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Ciao, familia! Finding relatives you didn’t know

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

OP-ED : I recently got a Facebook friend request from a Martino DeMarco, who also happens to be on my cousin’s friends list. Same last name as my dad and my cousin’s mom. Hmmmm. So I emailed my cuz, asking about this Italian character — and he informs me that Martino is a distant cousin on my father’s side.



I come from North Bergen, so I don’t instantly trust drop-ins who claim to be long-lost family members. A scam could be in the works — although I don’t have substantial enough savings to be scammed out of. So I said: Bring it on, swarthy stranger. I’ll find out whether you’re the real deal.

The first tidbit I learned is that he and his siblings live in Australia. Yeah, it’s possible for people to live in different countries, but I never would have made the leap from Italy to Australia.

I then came across an Italian ancestry site with a story that Martino wrote about Francesco Antonio DeMarco, whom he said is our common great-grandfather: FRANCESCO ANTONIO DeMARCO

Be ready to understand Italian, though, or use Google translation, which does a really crappy job.

In a Nutella shell, the story explains how Francesco met and perservered until he gained the hand of the love of his life, Maria Concetta Sofi.

It’s an interesting tale, for sure, but how do I know that these people are related to me?

Where’s the connec

Gina (DeMarco) Gaffney

tion?

I needed more than simply being told that Francesco is my great-grandfather.

Sure enough, there’s a FB group page for all “DeMarco”s.

Turns out, Martino began looking for relatives in the U.S. nearly a year ago. He knew we existed but didn’t know where to look. He also posted a picture of a man he calls the “Tall Uncle.”

I instantly recognized him as my grandfather, Carmelo.
We used to call him “Papa.”

At that point, I had to admit that perhaps there was a true connection, after all.

Since then, I’ve become fascinated by the familial connections with cousins who live on the other side of the globe. Martino has even been on the phone twice already with my Aunt Angie.

I wonder whose “time” they talk on: Eastern or Australian? Either way, one of ‘em is losing sleep. But it must be SO worth it.

For years, I thought paying for subscriptions to Ancestry.com or Genealogy.com was necessary. I never thought the DeMarco world could be opened through the doors of Facebook.

You related to me or my brother, Jerry (Gerard), who happens to publish the site that you’re reading this on? C’mon in. Plenty of room for everyone.

Ciao, DeMarcos!

( PHOTOS ABOVE: Clockwise, from left: Martino, Carmelo (”   Papa ”  ), Francesco, Maria Concetta, and the author, with her husband and their son )


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