Victorina GRACIANI LORENZO, Isabel BESTEIRO
GRACCIANI, Antonio GRACIANI VÁZQUEZ, Carmen LAGOS BESTEIRO,
Ramón GRACIANI RUIZ Overview
A brief overview of the purpose and status of the
search to date. Through
Why Emilito started this project and results through
about 1998 1998: I find descendants of
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"
Emilito meets family in Spain, in Cuba
And, in Boston, Emilito meets the Graciani from
Ecuador 2001-03: Loose ends begin to
Emilito's cousins Betty and Bill visit Villabuona
Betty and Bill find Flavio Graziani's birth
A birthday present: Emilito receives his
great-great-grandfather Graciani's baptismal certificate in the
Emilito loses contact with the Alicante Graciani
Emilito meets Graciani relatives in Seville,
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
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
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
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
Emilito finds dozens of direct ancestors and many
Emilito's direct ancestors include the following:
GRAZIANI, MARCHI, GAMBOGI, BERNARDINI, MAZZEI, PIERCECCHI, BIANCHI,
FREDIANI, NICOLAI, BARTELLONI, RENALDI 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,
12 years of census data on Emilito's
great-great-grandfather Frasquito Graziani
A new great-great-grandaunt, Juliana Graciani of
A new live relative, Julio Linares Graciani of Toledo 2009: We need to insert a
Alejandrina's birth record yields a treasury of
The wandering Graziani: 1788 to 1864 Future Challenges
July 2010: The story of
ongoingquest is dedicated to
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
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
Flavio GRACIANI MARTÍN; his data enabled us to determine that
many old legends were actually truths.
Victorina c. 1930, Isabel 1963 (Havana); Antonio 1951 (Málaga);
Carmen c. 1960 (New Jersey); Ramón 1999 (Valencia)
the story of a quest to explore the
branch of Emilito's otherwise 100% Spanish heritage. As of 2008
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
As far as he can determine, all 10 recorded generations of ancestors of
Romano & Flavio GRAZIANI -- the brothers who emigrated to Spain --
and baptized either in the parish of
Pescaglia or neighboring parishes, then in the dukedom (now province)
of Lucca. Recent Updates.
2005 Emilito traveled to Lucca for 10 days; 2 full days, with the
of student Andrea Luciani, were spent at the Rectory in Piazzanello
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
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
Madrid from 1855 to 1859 and 1871 to 1889 as well as many interesting
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
Note: Emilito has chosen to
write the following article in the first
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
The GRACCIANI in my
grandmother’s surnames came from her mother
Victorina GRACCIANI [again, her spelling of choice]
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
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: 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
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
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
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.
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.
Concord (MA), 1990: Carmen LAGOS
BESTEIRO (m. Signes) and all her
children and grandchildren on her 80th birthday, 5 Oct. 1990
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
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.
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
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)
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).
Havana, 1944: Isabel BESTEIRO
GRACCIANI, AKA "Aunt Betty" is 2nd row in family photo with husband
Mario GARCÍA GONZÁLEZ.
cousin Diana is seated on the
Top, 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
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
Actors Alejandrina CARO GRACIANI,
her daughter Julia DELGADO CARO and grandson Fernando [Martínez]
These are all signed photos sent
to their US relatives
Aunt Betty notes
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
de Sevilla] was alternately referred to as a sibling, then a cousin, of
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
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,
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
Siblings who emigrated from Spain
Emilio and Manolita GRACIANI
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.”
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
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
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 . . . "
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
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
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!”
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!
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!
Madrid, 1998: Janina
Julia's daughter / Emilito with Fernando [Martínez] Delgado,
Julia's son, following a performance
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
This is the photo Ramón
sent of Flavio and his sons. It was undated, but Ramón
guesses it's from the 1860s or 1870.
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
to Flavio’s birth town.
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
Pleased as I was,
realized that a huge question remained: who
was the father of my great-great grandfather Francisco, and how was he
related to Flavio?
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.
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
this fortuitous discovery I may never have found
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.
1999: Great-granddaughters of Domingo, Ana Maria and Esperanza GRACIANI
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: 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.]
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.
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
GRACIANI of Cuba had told me that her first cousin
Alicia GRACIANI ENCALADA was last heard from in Guayaquil, and I
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
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.
Boston, 2000: Alicia (front left),
her 3 children (right) and US family
In May I receive
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
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
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 (1931)
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.
In December 2000,
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
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
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.
(Pescaglia), 2001: the Church of Saints Peter and Paul - where most of
the Graziani were baptized
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
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.”
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
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
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
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.
2001: two siblings of Ramón, Maruja and Jesús GRACIANI
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
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
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 and wife Rosalia
César was the recipient of the letters written by Antonio
There are two
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
Antonio GRACIANI MOYA and
daughter Marta GRACIANI VILLAR.
father wrote the seminal 1978 Graciani history
Graciani Baptismal Place
We visited relatives in
(Madrid). They are grandchildren of Jorge BESTEIRO GRAC[C]IANI,
thus, like me, great grandchildren of Victorina GRAC[C]IANI
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
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
My friend Steve
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.
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
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
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.
Paulo, 2002: Luiz and Henrique with their parents Bernardo GRACIANI
MOTA and his wife Clotilde
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.
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
Maryland, 2003: A Flavio
Descendant Found Living in the USA
Tere VALCARCE GRACIANI and her
husband Donald (left) with the Signes Family
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?]
Two years ago I
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
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.
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.
(1784), Maria Maddalena (1785), Olimpia
Paulina (1791), Agata Olimpia (1795), and Maria Irina (1802).
at home when we arrived from our DC visit
with Tere and Donald. Thank
God for written records!
Pescaglia, 1778: Emilito's great
comes alive again - and his name is Romano!
Inventory: May 2003
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.
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.
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
Children of Flavio
We can now construct
a partial 5-generation tree in which the most recent generation is that
of Romano, Flavio, and their siblings.
May 2003. Our Graziani
Branches: What We Don't Know
Of the seven
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
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.
much and yet there’s so much more to learn.
the secret to success is persistence, success is in the cards.
Emil Signes 12 mayo 2003
and Fall 2003: More Knowledge, More Questions
and I visit Spain in June, and mix in family visits and studies of the
Lagos branch of my family with Graciani studies.
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
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
was a family affair as her aunt Julia DELGADO CARO played Paca and
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.
Madrid, 2003: Alberto Delgado with
Emilito after performance, 2003
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
b. 1889 Jorge BESTEIRO GRACCIANI
b. 1896 Isabel BESTEIRO GRACCIANI
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.
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
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.
1. Graciani Family area in Aranjuez cemetery
2. Heide and Pachi enjoying wonderful meal (good bread, wine, rabbit,
salad, etc.) at "El
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.
Málaga, 2003: 3 Graciani beauties, GRACIANI RODRÍGUEZ
Marina DEL ESTAL GRACIANI surrounded by Cristina (L) and Paloma SALINAS
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
Pedro Antonio took me to
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.
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
still itching to know, however, more about the family's past in Italy
and the transitional years (now limited to sometime between 1815 and
- Forward to the Past
in September - my future will be to explore its past
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
- 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
Villabuona, 2003: 16th century streets plus 21th century satellite
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!
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
not a year to study GRAZIANI or GRACIANI (or GRAZZIANI or GRACCIANI for
- Forward to the Past II
-> Graziani -> Gratiani -> no surname -> pre-1492!
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
understood in person, I ask Anna Maria to call Italy for me to finalize
very scary near-miss
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.
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.
Villa a Roggio, 2005: Andrea Luciani. Emilito made several
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's 1565 baptismal
"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
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
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
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.
Graziano (1710-1758) [b. GRATIANI, m.
(1731-1813) [b. GRAZIANI, d. GRAZIANI]
Giuseppe Antonio (1754-1817) [b. GRAZIANI, d. GRAZIANI]
Romano (1788- ?) [b. GRAZIANI,
Flavio (1797- ?) [b. GRAZIANI,
d. GRACIANI] Two
more representations of these data can be seen in the following links:
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.
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).
The earliest written data seem to coincide with, in many cases, the
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
di Giusto di Santi GAMBOGI"[My caps.] It seems that surnames
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
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
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.
There also seemed to be confusion, perhaps even arguments, as to which
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
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
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
[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 --
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
[7th ggf] Giuesppe's children, including my 6th great grandmother
Camilla, are born MAZZEI, and on Giuseppe's 1739 death certificate he
listed as "MAZZEI o sia LAZZARINI."
From death certificate of Emilito's 7th great grandfather Giuseppe
] 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
have direct ancestors with the following surnames (derived fromRomano 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 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,
Paulo and Paolo; Franchesco and Francesco; Elizabetta, Elisabetta,
Lisbetta, Zabetta; in short way too many to
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.)
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
certificate the priest wrote "Amadeo volgarmente dº [detto] Amadio
[Amadeo commonly called Amadio]." His name was written in 3
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
The entire issue is curious: Why was it so necessary to write both
options in the official documents? This is left as an exercise
Amadeo/Amadio's first marriage (1770) certificate
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
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.
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.
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. (Mª Elizabetta is my fifth great
grandaunt -- oh, and also my fourth cousin 6 times removed.)
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
partorito un figlio morto. . . "�
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
(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.
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!
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
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.
Madrid Census Data Speak to Me
I reckon I can -- and will --
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
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
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
be his wife (but this is not stated), and who was born in 1852, and
lived in Madrid all her life.
also two young children with completely different surnames (Calmaci?)
living with them. . . All this is uncharted territory.
The household headed by Paulino Delgado in 1890
I also find my great-great-grandmother Joaquina LORENZO BLAS,
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
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
GARCÍA." Now this whole Federal-Segundo thing is not only
confirmed by 2
sets of family lore, . . . it's official!
A childhood story is true - Tío Domingo's son referred to as
"Federal Segundo" in 1895 Madrid census
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
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,
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:
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
In 1874 the Graciani
García siblings are simply Segundo and Mónica
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,
. . . 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
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.
and Nitroglicerina on the original packet of the 1873
census at Calle Zurita, 3
The original 1873 page of the
family at C/Zurita, 3, entresuelo
Federal and Nitroglicerina - in writing and photographed from the
Note Federal Segundo's year of birth is incorrect - it is actually
1871, per his birth certificate
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
sold his sculptures from the store.
- They seemed to maintain contact with Italy - or at least with
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
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
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.
Graciani / Antigüedades Linares
I love finding documents, but
contact with real people is the best. I meet again with
GRACIANI CASTILLA, then jump on a train to Toledo to meet her cousin
Julio LINARES GRACIANI, like her a grandson of Federal
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
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 LINARES GRACIANI in front of
In the 4th century rooms below the surface,
A Heretofore Unknown Generation ...
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 –
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
whereabouts are unknown. Did she go to take care of her granddaughter
It’s almost certain we’ll never know – the church documents of
destroyed in 1936 at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War and the
Register of Spain did not begin until 1871.
brand new information: in 1855 and 1856, living with Francisco and his
mother Dolores on Calle Noviciado, was a heretofore unknown Leocadia
(married but with no appropriately named male in the household) and
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.
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
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
and that Alejandrina was born near the end of the month, I had to
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
Mother: Dolores Guarts, native of
Paternal grandfather: Juan
José [Caro], native of [not
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
Graciani to continue in their family branch, even when it passed
maternal line. Dolores GUARTS GRACIANI must have changed her
Dolores GRACIANI, and Alejandrina CARO GUARTS (!) must
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
10 years in Seville, a cousin legally reversed her children’s surnames
Graciani from the second surname to the first.
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
1970s letter from our “Aunt Betty” (Isabel Besteiro Gracciani [sic]) to
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."
When I leave Madrid for home, I'm
thinking that there’s a small window of possibilities for Juliana’s
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
in 1788 and still home in Pescaglia per the 1812 census (though he was
in the 1814 census, he was “fuori” [away]).Juliana
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
have been an earlier visit – and also one assumes she’d have been at
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!
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):
Graziani born in Pescaglia,
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)
Graciani born in Belmonte, La Mancha (daughter of Romano Graziani &
Graciani born in Alicante (son
Graziani & Dolores Pastor)
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
Mallorca] and Juliana Graciani)
Calmaci AKA Graciani born in Seville-San Lorenzo parish (son of Paulino
and Juliana Graciani)
de la Paz born in Seville (daughter of Leocadia Graciani)
Graciani born in Madrid-San Marcos parish (son of Francisco Graciani
Graciani born in Alcalá
(daughter of Francisco Graciani and Joaquina Lorenzo)
Caro Guarts AKA Caro Graciani born in Madrid-San José parish
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
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
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 imdb.com. 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 for a 1941 Spanish movie in
which Alejandrina Caro Graciani appeared at age 77
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.
Bethlehem, PA (USA) 10 July 2010 (Rev 8: 23 Oct. 2008) (Rev. 7: Dec 2006) (Rev. 6: Feb 2005)
5: May 2003)