Grandfather Found

Gioia del Colle Stemma

Symbol of Gioia del Colle

I decided to try using a genealogy researcher who works from the website. Through her I was able to trace my maternal grandfather back to his correct birthplace. His sisters who were older than he, always claimed they were from Bari, Italy. This was fine, but when Ron and I went to Bari two years ago to try to find his birth certificate, we found Bari has expanded over the years. Strangely, they could find my great-uncle Charle‘s birth certificate, but not my grandfather’s. All of his other siblings were mysteriously missing as well.

This newly discovered information shows he was actually born in Gioia del Colle, a small town in the Puglia district. It sits between the cities of Bari and Taranto, but is not specifically in Bari proper as we thought. What I also discovered was his ‘real’ name was Tommaso. He always went by Thomas or Tommy; not even his siblings called him Tommaso. He arrived in New York City on November 17, 1902. His birthday was November 9, 1899, so he had just turned three years old when entering the United States. His parents were Antonio Vito Nettis and Palmina Buono.

The bad news that was disclosed was that he was naturalized in 1919. The last time I checked with the Italian government, the conditions for my getting Italian citizenship depended on his being an Italian citizen when my mother was born. At the time, they did claim that if he revoked his Italian citizenship before my mother was born I may be eligible for an Italian passport. I am not sure this is worth pursuing now.

It is a real thrill to know for sure where he was really born and though I knew the name of my great-grandfather and my great-grandmother’s first name, I did not know her maiden name. True to custom, my mother’s oldest brother was named for my great-grandfather Antonio Vito Nettis and her older sister was named Palmina after their grandmother. My mother was named after her maternal grandmother and her younger brother was named for his father, becoming a junior.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.


  1. Was it expensive to use a researcher Ryan? I would love to have help with my search for my Hungarian heritage.

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