The family oral history from Ralph Nevy’s sisters, Pauline and Mary, has it that their grandfather was Christof Nevi, a German orphan who came to Bergotto with the Grassi men (Teresina’s family, stone masons) who were returning to the village. Christof grew up there and worked for the Grassi family, eventually marrying a Grassi. They had three sons, Francesco, Giacomo and Antonio (Ralph’s father) who founded the Casa di Christof (House of Christof), the group of houses seen in the video Cercando Famiglia in Italia.
Not all of this family oral history, however, is corroborated in the church records of San Martino in Bergotto, Italy, as researched by Sandra Hack. Ralph Nevy’s father is listed as Antonio, but his grandfather is listed as Carlo Nevi. Christof appears in the genealogy as Carlo’s father, which would make Christof Nonno’s great-grandfather.
Christof’s place of birth is in the diocese of Piacenza, parish of Rivo Secco. Piacenza is the province right next to the province of Parma, in which Bergotto is located. While visiting Bergotto in the summer of 2000, Sandra Hack talked with Arnerio Spagnoli who seemed to recognize the name of Rivo Secco. There is a possibility that Rivo Secco is near Borgo Val di Taro, but it has not been found on any maps.
The records show that Carlo Nevi, Nonno’s grandfather, also seems to have come from somewhere else besides Bergotto. The place name of Volisborg appears as his place of birth.
Much more research needs to be done to find the clues to our origins. Fortunately, both the church and civil records are available to us courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, through whose Family History Centers we have been able to order copies of microfilms of the old records, some of which date back to the 1600’s.
Researching the church records can be very time consuming. The records are hand-written in Latin, so one needs to decipher both the handwriting and the language. Often the priests who wrote the birth, death and marriage certificates were not educated in formal Latin and thus used a sort of Pig Latin. Fortunately we have found a very helpful book to guide us, Trafford Cole’s Italian Genealogical Records, a must-read for anyone planning to delve into Italian genealogy.
Besides church records, there are also the civil records of Berceto, Italy, the commune that includes the frazione of Bergotto. In his 1957 message to the Orsingers (reprinted in the Cercando Famiglia in Italia booklet), Ralph Nevy tells us that Berceto is where all the civil records for Bergotto were kept.
The names for Erminia’s side of the family come from Chris Lander’s chart (made in consultation with Erminia Nevy) and information from the passport of her father, Giacomo Galli. We also had invaluable help from Chiara Bertani, Donatella Fiorato’s daughter (seen in the Cercando video and at the 2001 family reunion in Cumberland), who responded to our plea for help and drove up to Caprino Veronese, near San Giorgio, to look up Erminia’s birth records. Chiara has also corrected other parts of the Fiorato section of the family tree.
Research at the Ebensburg, Pennsylvania county courthouse in the summer of 2001 has uncovered the marriage certificate for Ralph Nevy and Erminia Galli and the naturalization (citizenship) records of the Nevy brothers.
–Updated July 2001, Courtesy of Joan Lander
Special thanks to Sandy Hack, Joan Lander, Alex Lander and Chiara Bertani for their tireless research!