Rollercoaster of a Ride

Looking over my journey in researching my family history, it is very much like a rollercoaster. For a couple of weeks, you’re at the peak, beaming with excitement with the all this adrenaline of pride what makes you, you. Then there are the few months in between, where you come to a brick wall and get no where… Until you find motivation again to pick up and start a new approach to what you are trying to find. Persistance is key, and no matter how impossible things may get, take another approach and your finds will be endless!

I decided a few days ago, to pick up on the climb back up the rollercoaster. I plonked myself infront of Google and started away. I find myself on a blog I always end up on whenever I type in ‘Algeria’, ‘Malta’ and ‘family history’ all in the same hit. Jonathan Barbara. I think I have come across his blog 5 or 6 times over the past couple of years. His blog, along with another couple, made me decide to start up my own blog, for the reason that, if there are others out there like me, googling away in hope to find something new, I hope they find my blog, and I give them that same inspiration or tips I got from blogs like Jonathan’s. I decided to bite the bullet and try and make contact with him. Here is where the climb up the rollercoaster started. You know that excitement you feel, knowing you’re going to get to the top? I got a response! And in it, a whirl of inspiration, motivation and suggestions on where to go next.

Upon my persistant googling, I also came across a database I have used before in the past. I actually came across it through Mark C, who knows one of the people who helped develop it. Josyanne Massa. Mark is acquainted with Josyanne, but never met – she lives in France. I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I have played around with this database, and for once, I came across something new. An entry on the marriage of Paolo CREMONA and Domenica CUSCHIERI (parents of Michele CREMONA) where it stated that there is a photo attached to the entry. I decided to bite the bullet with her also and make contact with her, to find out how I can obtain this photo. She replied instantly with the photo attached (a photo of the original record for their marriage), and also stated that she is of relation to the Cremona’s! We continued emailing back and forth where she has emailed me 30-odd original documents in relation to the Cremona’s. One of these documents confirm that one of my ascendants REFALO was a slave and taking the surname of his wife!

So since my last entry (which was a while ago), I have been in contact with the National Archives of Malta in hope to find some form of documentation on my dad’s grandfather, my buż nannu Pawl. After lots of communication with them via email, they found a bunch of documents that may be in relation to him. As I had plans to be there in April of this year for the Convention of Maltese Living Abroad, they held these aside for me so that I could go in and look at them for myself.

With that, I went to the Archives in Rabat last month. They had the original of his passport application which I had already obtained through my family friend Mark C. They also had two of his a c t u a l passports! I had in my hand his original passports! One of them had his fingerprint in it! You can just imagine the awe I was in, grinning uncontrollably from ear to ear. Unfortunately, the files that contained the licences and petitions they had found on the system were all missing. Nevertheless, obtaining a copy of his passports made me happy enough. I also learnt that he not only travelled to Tunis and Algiers, but planned on travelling to New York. Not 100% sure whether he ended up there or not, I will have to sit down and decipher the passport stamps properly. I also found that he has his eldest son travel with him. This new finding was definitely a high point of my rollercoaster of a ride!

I made short conversations with a lady who worked there who was very helpful, and tried to find more for my on their database. I made mention the Cremona’s and their migration to Algeria. She told me if I could give her some names and dates, she could see whether they have any passport applications, or even their health bill. I since, haven’t made contact with her, and is on my to-do list.

In lead up to my trip to Malta, I also emailed the Public Registry in Gozo in anticipation to obtain some certificates of mum’s side of the family. As mentioned in a previous post, you can’t order full certificates on those that are of Gozitan descent online. I emailed in total 15 requests. I had a reply from them with their ‘act numbers’ and to simply bring them to the office when I am there which was of course, what I did. Unfortunately, there were a couple that they didn’t have records for due to the year they were born/married/died. All up, the 13 certificates cost me 135 euro.

Only last night, did I sit down properly to read the information on these certificates.  I looked at 3 certificates in particular, really closely. They were in relation to buż nanna Domenica. Logic would tell you that from the certificates, ‘age at the time of’, and the ‘date at the time of’ would give you her year of birth………. Right.

Her marriage certificate states she was born in Philippeville, Algeria. She was 19 at the time of her marriage and the year was 1920 – meaning her year of birth would have been 1901.

Her son’s (my nannu) birth certificate states she was born in Souk Ahras, Algeria. She was 21 at the time of his birth, he was born in 1923 – meaning her year of birth would have been 1902.

Her death certificate states she was born in Bone, Algeria. She was 55 at the time of her death, the year was 1955 – meaning her year of birth was 1900.

Three conflicting places of birth and three inaccurate ages. Nutting this out with my mum, she told me that nannu had an older brother, 2 years older… So using this piece of information, suggests his brother was born out of wedlock… Which isn’t impossible, but not likely… So I am kind of stumped with making an accurate assumption on when and where she was born. I think she was born in Bone or Souk Ahras more over Philippeville. I’m leaning more toward Bone, because her aunts and uncles all show they migrated there.

My next plan of attack is to obtain nannu’s brother’s birth certificate and see what that says… Maybe it will give me a more definite answer, or just add to the conflicting theories.

So, from what I could see on – her aunts and uncles (her father’s siblings) were all born in Gozo. However, they all married and died in Bone/Souk Ahras EXCEPT FOR her father, who married and died in Gozo. So I am assuming he married, his wife fell pregnant with buż nanna Domenica, they went to visit his siblings, and she gave birth to her there………….

Ok, so writing all this out, has actually just made me think of another possibility……. That she was born on the boat on the way there/way back to Malta….. ???! I mean, it would make sense as I cannot find any documentation about her birth.. A possibility.

I need to pull my finger out and make contact with the lady from the National Archives to see if I can find anything in relation to their travelling to Algeria, or even travelling back to Gozo.


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