Often, in a particular moment of our life. we ask ourselves:
- Why do I call somebody uncle or cousin, if
I can't see any recent type of relationship to
which I could refer?
- My grandmother used to say that we were
- That aunty was telling that the
relationship derives from….
Anyway it is true that possibly in Bronte we
could be all somehow related?
Having almost reached the pension's age and
trying to find a way to be active and
useful, I decided to give some answers to these
My surname also reminds me that the
Longhitano in Bronte are spread in various
families with varied nicknames or «‘nghiùri» but in which the sense of relationship, even if
not close, was strongly felt.
The various nicknames ('nghiuri), “Checchi”,
“Cesari”, “Bizzuni”, “Saranelli”, “Chicchitti”,
were recurring names in families conversations.
They used to talk about it with a relationship
background, even if by now the old blood ties
were lost, the ancestors forgotten, so
determining the trunk's fragmentation of the
genealogic tree, as it happened with the "chestnut
of the hundred horses" of which is rather
difficult to see again its unity.
My experience in the botanist field has so
pressed me to reconstitute my family's
genealogic tree, extending it to whoever had
relationship bonds through marriages.
To carry out such plan, I have asked the current
archpriest of Bronte's main church, father
Vincent Saitta, permission to examine the
parochial archives, creating new contents of the
various volumes, using the data processing of
The initiative was well accepted and these are
some of the results that I put at everybody's
disposal on the web site of the Bronte Insieme
Registers-archivists, and filing clerks of the Main Church
Anything can be said
about filing clerks except that they knew how to
The procedure of registering a
christening I think is yet the same then before.
Compilation of a loose sheet called "squarcio" from which were then copied on the register.
The register's pages were then numbered
progressively, unless some clerk made a mistake
and started to give crazy numbers.
Every page was divided in two parts: one column,
about 2 inches wide, on which was written the
name of the christened baby and the progressive
number of baptism acts, when this was reported,
on the other column, about 6 inches wide, was
registered the baptism act with the celebrant
priest, the delegating parish priest, with all
his titles and prebends, the name of the parents,
the name given to the baby, the name of the
godfathers, the eventual proxies, the midwife
who had assisted the child birth.
Everything written in Latinorum ("dog-Latin naturally").
The original act or squarcio, was compiled by
the celebrant, the transcription on the register
was instead done by the archivist; the
completion of the left column most likely was
left to a clerk-typist, and it is here that the
great part of mistakes in the writing of the
register are found.
The name preceded the father's surname
that often was exchanged with the mother's one and written with
such orthographic mistakes to sometime change it completely.
Here is an example among many: the left column appears "570 - Placidus Longhitano"; on the right you can read
vigesimo quinto 25 martii 1848 – 286 - Ego sac. D. Josef
Lombardo delic.a veri Economi huius S.M. Brontis Civ. sub tit.lo
S.me Triadis baptizavi infantem hodie natum ex jugibus Josef
Gangi et Maria Longhitano. Cui nomen imposui Placidum p.ni fuere
D. x D. Placidus lombardus, et D.a Rosa eius soror". (Reg.
Battesimi n° 4 – 1839-1850).
The name of the christened baby, Placido Gangi, then becomes
Placido Longhitano. Therefore who is looking only to the left
column shall get a wrong indication.
When thereafter was ordered to note down
on the register the contracted marriage with the indication of
wife or husband, father of wife or husband, date and locality,
then thing can get very complicated.
Who is writing the note, first he'll have to find the
space where to write, and writing small text with the goose
quill of that time you can imagine what will happen. Often
unreadable notes, smudges and corrections, faded or too
heavy sepia ink.
It is easy also to run into duplicates
with different dates. The aforesaid baptism act is repeated to
N° 576 this time correctly and so as Placido Gangi. The
register was periodically controlled and endorsed by the
appointed archpriest, otherwise was complete chaos.
The acts numbering usually starts on the first day of every year
and ends the 31st of December. On the register n° 4
the 2nd January 1816 the numbering does not
starts from 1, but continues with 436, and goes
on this way until the 12th f December 1836 when,
once reached n° 1000, it is decided to start
again from n°1.