Carlo's grandparents found
Great news for the descendants of Carlo Pozzi! On Friday 15th December 2006 the names of all four of his grandparents were found in the Milan city archive. Together with more details about his parents!
Following the entire story of my successful quest.
I knew that in the distant and more recent past some family members had tried to find more about Carlo Pozzi and his parents in his birth village Cressogno, but that they had returned without success every time.
Quest in Milan
That is why I tried a different approach by going to Milan instead. I knew from the marriage attachments to Carlo's marriage in the Netherlands that his parents were still alive in 1832 and living in Milan.
Sforzesco Castle in Milan houses the civil city archive
I also went to Milan to find out whether a doctor Giovanni Pozzi who according to an internet source died in 1839 could have been Carlo's father. Not only because that date was plausible, but also because several other details of this physician fitted very well if this man was indeed Carlo's father, not in the last place his appearance.
I recently met someone in Milan through the internet with a great interest in history who invited me to go with him to the archive. As an interpreter but also because as a born Milanese he thought it would be interesting to see the inside of the city archive.
Because the webpage of the university library was so clear that doctor Giovanni Pozzi died on the 4th of August 1839 it seemed like a good idea to first look up that death certificate. We hoped it would contain the name of his wife and if that would be the name of Carlo's mother we'd know that he was indeed his father.
Doctor Giovanni Pozzi looked remarkably like Victor Pozzi, Carlo Pozzi's son.
But Italy as a state only formed in 1861. Prior to that year only church records exist, no civil records. The church death records do sit in the city archive but without a real index. Per year and last name there is an index by month and day. It was a big disappointment that the index for 1839 did not show a death of a Giovanni Pozzi on the 4th of August. We had "no other option" but to carefully look through all Milanese parishes for that date. And there are dozens of parishes in Milan. We were at it for quite some time when an elderly lady shuffled towards us and kindly asked if she could be of any assistance. Contrary to the younger employee at the reception desk she did not speak English, but after all I had an interpreter with me. When she found out what we were doing she had a far better idea. Small wonder, she turned out to be the senior staff member of the archive who knew the archive like no one else. She was there only every now and then, but lucky for us she was there that day!
She told us that in 1835 an alphabetical register by last name had been created of all inhabitants of Milan with numbers indicating where they lived. It has become unclear what the numbers really mean, but if someone passed away they wrote it down in this record with the year and an indication of the parish in which the death was recorded. Thus making it far easier to find such a death record. The register also contains family affiliations.
The 1835 Milanese Population Register, volume 46
The enormous 171 year old book containing records for names beginning from "Pos" to "Pu" arrived from the depot on our table minutes before lunch break. We had just enough time to look for Giovanni Pozzi. And we found him indeed: he died 1838 in parish number L83. Which the legend stated was the parish of Saint Stefano. Incidentally, all the names were only ordered by the first three letters and otherwise listed in order of the location of their family home. Only the name Pozzi was an exception to that rule. That name was grouped separately. No wonder: the name appears hundreds of times in 1835 in Milan! There were dozens of pages with only records of people named Pozzi.
The archive then closed for one and a half hours during lunch break and we were forced to have even more patience.
But in the afternoon we quickly found parish number 83 as these were kept in numerical order. It indeed contained the death of Giovanni Pozzi on the 4th of August 1838… the university was off by exactly one year on their internet page. It did mention his parents but the marital status was illegible to us. The senior staff member came to our rescue again: it said "Schmitt" the name of his wife or widow. One word but it meant a terrible disappointment… so this was not Carlo's father, unless his father had remarried at some date with this other woman. Sure that was possible but hard to investigate also considering the church marriage records sit in the archive of the episcopate of Milan.
The archive's senior staff member advises us
We therefore decided to first look into the register we had in front of us. It might contain another Giovanni Pozzi as a likely candidate to be Carlo's father. After going through dozens of pages with the name Pozzi our eyes caught yet another Carlo Pozzi. I had reminded my host a number of times that even though we are his descendants, Carlo Pozzi lived in the Netherlands for quite some time in 1835. However, for this Carlo Pozzi the register stated that his father was "Gio.", his mother "Ragni Vittoria" and that he had been born in "Cressogno"! That made my heart skip a beat: This clearly WAS our Carlo! He hadn't been living in Milan for at least ten years in 1835, but he was mentioned in this register! And when I looked at the record once again I saw that just one line over him there was a Giovanni mentioned. For him also a number and with Carlo just "ditto". Clearly a Giovanni and our Carlo Pozzi in one home, THIS was Carlo's father!
This Giovanni Pozzi was "scittore" meaning writer and it was followed by "imp." what could be Italian for "employed". But when I returned home my husband had a better idea of what that could stand for: "Imprimare", for printer or publisher. Also because for Carlo it stated "tipografo" as profession, what really means printer. And that while we only know Carlo as a soldier. Apparently he had been an apprentice with his father first.
Carlo and his father.
Directly under Carlo we see a Maria Pozzi also having a father named Gio. and born 6 years prior to Carlo in Como, a town close to Cressogno, but with a different mother. Because all families are grouped in this register I first though she might have been a half-sister, but that turned out not to be the case. What was also striking right away was that the number of Carlo's father and the 'ditto' with Carlo were crossed out and that there was no further mention of death year or parish number. The senior staff member of the archive confirmed my suspicion: that meant they had moved out of Milan. In Carlo's case we knew, he went to Utrecht. But we now know Carlo's father Giovanni did not die in Milan either.
Puria di Valsolda
Carlo's mother did not appear here. But women turned out to be mentioned under their own last name in these enormous books. We quickly asked for the book for the letter R because after all she was called Vittoria Ragni. It was quite a search because all names beginning with "Rag" were mentioned by order of home again and not alphabetically. But we found her! And as "numero civio" (civic number) the exact same number as Carlo and his father was stated. There is no doubt about it anymore. We found Carlo's parents in Milan and moreover in a record that also contains the names of their parents! Carlo's mother Vittoria proves to be a genuine Milanese. She was born in Milan herself and her mother was called "Brambilla". According to my host you can hardly think of a name that sounds more Milanese than that. However for his father we see that he was born in Puria. My host as well as the senior staff member did not recognize that as a name of a place. In a modern register of place names it did not appear either. But some time later the elderly lady showed up with an older book. And there it was: "Puria di Valsolda" and I instantly recognized that was the same present day municipality that Cressogno is in, the village where Carlo was born! So Carlo and his father were born in neighboring villages at Lake Lugano. Carlo on the shore and his father 30 years earlier in a tiny village somewhat higher on the mountain.
The village Puria di Valsolda in 1997.
A visit to the church archives will have to wait until another time, to look whether we can find out more about Carlo's mother and her Milanese parents.
For the earlier family Pozzi we do have to go back in the direction of Cressogno after all, but just one village further, Puria di Valsolda. And from Google it seems more interesting facts lie there waiting to be uncovered: there is a "Palazzo della famiglia Pozzi" in Puria, a family palace. And there are the brothers Pozzi: painters from Puria who did some now famous frescos in churches in Lombardy almost a century before the birth of Carlo's father.
So: this is to be continued - if possible!
Mark in front of the Milanese Duomo.
A street in Milan
Luxurious shopping gallery in Christmas atmosphere.