Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Family Roots, Part 2

In July, I blogged about finding documentation of my kids' great-grandparents' marriage (in 1895) when we were on Salina, Italy.

On Saturday, we enjoyed the next stage of all of the family research: we hosted a Cusolito family reunion. Everyone who attended the party was a descendant (or a spouse) of my husband's grandparents (with 2 exceptions I'll describe later). The total number invited was 111, though roughly 85 attended. Many of us have never met each other or have seen each other so infrequently that we don't remember each others' names. Spending time together under the same tent, looking at photos, sharing stories, and debating who really was "Gram's Favorite" was wonderful, despite the pouring rain.

My daughter w/ Carolyn's Family Tree
My Father-In-Law created a 13 foot family tree that listed every family member from his parents on down. It's quite impressive! What really blew us away, however, was when Carolyn Cusolito Tavares and her husband arrived with the tree she created. This huge tree was made possible when we secured the records from Salina and thereby confirmed that she is related to us. Without making this too complicated by using a bunch of names, her great, great-grandfather was the brother of my Father-in-law's, great-grandfather. Can you imagine? Now that Carolyn combined our family trees, we have names and dates going back to 1811.

None of this would have happened without lots of hard work and research by Carolyn, my Father-In-law, and others. But one detail I also hold onto is that the final puzzle pieces were put together after we visited the family's homeland. Travel opens up whole new worlds no matter where you go, but this particular trip to Salina opened up our family.

One aside, especially for my readers whose families were formed through adoption: The Cusolito family tree includes families created through adoption. Each of these family members are listed among the families created through birth. Our tree is not only a "biological" tree. The way I look at it is this.... if not for the marriage of Lorenzo and Maria Guiseppa back on Salina in 1895, none of these families would exist. Our family grew from the love of those two people and so on down the line. I've talked about it often with my friend Alison (of They're All My Own). She feels the same way- she feels 100 percent a part of her parent's family tree even though they are not related by biology. That said, family tree assignments in schools can be hurtful and each family needs to find their own way when it comes to family trees and adoption. One metaphor you might consider is a family tree created through "grafting." Grafting is a process by which the branch of one fruit tree is attached to the branch of a different variety of fruit. My parents have a Bosc pear tree that grows Asian pears on the one grafted branch. I love this image.

Related Posts:
Family Roots
Adoption Intensity


  1. This is so amazing that you put this research into action and are forging new memories with your relatives!

  2. Thanks, Perogyo. I have my Father-in-Law and my husband's cousin to thank for organizing the reunion.

  3. Michelle, everyone involved did an amazing job. It was nice being included in this great family event. Was absolutely a great time had by all including my family. Just wish my daughter could have joined us but being in New Zealand is more important in her life right now. As you said earlier, traveling opens up so many new adventures in your life. Thank you and Rick once again in opening up your home for this great day.
    Jack Mulone-Husband of Dorothy Cusolito Mulone

    1. Oh, Jack, we always have fun when you're family is around. I'm sure your daughter will come back a changed woman. Travel has a way of doing that.

      Note to family/friends: I do not put my children's names on the internet. Please don't write them in the comments. Since Jack left his daughter's off, I responded in kind.