Village of Cunevo

Panorama view of Cunevo

Panorama of Cunevo

Cunevo is a small village of less than 600 residents in Val di Non (Non Valley) about 16 miles (25 km) north of the city of Trento. In 2016, it, along with the nearby villages of Flavon and Terres, was aggregated into the Comune of Conta’.

Origins: One theory is that the Cunevo name is derived from a Celtic mythological figure named “Cuaser”, which evolved into the early form “Cuneu”. The village name has been documented to writings of the 13th century: “Cunedo” in 1214 and “Cunevo” in 1251.

Based upon archeological findings, there is evidence that the Gauls, Venetians, and Longobards settled in the Cunevo area. It is thought that the first inhabitants of the area lived in the caves of Cunevo’s Mt. Corno, which afforded protection against man and beast.

One of the most spectacular archeological findings was made in 1890 in the area known as “Plagi” ,on land belonging to Luigi Iob (son of Giuseppe Iob-sicher). Two graves were unearthed containing pieces of skull, vases, cups, and pottery.  Archeologists determined that the graves were Roman, dating from the end of the 3rd to the beginning of the 4th centuries.

Early Family Records — Many old parchments have been discovered in the archives of the Spaur family (counts that controlled the Val di Non area).  For example, a Micheli (no other info given), originally from Terres, was mentioned as living in Cunevo in a document dated circa 1373.  Another dated 1400 mentions Bartholomeo and Federico, brothers living in Cunevo.  Prior to the mid-late 1400’s surnames were rarely used by villagers.  Thus, early documents mentioning residents of Cunevo were simply Bonaventura (year 1269), Aloisus, son of Amidanti of Cunevo (year 1298).   Zanon (Zanin) — an early form of this name (de Zanonis) has been found in written records of Cunevo dating to at least the year 1541.   Dalpiaz (origination likely from the nearby village of Terres, and present in Cunevo since at least 1691).

In his book “Cunevo e le sue Chiese”, Livio Job has provided an extensive history of Cunevo and its people.  Using documents and records from private and public archives, he developed a genealogy of one of the noble Job branches to the early 1400s.  Without access to such records and enormous availability of time, you and I cannot trace families of Cunevo much before 1802.  The birth, marriage, and death records for Cunevo were maintained at the church in nearby Flavon, along with the records of Flavon itself and the village of Terres.  Unfortunately, in August 1802 a fire broke out in Terres, and spread to Flavon.  That fire devastated the two villages, destroying the major parts of each, including the records maintained by the church.  Those records have not been reconstructed.

House in CunevoHouse in Cunevo (old and new portions)

Houses — During the early 1800’s and prior, houses in Cunevo, as was the custom in many other villages in Val di Non, were given numbers rather than street addresses (street addresses are a more recent development).  If you are researching your family, you will see that the church registers (the village church was generally the recordkeeper in Trentino) state a person lived at house #7 or house #23, etc.  I am not sure how the numbering was determined.  Very often, two or three generations of a family lived in the same house.Many of the residential homes in Cunevo have portions that are more than 200 years old.  Some of the features were retained during remodelling and expansion.  In the photo above, note the newer construction on the left, and a home on the right that is apparently quite old. There are a few interesting items at the older home (what appears to be a handmade broom, stone construction, wooden beams, and a white-painted square that could have borne the original house number.

Surnames —  IOB (also spelled JOB) is the most common surname in Cunevo. Distinctions between various branches of the families bearing the IOB name are made through the use of “second” names (“sopranomi“) such as Iob-sicher, Iob-remus (in use since at least 1783), Iob-perotel, Iob-bottes, Iob-brun, Iob-bertol (in use since at least 1691).  Family nicknames are also used (mavador, smit, pastor).  Due to intermarriage between the branches, it is very common for a villager to be descended from 2, 3, or 4 branches of IOB’s.  The village church marriage records for the 1800s have many instances where religious dispensations were granted allowing the marriage of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th cousins.

Related Posts:

A Iob in 18th century Cunevo

Cunevo – history and more

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Nati in Trentino – Online Birth Database

It has been QUITE A WHILE since I lasted posted – I hope to get back to regular (or occasional if it is nice out) posts.

The Trentino Department of Emigration has updated and enhanced its online database of birth records at Nati In Trentino . The database contains information on about 1.2 million residents of Trentino born between the years 1815-1923, including full name, date of birth, village, and names of parents. The site is free and no registration is required. Right now the site is in Italian, but I understand that an English version may be coming in the future. Regardless, it is very easy to navigate.

Lynn Serafinn, a professional genealogist and owner of the website Trentino Genealogy has provided an excellent overview of the Nati in Trentino database and how to use it. She has also developed a video on how to use the database and provides hints and tips to access the wealth of information provided – access the video at How to Use the New Nati in Trentino Website .  (You can easily spend hours on the TrentinoGenealogy site — it is a wealth of information, techniques, tips and tricks).

I have spent quite a bit of time on the Nati site, and came away with quite a few entries for people and families I am researching.  I have also found some novel (to me) techniques I did not try before, including:

  • Inputting a surname (no first name) and nothing else (no village, age, etc), producing a list of people with that surname in the entire Trentino province (for example, more than 1200 for the Iob surname).  Useful – maybe, but not with very common names
  • Each column of data can be sorted (by date of birth, father’s name, mother’s name, etc.  By sorting on the mother’s maiden name I was able to get information about entire family units.
  • You can export up to the first 30 entries into Excel format, or simply print the list.  The 30 entry limitation may be an issue, but “massaging” your input criteria may help by enabling you to make multiple 30-entry listings.

As we are aware, in 2012 the Latter Day Saints FamilySearch website began publishing a database of Trentino birth records at Italy, Trento, Catholic Church Records .  This latter database contains mostly the same records as those provided by the Province of Trentino in the Nati in Trentino site discussed above.  One thing to consider, is that the two sites should not be the last resource used, but only a lead-in for other information contained in village church registers. For example, using a search for Giacomo Iob on FamilySearch’s site produces the following:

Italy, Trento, Diocesi di Trento, Catholic Church Records
Name – Giacomo Celeste Iob
Event Type – Baptism
Event Date – 17 Jan 1845
Event Place  -Natività di San Giovanni Battista, Flavon, Trento, Italy
Gender Male
Birth Date – 16 Jan 1845
Father’s Name – Vincenzo Iob
Mother’s Name – Angela Iob

If we only take the information found in the Nati database and FamilySearch, we would miss other valuable information.   The microfilmed church records for Flavon contains not only the above information, but also the names of the Giacomo Celeste Iob’s paternal and maternal grandparents, and whether or not the grandparents were still living at the date of his birth. This is especially useful in researching maternal lines since women in Italy retain their maiden names for most purposes. You will usually also see listed the parents’ occupations.  Unfortunately, only a tiny number of microfilmed Trentino church records have been uploaded to the FamilySearch site.  The only way to view them is to visit the LDS center in Utah or the archives in Trento, Italy (yourself or hiring a researcher).

Enjoy yourself with the new Nati format – again, it is a major improvement over the original format.  I keep going back to it and always come away with new information for my research.  Auguri!

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Chini Family Resources

There are hundreds of books about Trentino.  Although these books are good for general information, they are not really useful for learning about family history.  Here is where specialized books can be invaluable.  The idea is to search for books about your ancestral village, name origins, or even guides to record repositories.  Some well known sources come to mind – vendors such as Amazon and AbeBooks; the very useful  publications of the Province of Trentino, etc.

One of my ancestral lines bears the surname Chini, from the village of Segno in Val di

Chini crest

Chini coat of arms

Non (almost my entire Trentino ancestry is from the villages of Val di Non).  Searching for the name and village led me to discover a book entitled Memorie e Genealogia dei Chini di Segno, by Marco Benedetto Chini.  I found a copy online, ordered it, and discovered that it contained a detailed history not only of the Chini name, but also of some of the CHINI familes of Segno. 

Extremely useful were 28 detailed family tree charts showing the decendency of most of the villagers bearing the Chini name (including some who came to the US,and others who emigrated to Argentina and Verona). The author obtained the data from church and village archives.  The data is heavily skewed to the male lines, but marriages of many of the males are shown,  with names of spouses,  providing additional leads.  

As was common in the smaller Trentino villages, members of different clans and branches married.  So, you will often see both husband and wife bearing the same surname.  I cross-checked many of the family tree charts to the microfilmed records maintained by the LDS Family History Library, and found they were mostly very accurate (some minor discrepancies). 

The page below is a small example of the family tree charts contained in the book.  

Chini Family Tree Chart

Example of a family tree chart found in the book.

Information from the book enabled me to trace my CHINI lines to the 15th century.   There was also information showing my family’s distant link (ok, 8th cousin, twice removed!) to Fr. Eusebio CHINI (Padre Kino), a famous 17th century explorer of the American southwest and Mexico who died in 1711.

If you are interested in seeing what the village of Segno actually looks like, try Google Earth.  The most common way to find a village is using the search box.   However, for some reason, Segno dids not appear in the search when I tried it. But, if you search for Tuennetto, then scroll on the map, you will see Segno. Drag the “little man” man icon from the upper right corner onto any street in Segno, and you will get a closeup look of all the buildings, houses, street, etc. You can navigate the streets getting views of houses, stores, gardens, etc. as if you were walking in the village. Google Earth is a free download.

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A Memory of World War I Years

World War I had a great effect on Trentino. The first general mobiization in July 1914 called all men age 20 – 42 for service in Galizia and Russia. Large losses in the war are remembered with monuments to the fallen in many of the villages of Trentino. For example, the village of Romeno, housing about 850 people sent 155 of its young men to

Marksmanhip badge

Marksmanship badge

fight in the war, 14 of which did not return.

The loss of the services of the young working men greatly impacted the village and its ability to provide for the remaining residents.  Parts of Trentino were affected in different ways. Some areas remained untouched, while others suffered the effects of battles, evacuation, and deprivation.

Living conditions in Val di Non (the valley of my origins) during World War I were very difficult – not only due to the conflict  and the casulaties, but also due to the harsh weather in that mountainous region.  This was especially evident during the winter of 1916-1917 when the snows reached six feet and more of depth.  As a child, I was told stories of families being housebound, and having to enter and leave their homes through window rather than doors.

Because of the war, and the presence of troops and many strangers in the area, many families feared that their possessions would be confiscated for military use or otherwise lost.  As a result, many families gathered their utensils, pots, and valuables, burying them on family farmlands, to be retrieved after the war.  This fear was wellfounded since subsequently, military authorities forced the confiscation of metal objects, tools, horses, and livestock.  During the course of the war, many common items were difficult to obtain.  In addition, money was not otherwise plentiful.  Thus, a barter system was implemented, and families traded butter, milk, etc for shoes and cloth.

At war’s end, soldiers of both sides hurried to return to their homes.  As a result, they sometimes abandoned equipment and backpacks.  These items were retrieved by villagers for their needs.  Hard bread was often found in the backpacks, which my grandparents used to make feed for the pigs.  Many times, soldiers would knock at my grandparent’s door in Cunevo, asking for food or overnight lodging.  Their requests were not often refused, but my grandfather normally stayed awake most of the night while the soldiers slept in the stables downstairs.

During the last months of 1918, typhus spread in Trentino, resulting in an epidemic which lasted into 1919.  My grandfather’s brother-in-law Carlo Zanon and Carlo’s son contracted the dread disease.  Their house was placed under quarantine, with no visitors allowed.  My grandfather and other relatives brought milk, food, and other necessities.  A rope was lowered from an upper window, and the supplies were pulled up by hand.  Unfortunately, both father and son succumbed to the disease.


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The Pancheri family – centuries of history

It has been a while since I last posted – life gets in the way 🙂  .  This post will introduce you to one of the foremost researchers of Trentino family history.  Gene Pancheri  has spent more than 40 years researching the history of the Pancheri  families from Trentino.  In those 40 years, he has made dozens of trips to Trentino, visiting archives, castles, libraries, respositories, churches, and other researchers.  Those trips have resulted amassing a library of books  documents, parchments, and genealogical charts.  He has traced Pancheri family lines from the small village of Samoclevo to Bresimo to Castel Altaguardia to the United States, Australia, South America, and many other countries.  By doing this, he has become probably the most knowledgeable individual about Pancheri family history both in the US and in Italy.   Gene has now added “author” to his resume – his book “Pancheri – Our Story” is a narrative of the Pancheri  family history based on his decades of research.  In his book, Gene writes

“If your family name includes the word Pancheri, you are without a doubt a cousin to thousands of Pancheris, spread over much of the globe, all of whom, like you, are descended from one man, names Panchero, who lived from 1335 to 1373”.

Thanks to information I received from Gene a number of years ago, I am proud to claim (via my great-great-great-grandmother) inclusion in the above.

Not only does Gene trace the history of the Pancheri family forward from the namesake Panchero (note – last names were not commonly used in Trentino until the late 1400’s – early 1500’s), but his research also shows Panchero’s father was Lord Pedracio de Caldes – one of the richest and most powerful noblemen in Trentino’s Val di Sole area.  Lord Pedracio’s lineage has been documented by historians to the year 1064, with ties to the First Crusade.

Interested yet?  A large number of us with roots in Trentino may have Pancheri in our lines.  Even if we don’t. Gene’s book provides an eyeopening look at life in Trentino over the centuries.  The book may be ordered (at printer cost) online at .  Please note that I do NOT have any links, financial or otherwise to the book or its sale.   The book can also be read online or downloaded via Dropbox .  Some of the chapters that are of interest are:

The Origins of the Pancheri Family
The Counts of Cagno and Caldes
The Remains of the Castle of Altaguardia
The Notary Profession in Trentino
Bresimo Witch Trials

Gene is also the administrator of a Facebook group (“Pancheri Do It Better”) where you can contact Gene and many others researching the Pancheri family history.  Overall, the information available about this distinguished Trentino family is staggering, and shows what dedicated research and effort can accomplish.

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Using Marriage Records

A few days ago I wrote about how the information shown on online Trentino birth record abstacts and indices should be supplemented by viewing the actual birth record itself. The birth record will provide more information than that shown on the abstracts (see Trentino Birth Record Index). From the birth record, a logical next step in our research can be finding the parents’ marriage record.

Many marriage records from the early 1800s have a wealth of information (but could also contain only basic data) such as names of the bride and groom’s parents and grandparents. The image below is a sample marriage record from 1834.


The marriage record shows that on 15 December 1834:

Gio’ Batta Iob (short for Giovanni Battista), age 19, living at house #23 in the village of Cunevo married Teresa Vilot, age 30. The detailed information though, shows:

“Gio’ Batta figlio di Gio Batta del fu Gio’ Batta Iob detto Siccher di Cunevo e della fu Maddalena figlia del fu Domenico Iob detto Remus pure di Cunevo.”

What this says, is that Gio Batta was the son of Gio’ Batta Iob, who in turn was the son of the late Gio’ Batta Iob of the Siccher branch; and the late Maddalena, who was the daughter of the late Domenico Iob of the Remus branch, also of Cunevo. This one record thus gives us not only information about the groom, but also the name of his father (Gio’ Batta), mother (Maddalena Iob), paternal grandfather (Gio’ Batta) and maternal grandfather (Domenico Iob). The detail for Go’ Batta also states that the bride and groom received a dispensation from the church allowing them to marry. They were related in the second and third degree (cousins), and Gio’ Batta received his father’s permission to marry due to his age (19).

The information for the bride (Teresa Vilot) shows that she was the daughter of the late Gio’ Vilot from the village of Flavon, and the still living Teresa Eccher, also of Flavon.

The information on the marriage record provides clues to look for other data that could lead to information about the bride and groom’s parents, grandparents, etc.  It also shows the difficulties in researching small villages due to the fact that either the bride or groom can have parents and/or grandparents with the same last name.  That is why seeing the branch/clan nicknames are so important (see Early Information About a Family In Trentino).

Posted in Databases, Genealogy, Iob (Yob, Job) families | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Archived Posts

In the blog format, older posts and writings often “disappear” into the past.  In order to make it easier to locate posts that may be of interest, I have added a page to the menu above (“List of Posts”) where older posts can be accessed.  The listing is by post title.  I will soon be rewriting some of the older posts to add new material and expand on what was previously written (example — Iob surname, Cunevo, Flavon, emigration to the US, working in the mines, are all in the works – well, at least in the back of my mind).  Hope this makes it easier to navigate this site.

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A Son of Tret

Over the many years I have been researching my ancestry, I have met others with similar interests.  Some have become online friends with whom I correspond and with whom I exchange information.  Others I have lost contact with over the years.  I recently reconnected with a fellow researcher of family from Trentino – Allen Rizzi.  Allen’s roots in Trentino are the villages of Tret, Cloz, and Fondo, all of which are in Trentino’s Val di Non (Non Valley), as are my roots.  Allen though, took his research and heritage one step further — he moved to Tret, and has lived there many years.

Tret street scene

Tret street scene — source: Google Earth

With a writing background, Allen authored a few books — one of which “Our First Year – Sketches of an Alpine Village” is a must-read for those of us interested in learning more about our heritage and the way our ancestors lived in Val di Non.  Allen tells of his move to Tret, meeting the young and elderly residents in this village of less than 300 souls, and the languages and customs he found.  Tidbits include: notes about buildings still standing after 400 years, gravestones with photographs of the deceased, a 91-year-old woman who still negotiates ancient steps each day to walk about the village, the quirks of on-again/off-again utilities, and of course the wonderful homemade grappa!

As of right now, Allen’s book is available only in a digital ebook version at Amazon.  Allen also provides research and translation services.   Please note that I do NOT have any financial or other ties to Allen’s book or his services.  As I mentioned above, I have made many contacts over the years.  Many have been online friends for over a decade.  The benefit of making these contacts is that I have been able to help some of them in their research, and received assistance from others in mine.  This exchange of information has not only provided very useful leads and links to others, but also leads, documents, and photographs for me.  In some instances I have led others to discovering a “missing link” or information they never had.  Years later, some remembered me and the information I was looking for, and surprised me with some very useful information or documentation. Don’t be shy about helping others in their research — the old saying “what goes around, comes around” is true.

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Trentino soldiers in Ethiopia

The Italo-Ethiopian War of 1935-1936 is sometimes seen as one of the lead-ins to World War II.  Italy had previously tried to conquer Ethiopia in the 1890’s, without success.  Citing a border dispute between Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland, Italy invaded Ethiopia in October 1935.

Since Trentino was annexed to Italy as a result of World War I, many Trentini men were conscripted into the Italian army for service in Ethiopia.  The 11th Alpini Regiment was one of the units formed in late 1935 and sent to Ethiopia to take part in the fight.

Trentino soldiers in Africa 1935-37

Trentino soldiers in Africa 1935-37, including one of my uncles (standing 2nd left)

Due to nationalistic feelings in Trentino, there was quite a bit of resentment toward this service.  An example of this resentment can be seen in the November 20, 1935 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune, in which an article with the following headline appeared on page 2:  “Italy Accused of Sacrificing Tyrol Soldiers –
Bare High Casualty Rate in Africa

According to the article, some factions suspected that the Italian high command was deliberatel sacrificing Tyrolese troops in the Ethiopian War.  Letters to relatives back home in the Trentino villages from the war front show that the small Tyrolean villages suffered thousands of war dead.  An exaggeration?  possiblly, although it was noted that Bolzano, a village of 600, suffered 30 soldiers dead due to fighting or disease.  The article also states that hundreds of young men from the villages are fleeing into the mountains to escape being drafted for duty in Africa.

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Val di Non Storica

I previously mentioned the Facebook page Val di Non Storica as a potential source of information about our ancestral culture and heritage. I revisited the group recently and the activity has greatly increased. Val di Non Storica is actually a special interest group devoted to the Val di Non (Non Valley) in Trentino. This valley happens to contain my ancestral villages, which is why I visit the group frequently. Most recently, photographs, postcards, and documents included villages such as Fondo, Cavareno, Flavon, Ruffre, and Malosco. You are required to join Facebook and the group (both free) in order to make use of the resources.

Flavon churchThe most useful and exciting part of the group are the more than 800 (and growing daily) photographs and picture postcards of the villages and people of Val di Non. These items cover years from the late 1800s to the present day, providing insight into not only what the villages looked like during the years our ancestors lived there, but also their everyday lives. Many of the contributors have posted photographs from family albums showing people within the village, their grandparents and great-grandparents, and villagers working the fields, etc. The photo on the left is a depiction of the village church in Flavon, and dates to c. 1900.

Although most of the comments and descriptions are in Italian, there are many members who can provide translation assistance. If your family ties are within Val di Non, be sure to make use of this resource — you may even be able to make a contact in the village.

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