Cecilia."

1993: When Mother Dies – Why do we Wait So Long?

From the time I was a teen until my mother died, I never did anything with this information, other than a) tell my Italian buddies at college that I was partly one of them and b) retell over and over again the story of my anarchist uncle who named his children Federal and Nitroglicerina.

My mother died on February 28, 1993.  I suppose that, as she was dying, I suddenly realized that an entire lifetime -- even 2 or 3 lifetimes, as represented by the stories of her parents and grandmother -- of family information was going to be lost forever.  On the day before she died, I grabbed every old family picture I could find and took them to her deathbed, asking for the name of the person(s) on each picture.  I guess it wasn't a very sensitive thing to do, but she seemed happy to provide the information.  

Following her death, I took boxes and boxes of unidentified handwritten "stuff" to my home in Pennsylvania, where it sat untouched in the basement for more than three years.

carmen's 80th birthday
Concord (MA), 1990: Carmen LAGOS BESTEIRO (m. Signes) and all her children and grandchildren
on her 80th birthday, 5 Oct. 1990

1997: I Discover Genealogy

Toward the end of 1996 I bought the genealogy program Family Origins for Windows, but it was well into 1997 that I first started cramming it with data.  

I found out at that time that birth certificates in Spain included information not only about parents, but also about grandparents.  I eagerly looked forward to finding my grandmother’s birth certificate and it was indeed in my mother’s piles.  When I looked for her Italian grandfather, however, I found out that he was born in Alicante. And, instead of the GRAZZIANI I expected, I found that his name was written Francisco GRACIANI.

1998: I Dig Up More Information

Having had great success finding some missing Lagos relatives by writing virtually every Lagos in the Madrid phone books (I received an amazing email on December 31, 1997 entitled RV:_DESCENDIENTES_DE_ADOLFO_LAGOS_MUÑOZ_Y_MARGARITA_ESCALONA, and it was as if I was transported back to another world, a world in which old friendships and family relationships were recreated).  I was now determined to do this for the other branches of my family.

Of these, the Graciani were the most problematic, and all letters to all the Graciani I could find in the Spanish phone books (about 30) were unanswered.

It was during 1998 that I also unearthed several letters written by my “Aunt Betty” [tía Isabel BESTEIRO GRACCIANI, my grandmother’s sister], between 1973 and 1979.  In large part, these letters consisted in answering my mother’s many questions about family history.  More on these later.
When my brother Richard returned from Valencia, where he was accustomed to spend the summer, in September, he noted that a colleague of his knew a Graciani from Seville now living on a certain street in Valencia.  I found a J.R. GRACIANI in Valencia on the web and wrote a letter on 28 Sep 1998.

In addition, because I firmly believed that I could distinguish “my” Graciani from Graciani that were not mine by the double consonant, I searched for people that spelled their name GRAZZIANI and wrote to them at the same time.

I got one quick response: a fax on October 5 (my mother’s birthday) from José Ramón GRACIANI LUCINI of Valencia.  He sent me a summary of a family tree starting with a Flavio GRAZIANI, his great-grandfather, who probably arrived around 1830 from Lucca, Italy.  

I answered José Ramón because I was pleased that he took the trouble to write.  I suspected, however, that we were not related.  His Italian ancestor spelled his name with a single z, and wasn't from Genoa or Milan.  At the time, I missed the fact that there was a “Segundo” in the tree.

Aunt Betty speaks from the past (1973-1979). 

Aunt Betty family 1944
Havana, 1944: Isabel BESTEIRO GRACCIANI, AKA "Aunt Betty" is 2nd row in family photo with husband Mario GARCÍA GONZÁLEZ.
Emilito's cousin Diana is seated on the floor. 
right to left, are Isabel's children Pepe and Nena, and Nena's husband Bebo

From Aunt Betty’s letters I learn that her grandfather Francisco was nicknamed Frasquito and had a sister Dolores.  From what she had heard, Dolores was widowed early and lived with or near her brother, so that her daughter Alejandrina CARO GRACIANI and Victorina GRACCIANI LORENZO grew up as sisters.  Alejandrina, her daughter Julia DELGADO, and her grandson Fernando DELGADO [MARTÍNEZ DELGADO] all became actors well known throughout Spain.

Actress Alejandrina CaroActress Julia DelgadoActor Fernando Delgado
Actors Alejandrina CARO GRACIANI, her daughter Julia DELGADO CARO and grandson Fernando [Martínez] DELGADO
These are all signed photos sent to their US relatives

Aunt Betty notes that my great grandmother Victorina was also a great actress, having received first prize in competition, but quit the stage to marry at a very young age.

She also speaks of relatives in Seville: el tío Paco and el tío Domingo.  Paco (short for Francisco) was a cousin of her grandfather Frasquito (also short for Francisco), and Domingo [tío Domingo de Sevilla] was alternately referred to as a sibling, then a cousin, of her grandfather.

She wrote that tío Paco, her grandfather’s cousin, was a very well known engineer in his day.  “They told me that that when there was an accident they sent for him . . . if for example a bridge went down he built a provisional one and he said 'Under my authority the trains may pass' and there never was an accident.  That’s what my mother told me.”

She went on to say that “tío Domingo of Seville was a true artist in woodworking and it was he that built the doll house that I believe you [Carmen LAGOS BESTEIRO] have heard about from your mother which, among other things, had a perfect spiral staircase made from one tree trunk and with sculpted balconies and doors, all a wonderful work of art.”

Isabel letter to Carmen 1973 - segment
Part of a 1973 letter from Aunt Betty to her niece Carmen;
she discusses tío Domingo de Seville and his woodworking skills

Another branch of the Graciani – closer on the family tree – were the children of tío Joaquín GRACCIANI (or GRACIANI) LORENZO, Victorina’s only sibling.  Aunt Betty: “Emilio, the older, is retired and lives in Ecuador.  He has two children: his son is still single, and his daughter was married last year and now has a daughter. Manolita, who lives here [Cuba] and whom we love very much, just a few days ago received color pictures of Emilio’s daughter’s wedding.  Manolita’s daughter Alica is the godmother of Arturito [Aunt Betty’s great grandson].”

Emilio Graciani SánchezManolita Graciani Sánchez
Siblings who emigrated from Spain to Cuba:
Emilio and Manolita GRACIANI SÁNCHEZ

Federal and Nitroglicerina.  My mother had written Aunt Betty asking her to identify Federal and Nitroglicerina’s father.  Unfortunately my mother used the term “anarchist” when referring to this individual and this angered Aunt Betty who never answered the question.  She simply commented (without noting who “he” was):  “He was merely anticlerical, he was a member of the legally authorized Brotherhood of Masons.  There’s even a building in Havana.  In our family there have been no anarchists.  Whoever told you this was either mistaken or had bad intentions.”

Spelling.  According to Aunt Betty: "Originally our surname was spelled with two z’s but to avoid the mistakes that arose frequently in legal documents, and the consequent confusion, it was written with two c’s or GRACCIANI and later, I don’t know if it was when we were already in Cuba, they took off one of the c’s for the same reason.

My mother’s 1978  meeting with Janina

Sometime while searching documents I found a note of my mother’s that referred to a visit with Alejandrina MARTÍNEZ DELGADO (Janina), daughter of Julia DELGADO (and great-granddaughter of Frasquito).  In this document she notes that “she's the only descendant of the Grazzianis who the Besteiros or I have ever met.”

I hope to do better.

October 1998: I visit Spain.

Before leaving for Spain in October I have written to the three GRAZZIANI in the Madrid online phone book and replied to José Ramón in Valencia.  On my first night in Madrid, at the home of a Lagos relative, I receive two phone calls, both of tremendous import.

Conversation with Esperanza.  The first person to call is Esperanza GRACIANI CASTILLA.  She has received my letter although it was addressed to an aunt whose surnames were GRAZZIANI GARCÍA.  However, she says, “it is clear that our surname was originally written with two z’s.”  In fact, she adds that her generation is the first that hasn’t used two z’s.  Furthermore, her children have gone back to using the surnames “MARTÍNEZ GRAZZIANI.”  She notes that according to the family story passed on to her, the original immigrant Flavián arrived in Spain around 1830 as one of 4 brothers.  They were soldiers fleeing the political situation in Italy at the time. Her sources had told her that two stayed in Spain, and two went on to “the Americas.”

She mentions her father Manuel GRAZZIANI GARCÍA, born in Seville, then her grandfather Segundo (she continues describing Segundo, but my mind is suddenly swimming with the stories of Federal-Segundo and Nitroglicerina-Cecilia).

I don’t know how to proceed – surely the entire Federal-Segundo story is too bizarre to mention, so I don’t.  I do, however, meekly ask "Were there any stories in the family about anarchist ancestors?" "Yes," she says, "but my grandfather was so nice, I don't want to believe them. . . And those stories about assassinating Prim . . . "

Conversation with Ramón.  Eerily, at almost the same moment that I hang up the phone from Esperanza, I receive a phone call from Ramón GRACIANI RUIZ.

He says the original immigrant’s name was Flavio [I suppose Flavián was a Spanish version].  He concurs with Esperanza’s explanation that he came to Spain as a refugee escaping the political situation in Italy in the 1830s.  He knows that Flavio had come over with at least one family member – a cousin, he thought.

We agree that I can’t be descended from Flavio – his son Francisco (Paco), Ramón’s great-grandfather, was clearly a different person from my great-great grandfather Francisco (Frasquito) of the same generation.  I must be descended from Flavio’s brother / cousin, he thinks.

I am a bit doubtful, again, as to whether or not we are related.  I decide to try to continue the Federal-Segundo thought:  “I was speaking with Esperanza GRACIANI earlier, and she mentioned that her grandfather was named Segundo.  That’s not a common name, is it?” I am still reluctant to bring up the legend.  “Oh, you’ve spoken with Segundo’s granddaughter?  That’s interesting, I’ve never met her.”

Then, a little embarrassed, I spit out the Federal-Nitroglicerina story I’d heard as a kid.  “Yes,” says Ramón to my astonishment, “that story is just the way I’ve heard it . . . Except that the daughter’s name was Mónica.”  And the father?  “Domingo GRACIANI MARTÍN, brother of Ramón’s great-grandfather. 

And, I continue, "What about Prim? Was there a Graciani involved in his assassination?"  "Well, yes.  At least that's what my father told me," Ramón answers.

My wife Heide says she’ll never forget the look on my face when I got off the phone:  “Federal – Nitroglicerina” – it’s true!  Now I know who they are, and I just spoke to Federal’s granddaughter!”

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to meet either Esperanza or Ramón on this trip, as I had previous plans with Lagos, Besteiro and Signes relatives in Madrid, Málaga, and Alicante.  But what a wealth of information!

After these conversations it was clear that “my” GRACIANI family was part of the same extended GRACIANI family as theirs.  No two people could ever make up identical Federal and Nitroglicerina stories, and now tio Paco and tío Domingo de Sevilla had been identified.

I did meet with Janina MARTÍNEZ DELGADO, whom my mother had met in 1978.  She notes that Fernando's son Alberto is also an actor.  In addition she is in contact with the descendants of Alejandrina's second marriage to actor Ángel SALA LEYDA, and promises to introduce me the next time I come to Spain.

I also get to see Fernando Delgado in a play and meet him afterwards!

Janina Mártinez Delgado in 1998Emilito & Fernando Delgado in 1998
Madrid, 1998: Janina Martinez Delgado, Julia's daughter / Emilito with Fernando [Martínez] Delgado, Julia's son, following a performance

Ramón sends treasures.

In December I received a huge package from Ramón in which a great series of family branches were carefully set out on huge sheets of paper.  Copies of several birth, marriage, and death certificates were included.  Also included was a 1978 mini-history of the Graciani family contained in a letter from Antonio GRACIANI VÁZQUEZ to his 2nd cousin Cesar GRACIANI MARTÍNEZ. And a picture of Flavio and his sons, undated but with the children marked.  (I never found out how Ramón ascertained which was which.)

Flavio Graziani and his sons
This is the photo Ramón sent of Flavio and his sons. 
It was undated, but Ramón guesses it's from the 1860s or 1870.

Finally, there was a little handwritten note from Antonio GRACIANI VÁZQUEZ to Ramón, in which he stated that Flavio was born in Vilabona, Lucca (Italy).  This is the only reference I have seen to Flavio’s birth town.

1978 letter re Vilabona

Handwritten on a piece of scrap paper in 1978, this was our only hope to find the Graziani ancestral home.
"Flavio Graciani," it says, "native of Vilabona, province of Lucca (Italy)"

Pleased as I was, I realized that a huge question remained:  who was the father of my great-great grandfather Francisco, and how was he related to Flavio?

Villabuona.  One evening soon thereafter, I was visiting my good friend Steve White, and was recounting my possible origins in Lucca.   Steve commented that the town he lived in for years – Livorno – is very near Lucca and that he had a detailed map of the province.  We spent a seemingly endless amount of time looking for Vilabona (which we assumed would be Villabuona in Italian).  Just as we were ready to fold the map back up, Steve shouted “There it is!” And there, indeed, it was: a very small town, very close to what seemed a larger community named Pescaglia.

Partial Lucca map
This is a just a small part of the map of Lucca province.  Lucca city is at the lower right hand corner.
Pescaglia is at the very top of this section, just right of center.
Just below and slightly to the left of Pescaglia is Villabuona.
The lower left hand corner is the Mediterranean Sea at Viareggio.

If it were not for this fortuitous discovery I may never have found the Graziani.

1999: I Meet Family in Spain and Cuba

For me, genealogy has been a two-pronged pursuit.  One is the search for data, and the quest to make it mean something, all of the researcher’s instincts, in other words.  The other is the human interaction that results from these efforts.  1999 was a great year for this latter aspect of the study.

Although I made no further inroads into my goal to get back to my Italian past and work into the future from that origin, I finally met Esperanza.  I finally met Ramón.  I finally met José Ramón and his family.

Ana Maria & Esperanza Graciani in 1999
Madrid, 1999: Great-granddaughters of Domingo, Ana Maria and Esperanza GRACIANI CASTILLA

Ramon & Emilito in 1999 (Valencia)
Valencia, 1999: Ramón showing Emilito one of the many Spanish Graciani lines

And – on my first visit to Cuba in 44 years -- I met Alicia PELLÓN GRACIANI (Manolita's daughter) in Cuba, and became determined to find the Graciani of Ecuador.

1999 Cuba - Alicia & Roxana
Havana, 1999: Alicia PELLÓN GRACIANI and her daughter Roxana

[On my trip to Cuba, I also met many descendants of my grandmother’s siblings Domingo and Isabel BESTEIRO GRACCIANI, but of course, this was the branch we had always known about and I had already met the older ones in the 50s.]

Spelling update.  During a trip around the web I find a subject heading on one of the genealogy sites entitled “GRAZZIANI from Lucca”. . . I immediately contacted the author.  Her surname is GRAZINI, but her surname spellings had included GRAZZIANI and GRAZIANI.

She told me that when she finally visited Lucca she was surprised at the number of GRAZIANI she found.  BUT – there were NO GRAZZIANI in any documents, including the entire 18th century.

As 2000 arrives, I still need to find a connection to documented people in Italy and also the Ecuador GRACIANI.

2000: Alicia Found in Ecuador, Ramón Dies

Finding Alicia Graciani

Alicia PELLÓN GRACIANI of Cuba had told me that her first cousin Alicia GRACIANI ENCALADA was last heard from in Guayaquil, and I started looking.

I could find no information on either her or her husband Bolivar RIVERA MANTILLA on the web, and finally contacted the Ecuadorian Embassy in DC.  They were able to find a Quito address and I sent a note, and when there was no answer, called.  The man who answered said “Oh, they don’t live here any more, but I’ll give you the phone number of their landlady, she’ll be able to find them for you.”  So I called her and she gave me a number.  I called the number and got a fax tone.  “Damn!” I thought, and then sent a fax to the number.  A week later I got an email from Alicia.

It turns out that all three of Bolivar and Alicia’s children live in the United States, and in May, on the same weekend our son Ricardo graduated from Boston University, their son Roberto graduated from Clark University in Worcester.  These two Graciani branches met for the first time since Alicia’s father Emilio left Cuba for the last time in the 1920s or 30s.

alicia from ecuador & family
Boston, 2000: Alicia (front left), her 3 children (right) and US family

Ramón dies

In May I receive an email from José Ramón:  on 26 April 2000 my soul mate Ramón has died. 

I’ll miss him!
It’s sad, especially so because I’ve come so much to rely on his help and friendship, and also because I know now I am on the verge of a great discovery . . . a discovery that I have been bursting to share with Ramón when it comes.

During the year I continue to search for Graciani on the web and make contact with a few.  I’m hoping I can finally meet them, and see the Seville of my mother’s dreams.


Although she was born in Alcalá de Henares (near Madrid), my great-grandmother Victorina apparently never stopped talking about the beauty of Seville.  My mother honored both Seville and her grandmother when Victorina died in 1931.  In a book of poems I found among her papers appears the following (my translation from the Spanish):

To Maina, my Granny

Today when I awoke
And at my window
Heard myself being called
By the cold wind
Of the nascent winter,
Violently, my heart
Skipped a beat
Thinking of the hurt
The cold brought you.
And I remembered your face, always beautiful
And I remembered your voice like a lyre
I thought of you telling me thousands of stories,
And among them, your praises of Seville.
There, the wind soft and caressing,
There, beautiful roses, and every day
A new carnation scatters its bouquet;
There, never a tree without leaves,
Never can a child freeze;
There all is joy and goodwill . . .
That was your picture of Seville.

And I, by your words inspired,
Asked God, which our love required,
That one day I might go, helped by his will
And led by your hand, to visit Seville,
But today, you should know all I want to do
Is go to Heaven, so I can be with you.

Carmen J. Lagos
Carmen Lagos Besteiro

2001:  Loose Ends Begin to Meet

2001 was a phenomenal year for discovery.  Yet, at the same time, I made some key mistakes interacting with family in Spain.   It was a year of many emotions. 

Betty, Bill, Flavio, Frasquito

In December 2000, my first cousin Betty Goetz and her husband Bill Serow move to Florence for nearly six months.  They promise to travel to Lucca and search for family data.

I continue to be frustrated by my ignorance of the identity of my great-great grandfather and that of his father – Flavio’s brother?  cousin?

I do know that my great-great grandfather’s name is Francisco and that he was born in Alicante.  As his first child was born in 1858, I figure his birth year to be 1835 or earlier.  

I’m despairing of getting any information from Alicante.  As the Civil Registry did not begin until 1871, it would have to be from a church and there are a lot of them.  In addition, my parents were in my father’s hometown near Alicante in July of 1936 when the Spanish Civil War began. The communists and anarchists burned down the contents of all the local churches, destroying forever centuries of vital records.  I know the same fate befell many churches in Alicante.  And where to begin?

On May 14 I discover a web site for the Archdiocese of Orihuela-Alicante, and on the spur of the moment I send them a note.

“The only thing I know,” I tell them, “is that he was born in Alicante around 1830 to 1835.  I deduce this from the oral tradition that his father arrived in Spain from Italy around 1830 and also from the fact that his oldest child was born in 1858.”

On 29 May, cousin Betty and Bill arrive home from 6 months in Italy and give me the word: they have found Flavio GRAZIANI’s baptismal certificate: he was born on 1 February 1797 in Pescaglia, Lucca.  He is the son of Giuseppe GRAZIANI and Maria Lucia MARCHI.  They have also been to the area and photographed both Villabuona and the Pescaglia parish church from the road.

Flavio's 1797 baptismal certificate
Arcivescovato di Lucca, 1797: Baptism of Flavio GRAZIANI, 2 Feb 1797 (born 1 Feb 1797)
On the last line of the picture, there is a Flavia GRAZIANI baptized on the next day.  Emilito has not been able to document a relationship between the two.

Church of SS Peter & Paul - Pescaglia
Piazzanello (Pescaglia), 2001: the Church of Saints Peter and Paul - where most of the Graziani were baptized

They also, however, find that in the entire time period 1795 to 1812 there are only two siblings – both sisters: Agata, born in 1795, and Maria I. [possibly Irina], born in 1802.

Oh well, I think, back to the cousin theory.

As yet there is still no concrete proof that Flavio and I are related.  Only circumstantial evidence.  

Imagine my amazement, when on June 18, my birthday, I open up an envelope which bears the postmark of the [Bishopric] of Orihuela-Alicante.

It is a transcription of the baptismal certificate of Francisco GRACIANI!  He was born in Alicante on 11 August 1832, the son of Ramón, native of Sercallo [sic], dukedom of Lucca, and Dolores PASTOR of Ayora, province of Valencia.  Ramón is the son of “José and Lucia MARCHI.”
Fco Graciani Pastor's baptism
An official typed copy of the baptism of Emilito's great great grandfather Francisco de Asís GRACIANI PASTOR

I have met my great-great-grandfather and he is Francisco de Asís GRACIANI PASTOR.  And his father, Ramón [Raimondo?] is certainly Flavio’s brother.

José and Lucia MARCHI are clearly the Giuseppe Antonio GRAZIANI and Maria Lucia MARCHI of Flavio’s baptismal certificate, and though Sercallo is not Pescaglia, this is a typed copy, and it seems clear to me that this is simply a misreading, i.e. written, “Sercallo” and “Pescalla” can be confused. (And there is no municipality in Lucca that is spelled anything at all like “Sercallo.”

The reason, if this theory is correct, that no record on great-great-great grandfather Ramón/Raimondo was found in Lucca is that he was likely born before 1795.  As both Ramón and I thought these original migrants were born around 1805, 1795 certainly seemed to Betty and Bill as an early enough year to start.  I see no option but to continue the search, but as Betty and Bill have returned home, I’m not sure just how to do that.   Nevertheless, I will find a way.

Yes, 2001 has been a phenomenal year for discovery.  How fitting that the “original” ancestor of my GRAZIANI branch to set foot on Spanish soil was named Ramón!  How I wish I could have shared this with Ramón!

A Few Steps Backwards

I finally manage, in 2001, to make a few contacts with a Graciani family in the Community of Valencia, and after we exchange several e-mails, I send them a detailed list of the family information I have put together.  The responses from the other end cease immediately.

I also note that the only other person to whom I have sent this “Graciani narrative” has not responded.

After re-reading what I have sent, I realize that I have entered all of the information I received from other sources and that some of it – mostly in the form of comments from the GRACIANI VÁZQUEZ letter – is very unflattering.  

I realize, “How would anyone react to some random person putting out a dossier on their family that treated their ancestors so unkindly?  I realize that what I have put together has the potential to anger a lot of people.

I review all the data (more than 6800 people at this time) to remove any controversial and offensive comments that currently exist and to avoid any comments of this type in the future.  I continue.

Meeting Seville Graciani

Although my mother finally got to Seville in 1992, months before her death, she never met any Graciani.  Through the good offices of Jose Ramón in Valencia I receive introductions to several and in October Heide and I spend 3 days in Seville, where we meet members of the GRACIANI LUCINI and GRACIANI RUIZ families and get acquainted with the beautiful city of Seville.  A bonus visit from Pedro Antonio GRACIANI SAMANIEGO just as we were getting in our car to leave town resulted in a new relative met. Pedro Antonio also gave me a chart of the Flavio tree with new information. 
Maruja and Jesus GRACIANI RUIZ
Seville, 2001: two siblings of Ramón, Maruja and Jesús GRACIANI RUIZ

Córdoba: Descendants of Manuel

Although Francisco GRACIANI MARTIN’s descendants represent nearly 90% of Flavio’s descendants, Domingo and Manuel also produced descendant lines.  Esperanza (great-granddaughter of Domingo) had given me the address of Enrique GRACIANI GUILLÉN, a great-grandson of Manuel.

During the 2001 Andalucia visit I get to Córdoba where I meet Enrique, his wife and son (and continue to be amazed by the beauty of Andalucia).

Nothing is known about Manuel, where or when he was born, lived and died (other than that he had already died in 1926).  Some of Manuel’s lines are also proving difficult to crack.  A promising lead on a José GRACIANI LIQUETE unfortunately fizzles out.

Enrique GRACIANI GUILLEN & wife Rosalia
Córdoba, 2001: Enrique GRACIANI GUILLEN and wife Rosalia
Enrique's uncle César was the recipient of the letters written by Antonio GRACIANI VÁZQUEZ

Málaga: More Graciani

There are two groups of Graciani in Málaga – GRACIANI MOYA and MARTÍN GRACIANI.  I am in contact with Coral MARTÍN GRACIANI but am not able to meet with them.  We do, however, get to meet several GRACIANI MOYA relatives and their children.  The GRACIANI MOYA are children of Antonio GRACIANI VÁZQUEZ, whose work -- and 1978 letter -- inspired Ramón and ultimately has made all of this research possible.

Antonio Graciani Moya and daughter Marta
Málaga, 2001: Antonio GRACIANI MOYA and daughter Marta GRACIANI VILLAR.
Antonio's father wrote the seminal 1978 Graciani history

A Graciani Baptismal Place

We visited relatives in Ajalvir (Madrid).  They are grandchildren of Jorge BESTEIRO GRAC[C]IANI, and thus, like me, great grandchildren of Victorina GRAC[C]IANI LORENZO.  We know that Victorina was born in nearby Alcalá de Henares, where her father was -- so the family story goes -- working on a restoration at the cathedral. We know she was born on 23 March 1862 and baptized in the same baptismal font as Cervantes although no records exist (burned by the Reds in the early days of the Spanish Civil War).  The font used to baptize Cervantes and Victorina still exists.

With Besteiros at Alcala baptismal font
Alcalá de Henares, 2001: Emilito with Ricardo and Yolanda BESTEIRO DE LA FUENTE.
They are at the baptismal font of Miguel de Cervantes and their great grandmother Victorina.

Another Visit to Villabuona

My friend Steve White, who helped me discover Villabuona on the map, and his wife Julie were in Tuscany in the Fall of 2001 and visited Villabuona.  They noted that its most important product seems to be chestnuts and brought one back as a souvenir, along with a large number of photographs.  Steve, who speaks good Italian, has promised to accompany me on a future trip there.

Entering Villabuona 2001 - Steve and Julie picture
Villabuona, 2001: Steve and Julie photograph their entry into Villabuona.
To get to town you must walk up this narrow street from the only area big enough to drive or park cars.

2002 (more or less) - New People, New Discoveries

Graciani in Brazil

Pedro Antonio GRACIANI SAMANIEGO’s list indicated that there were Graciani in Brazil.  I went to the Internet and found two GRACIANI MOTA families, one in Brasilia, one in São Paulo.   I wrote them both.  On November 19, 2001 I received a phone call from Rosa FERNÁNDEZ GRACIANI in Brasilia.  She is the daughter of María Encarnación GRACIANI MOTA, and the granddaughter of José GRACIANI PÉREZ, one of Paco GRACIANI MARTÍN’s grandchildren.  She put me on the phone with her parents and also told me about her uncle Bernardo in São Paulo.

Although I had never been to Brazil in my life, I got the opportunity, in July 2002, to take a rugby team to a tournament in the mountains outside São Paulo.  During that visit I got to visit Bernardo, his wife Clotilde and his two sons Henrique and Luiz.  They were very friendly and helpful.  Discussions with them led me to believe there were some GRACIANI PÉREZ descendants in Venezuela, but I was unable to track them down.

Brazil Graciani
São Paulo, 2002: Luiz and Henrique with their parents Bernardo GRACIANI MOTA and his wife Clotilde

In February 2003 I received an e-mail from Amparo GRACIANI GARCÍA, daughter of Pedro GRACIANI SAMANIEGO, offering new information and also to correct some of my own Spanish translations of what I’ve written.  I eagerly accept.  As I write, Heide and I have planned a June trip to Spain, and Amparo is going to help us meet other Graciani relatives during our visit.

Even here in the US we meet more of Flavio’s descendants.  While we were in Málaga we were told of a Teresa VALCARCE GRACIANI living in Washington, DC.  On May 3 we visit our pregnant daughter Carmita and her husband Kip and all of us spend a very enjoyable day and evening with Tere and her husband Donald FOLEY CORDERO, an Irish-American/Andalucian. 

Tere and Don and Signeses at Cubanos
Maryland, 2003: A Flavio Descendant Found Living in the USA
Tere VALCARCE GRACIANI and her husband Donald (left) with the Signes Family

Still, many questions remain, One of them: although there is no doubt that I am related to all the Graciani of Spain, after 2 years I have still not had any confirmation of the birth in Italy of my great-great-great grandfather Ramón [Raimondo?]

Giulio Salemme

Two years ago I was given the name of a Giulio Salemme, a resident of Tuscany that does family research on a fee basis.  Although I had wanted to do this research without incurring large fees, the urge to get answers takes over and in May 2003 I ask Giulio to help.  It ends up costing me 500 €, but the rewards, in the form of increased information, are huge.

Because I had – once again – miscalculated the probable dates of my ancestor’s birth (I had asked him to look starting at 1790), Giulio did not find him at the “Arcivescovato” in Lucca.

Romano!  He then went directly to the rectory at the Pescaglia parish church in Piazzanello where he discovered that my great-great-great grandfather was named “Romano,” and was born on 8 August 1788 (9 years earlier than Flavio).  There can be no doubt, he notes, that they are brothers.  They have the same parents, lived in the same house, etc.

Other siblings: Maria Teresa (1784), Maria Maddalena (1785), Olimpia Paulina (1791), Agata Olimpia (1795), and Maria Irina (1802).

This information awaited me at home when we arrived from our DC visit with Tere and Donald. Thank God for written records!

Romano Graziani's 1788 baptismal certificate
Pescaglia, 1778: Emilito's great great great grandfather comes alive again - and his name is Romano!

Taking Inventory: May 2003

I'm planning to visit Spain in June and hope to visit Lucca - finally - in the Fall.  It is time to take inventory of what I do and don't know.

May 2003: Our Graziani Branches: What We Know

Flavio and Romano GRAZIANI were brothers, born in Villabuona, Pescaglia, Lucca, that moved to Spain in the early 19th century.
We know their birth information and the name of their siblings and some information on three generations previous.  

My great-great-grandfather Frasquito was born in Alicante in 1832 and his first cousin Paco in Aranjuez around 1838.

We know a large number of descendants of the two brothers and where they are located.  On Flavio’s side there are many that retain Graciani as their last name.  On Romano’s side, there is only one tiny branch that has retained the last name Graciani.  The only one of this generation that is in a position to pass the name on is Emilio GRACIANI BUENO of Guayaquil, born in 1976, a great-grandson of Frasquito’s son Joaquín.  I have never met him, and it is beginning to look unlikely that I ever will.

We've now identified seven members of the first generation born in Spain.  They follow, along with the number of known descendants of each one.

Children of Romano
    Francisco    289
    Dolores        23
Children of Flavio

    Francisco    427
    Manuel        30
    Domingo    19
    Andres        0
    Antonio        0

We can now construct a partial 5-generation tree in which the most recent generation is that of Romano, Flavio, and their siblings.

1-Graziano GRAZIANI (abt 1690-)
sp-Signorina UNKNOWN (-)

. . 2-Giovanni Bartolomeo GRAZIANI (-)
. . sp-Maria GAMBOGI (-)
. . . . 3-Giuseppe Antonio GRAZIANI (10 Jun 1754-)
. . . . sp-Maria Lucia MARCHI (abt 1756-1809)
. . . . . . 4-Maria Teresa GRAZIANI (1784-)

. . . . . . 4-Maria Maddalena GRAZIANI (1785-)
. . . . . . 4-Romano GRAZIANI (8 Aug 1788-)
. . . . . . sp-Dolores PASTOR ALIAGA (-)
. . . . . . . . 5-Francisco (Frasquito) GRACIANI PASTOR (11 Aug 1832-aft 18 Jun 1889)
. . . . . . . . 5-Dolores GRACIANI PASTOR (abt 1835-)
. . . . . . 4-Olimpia Paolina GRAZIANI (1791-)
. . . . . . 4-Agata Olimpia GRAZIANI (5 Feb 1795-)
. . . . . . 4-Flavio GRAZIANI (1 Feb 1797-)
. . . . . . sp-Paula MARTÍN (-)
. . . . . . . . 5-Manuel GRACIANI MARTÍN (-bef 1926)

. . . . . . . . 5-Andrés GRACIANI MARTÍN (-)
. . . . . . . . 5-Domingo (tío Domingo de Sevilla) GRACIANI MARTÍN (-abt 1910)
. . . . . . . . 5-Francisco (Paco) GRACIANI MARTÍN (1838-1905)
. . . . . . . . 5-Antonio GRACIANI MARTÍN (-)
. . . . . . 4-Maria Irina GRAZIANI (13 Jun 1802-)

May 2003. Our Graziani Branches: What We Don't Know

Of the seven members of the first generation born in Spain, we have a document of birth for only one, my great-great grandfather Francisco GRACIANI PASTOR.  Still to find (at least search for): Frasquito’s sister Dolores and all five of the GRACIANI MARTÍN siblings.

We have not traced our Graziani ancestry back as far Giulio says is possible.  Nor have we yet precisely located our ancestral house.

We don’t yet know if it’s possible to find relatives living in Lucca today.

The mystery of the curious “zz” – the origins of the spelling GRAZZIANI – remain a mystery to be solved.  It is clear that in my branch this spelling was used – my mother was told that Frasquito signed his sculptures “F. GRAZZIANI,” and my grandmother and her siblings all used the double consonant in the spelling of their names “BESTEIRO GRACCIANI.” This spelling was also used among the descendants of Domingo GRACIANI [GRAZZIANI?] MARTÍN, and the MARTÍNEZ GRAZZIANI siblings – Domingo’s great-great grandchildren – use it today.

We’ve learned so much and yet there’s so much more to learn.

If the secret to success is persistence, success is in the cards.

Emil Signes

12 mayo 2003

Rev 6:

Summer and Fall 2003:  More Knowledge, More Questions

Spain in June

Heide and I visit Spain in June, and mix in family visits and studies of the Lagos branch of my family with Graciani studies.

Madrid.  In Madrid we meet Janina again, who introduces us to several family members, including Maripi PUERTO SALA,  another descendant of Alejandrina CARO GRACIANI.  Whereas Janina is descended from Alejandrina's first actor husband Paulino DELGADO, Maripi is descended from Alejandrina's second actor husband Ángel SALA LEYDA.  Maripí's mother,
Pilar SALA LÓPEZ, holds a part in Spanish theatrical history -- she played a leading characters in one of the most famous mid-century Spanish plays -- she was the original Rosa in Buero Vallejo's 1949 Historia de una Escalera(This was a family affair as her aunt Julia DELGADO CARO played Paca and Julia's son
Fernando M. DELGADO [sic] played Fernando, hijo.)

Unfortunately Maripi has lost track of her mother, who she believes to be still alive.

On Friday the 13th we get to see the 4th generation of actors, Alberto Delgado (b. MARTÍNEZ VALERO), great grandson of Alejandrina CARO GRACIANI, in a play about Inés de Castro, "Corona de Amor y Muerte."  I meet Alberto after the show; he is excited about performing in this play as, on his mother's side he is descended from Inés de Castro.

alberto delgado & emilito 2003
Madrid, 2003: Alberto Delgado with Emilito after performance, 2003

The Great Consonant Shift.  In Madrid I finally complete my collection of birth certificates of my grandmother's siblings.  The official spellings are as follows:

b. 1883   Domingo BESTEIRO GRACIANI
b. 1884   Josefa BESTEIRO GRACIANI
b. 1886   Emilio BESTEIRO GRACIANI

In our branch of the family, therefore, the double consonant seems to be a product of the late 1880s, presumably as a link to the GRAZZIANI they felt was in their past.  I wonder how this correlates to Esperanza's branch's use of the double Z.

Aranjuez.  Aranjuez seems to be the Spanish origin of  Flavio's branch of the family.  Oral history has him married there and Antonio GRACIANI VÁZQUEZ's 1979 family history states that he believes his grandfather Paco GRACIANI MARTÍN to be born there.  We take the train there and meet Pachi GRACIANI MANZANARES, who took us for a tour of town including the cemetery where several GRACIANI were buried.  We also stopped at City Hall where they confirmed what I already knew - they couldn't help.  The Civil Register did not begin until 1871 and the church data had been destroyed in 1936 by the Reds.  Pachi updated the local GRACIANI data for us.

We had a wonderful day -- including a great meal of conejo with a bit of wine -- and learned about a few more GRACIANI, but learned no earth-shattering knowledge.

Graciani gravestoneHeide and Pachi at El Paraiso
Aranjuez, 2003:
1. Graciani Family area in Aranjuez cemetery
2. Heide and Pachi enjoying wonderful meal (good bread, wine, rabbit, salad, etc.) at "El Paraiso" restaurant

Málaga.  In 2001 we visited one of the two Graciani families in Málaga, the GRACIANI MOYA.  This year we got to meet a ton of MARTÍN GRACIANI relatives including the family matriarch Olvido GRACIANI RODRÍGUEZ.  We had a wonderful time and met many recent descendants of Flavio.

3 Malaga Graciani beauties
Málaga, 2003: 3 Graciani beauties, GRACIANI RODRÍGUEZ branch. 
Marina DEL ESTAL GRACIANI surrounded by Cristina (L) and Paloma SALINAS MARTÍN

Seville.   Besides coming to Seville to meet more family I also came with a search plan this time. Based on information from Amparo GRACIANI GARCÍA, I got myself a card at the Municipal Archives and went through, volume for volume, the "Guia de Sevilla y su provincia" by Vicente Gómez Zarzuela, a yearly guide that provided information about Seville business and prominent citizens.  There I found tons of Graciani during the first few decades of the 20th century.  As well as many of the descendants of Paco GRACIANI MARTÍN, I found Segundo GRACIANI GARCIA (the once "Federal") and - just once, in 1908 - his father Domingo.

I also discovered Paco GRACIANI MARTÍN's burial certificate, which indicated he had died in 1905, having been born 69 years previously in Aranjuez, two years earlier than Ramón's data showed.

Fco Graciani Martin's burial certificate
Paco GRACIANI MARTÍN's barely readable burial certificate

Pedro Antonio took me to Pepita CONTRERAS RAMOS's house where I met lots of GRACIANI descendants (and stupidly left my camera at the hotel) and also got some information on GRACIANI descendants in Venezuela.

Pedro Graciani Samaniego & Angeles in 2003
Seville, 2003: Pedro Antonio GRACIANI SAMANIEGO and his wife Ángeles at feast of Corpus Christi

Slowly I'm gathering information on 20th and 21st century Graciani; I'm still itching to know, however, more about the family's past in Italy and the transitional years (now limited to sometime between 1815 and 1832). 

September 2003 - Forward to the Past

Lucca in September - my future will be to explore its past

Steve White and I like to say that we're each other's "oldest friends."  Not that we don't know older people but that we go back to when we were 4 years old.  Steve not only speaks Italian, but lived 4 years in Livorno with the US Army (a nice place to spend the Vietnam War) and his best Italian friend lives only 5 miles from Lucca.  On top of that he was willing to go over with me and help me search for early Graziani data.  The detail of this trip can be found in Emilito's Trip to the Land of the Graziani: September 2003

At first I was crushed; the one place I had hoped to spend most of my time - the Arcivescovato - was still closed for summer (talk about poor planning).  But - after some agonizing days - I was able to spend a couple of hours searching old books at the rectory of Pescaglia.  I got lots of information and especially learned what I needed to do next.

And - perhaps most exciting of all - I got to walk along the streets of my Villabuona ancestors, visit the Pescaglia parish church where almost all were baptized (and the Villabuona chapel where, in the case of bad weather, the occasional baptism took place); got to spend some time talking to an ancient (well, not 18th century) resident of Villabuona.  I visited the town of Villa a Roggio, home of the Marchi ancestors (am I related to the Boston Marchi? -- many of whom come from Villa a Roggio, per the folks there), and many other towns in the region.  I visited the Museo della Figurina di Gesso e dell'Emigrazione (Museum of Plaster of Paris Figurines and Emigration).  Although I have not yet confirmed (and possibly never will be able to confirm) that Romano (&/or Flavio) was an image maker, I believe it to be so, and this was a fascinating look at the profession.

2 on VB streets + satellite dish
Villabuona, 2003: 16th century streets plus 21th century satellite dish

Examination of the parish data - brief though it was - showed me the path to future studies.  The data goes back to the 1540s - I drool at the possibilities of future discoveries.

It was a wonderful experience and I was there - the origin of virtually all of Spain's Graciani and their descendants. All of them ancestors of what we know as the US Lagos-Besteiro family.

Oh - and I forgot one thing.  In my search for Graciani in the US a couple of years ago, I was in contact with a Dr. Gilberto Graciani, of New Jersey and Puerto Rico.  He claimed to have a lot of family information, but when he said all the Graciani he knew had come from Corsica, I kind of lost interest, because to my knowledge there has been no Corsican connection.
While photographing the baptismal certificate of Clemente Graziani, born in Pescaglia in 1792, however, I noticed that, written in the margin were the words “morto in Corsica 14 7bre 1821” (died in Corsica 14 September 1821)!!  So . . . it may be coincidence, but more than likely there was some kind of contact between the Pescaglia and Corsica Graziani (and therefore the Puerto Rican Graciani may well be related to "my" Graciani).  Amazing!

born in Pescaglia died in Corsica
Clemente GRAZIANI, born in Pescaglia 1792, died in Corsica 1821.  He was Emilito's first cousin six times removed (and also a second cousin 5 times removed, a fifth cousin 5 times removed and a fifth cousin six times removed; and just a fraction of the family lines have been drawn)

This ton of new knowledge held me for nearly two years, and 2004 was not a year to study GRAZIANI or GRACIANI (or GRAZZIANI or GRACCIANI for that matter).

Rev. 7

2005 - Forward to the Past II

Graciani -> Graziani -> Gratiani -> no surname -> pre-1492!

I learn Italian

In 1965, while living in Cambridge (England), I decided I wanted to learn French.  When I went to register for the course at the local Technical College, however, the French teacher, a stereotypical -- Americans know the type -- pompous, superior Brit (luckily not at all like any of my English friends) told me "I'm sorry, you're a week late in registering, and in my experience Americans aren't capable of learning a foreign language, so I'm not going to accept you into my class."  So I found the Italian teacher and enrolled.  By the end of the year, not only did she tell me I was her best student but even asked me if my parents came from Venice. "I miei genitori sono spagnoli," I said; "Ah," she replied . . .  

40 years later, however, my Italian is close to nonexistent, so I set out in search of a tutor.

I find Anna Maria Mammano, a Sicilian living in nearby Easton, and from June to October we meet twice a week and I cram like crazy to try to make myself self-sufficient.  Although by now I'm comfortable I can make myself understood in person, I ask Anna Maria to call Italy for me to finalize arrangements.

A very scary near-miss

I had written don Flavio Belluomini, the priest I had met in 2003, to organize a visit to the archives in Pescaglia, and he had graciously agreed.  About 10 days before my departure date, at the end of a class, Anna Maria calls him in my presence.  When she calls, however, she is told he has been transferred.


Finally we track down don Claudio Francesconi, who graciously agrees to honor don Flavio's commitment and finds me a college student to accompany me to the archives. (Ironically don Claudio will be transferred the day before I arrive, but to the Arcivescovato in Lucca city where he is always available.

10 days in Lucca: I visit the 15th Century

By the time the trip was over, however, although I hadn't achieved all my goals, I had more than 250 years of baptismal, matrimonial, and death certificates from the Pescaglia parish records - from 1542 until the early 19th century - on digital media. I got additional data from the Arcivescovato and more from Villa a Roggio, although unfamiliarity with the format there minimized the value of the Villa a Roggio data.

I get tremendous help from Andrea Luciani, a student at the University of Pisa, who accompanies me and helps me photograph zillions of pictures.  Andrea speaks English and Spanish but I try -- as much as possible -- to speak to him in Italian.

Andrea at Villa a Roggio
Villa a Roggio, 2005: Andrea Luciani.  Emilito made several mistakes here.  The light was very dim, and even with the camera on a tripod and on a timer, 1/8 of a second was the longest the shutter would stay open and, even with Andrea holding the pages down, the depth of field was too small and part of every page was out of focus.  Finally, because of the shape of the page (taller than wide; the opposite of Piazzanello books), the camera should have been turned 90 degrees . . . duh!

I also visit the Arcivescovato, open from 9:30 to 12:30 on weekdays.  It's not as valuable as I had hoped -- records exist from only 1740 to 1870 and it was very difficult to get any copies at all (i.e. with two exceptions for which I had to beg, I had to transcribe all data by hand).  It was actually quite frustrating.

I have not completed analyzing the data, but by early 2006 I had reached back from Romano and Flavio to Giambattista [no surname], my 13th great grandfather.

I'm sure it will be impossible to go back farther than Giambattista. So, taking him as our historical first, we see that our Italian forefathers, Romano and Flavio GRAZIANI, are the 11th documented generation born in - most likely - Villabuona.  We're not sure about the first 3 generations, but if Villabuona was already there, it seems likely that they were born there.  Although Francesco's 1565 baptismal certificate doesn't specify beyond Pescaglia parish, his granddaughter Antonia's birth certificate says that her grandfather Francesco is from Villabuona.

Francesco's 1565 baptismal certificate
Francesco's 1565 baptismal certificate
"Franc° figliolo di marsilio di bart° di gia~battª fu batizato a di 25 genaio . . . "
Continues with godparents, "co~pare pischaglino . . . comm- lisabetta . . . "

I have estimated birth dates for the first 3 generations based on 25 years per generation; actually the average time between generations over the course of all the generations is more than 30 years.  But even at a 25-year average, Giambattista's birth date is pre-Columbian.

The following tree represents all eleven documented generations of forefathers born in Italy.  In these data, available birth and death years are given.  In addition, spelling of birth and death -- and sometimes marriage -- surnames is included, and we can see how we go from no surname to GRATIANI to GRAZIANI and, with the move to Spain, GRACIANI.  Despite what we learned as youngsters, GRACCIANI and GRAZZIANI are later additions.

Giambattista (c. 1490? - ?) [no surname]
    Bartolomeo (c. 1515? - ?) [no surname]
       Marsiglio (c. 1540? - ?) [no surname]
          Francesco (1565- ?) [no surname]
             Marsiglio (c. 1599-1677) [b. no surname, m. no surname, d. GRATIANI]
                Gratiano 1638-1709) [b. no surname, d. GRATIANI]
                   Bartolomeo (1663-1717) [b. no surname, m. GRATIANI, d. GRATIANI]
                      Graziano (1710-1758) [b. GRATIANI, m. GRAZIANI, d. GRAZIANI]
                            Gio. Bartolomeo (1731-1813) [b. GRAZIANI, d. GRAZIANI]
                                  Giuseppe Antonio (1754-1817) [b. GRAZIANI, d. GRAZIANI]
                                        Romano (1788- ?) [b. GRAZIANI, d. GRACIANI]
                                        Flavio (1797- ?) [b. GRAZIANI, d. GRACIANI]

Two more representations of these data can be seen in the following links:

1. Known descendants of Giambattista [GRATIANI] - first 11 generations.

2. Ancestors of Romano and Flavio GRAZIANI. 

Tons of Interesting Miscellany

Browsing thousands -- and reading hundreds -- of baptismal, matrimonial and death certificates was a fascinating, if difficult, chore.  It is my intention to write something up that deals with, in more detail, some of the fascinating things I found. Here are just a few.


Surnames.  The entire issue of surnames, their existence, origins, construction, spelling, etc., is fascinating and the Pescaglia data shed a lot of light on the situation (as well, of course, as pose questions).

Existence. The earliest written data seem to coincide with, in many cases, the origins of surnames in this region.  For example, in 1565, the date of the earliest "Graziani" record, and well into the 17th century, baptismal records with no surnames coexisted with ones with surnames.  Thus, my 10th great grandfather is listed in his 25 January baptismal certificate simply as "Francesco figliolo di Marsilio di Bartolomeo di Giambattista."Another baptism, from 25 March, however, has "Francesco figliolo di Giusto di Santi GAMBOGI"[My caps.]  It seems that surnames were being established sometime during these centuries.

Furthermore, I've been told, it's not a Tuscan surname if it doesn't end in "i." Tuscan names were apparently constructed from Latin genitives -- and for most male nouns, the genitive ends in "i" - thus Gratiani for children of Gratiano, etc.  It seems as though the particular generation in which this was started varied from family to family.  Thus my 8th great grandfather Gratiano was born in 1638 with no surname, as were his children at birth. On their marriage certificates, however, they were GRATIANI.  (In fact, the earliest use of the surname that I found was the 1677 death certificate of Gratiano's father (!) Marsiglio.  As there were no other Gratiano's in the family's background, my best guess is that the family surname began with reference to this 1638-born Gratiano, probably sometime in the 1670s.

Spelling.  There appear to be global spelling changes in Italian that took place in the 17th and 18th centuries; thus GRATIANI became GRAZIANI, MAZEI/MAZZEI became MASSEI, and the surnames BIANCHI and BIANCCHI regularized to BIANCHI. There were lots more.

Conflicts. There also seemed to be confusion, perhaps even arguments, as to which male's given name began the surname; this is the case in one of my ancestor's lines, where LAZZARINI and MAZZEI were used, sometimes interchangeably, for a family that eventually settled on MAZZEI (and later spelled MASSEI).

The earliest document I can find of this family is the 1614 marriage of "Giuseppe di Matteo di Lazarino MAZEI [sic] et Gabriella," my ninth great grandparents . . . Three children of Giuseppe and Gabriella -- Matteo (b. 1621), Agata (b. 1627) and my 8th great grandfather Giovanni (b. 1630) -- are listed without a surname, but the fourth (the fourth that I've found, at least) - Francesca, born in 1639 (yes, 25 years after their marriage Gabriella was still giving birth to children) - is listed as LAZZARINI.

On [9th ggf] Giuseppe's 18 Nov. 1660 death certificate he is listed as LAZZARINI. On [8th ggf] Giovanni's marriage certificate (28 Jan. 1672) he is listed as LAZZARINI as well. Giovanni's first son, Giuseppe, was born and died in 1674 and was a LAZZARINI.  Giovanni's second son, however -- also Giuseppe and my 7th great grandfather -- was born on 7 April 1675 and on his baptismal certificate his surname is written "LAZZARINI o MAZZEI."  (Although the "o Mazzei" looks like it might have been added later.)

[7th ggf] Giuesppe's children, including my 6th great grandmother Camilla, are born MAZZEI, and on Giuseppe's 1739 death certificate he is listed as "MAZZEI o sia LAZZARINI."

Mazzei o sia Lazzarini
From death certificate of Emilito's 7th great grandfather Giuseppe MAZZEI / LAZZARINI
I can't help wondering what infighting, if any, was going on.  As both my 10th great grandfather Matteo -- [9th ggf] Giuseppe's father -- and my 11th great grandfather Lazzarino -- [9th ggf] Giuseppe's grandfather -- were in the ancestral line, I wonder if there was some discussion as to which ancestor to honor.

My surnames.  To date, I know I have direct ancestors with the following surnames (derived from Romano and Flavio's Ahnentafel): GRAZIANI, MARCHI (2 lines), GAMBOGI, BERNARDINI, MAZZEI (3 lines), PIERCECCHI, BIANCHI (2 lines), FREDIANI, NICOLAI (3 lines), BARTELLONI (2 lines), RENALDI (or possibly RINALDI).

First names. First names were spelled in many ways as well - most variations involved presence or absence of "h," double vs. single consonants, a vowel change: Mattheo, Matteo, Mateo, Mazzeo later Masseo; Paulo and Paolo; Franchesco and Francesco; Elizabetta, Elisabetta, Lisbetta, Zabetta; in short way too many to mention here.

With regards to spelling of first names, however, one person's story stands out (from the point of view of my curiosity at any rate.)  This is the person I call "Amadeo/Amadio GRAZIANI."  He is referred to as "Amadeo" on both his 1749 baptismal and 1809 death certificates, but in between it gets interesting.  On his 1770 marriage certificate the priest wrote "Amadeo volgarmente dº [detto] Amadio [Amadeo commonly called Amadio]."  His name was written in 3 different ways on the baptismal certificates of the 13 children from his first marriage: "Amadeo" on four (#1, 3, 4 and 11), "Amadio" on two (# 2 and 13) and "Amadeo, o Amadio" on seven (#5-10 and 12). Amadeo/Amadio is my fifth great granduncle (his brother was Romano and Flavio's grandfather).  He is also my fourth cousin 6 times removed.

On his 2nd marriage certificate (1796) his name is written "Amadio."  The entire issue is curious: Why was it so necessary to write both options in the official documents?  This is left as an exercise for the reader.

Amadeo volgarmente Amadio
From Amadeo/Amadio's first marriage (1770) certificate

Bastards and Bigamists

Bastards.  There are several children born of unwed mothers in the Pescaglia data (none as yet identified as relatives) and these are handled in different ways.

One that I found interesting is the 1 Oct. 1742 baptismal certificate of "Remigio, figliuolo di [followed by an asterisk and a space to put a father's name] e di Maria Francesca di. . . "  On the bottom of the page, in the margin, the priest notes that this information was unknown to him until 1775, when he filled in the name of the father between the asterisks.

The proverbial child on the doorstep was not unknown in Pescaglia.  On 24 August 1716, a child, "nato di genitori incerti, fu portato a qta Chiesa [born of unknown parents, was brought to this church]." In the left margin was written "Bastardo."

I strikes me that in such a tiny community it had to be quite enterprising to hide a pregnancy until birth.

baby left at church
Pescaglia, 1716: Baby left at church.  First they were going to baptize him Matteo, then settled on Bartolomeo.
The godmother is Fiora, wife of Bartolomeo GRATIANI.  This is not Emilito's ancestor Bartolomeo GRATIANI, but a contemporary.  No connection between the two lines -- with many similar given names -- has been found.

Bigamists.  Another odd certificate is that of the 8 Jan. 1778 marriage between "Paolo di Giulio Ragagli Bigamo, e Mª Elizabetta dal fu Graziano Graziani [Paolo son of Giulio Ragagli 'Bigamo' and Maria Elizabetta daughter of the deceased Graziano Graziani]“: there is no other definition for "bigamo" in my dictionary than "bigamist."  I have no idea what this means, nor whether the "Bigamo" refers to Paolo or Giulio. Note that I have not gone back and looked for earlier marriages of either.  (M
ª Elizabetta is my fifth great grandaunt -- oh, and also my fourth cousin 6 times removed.)

bigamo wedding jan 1778
Mª Elizabetta Graziani marries "Paolo di Giulio Ragagli Bigamo" -- (??)


Cause.  Cause of death is given infrequently, and normally in a word or two, but in some cases details abound. For example, on 16 June 1714 "Francesco, son of the deceased Jacopo of this parish, fell from a chestnut tree, struck a branch, rolled over and over and was found dead."

My 8th great grandmother Fiora BARTELLONI (who, BTW, was also my first cousin 9 times removed) died on 26 May 1688 at age 31 after giving birth to a stillborn child: "doppo havere partorito un figlio morto. . . "�

Pathos.  We sometimes forget that the priests that signed all these certificates had family too.  Reverendo Lorenzo MARCHI -- my first cousin 10 times removed -- wrote on one death certificate, on 25 Sep. 1685, "Bradamante, my mother . . . died . . . "

For me, the most poignant document was the death certificate of Bradamante's son Francesco MARCHI (29 Dec. 1708).  The document, again written by Lorenzo, goes through the entire ritual stating the name of Francesco's father, grandfather, place and age of death, the sacraments received, place of burial, etc. Then after all is said and done, a final line says, " -- et era mio Fratello [and he was my brother]."  Chokes me up every time I look at it.

Death certificate - “mio fratello“

“ - and he was my brother.“ Final line of 29 December 1708 death certificate for Sgt. Major Francesco Marchi, brother of Reverend Lorenzo Marchi, who wrote the certificate. Lorenzo died 3 years later.

note to self: NEED TO WRITE SPECIAL REPORT ON 2005 VISIT and reference it

9th Cousins in St. Louis!

I had posted my intentions on a Lucca genealogy users group, and was in touch with a couple of people with Pescaglia ancestry.  One of those was Sandra GIACOLETTO (now Worth) from St. Louis, and after a few emails we realized we were related - in fact, it turned out, I - although older than Sandra, am her daughter Vicki Lynn's 9th cousin. Common ancestors?  Mazzeo MAZZEI (b. 1641) and Fiora BARTELLONI (b. 1657), both natives of Pescaglia. 

I still need to follow up the data I have and make a couple of follow-up visits to rectories: first and foremost to Piazzanello, where I want to look at some pages I photographed poorly, and also at the 19th century data, to see if I can begin the process of finding relatives in Lucca today.

I'd also like a follow-up visit to Villa a Roggio, where most of my photographs were blurry (poor lighting plus my stupidity), and to Convalle, the home of the BERNARDINI (the most recent on my line being Mª Bartolomea, my 5th great grandmother, born in the first half of the 18th century).

I also need to plan another visit to the Arcivescovato,  and find a way to secure better cooperation from the Direttore.

Rev. 7a

2006: Madrid Census Data Speak to Me

I reckon I can -- and will -- analyze the Piazzanello data for years.  But, without planning it, the search moves back to Spain.

In May 2006 I travel to Spain as coach of Atlantis, a rugby team that participates in the Benidorm Sevens in late May.  We do very well (win 5, lose 1).  From there I visit branches of the Signes and Besteiro families in the provinces of Alicante, Valencia and Teruel, and finish off the visit in Madrid.  On a whim I decide to visit the city of Madrid's "Archivo de la Villa" (municipal archives) at C / Conde Duque, 11.  First the archivist acquaints me with the contents of the archive, which include census data first indexed in 1890 as well as other data I never get to.  Within half an hour of putting the microfilm containing 1890 index entries for "Graciani" into the reader I realize I've encountered something special.  Although I've begun searching both Lagos and Graciani data, soon it becomes clear that there is far more "new" information on the Graciani, as I already have most of the Lagos data I find.

Among the new pieces of Graciani information are several bits about the families of both Domingo and Manuel GRACIANI MARTÍN.

Domingo GRACIANI MARTÍN was born on 4 August 1828 in Aranjuez, and was married to Manuela GARCÍA LÓPEZ, also a native of Aranjuez.  In 1890 they were living in Madrid with their children Segundo and Mónica, both born in Madrid, in 1871 and 1873 respectively.  Aunt Betty remembered him as a "master woodworker," and he was in fact listed as a carpenter, employed at the "Estación del Mediodía" (Atocha Station).  They were living on Calle Atocha, 94.  Much of this is brand new information, even to Domingo's descendants. 

Likewise there is lots of as-yet-unknown information on Domingo's brother Manuel GRACIANI MARTÍN. He and his family were living on C/Sombrería, 7.  He was listed as born on 10 October 1834 in Aranjuez.  He was married to Josefa PEÑASCO HERNANDEZ; also living there were 4 children and a son-in-law.  More new information!

Then, suddenly - an unaccounted for Graciani family!  An Andrés GRACIANI NAVARRO is  living at C / Doctor Forquet, 24.  I think he may well be a descendant of one of the "lost GRACIANI MARTÍN brothers - Andrés (in which case he'd be named for his father) or Antonio (for his uncle).  Andrés is married to Josefa ALCALDE VER--? and there are 3 children GRACIANI ALCALDE.  I know I must follow this up on my next visit.

Then another amazing discovery - the Dolores I've been looking for - the sister of my great-great-grandfather Francisco GRACIANI PASTOR - appears!  She is in a household where the family head is Paulino DELGADO, living with Alejandrina CARO!  The birth dates - 1830 for Dolores, 1864 for Alejandrina - indicate that this is in fact Francisco's sister Dolores and her daughter Alejandrina and Alejandrina's husband, the great Cuban actor Paulino (born in, according to the census, "Abana" in 1852).  Unfortunately this is the only set of data I have found in the 1890 census in which only one surname is listed, so - while we assume Dolores is GRACIANI PASTOR, the same two "apellidos" as her brother, this is not explicitly stated. 

Oh yes, another interesting and surprising fact: Dolores was born in Mahon, in the Balearic Islands!

According to the census they'd only been in Madrid for four years and, as their daughter Julia was born in Guayaquil less than 3 years later, I consider myself lucky to have data finding them here.

Another mystery appears in this household's listing - a Juan GRACIANI (no second surname, but who must be a relative), born in Seville in 1844.  In 1890 -- per the census record -- he'd been living in Madrid for 36 years.  I have no idea at all who this can be. He is listed as married, as is the next person on the list: Matilda GONZALES [sic], who could be his wife (but this is not stated), and who was born in 1852, and lived in Madrid all her life.  There are also two young children with completely different surnames (Calmaci?) living with them. . . All this is uncharted territory.

1890 census - delgado-caro graciani
The household headed by Paulino Delgado in 1890

I also find my great-great-grandmother Joaquina LORENZO BLAS, living with her niece Joaquina LORENZO GÓMEZ.  "My" Joaquina is listed as a widow at the time of the census, 1 December 1890.  As we know her husband Francisco GRACIANI PASTOR was alive on 18 June 1889 (the birth of his grandson Jorge BESTEIRO GRACCIANI), this narrows down his date of death to a period of less than 18 months.

So much to do, so little time.

On the last day I'm able to spend in the archives, the the most interesting piece of information is a line on Domingo's census sheet that lists his first son as "Federal Segundo GRACIANI GARCÍA." Now this whole Federal-Segundo thing is not only confirmed by 2 sets of family lore, . . .  it's official!

1895 census data with Federal Segundo
federal segundo
A childhood story is true - Tío Domingo's son referred to as "Federal Segundo" in 1895 Madrid census

Domingo Graciani & family
This is a photo Isabel BESTEIRO GRACCIANI ("Aunt Betty") sent to Carmen LAGOS BESTEIRO in the late 1970s.  It is tío Domingo de Sevilla (Domingo GRACIANI MARTÍN) and his family: his wife Manuela, son Federal-Segundo and daughter Nitroglicerina-Mónica
This photo most likely taken in the time period of the 1890s

Rev. 8

2007: Auntie Nitro and I

I return to Spain in 2007 to coach in a rugby tournament, but make sure to spend 3 days at the Archivo de Villa to follow up last year's discoveries.

Having found Federal, I'm hoping desperately that - somewhere - his sister has been referred to as "Nitroglicerina," although I reckon it's a pipe dream.  I go back to something I'd seen a year ago - an odd index card filed with the 1895 census. It is dated 22 April 1897 and states that a María GRACIANI Y GARCÍA was born on 4 May 1873 at C/Zurita, 3, entresuelo. The card is marked "inscripción por expediente," inscribed as a special case.  The birth date corresponds with Monica's from the 1890 and 1895 censuses, and María's parents are given as Domingo GRACIANI MARTÍN and Manuela GARCÍA LÓPEZ, so it must be the same person.

With this address I'm able to go to the birth records and look for her and Segundo.  I find Segundo (listed just as Segundo, no Federal), born at this address on 1 June 1871 (the Registro Civil only began in 1871, so we're lucky on that score; had he been born previously, I would have had to look for church records, which are notoriously hard to find and often missing).

There is, however, no "baby girl (of any name) GRACIANI" born at that address in 1873.  This is probably the reason it was necessary to record her birth at a later date.  Murray Bookchin, in his book The Spanish Anarchists, notes that "the most dedicated Spanish Anarchists ... refused to register the births of their children." Another dead end.

Revisiting the census data (which I know is indexed only from 1890), I find out that prior to 1883 there are nearly annual censuses of Madrid.  I can find specific family censuses - eventually - if I know the street address - which I now do.

I find the 1873 census for Zurita 3, entresuelo, and my eyes bulge: there, listed at the end of the family list, following "Federal Segundo Graciani y [García]," it jumps out at me plain as day: "Nitroglicerina Graciani y id."  Probably 55 years or more after first hearing about her, I have found her -- documented at last!

Federal and Nitroglicerina, 1873 census

I start thinking of this poor woman: did she ever know she was brought into life as a weapon of mass destruction? If so, what did she think of it?  I feel a sense of empathy with Nitroglicerina; perhaps I am a caring partner like Juan Ramón Jiménez was to Platero: "Auntie Nitro was small, soft, innocent ... "

I also think of "tío Domingo de Sevilla": what an interesting character ... the explosive nitroglycerin did not have a practical use until Alfred Nobel patented dynamite in 1867, so tio Domingo seems to have been aware of modern technology. But once again, I digress.

I also find out on this visit that Andrés GRACIANI NAVARRO was the son of a previously unknown first wife of Domingo's, Saturnina NAVARRO. I find seven children of Andrés and his wife Josefa ALCALDE VIERGE and three grandchildren GRACIANI LÓPEZ.

I also find Juan GRACIANI again, this time as GRACIANI CALMACI, but without the CALMACI children nor Matilde.  Odd. There seems to be something here of which I have no clue.

It's time to leave again, but there's so much to do. And the Graciani branch is only one of several I want to research.

Oh, by the way - I also check the 1874 census for Zurita, 3.  Nitroglicerina is now Monica. And Federal Segundo  is simply Segundo

1874-segundo & monica
In 1874 the Graciani García siblings are simply Segundo and Mónica

After returning home, I send the Archivo a letter asking them if they can find a record of Nitro/Mónica's death.  I'd forgotten about this request, when, later in the year I receive a CD from them.  They have found the March 1896 death of her 29-year old sister Saturnina, but about Auntie Nitro, nothing.

2008: Frasquito, Juliana, Julio

. . . and more

I return to Madrid in June 2008 with the specific purpose of opening and closing the Archivo each day and working every minute.  My goal is to complete, as much as possible, a comprehensive history of my various family branches' residence in Madrid.  With this in mind, Graciani is just one of several - nevertheless I leave with lots more learned about them.  In addition, though there is much more left to do, I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.  The first member of any branch of my family, after all, didn't arrive until after 1850 and the last census completely indexed is that of 1930.  How much can there be (grin)? I spend 8 consecutive workdays there, 5.5 hours each day, with no rest.

Nitroglicerina: the original document.

Although it was clear that the children on the 1873 census page I'd seen last year were called Federal and Nitroglicerina, the beginning of the lines of information are truncated and it annoys me that, after such a long search, only an imperfect copy has been found.  I ask one of the archivists if it is possible to photocopy the original and get to view the entire line of information and, to my pleasant surprise, she said yes.  I even got to hold in my hand the original 1873 census packet for Zurita, 3.  The photographs below show me with this original packet and then the page of interest, and finally, the detail.

emilito with nitro 1873 census
Emilito finds Federal and Nitroglicerina on the original packet of the 1873 census at Calle Zurita, 3

original 1873 page Nitro etc
The original 1873 page of the family at C/Zurita, 3, entresuelo

federal & Nitro 1873 - orig
Federal and Nitroglicerina - in writing and photographed from the original
Note Federal Segundo's year of birth is incorrect - it is actually 1871, per his birth certificate

My great-great grandfather Francisco GRACIANI PASTOR.

Until recently I'd seen very little documentation about my great-great-grandfather Francisco GRACIANI PASTOR, and as I knew he'd died before the first indexed Madrid census (1890), I didn't think I'd track him down.  Then I remember the birth certificates of his BESTEIRO GRACIANI grandchildren, and give thanks - yet again - for the amount of information the Spaniards include on their birth certificates.  Indeed, the birth certificates of the children show that their maternal grandparents, Francisco and Joaquina, were living at C/Colmillo, 9, from the time the first child, Domingo, was born in 1883 until the birth of the penultimate, Jorge, on June 18, 1889. There is no Madrid census information, however, between 1882 and 1890.

I look up this address in the 1882 census and indeed I found - at C/Colmillo, 9, tienda (store) - a family headed by Francisco GRAZIANI [sic]. Francisco lived there with his wife Joaquina, son Joaquín, and servant Antonia ZARAGOZA.  Finding Antonia is a complete surprise.  I already know that Antonia figures in the family history in a quirky kind of way, but don't know that this sub-plot will make it into this story.

After listing the occupants, the page contains the information "Matriculados como subditos del Rey de Italia este matrimonio y su hijo" (this couple and their son are registered as subjects of the King of Italy). Francisco joins his first cousin Manuel GRACIANI MARTÍN in making this declaration.  It's odd, I think.  Both were born in Spain; their fathers - Romano and Flavio - had come to Spain from Italy more than 50 years earlier.

I then start to work backwards from 1882.  Oddly the 1881 census for this street seems to be missing, but the family is found in all the censuses (annual) from 1871 to 1880.  They were not living at this address, however, prior to 1871.

These censuses are interesting on several accounts. Here are a few:
- The family name was spelled GRACIANI on all but the 1882 census.
- On all the censuses from 1871 to 1880 my great-grandmother Victorina was living with the family (as her first child Domingo BESTEIRO was born in January 1883 she would have been living with her husband at the time of the 1882 census)
- Francisco was listed as a "moldeador," "[maestro] escultor," or "estatuario" (molder or [master] sculptor).
- They lived at Calle del Colmillo, 9, tienda (store), so one presumes he sold his sculptures from the store.
- They seemed to maintain contact with Italy - or at least with visiting Italian artisans, as both in 1874 and 1876 they had Italians living with them; in fact in 1874 both visitors were image makers ("figuristas"), one from Lucca and one from neighboring Pisa.  This lends credibility to the theory that Francisco's father Romano was an image maker.
- In both 1871 and 1875 the occupants' parish of baptism was listed, a huge help when trying to locate birth information for these people.

Later in the year I receive a CD from the Archivo in response to a few questions. They've found the 1881 census record for the family: the name is spelled GRACIANI and Victorina is living at home, single.  This means that she was married sometime after the census date of 1 December 1881 and before 9 January 1883, the birthdate of her son Domingo. I continue, however, to be unable to find a marriage certificate.

I was able to find out that Calle del Colmillo is now Calle Pérez Galdós, a short street that connects the streets of Hortaleza and Fuencarral.

The real surprise, though, is that there was a nephew of Francisco living with them in 1875.  His name was Juan CALMACI GRACIANI.  I realize that this is the same person I had seen in the 1890 and 1905 censuses, first as Juan GRACIANI (1890) and then as Juan GRACIANI CALMACI. It makes sense - now that I know the correct order of surnames - that in 1890 he would have children named CALMACI. I don't have time to try to track these down now, but - luckily - this is one of those censuses in which parishes of baptism are given.  Juan, it is said, was born in 1846 and baptized at Seville's San Lorenzo parish. 

I contact relative Borja GRACIANI GALÁN in Seville, he calls San Lorenzo and they find Juan's baptismal certificate.  The mother of the child, who was baptized "José, Román, Juan, Nepomuceno, Ubaldo, de la Santísima Trinidad" is Juliana GRACIANI.  This is a heretofore unknown Graciani.  Furthermore, this may in fact be the first Graciani family in Seville. She is likely an older sister of Francisco GRACIANI PASTOR (older because Francisco was only 14 when his nephew was born). I got the information from Borja as I waited at Barajas airport for my flight home; thus I will not be able to pursue on this trip.

With respect to first marriage of Domingo, I am not able to track this descendancy further than the GRACIANI LÓPEZ siblings, born in the 1910s. Segundo, son of the second marriage, returns from Seville to Madrid in 1929 with all his children.  Though, as far as the family knew, they always used the spelling "GRAZZIANI," Segundo and his children are listed as "GRACIANI" on all census records.

Julio Linares Graciani / Antigüedades Linares

I love finding documents, but contact with real people is the best. I meet again with Esperanza GRACIANI CASTILLA, then jump on a train to Toledo to meet her cousin Julio LINARES GRACIANI, like her a grandson of Federal Segundo.  Julio is a seventh generation antiquities dealer.  The family business started in Seville, and he is now the fourth generation owner in Toledo.  His shop, "Antigüedades Linares," is in the old Jewish district of Toledo.  It's a beautiful place, with an interesting history; when they were replacing the building to found the store in the early 20th century (the old one had collapsed), they found a 4th century basement that not only sits beneath the house but extends into the area under the street.  This basement is now part of the shop.  It was a brutally hot late June day, but the basement was remarkably cool.

Julio, too, had heard all the Federal and Nitroglicerina stories from his mother, Segundo's daughter Antonia GRAZZIANI (as she spelled it) GARCÍA. He had also heard the story about his great-grandfather Domingo and Prim's assassination.  According to the version he heard, however, Domingo fled Madrid shortly thereafter and fled to Seville.  This we know now to be untrue - in fact, Domingo stayed in Madrid for more than 27 years after Prim's assassination before taking his family to Seville.

Julio and antiguedades Linares
Julio LINARES GRACIANI in front of Antigüedades Linares
C/Reyes Católicos, 10 / Toledo

basement at antiguedades linares
In the 4th century rooms below the surface,
 part of Antigüedades Linares

2009: A Heretofore Unknown Generation ...

and ¿a Piece of Romano's Spanish Path?

Insert a Generation

I am after the birth certificate of my great granduncle Joaquín GRACIANI LORENZO; I have found from the 1875 Madrid census that Joaquín was baptized at San Marcos parish in Madrid following his June 14, 1858 birth. During a June 2009 visit I wander to the parish. It's a huge beautiful church near the Plaza de España. When I went to see the parish priest to ask how to get access to the baptismal records (I know the date of birth, the full name, it'd be cake), he said "no tengo tiempo para eso [I have no time for that]" and walked on past me.

My first reaction, in words, would have been unprintable.  Now looking back on it, ... nah, I still feel the same way. 

But here is a case where the secular authorities came to the rescue. 
The Archivo de Villa has a record of all births in that time period, organized by parish.  Joaquín was born – legitimate – at Calle del Noviciado, 4, and I found him there in the January 1, 1859 census with his parents Francisco and Joaquina.  Also there was his grandmother (!), Francisco’s mother Dolores Pastor, widow of Romano, one of the immigrant Italian brothers.  She was there – as was Francisco – from 1855 on.


The annual Madrid census records tell us that by January 1858 Francisco and Joaquina were married and living together at Calle del Noviciado.  By late 1859 the young couple had left (per family lore they moved to Alcalá de Henares, where Francisco worked on the restoration of the cathedral. Victorina was born here in 1862).  Dolores, however, remained at Noviciado till 1862; after that her whereabouts are unknown. Did she go to take care of her granddaughter in Alcalá? It’s almost certain we’ll never know – the church documents of Alcalá were destroyed in 1936 at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War and the Civil Register of Spain did not begin until 1871.


Some brand new information: in 1855 and 1856, living with Francisco and his mother Dolores on Calle Noviciado, was a heretofore unknown Leocadia Graciani (married but with no appropriately named male in the household) and what appears to be her daughter.  Leocadia was born in 1824 in Belmonte, La Mancha,  and her daughter, Maria de la Paz, was born in Seville in 1850. Was Leocadia Francisco’s sister? Or … ? I will need to write Belmonte and hope the records exist and that they have a friendly guardian.

I return to Francisco's sister Dolores and her daughter Alejandrina.  Dolores was born in Menorca and based on my findings, only appears once in Madrid census data, in 1890.  I had previously found out from Alejandrina's granddaughter Janina that she had died in 1946.  I found the death certificate of Alejandrina CARO GRACIANI, in which she was recorded as having been born in Madrid on November 26, 1864.  I have no idea, however, in which parish she was baptized.

The Archivo maintains birth records for 1864, but they’re based on transcriptions of each of the many Madrid parishes’ baptismal records.  Not knowing the parish of birth meant I had to go through all the parishes of Madrid one by one (I didn’t count them, but there are very many).  Noting that the parish didn’t record babies’ birth till they were baptized, usually a few days later, and that Alejandrina was born near the end of the month, I had to examine the December data when the November records bore no fruit.


A few hours after I began, in the December records for the parish of San José, I found her!!  The painful search was well worth it – what information!


Here’s what it said.


Alejandrina Caro, b. 24th of November 1864 (possibly the 26th which would correspond with other data, but to me it looks more like the 24th.)  Born at 3 PM at Infantas, 25; legitimate.


Father: Salvador [Caro], painter, native of Valverde del Camino [Huelva]

Mother: Dolores Guarts, native of Mahon [Menorca]


Paternal grandfather: Juan José [Caro], native of [not clear]

Paternal grandmother: Ana María [not clear], native of Castillo de las Guardas [Sevilla]


Maternal grandfather: Lorenzo [Guarts], native of Mallorca

Maternal grandmother: Juliana Graciani, native of Quintanar de la Orden [Toledo]


Not Graciani, but Guarts . . . Guarts? GUARTS? GUARTS? Geez.  Note in passing – it has seemed, since the beginning of the Graziani’s entry into Spain, that their descendants have wanted the surname Graciani to continue in their family branch, even when it passed through a maternal line. Dolores GUARTS GRACIANI must have changed her name to Dolores GRACIANI, and Alejandrina CARO GUARTS (!) must have followed suit and changed her name to Alejandrina CARO GRACIANI.  Following census records from 1875 to 1905 we know that Juan CALMACI GRACIANI changed his name to Juan GRACIANI CALMACI.  And, within the past 10 years in Seville, a cousin legally reversed her children’s surnames to move Graciani from the second surname to the first.

Alejandrina's birth/baptismal record, San Jose parish Madrid
The record of Alejandrina's 1864 birth as provided by San José parish. It is not clear if the day is the 24th or 26th; the address is Infantas, 25.
Alejandrina is the daughter of Salvador Caro and Dolores Guarts; Dolores is the daughter of Lorenzo Guarts and Juliana Graciani.

But Graciani / Guarts is not the only issue.  I had been laboring under the assumption that Alejandrina and Victorina were first cousins, and in fact, a 1970s letter from our “Aunt Betty” (Isabel Besteiro Gracciani [sic]) to my mother specifies that, and they were born only two years apart.  It must not, however, have been so, as these unearthed documents are contemporary to the events…


So, Dolores is not Francisco's sister, but niece;  likewise Alejandrina is not Victorina's first cousin, but first cousin once removed (in Spanish Alejandrina would be referred to as Victorina's "sobrina segunda," which translates to "second niece.") An entire new generation has to be inserted in what I think of as the "Dolores Graciani line."

Sigh …


When I leave Madrid for home, I'm thinking that there’s a small window of possibilities for Juliana’s birth year, if a) she’s the mother of Dolores, born 1830 (as indicated from Alejandrina’s birth certificate) and if b) (she’s the daughter of Romano, born in 1788 and still home in Pescaglia per the 1812 census (though he was listed in the 1814 census, he was “fuori” [away]).  Juliana as daughter of Romano is merely my guess at this point (and I’m not too confident in my guesses anymore).


I.e. she was likely born somewhere around 1812-1815 (to account for the earliest that Romano could have been there – though there might have been an earlier visit – and also one assumes she’d have been at least 15 years old when her daughter was born).

I write to the parish churches of both Quintanar de la Orden (Juliana's home town) and Belmonte (Leocadia's home town) asking them if the baptismal certificates of Juliana and Leocadia exist.

Amazingly, before the end of the year get answers from both.  It turns out that Leocadia and Juliana are indeed both sisters of my great-great grandfather Francisco.  Leocadia was born in Belmonte on December 9, 1823, and Juliana was born in Quintanar de la Orden on February 27, 1820!

Juliana-partial baptismal cert 1820

1820: part of baptismal certificate for Juliana Baldomera GRACIANI PASTOR

This means that the birth year of 1830 given for Dolores in the 1890 census is clearly incorrect, as it is a mere 10 years after Juliana's now-documented birth.  I suddenly remember something I saw during my searching (I just cannot remember, now, what it was nor where it is) that gave Dolores a birth year of 1840.  I dismissed that at the time because I assumed the census data would be more accurate (what was I thinking?), but now - for the time being at least - I am listing Dolores' birth year as c. 1840.

But now the chronology of the itinerant Romano and his itinerant descendants in the early years (1788-1864; it starts with the birth of Romano and continues to the birth of Alejandrina,  the first of the 4th generation of the Romano clan) is becoming clearer (in bold are my direct ancestors, Romano & Dolores and their descendants):


1788          Romano Graziani born in Pescaglia, Lucca, Italy. He is my generation’s third great-grandfather.

c.1800       Dolores Pastor born in Ayora, Valencia (she provided various birth dates on census records, from 1799 to 1803)

1820          Juliana Graciani born in Quintanar de la Orden, Toledo (daughter of Romano Graziani & Dolores Pastor (mother of Dolores Guarts AKA Graciani & Juan Calmaci)

1823          Leocadia Graciani born in Belmonte, La Mancha (daughter of Romano Graziani & Dolores Pastor)

1832          Francisco Graciani born in Alicante (son of Romano Graziani & Dolores Pastor)

1837          Joaquina Lorenzo born in Villar del Cobo, Teruel (marries Francisco Graciani in 1857)         
c. 1840       Dolores Guarts AKA Graciani born in Mahon, Menorca (daughter of Lorenzo Guarts [b. Mallorca] and Juliana Graciani)

1846           Juan Calmaci AKA Graciani born in Seville-San Lorenzo parish (son of Paulino Calmaci and Juliana Graciani)

1850           María de la Paz born in Seville (daughter of Leocadia Graciani)

1858           Joaquín Graciani born in Madrid-San Marcos parish (son of Francisco Graciani and Joaquina Lorenzo)

1862           Victorina Graciani born in Alcalá de Henares (daughter of Francisco Graciani and Joaquina Lorenzo)

1864           Alejandrina Caro Guarts AKA Caro Graciani born in Madrid-San José parish (daughter of Salvador Caro and Dolores Guarts AKA Graciani)


Note that there are 10 different birth places for these 12 people (if we go by parishes, 11 of the 12 are different - the two Madrid births were in different parishes - and it even could be 12 out of 12 different if María de la Paz was not born in San Lorenzo parish in Seville - we don't know this). The itinerant image seller/sculptor Romano's wandering ways continued throughout the generations - and not just as noted above. Victorina moved to Cuba with her family and Alejandrina became an actress and traveled throughout Latin America where her daughter Julia Delgado was born (Guayaquil 1893). Joaquín's children moved to Cuba in the early 1920s and one ended up in Ecuador - via Chile - not too many years later.

As I made the discovery of Alejandrina's birth certificate only on the last day of my visit, I couldn't follow up ... The follow-up would be to find the 1864 census record at Infantas 25, the address of the Caro family at Alejandrina's birth, then moving forward and back at the same address.  This should give us more info as to family members as well as another and hopefully better estimate of the year of Dolores Guarts/Graciani's birth.

Fernando Delgado Dies

Perhaps the most famous of our Graciani actor relatives, Fernando Delgado, died while I was in Spain (June 15, 2009); the following is just one of many obituaries in the Spanish press: Fernando Delgado's obituary in ABC.

Fernando Delgado was a star on stage, in movies, and for many years on TV as well. Unlike his mother and grandmother, however, who traveled throughout Latin America, Fernando's performances were limited to Spain, mainly Madrid.

Alejandrina Caro on film 

During 2009 I searched quite a bit on the web for information on the actor descendants of Romano Graziani, and there's lots out there.  In particular, with respect to movies, several relatives - Alejandro, Julia, Fernando, and Pilar Sala, another of Alejandrina's grandchildren, are featured multiple times on  Alejandrina was the first, with movies in 1937 and 1941 (when she was 77).  I also found a poster, below, of this 1941 movie, "Porque te vi llorar."

poster - porque te vi llorar
Poster for a 1941 Spanish movie in which Alejandrina Caro Graciani appeared at age 77

Future Challenges

The big question remaining in the Graziani quest is how the years were filled up between the Graziani brothers' departure from Villabuona until and after the birth of their children in Spain.  The oral histories of all branches of the family agree that the brothers were revolutionaries of the left, probably Carbonari, and that they fled from Genoa to Spain sometime in the 1820-1830 time period.  We also know from the life of Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini that in April 1821, at the age of 16, he was deeply moved when, in Genoa, he met escaping revolutionaries from the failed Piedmontese insurrection; they were fleeing to Spain.  Till this year I had thought that Romano and Flavio might have been part of this group. Given his daughter's birth in 1820, it is unlikely that Romano was, but perhaps Flavio.

We still need to fill out some holes in the family genealogy, when and where did Romano and Flavio GRAZIANI die, what happened to Andrés and Antonio GRACIANI MARTÍN, other questions. (I note, for example, that Clemente GRAZIANI, a cousin of Romano and Flavio, died in Corsica on September 14, 1821 – could he have been part of the rebel emigration from Italy at that time?)

Finally, to complete the story of my Auntie Nitroglycerin I'd like to know where and when she died.  To date I have not been successful in finding this information.  She did not leave with the other members of her family when they went to Seville in 1898.  I wonder if her birth certificate, created 24 years after the fact in 1897, was to complete a life that had already ended.

Perhaps I don't want to know.  Perhaps I should just imagine - even believe - that Nitroglycerin lives on, at the age of 135, threatening all the world's governments, just as she did in the turbulent Spain of her birth.

Emil Signes
Bethlehem, PA (USA)
10 July 2010

(Rev 8: 23 Oct. 2008) (Rev. 7: Dec 2006) (Rev. 6: Feb 2005) (Rev. 5: May 2003)

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