52 Ancestors, Week 12: Membership

It’s Week 12 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project, created by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow. And this week, the theme is Membership.

I often see posts on genealogy-related pages from people who are trying to establish their eligibility for membership in U.S. lineage organizations such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Mayflower Society, the Jamestown Society, and the Colonial Dames. I am eligible for none of these.

Lineage organizations require documentation of descent from an ancestor who, for example, fought in the American Revolution or traveled to Virginia as one of the original Jamestown settlers. As far as I can tell, my earliest ancestor to reach the New World from Italy was my mother’s maternal grandfather Felix Bartocci, who came in 1888. He was probably named Felice when he was born in Sigillo, in the Perugia region of Umbria, but would have changed it to Felix when he emigrated. Most of my ancestors emigrated here from Italy between 1900 and 1910. Like many of the men in my family who were in the U.S. in the first half of the 20th century, he mined coal.

There are several membership groups for Italian-Americans, though as far as I know, none of them require any proof of lineage. But if anyone wants to start a lineage organization for the Daughters of Italian Coal Miners, I’m in.

These are coal miners near Hazelton, Pennsylvania, around 1900. I have no evidence that any of my ancestors are in this photo; in fact, most were not yet in the U.S. at this point, though a few were — including Felice Bartocci — and were mining coal in the area. If there is a membership organization for Daughters of Italian Coal Miners, I am totally eligible.

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