Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"Gabbs Gabfest" Profiles Heritage Resources

Family and Home Information Sources Checklist

Have you heard the term:  Attic Archaeology? Sometimes it is amazing what we find in our attics, closets and file cabinets and those of our extended families.  Attic Archaeology is a method to search and obtain family records that exist in your own archive and those of your family members. The checklist above is a good way to get started on "Attic Archaeology." Oftentimes you will find letters, diaries and genealogical documents which give us a window into our collective past.

I am attempting to scan all of my paper files and I ran across a paper that I wrote for a graduate level class in Historic Preservation at the University of Nevada, Reno in 1995. My interest in "Historic Preservation" and "Heritage Resources" developed in the 1990's as a way to merge my interest in genealogy with my career in building management.  My training in Historic Preservation has helped me to take a scholarly approach to my genealogical research and inspired me to be a "curator" of the buildings that I managed.

Our professor gave us an assignment to write a newspaper article on heritage resources for the fictional local newspaper of Gabbs, Nevada, the "Gabbs Gabfest." This term paper says a lot about my views of historic preservation. It explains what motivates me to preserve family history about everyday people rather than just preserving the history of the rich and famous.  Many of the statements in this essay are surprisingly still very current after 22 years.

Gabbs Gabfest, Fall 1995Heritage Resources Preservation in the Twenty First CenturyBy Nick Cimino, "Cultural Affairs Editor"
This story is about you ... and me ... and our ancestors ... and the ships they sailed on ... and the halls where they used to meet...and the house where an American hero lived ... and the songs they used to sing ... and the church where they worshiped ... and the pipes which held their tobacco. It's about long ago and not so long ago--big things and little things and all the things that make us what we are today.
Our heritage is something inherited from our cultural past: no judgement of good or bad is made. Heritage resources are the things that make up that past. Heritage resources include both natural and cultural resources. The preservation of heritage resources includes a wide range of activities. Efforts to preserve natural areas like the Grand Canyon from air pollution and saving a family Bible can fit under the term "heritage resources preservation." The United Nations World Heritage List is comprised of a vast array of sites from the natural and built environment: the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon, the city of Quito, Ecuador, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and the Great Wall of China. The initial focus of heritage resources was on buildings but it has broadened to included places of association. The U.S. federal government has a long list of cultural resources under its care.
The great majority are archaeological sites. Over 25,000 such sites have been identified in the state of Nevada. This number only represents about 10% of the potential total of cultural resource sites in the state.
The term historic means an inheritance from the past that carries a definite connotation of value or importance or fame. Historic resources can be defined locally or nationally or internationally. We are motivated to preserve those things that establish our identity. Who are we? How will we know it is us, without our past.
The first successful effort to preserve a vestige of the early history of the United States came in 1813 when the State of Pennsylvania proposed selling the Old State House in Philadelphia, now known as Independence Hall. A group of petitioners was successful in winning a temporary stay of execution for the obsolete State House based on its role as the birthplace of our nation. Three years later the City of Philadelphia acquired the hall and the surrounding square for $70,000 after the state had proposed to sell it off for building lots. At the same time it was being preserved, Independence Hall lost its wing buildings to make room for new ''fireproof" buildings. A workman was authorized to remove the historic woodwork from the Assembly Room. The visit of Lafayette in 1824 was the occasion that marked the end of the period of neglect for Independence Hall.
In the 1820's and 1830's several private individuals became interested in historic sites. Monticello and Fort Ticonderoga were examples of sites being held by private individuals who secured them from vandalism and further decay.
Citizen groups were beginning to form in the 1840's but encountered problems raising sufficient funds to acquire historic sites. The legislature of New York was persuaded to preserve George Washington's headquarters in Newburgh, New York in 1850. Two major preservation victories occurred in 1856. The Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson, was purchased by the state of Tennessee. A private group, the Carpenters’ Company of Philadelphia, was the owner of Carpenters' Hall, which was the site of the first meeting of the First Continental Congress in 1774. Recognizing the importance of their historic meeting place, the carpenters voted in April of 1856 to renovate their hall, taking care ''to preserve, as much as possible, every feature in said HaIl as it now exists indicative of its original finish." The City of Philadelphia tried to buy the hall from the carpenters but they preferred to hold the building "as a sacred trust committed to us by our predecessors."
The seminal event in American historic preservation was the acquisition of Mount Vernon by a private group known as the Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union. Nineteenth century Americans regarded Washington as a great liberator. He was revered like a Greek god and his home had become a patriotic mecca. The organizer and publicist of the Mount Vernon preservation movement was Ann Pamela Cunningham. She was a small frail spinster who came from an upcountry South Carolina plantation called Rosemont. She was supported in her effort by Edward Everett, of Massachusetts, former Senator and well-known orator. Their efforts for acquisition began in the decade immediately preceding the Civil War.
Cunningham and Everett called upon the patriotism of a nation to preserve the home of its greatest hero. But it was Cunningham who overcame the greatest obstacle facing the preservationist group. John Washington, the owner of Mount Vernon, had established a price of $200,000 for the property. He had raised objections to the terms of the Virginia charter for the Mount Vernon's Ladies' Association. Cunningham was instrumental in gaining the cooperation of John Washington.
She also contributed her administrative skill and energy to the fund raising effort. Through vice regents representing various states, the Association appealed to the American people in a campaign to raise the funds needed to acquire Mount Vernon. The association was formed to be a "national" association and it managed to survive throughout the period of the Civil War.
The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association was the first national historic preservation organization and is the oldest women's patriotic society in the United States. Its pioneering efforts in the field of preservation set an important precedent. Many historic homes were preserved following the Mt. Vernon model but none became a greater shrine for the nation. "Second only to Mt. Vernon" became a rallying cry for the preservation movements that followed.
Historic buildings, sites and landscapes have intrinsic value for their aesthetic and educational benefits. To know who we are we must know who we were. The appreciation of material culture has grown in direct proportion to the industrialization of our society. In this era of mass production and homogenization of culture, we have lost contact with the prototype in art and architecture. The poster shop has replaced the gallery. The uniformity of the tract houses blur the senses. Old buildings have character and ornamentation and beauty that has been lost in buildings of more recent vintage. The original article has a delightful ability to inform, entertain and amuse. By better understanding the people of the past, we can only achieve a better understanding of ourselves. The philosophical principles that structure and give form to the historic preservation movement are stated as follows in the goal of the National Trust for Historic Preservation: we must save things from the past that have cultural and historical value in order to instill in the American people a full appreciation of their legacy and heritage.
Historic preservation is concerned with a variety of sub-fields that support, enhance and compliment its purposes. Prehistoric archaeology is usually considered under the broader umbrellas of heritage resources or culture resource management. The sites of archaeological resources present unique challenges to the historic preservationist. The resources at the site must be protected from the natural and human pressures such as erosion and decay, foot traffic and vandalism. Sites and ruins require continuing maintenance to prevent their total destruction.
Historical archaeology plays a major supporting role for historic preservation. It adds a historical context to preservation of buildings and sites since it is truly the study of material culture in historical perspective. Underwater archaeology compliments and cross fertilizes land based archaeology. Sunken ships can be perfectly dated time capsules of material culture. By combining the archaeological and historical records, the methods and theories of both fields can be tested.
Maritime preservation is a sub-field of increasing interest in the United States. Americans have taken a personal interest in the preservation of ships. Most of our immigrant ancestors came in ships. Replicas of the Mayflower and restored taIl ships fascinate many visitors. Naval vessels like the U.S.S. Constitution and cruise ships like the Queen Mary have become popular exhibits. Our seafaring past is chronicled in the dozens of maritime parks that have sprung up across the country.
Historic preservation is committed to the care, management, preservation and interpretation of the things of the past. Historic buildings, ships, trains, and gardens frequently become museums. Museology is an interrelated field to historic preservation on several fronts. James Marston Fitch in his book on historic preservation has called for those interested in the field to apply the methods of the museum curator to the management of the built world. A curator is a researcher, an educator and a custodian of their collection.
Outdoor architectural museums have been created to preserve buildings from the encroachments of urban development or to collect representative styles in one location. Examples of outdoor museums are Henry Ford's Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan; Electra Webb's Shelburne Village near Burlington, Vermont; and Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. Several of these types ofmusewns have recently evolved based on the display of replicas or duplicates. Old Salem in Massachusetts, new Salem in Illinois, and Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts are representative examples of outdoor musewns that seek to recreate every aspect of the material culture based on research and scholarship that replicates period processes and lifestyles.
The historic house museum has been the forerunner of the historic preservation movement. Usually associated with some famous person or historical event, there are hundreds of these museums throughout the United States. These houses are enormously popular. Mount Vernon is the classic example. It is open to the public every day of the year. More than fifty million have toured the estate in the years since the Mount Vernon Ladies Association took charge. Since 1950, annual visitation has rarely fallen below one million. The main deficiency given contemporary attitudes towards a more inclusive approach to history has been the elitist, upper class bias of their interpretation, educational programs and publications. Mount Vernon has prepared a supplemental brochure on slavery and the slave burial ground in recognition of this deficiency.
Aside from merely presenting single objects in display cases, museums have sought to create historic rooms which display decorative arts, furnishings and implements. These rooms are often the product of demolition of historic buildings. Due to the destructive nature of this type of display, museums will only accept historic buildings or rooms when there is no possibility for them to remain on their original sites.
Museums provide a storehouse of artifacts that support the studies of historic preservation and historic archaeology. Museum collections of ceramics, metalwork and glassware can be compared to similar archaeological finds. Museums also have many items that the archaeologist rarely has access to such as leather, paper, fabric and wood. Museums have developed a vast body of expertise on restoration and preservation of material objects which must be applied to the field of historic preservation.
Other sub-fields of historic preservation include industrial archaeology, commercial and transportation archaeology. These fields are committed to the study and preservation of the various elements of industry, commerce and transportation. Industrial buildings and equipment have been the subject of preservation efforts. Factories and warehouses of every sort have been preserved or adaptively reused. Canneries, chocolate factories, mines, piers, stamp mills, and wineries are all examples of industrial preservation. A review of points of interest in California and Nevada shows twenty eight exhibits or collections of vehicles including cars, trains, cable cars, stagecoaches and wagons not to mention the aviation exhibits. Commercial archeology has developed in countless fields of commerce. Some of the more popular collections have centered on the American fascination with the automobile. Everything from diners to service stations, to neon signs to movie theaters is studied in commercial archaeology.
All of these sub-fields are committed to achieving a full appreciation of our cultural and historical heritage. The legacy of the past is prologue to our future. These studies are dedicated to helping people find their place in time.
Only recently have professionals become involved in historic preservation. The movement has historically been fueled by the energy of volunteers and amateurs. The opportunities abound for local citizens to become productively involved in preservation. Every aspect of historic preservation involves tasks that are suitable for volunteers. A docent is a volunteer that agrees to lead tours through museums or historical districts. Historical groups are always looking for volunteers to do research, catalog, file, or answer phones. Archaeologists often need volunteers on digs. Old buildings need constant maintenance. Funds are always needed to acquire and maintain historic resources. Every element of the past is crying for your voice to support its preservation. Public education and political action for preservation require lots of helpers.
Both government and private agencies are involved in preservation on the state and national levels. The Mount Vernon Ladies Association was the first private group to become involved in preservation. Hundreds of other private groups are involved either directly or peripherally with preservation. For example, Monticello is owned and operated by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, Inc., a private nonprofit organization formed in 1923 to purchase, preserve and maintain Monticello as a national monument to Thomas Jefferson. The premier private group on the national level is the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States. Other active national groups are the National Council for Historic Sites and Buildings and the American Institute of Architects. Federal agencies include the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, and the Office of Technology Assessment. The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management as stewards of the public lands, have offices that focus on cultural resource management.
The Nevada Department of Museums, Library and Arts has several offices under its jurisdiction which are involved in historic preservation. The State Office of Historic Preservation is the lead agency and is supported by the State Council on the Arts and the State Library and Archives.
The Museum and History Division is headquartered in the Old Carson City Mint building which is their principal museum. The Nevada Historical Society in Reno and the State Railroad Museum in Carson City are also active in preservation efforts. The Nevada Humanities Committee is a private group that has funneled private and federal monies to historical activities.
The State Parks Division is responsible for a variety of historic, cultural and archeological sites including the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park. This 1,127-acre park is located 23 miles east of Gabbs via State Route 844. The park has fossils of reptiles that once swam the ancient ocean covering Nevada 225 million years ago. The ghost town of Berlin which dates to the late nineteenth century is also within the park boundaries. Interpretive signs outline self-guiding tours among the town's 13 preserved buildings.
Guided tours of the townsite are offered Friday through Monday at 10,2 and 4, Memorial Day through Labor Day. The park is open 24 hours (weather permitting); it may be inaccessible in winter. Guided tours of the Ichthyosaur Fossil Shelter are also given. Admission to the park is free and guided tours cost one dollar. For more information call the park office at (702) 964-2440.
Here in Gabbs, the oldest buildings are of the World War II era so not much has been done in historic preservation yet. There are a few older buildings over in Ione but the best local historic attraction is Berlin. The Gabbs Community Library has a small local history collection. For more information on library services call (702) 285-2686. The Nye County seat in Tonopah, seventy six miles south of Gabbs, is host to the Central Nevada Museum. The history of the area is depicted through displays dealing with American Indians, settlements, boomtowns, railroads and mining. The grounds contain heavy industrial and mining equipment .. For museum hours and information call (702) 482-9676. Nye County offices in Tonopah can provide assistance with land, court and historical records relating to buildings and sites in the Gabbs area.
Several books and magazines can be consulted to learn more about heritage and historic preservation. A textbook used by colleges and universities throughout the United States is Historic Preservation by James Marston Fitch. An expert on architectural history and historic preservation, Fitch is Director Emeritus of the Historic Preservation Program of the Graduate School of Architecture and Planning at Columbia University. His writings have helped to shape and inspire the American ethic of preservation. Charles B. Hosmer, Jr. is the author of a series of volumes which profile the history of the preservation movement in the United States. His first book published in 1965 covers the period before Williamsburg and the second, published in 1981 is entitled Preservation Comes of Age: from Williamsburg to the National Trust. The National Trust has published dozens of titles on the subject and in addition cooperates in publishing The Historic Preservation Yearbook which profiles the progress of conservation and restoration of historic buildings and sites. The periodic journal, Historic Preservation, is published by the National Council for Historic Sites and Buildings. Other joumals and magazines that cover historic preservation topics are Architectural Forum, Architectural Record, Colonial Homes, American Heritage, and House Beautiful.
The future of heritage resources preservation will take the field in new directions. The new emphasis in American cultural studies is to broaden the perspectives to include multiculturalism, feminism and the history of groups which have previously been under represented. This country has been intolerant of the diversity of traditional customs and lifestyles of immigrants, Afro-Americans and native Americans. For many years a major goal in the United States was the ''melting pot" philosophy. The idea was to ''melt'' all cultures into a new American lifestyle. What we failed to realize was the strength of each heritage.

Historic preservation has too often been associated with an elitist, white Anglo-Saxon Protestant world view. Historic preservation has not been embraced as enthusiastically by these under-represented groups because the social elites which have been glorified by history have been anti-heroes to the underprivileged groups. Historical preservation must seek to be more inclusive of working class values and everyday life. It must preserve examples of the commoner as well as the noble. Americans need to learn an appreciation for all cultures that have woven together to form the fabric of American society.
Historic neighborhoods became minority and ethnic neighborhoods as they increased in age and fell out of fashion. Historic preservation with its emphasis on physical renewal has tended to displace the resident populations. The "gentrification" of neighborhoods has transposed the slums and the ghettos instead of eliminating them. The United States has only begun to explore the new levels of socio-cultural engineering which will be required in the twenty first century.
A new emphasis of historic preservation will be to include vernacular architecture and folk culture from the United States and throughout the world. Scientific examination of folk and primitive building techniques will be necessary to develop the study of the theories and practices of the past and for protection of the forms that make up this artistic heritage. Preservation is an infant science in developing nations. The citizens of the developing world have found that their own indigenous past is the best resource for building their artistic and cultural future. Western preservationists will be called to support this resource with their science and technology. They will also be called to support this view in the foreign policies of their respective nations.
James Fitch claims in the closing chapter of his textbook that "every independent nation in the world today is committed at least in principle, to the theory that the protection of the national artistic and historic heritage is a responsibility of the state." Fitch wrote this comment before the recent assaults began on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Public Radio, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The new emphasis on "reinventing government" and privatization of public services raises new questions for the preservationist concerning the role of government in curatorial management of our cultural resources. Federal deficits and state tax limitations have sharply curtailed the ability of governments to enter into bold new initiatives. These factors combined with the need for multicultural emphasis and sensitivity to indigenous populations in historic districts will require a new approach towards citizen participation. It will not be enough to have the support of a vocal minority or the moneyed elite. Preservationists will have to produce a much broader base of support in the twenty first century.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

DNA Link to Our Choctaw Ancestor- Please Take a Test!

DNA for family history is fun.  I encourage all of you to take a test.  If you are related to me or Robin, then I will link your test to our family tree on Ancestry.com.  I also use FamilyTreeDNA.com for the y-DNA and mt-DNA test capabilities.  I highly encourage everyone to take a DNA test but especially those who are on the lists below.

Left to right Margaret Garvin 1866-1927, Sally Welch b. 2 Dec 1891, Emiline Jefferson b. Dec 1886, Lydia Moss Garvin b. Mar 1820, Phoebe Jefferson b. Aug 1887. Estimated date of photograph is 1894.  This photo would have been taken in Choctaw Nation of Indian Territory. SOURCE: Marsha Lynn Sharp, Eufala, Oklahoma, 2003

William Phebus Family about 1913 Pittsburg County Oklahoma: left to right: Lydia, Bill, Obie (aka Bud), Margaret Garvin (Our Choctaw ancestor), Bill Jr., Elizabeth & Ava; SOURCE: Original photograph in the collection of Nick and Robin Cimino, League City, Texas,  2017

Margaret Garvin is in the back row holding the baby.  Margaret had a truly multi-cultural family. Her daughter, Sally Welch 1882-1954 is in front on the right and Sally's husband, Eli Wade 1881-1955 is in the front on the left. Callie Wade 1909-1986 is seated next to her mother, Sally. Emiline Jefferson 1886-1955 is behind Sally. Emeline's had three daughters and a son named Gallamore.  The two children in front are probably Gallamores.  The boy with the tie next to Margaret is probably Earnie Homer Wade 1911-1930. Can you help identify these people? 

I really hope you will take a test if you are a descendant of our Native American ancestor, Margaret Garvin Phebus 1866-1927.  Here is a list of descendants.  Please take a DNA test if your name is on the list to help me research our Choctaw ancestry.

Living Descendants of Margaret Garvin
8 Aug 2017

Generation Number-Name (Birthdate)

4. Larry Harrington (b.1948-)  
5. Mark Harrington (b.1971)
4. Blane Harrington (b.1964-)
4. Kevin Royce Harrington (b.1960-)
5. Jessica Louise Harrington (b.1982-)
5. Justin Lee Harrington (b.1984-)
4. Connie Lynn Harrington (b.1956-)
5. Jacob Elliott Bogdon (b.1979-)
5. Leanna Lynn Bogdon (b.1981-)
5. Casey Marie Bogdon (b.1985-)
4. John Reginald Gallamore
4. Marsha Lynn Sharp (b.1948-)
4. Debra Kay Sharp Green (b.1951-)
4. Jumbo Farkas
4. Agnes Faye Farkas
5. Eugene Tate
5. Linda Sue Tate
5. Leah Cantrell
5. Leroy Cantrell
5. David Browne (b.1952-,)
5. Jeremy Cantrell
5. Gloria Cantrell
5. Linda Cantrell
5. Jana Cantrell  
5. Sherri Cantrell  
5. Rebekah Cantrell  
4. Bob Cantrell (b.1944)
4. Gale Cantrell (b.1949)  
4. Dale Cantrell (b.1949)
4. Dennis Cantrell (b.1953)
4. James Frank Grisley (b.1947-,)
5. James Alexander Grisley (b.1987-,)
4. Marilyn Sandra Grisley (b.1953-)
4. Karen S. Grisley (b.1958-,)  
3. Wanda Louise Phebus (b.1929-)
4. Gregory Scott Shaffer (b.1952)
3. Carol Marlene Phebus (b.1936)
4. Vickie Jones
4. Richard Jones
4. Ronnie Jones
3. Margaret Ann Phebus (b.1938)
4. Michael Kenneth Lantz (b.1962)
4. Terri Lynn Lantz (b.1963)
5. Karilynn Marie Galiotos (b.1988)
5. William James Galiotos (b.1989)
3. James O. Phebus (b.1940)
3. Robert W. Phebus (b.1948)

I have written about Margaret Garvin Phebus before in the following post:


Margaret Garvin was deprived of her Choctaw heritage by the Dawes Commission.  Ironically, her sister, Miranda Garvin Vinson was enrolled as a citizen by blood of the Choctaw Nation as described in her testimony below.

Dawes Commission testimony in case of Lydia Vinson filed under Maude Vinson:  I, Miranda Vinson being first duly sworn state my Post Office is Wilburton Indian Territory and I am 50 years of age.  I am the Miranda Vinson that made and signed the petition to which this affidavit is attached.  My daughter Lydia F. Vinson, for whom I have prayed enrollment was born in lawful wedlock on the 14th day  of January 1884.      I have been a resident of the Choctaw Nation Indian Territory for the last past thirty years, my parents emmigrated [sic] to this Nation from the Old Choctaw Nation, in Mississippi.  I am a Choctaw Indian by blood and as such was finally enrolled by the Dawes commission on the 7th day of September 1899 at So. McAlester, I.T.  I was married to my present husband David Vinson in the Nation on the 17th day March 1869 with whom I have always lived in the Choctaw Nation.  We have but the one child, the said Lydia F. Vinson and it has never been out of our care and custody and never absent a single day from the Choctaw Nation.  I made an application to the Dawes Commission prior to September 1896, and was refused, but the United States Court on appeal, at So. McAlester, gave judgement in my favor.  It was after this judgment was rendered that I first learned that the name of my said child did not appear in the original application to the said Commission.  I don't know anything about courts and don't know how it happened but one thing I do know and this is that I never forgot my only child and that she is no less a Choctaw Indian and in no way to blame for not being enrolled as such.      Affiant further states that the Dawes Commission refused to enroll my said child, Lydia F. Vionso [sic], because she had not formerly been enrolled.  This was at So. McAlester, I.T. on the 7th day of September 1899 at the same time and place that I was finally enrolled. Signed by Miranda Vinson by her mark Witness: Eben Reynolds Subscribed and sworn to before me this the 20th day of  November 1899 E.B. Hamilton, Notary Public  Commision to the Five Civilized Tribes, South McAlester, Indian Ter.
In the enrollment of Miranda Vinson as a Choctaw; being sworn and examined by Com'r McKennon she states: Q  What is your name?  A Miranda Vinson. Q  How old are you?  A  Fifty. Q  Where have you been living?  A  Here at Krebbs. Q  How long have you been living in the Choctaw Nation?  A  Ever since I was a small girl. Q  You never have been recognized as a citizen before have you, and enrolled?  A  No sir, but we was called that in the State all the time. Q  What State?  A  In Arkansas. Q  How long ago?  A  It has been a good long while.   

It would also be very helpful if the descendants of Miranda Vinson would be tested.  Here is a list of those names:

4. John Roberts
4. Rayma Roberts

Again, I encourage everyone to have their ancestral DNA tested and especially if your name is in these listings.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hidden Italian Records on Ancestry.com

Did you know that Ancestry.com has Italian Vital Records hidden on their website?  This little known secret has enabled me to trace many of my Sicilian ancestors and cousins in the records of the old country.

Another little known fact is that Italy has vital records that date back to the middle of the nineteenth century.  U.S. vital records did not begin consistently in most U.S. states until the early decades of the twentieth century.  You can find the hidden vital records for your ancestral Italian towns by searching the Card Catalog at Ancestry.com

We can illustrate how to find these "hidden Italian Records" by using the marriage record of my great grandparents as an example.  The first step is to enter the name of the Italian province where the marriage occurred into the Ancestry.com Card Catalog as shown in the image below:

The search result is entitled Siracusa, Sicily, Italy, Civil Registration Records 1900-1929 (In Italian)

Oh yes you will need to be able to read Italian records to decipher the contents of these records.  I can help you with that.

By clicking on the search result, you are taken to the following web page. DO NOT USE THE SEARCH ENGINE. You need to use the locality drop down boxes to browse the records because they are not indexed through Ancestry.com. However, there are indexes in these record sets as you will learn momentarily.

Towards the top of the page on the image above, you can see the bent arrow that I added to the image which states: "To browse this image set, select from the options below.  Carlentini is one of the localities available in the drop down box.

The next step is to select the Record Type that you want to browse.  In this case we are looking for a marriage that we think happened about 1903 so we select "Indice Annuale Matrimoni." This translates to Annual Marriage Index.

After selecting the Indice Annuale Matrimoni, a list of years appears and I selected the year 1903 and this is the image that appears.

This is the part that takes a little bit of knowledge and experience with the Italian records to decipher the Italian words and handwriting.

The first column header is "COGNOME E NOME" which translates to "SURNAME AND NAME."

The next column header is "Num. di Registro" which spelled out is "Numero di Registro" which translates to "Register Number."  However there is a lot more here than just the name of the bride and the groom.

The first line reads: "Cimino Antonino di Sebastiano e di Grasso Carmela."  In this case the name of the groom is Antonino Cimino and his parents are Sebastiano Cimino and Carmela Grasso.  One thing that you do not see is the prefix "fu" which means "late" or "deceased" so in this case the parents of Antonino Cimino are both still alive in 1903.  Antonino Cimino is my great grandfather.  A few years after he was married, he immigrated to Omaha, Nebraska.

The next line gives the name of the bride Maria Ossino and her parents Giovanni Ossino and Concetta Bruno who were also still alive in 1903. Maria Ossino is my great grandmother and she immigrated to Omaha in 1911 and by that time she had three children whose birth records also appear in these "Hidden Italian Records."

The next two lines show the marriage record of Filadelfo Calafiore to  my great grandfather's sister, Lucia Cimino.  We know that because the names of the parents of Lucia Cimino are also Sebastiano Cimino and Carmela Grasso.  The father of Filadelfo is Giuseppe Calafiore and he is still alive. The mother of Filadelfo is "the late Sebastiana Marino."

Notice how the surname is written first and the given name is written second.  Sometimes this leads to confusion for an indexer or researcher that is unfamiliar with Italian records.

By noting the register numbers of 46 and 47, we can then find the complete marriage record by going back and browsing the "Atti di Matrimonio" which we would call "Marriage Records."

As you can see in the above image, this record set for Carlentini in Siracusa Province covers the period 1900-1929.  This is a very valuable period as it includes many marriage and birth records for many of the immigrants that came to the U.S.  Similar records are available for many Italian towns.

Not every province has these records available on Ancestry.com.  For example in Sicily there are only three provinces covered: Agrigento, Caltinisetta, and Siracusa. There are four provinces in Lombardy: Como and Lecco, Lodi, Pavia and Varese.  Most other localities are dependent on microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  For example here is a complete list of the 32 microfilm available in Salt Lake City for Carlentini. Nati is birth, Matrimonio is marriage and Morti is death.

Film Notes

Nati 1820-1826, 1831-1832
International Film
1438738 Items 4-7
Nati 1831-1832, 1825, 1827-1830, 1833-1838, 1838-1839
International Film
Nati 1838-1839, 1840-1843
International Film
Nati 1844-1850
International Film
Nati 1850-1859
International Film
Nati 1860-1871
International Film
Nati 1872-1892, 1893-1894
International Film
Nati 1893-1894, 1895-1899
International Film
Matrimoni 1841, 1842-1891
International Film
Matrimoni 1892-1899 -- Morti 1820-1844
International Film
Morti 1840-1866
International Film
Morti 1867-1892
International Film
Allegati 1830
International Film
1466644 Items 3 - 5
Allegati 1830-1836
International Film
Allegati 1836-1841
International Film
Allegati 1841-1847
International Film
Allegati 1848-1854
International Film
Allegati 1852-1861
International Film
Allegati 1861-1870
International Film
Allegati 1870-1880
International Film
Allegati 1881-1887
International Film
Allegati 1887-1892
International Film
1466653 Items 1 - 3
Diversi 1820-1865
International Film
1607324 Item 2
Memorandum 1820-1837
International Film
1607677 Items 4-5
Memorandum 1838-1887
International Film
Memorandum 1888-1898
International Film
1607679 Item 1
Nati 1900-1910
International Film
1962962 Item 4
Pubblicazioni 1900-1910 -- Matrimoni 1900-1910 -- Cittadinanze 1900-1910 -- Morti 1900-1910
International Film
1962963 Items 1 - 4
Nati 1911-1916
International B1 High Density
2141646 Items 5 - 6
Nati 1917-1929 -- Pubblicazioni 1911-1923
International B1 High Density
Pubblicazioni 1924-1929 -- Matrimoni 1911-1929 -- Morti 1911-1919
International B1 High Density
Morti 1920-1929
International B1 High Density
2141649 Items 1 - 2

The only records above that have been digitized on FamilySearch.org are the records with the camera icon.  This is another reason why these "Hidden Italian Records" on Ancestry.com are so valuable to genealogists with Italian ancestors.  Contact me if you would like help accessing records for your Italian ancestor.