WELCOME

laughingboy
Newburgh, Orange, New York ca 1940

This is the portal page to a genealogical research project located at stellacilento.org.1In case you were wondering about the name of the website: Stella Cilento is the village in Italy where my father grew up. The project is composed of three parts:

1. This portal page, also referred to as front or home;
2. the database itself where all the genealogical data is stored and organized; and
3. the weblog/wiki pages where I keep notes on research and technological issues. I use wiki pages to write about genealogical issues more generally.2Most everyone is familiar with Wikipedia, but you may not be aware that wikis are used widely across the internet to organize information. I ...continue

If you are familiar with a traditional family tree, this new technology may strike you as odd, but the underlying structure is simple: each individual in the family history has a page. You can look at a page to see the facts of the person’s life, including (where available) photos and documents; you can also see that person’s ancestors or descendants in a traditional tree format.

Database v. Wiki

There are two possible sources of information here for each individual: (1) a database page,  which is a collection of facts and dates as well as the documents and sources to support those facts and (2) a wiki page.  Wiki pages are far less structured than database pages. Wiki pages can include large documents and images and discussions of such materials.3Note that only a small proportion of people in the database have wiki pages, although I add to them regularly.

If you run into technical difficulties or something here is broken, please contact me: rosinalippi @ mac.com

There are also wiki pages for places, historical events, legalities such as copyright, resources, and a wide range of other topics. Eventually people who are interested in contributing to the project will be able to submit relevant reports or essays to the wiki. For example, this article about slavery in the north and ancestors who held slaves in rural Pennsylvania.4Unless otherwise indicated by a source and citation, I wrote all the material you’ll find here.

Below is a comparison of a database page and a wiki page for one individual, Grietjen Westercamp, one of the most colorful ancestors you’ll find here.  Grietjen was born in New Amsterdam, while her husband Jan Gerritsen Decker immigrated from Holland sometime before 1664. The evidence indicates that they were both taken prisoner by the Lenapi tribes in the course of the Second Esopus War. They later  married in Wyltwijck (now Kingston, New York).  There are pages of court transcripts about these two, who were often in conflict with neighbors and the law. Those materials are available on her wiki page.

database page wikipage

Before you go off exploring, there are some important things to consider.

Access and privacy

ship-searchAny and all information about persons still living is blocked from public view. However, you can use the search form to the right to explore the rest of the database, or you might want to try the surname page or one of the other access points available in the pull down menu at the top of the page. Once you’ve located an interesting name, clicking on it will open a login prompt. 

This may not be enough for you, if you are a relative who would like to get involved. In that case, please contact me and I’ll set up an account that will allow you to provide information, documents and/or images about your branch of the family. Please use this form to get that process started, or simply contact me by email.

Is this stuff true?

Maybe. For those who haven’t really looked into the finer points of genealogy, this important note: If you do not see a reliable source cited as evidence for a piece of information, then you must consider it to be conjecture. If you happen to know an undocumented fact is true (for example, you find your great grandfather here, and you’ve got a copy of his death certificate) then please email me about that. Otherwise please think of what you read as possibility waiting for documentation. It might be fun or shocking or just plain absurd. It might be true. It might not be. We may never know.

Ancestors: the who of here

Cowboy Ken. Norwich, Norfolk, England. ca 1940
Cowboy Ken. Norwich, Norfolk, England. ca 1940

I’ve been working on four different lines: the Green and Clarke families (out of England); the Lippi, Russo and Gionti families (Italy); and the Ennis family which reaches back to New Netherland and the original British colonies, before they left their homes in Holland, Denmark, Prussia, Germany, France, England and Scotland. Starting with the third generation, you might want to have a peek at Arturo Lippi or Kenneth Green. Please note that because the database had to be rebuilt, links to images and documents will often be missing. I’m working on getting that resolved.

Ancestors behaving mysteriously

In genealogy a brick wall is understood to be an individual who defies all efforts to discover even basic facts. It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that women ancestors are far more likely to put up a brick wall. In centuries past women were often considered so  irrelevant that their names were not recorded. Unfortunately this is true for some women who were born in the 19th century, too. My paternal grandmother is one of the most stubborn brick walls you’ll find here. You can read about the many mysteries concerning her — starting with her name — on her wiki page.  Other female ancestors I have had no luck with at all include almost everyone born in Italy, as well and Eleanor Decker and Eleanor Sherman born in the United States, and a great many female ancestors from England and the Netherlands.

Ancestors behaving badly 

Connecticut Witchcraft Trials, 17th Century
Connecticut Witchcraft Trials, 17th Century

It won’t come as a surprise that there are some unpleasant people in the family, but the scope is kind of impressive. We have Pennsylvanian slaveholders (one of whom had a son by one of his slaves, a boy he baptized ‘Sin’); ax-murderers, vendetta and family feud enthusiasts with murder in their hearts, bigamists, innkeepers with less than ethical business practices, and sticky fingered persons of all ages, nationalities and both sexes.  So be prepared for the occasional shock. I’m in the process of  compiling a list of the most notable black sheep. Do let me know if you have a name to add to that list. 

There are also many examples of interesting people who led lives within the boundaries set for them by church and government even when they were accused of high crimes.  Winifred King was three times arrested and tried as a witch, but was acquitted in every instance. 

Notes   [ + ]

1. In case you were wondering about the name of the website: Stella Cilento is the village in Italy where my father grew up.
2. Most everyone is familiar with Wikipedia, but you may not be aware that wikis are used widely across the internet to organize information. I incorporate that structure here because the genealogy pages themselves are not a good place to tell longer stories or to look at large images or documents such as  trial transcripts, newspaper clippings, book and article excerpts.
3. Note that only a small proportion of people in the database have wiki pages, although I add to them regularly.
4. Unless otherwise indicated by a source and citation, I wrote all the material you’ll find here.