Nugenzie: A genealogical mystery solved!

Symbol of the town of Bianchi, my great-grandfather's birthplace.

Symbol of the town of Bianchi, my great-grandfather’s birthplace.

When my sister and I began looking into our roots years ago, we were given information by various family members. Someone–perhaps it was our grandmother or one of her brothers–gave us the name of our great great grandparents: Pasquale Arcuri and his wife, “Nugenzie”.

I had not yet studied the Italian language or visited Italy, but Nugenzie seemed a strange and unlikely name for an Italian great-great-grandmother. However nothing more came to light on that branch of the family, and we turned our attention to other roots and branches.

Recently, because I’ll be in Calabria this year, I hired Roots in the Boot to research my Italian ancestors. In the course of that research, the names of these same great-great grandparents were found: Pasquale Arcuri and Maria Innocenza Perri.

Innocenza.

You know how pronunciation and spelling become scrambled between languages? I’m betting that ‘Innocenza’ morphed as the double “N” caused the “I” to be all but dropped, and that “C”–pronounced like “Ch” because it is followed by an ‘e’–also sounded to someone’s ear like a soft “G”, so that’s what was written down. However when my sister and I read it, we thought it was a hard “G” and couldn’t make any sense of Nugenzie. Innocenza.

I wish I had a photograph of her. Her son was born in 1846, and she died before he married in 1900.

Now I have hired Roots in the Boot to follow up with more research on the Arcuri family line, and perhaps I’ll discover distant cousins still in Italy who can tell me more about Maria Innocenza Perri. There are several Perri names listed in the current Italian White Pages in Bianchi, where her son was born.

Stay tuned!

Readers, have you found mixed up Italian names in your family research?

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