I have always had some interest in genealogy so I was really excited to take this class for interim. I think some of my interest comes from my last name being Farrisi and not knowing any other Farrisi’s other than direct family. So I have always wondered why exactly that is and assumed one of my great grandfathers had come over from Italy, but never was sure. I was interested to find out more and this class has been my opportunity to do that.
The four surnames that I have focused on are Farrisi (my dad’s dad), Brewster (my dad’s mom), Smith (my mom’s dad), and Austin (my mom’s mom) and each of them have come along with different discoveries so far. From the beginning I have known that the Farrisi link would be the one of the most difficult aspects because of the lack of information I have. I have discovered that it was my great grandfather (Pasquale Farrisi) that came over from Salerno, Italy to New York. His wife, Maria Gennadio came over as well. What I’m not sure about though is if they came over together, if they were married before or after, and if Gennadio is her maiden name. There is a lot of uncertainty with them. My dad doesn’t know and I have talked to two other relatives that I was told would know and they haven’t been much help. I type in Farrisi in passenger lists on ancestry and can’t discover anything either (a little frustrating!) Farrisi in general turns up little results so I don’t exactly know what to do. I’m hoping that my great aunt (?) Irene will be some help with this. She married my grandpa Farrisi’s brother who has already passed away. I have never met her before but got her number and called and got in touch with her daughter, Christine (my second cousin?). Irene is currently sick so Christine eventually said she would have her call me within the next few days. Aside from finding out family tree info, its actually pretty cool talking to some people that I have never met or talked to before but they’re related to me! (my relatives are mainly all in New York so we have not done a good job keeping in touch). Anyways, I’m just waiting on that to further the Farrisi link. The picture below is a picture of Pasquale and Maria – my great grandparents who came over from Italy
The smith side has turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would be. My mom’s mom (my grandma), Lorraine Smith (formerly Austin), has been really good with giving all my family members information. We had been given before a Smith genealogy book that traces back the smith side of my family pretty far back and has lots of pictures too! I also discovered that she shares an interest in genealogy as well so I have been in touch with her and she is going to send me some stuff. This will cover the Smith and Austin sides. The Austin side is a little difficult as well and my grandma and I are hoping to discover some things. It turns out that her mother (my great grandmother) was raised in an orphanage in NYC but was born in SantaFe, New Mexico in 1906. She lived in a convent until she was 16 and she wanted to become a nun (also interesting because if she would have followed through I would not be here today!). My grandma said that she had some letter that was written to her mom from a nun that she was going to try and find for me!
As for the Brewster side, I’m encountering some more problems. My grandma’s mom came over from Austria so I have not been successful here either. I spoke with my grandma’s older sister Georgette yesterday on the phone (lives in NY, almost 90). She said she didn’t know her grandmother because they were still in Austria so that has been slow with information as well. Overall I have discovered that my dad’s side seems to be from New York/NYC. They seem to have immigrated over to the U.S. not extremely long ago (great grandparents). My mom’s side (Smith and Austin) also reside mainly in New York, with the Smith side also in Vermont. I’m still working on a lot of details but hoping to find a lot more out! Sorry this post is so long!!