Tarentum genealogist unearths family roots for herself, others
On a trip to Ireland, a tourist may want to kiss the Blarney Stone. When in Italy, a visitor may want to spend time in one of its famed piazzas.
But not Louise Stanzione.
When visiting those countries, she was excited about the prospect of delving into town archives and strolling through old cemeteries.
That's because the Tarentum genealogist wanted to dig deep into family history. When she did, she hit upon valuable information and made priceless connections.
“It enabled me to live,” she said of the journey.
As the president of the Tarentum Genealogical Society for about six years and a charter member of the group, Stanzione has been a part of efforts to collect family history resources and share that knowledge with the public since the society was founded three decades ago.
Stanzione has also volunteered to be part of classes at Highlands Middle School, where she helped students research their own family history.
“I started early enough to know you have to go to the primary source for some of this stuff,” she said. “There's a lot of legwork involved.”
That legwork began in the 1970s with efforts to hunt down information about her great-grandfather, William Bradley. According to family lore, the Brackenridge resident was part of a Civil War unit with a notable member — a terrier named “Dog Jack”. Researching at Pittsburgh's Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum, she discovered her grandfather was in a different unit. Her pursuit of the past, of course, didn't stop there.
Stanzione helped to build up the genealogical society, which, she notes, offers access to some very good historical resources. Among them are records available to those in the greater Pittsburgh region only through the society's collection and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's main location in Oakland.
“There are some items in our collection where they have one copy and we have the other,” she said, adding that in a few cases, the society may own the only copy of a book or record around.
The group doesn't only house resources, such as death records, microfilm newspaper archives and maps. Its members also do research for those curious about the past and, with other local genealogical groups, host an annual conference at New Kensington's Clarion Hotel.
Her efforts evolved into a part-time position at the Community Library of Allegheny Valley branch in Tarentum, which houses some of the genealogical society's collection.
“The study of genealogy cannot be separated from the study of local history,” she said. “In America, it is the rare immigrant family that stayed in the location where they arrived.”
Reasons why they left their countries, she added, were cultural, agricultural, business-related and political. When returning to her family's own European origins in 2011, Stanzione connected with the past.
In Ireland, a record keeper shared with Stanzione a fascinating item, the lease of Patrick Byrne, her earliest-known Irish ancestor. The extensive document was handwritten on sheepskin.
In Italy she discovered that descendants of her family still lived in the house where her grandfather, Luigi Falleroni was born. There, she even got the chance to pick grapes with distant relatives in their vineyard.
Satisfied with her own search, Stanzione is happy to help others take the first steps of their own genealogy journeys.
“I saw everything I wanted to see,” she said. “And now I just like helping people do this stuff so they can get a big kick out of it like I did.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mia Z voices no regrets after failing to advance on NBC show
- West Deer burglary suspect arrested
- Fawn man accused in assault sentenced to probation
- Kiski Area students reach out to community for Global Youth Service Day
- Arnold family back home after gas leak
- Retired New Kensington attorney Robert McVey spent life helping people
- Bridge replacement projects set to start in Fawn, O’Hara
- New Ken-Arnold School Board appears to have violated Sunshine Law
- Route 819 in Bell Township reopened after fatal car accident
- Mia Z fans sing the blues, as Kiski Area student leaves ‘The Voice’
- Leaking gas prompts major line replacement in Arnold