Although the village of Fondo has its own website with some historical tidbits that may interest the family researcher, the website is directed more to the tourist or person interested in an overview of the village. With its frazioni (“hamlets”) of Tret and Vasio, there are approximately 1400-1500 residents in total.
In Trentino, the church was historically the keeper of civil records (birth, marriage, death). Most of these records have been microfilmed, and are available to researchers through the Latter Day Saints Family History Centers, and often through local public libraries. For example, Fondo birth records have been microfilmed for the years 1596-1923, and marriage records from 1666-1923.
Searching for your ancestors from the Fondo area of Val di Non is a little easier thanks to research and transcriptions input into an online database by Jalyn and Stan Bertagnolli. The database, titled Fondo and Tret: Surnames, contains transcription of thousands of records from the Fondo village church registers, extending to the late 1600’s. The most common names in the database are Anzelini (700+), Bertagnolli (5000+), Calovini (980), and Covi (1800). Information is also provided on hundreds of other surnames for villagers born, living, or married in Fondo. Stan and Jalyn Bertagnolli have more information on the genealogy of Fondo, Tret, Molasco. If anyone would like to contact them for help doing research in these areas you can reach them at email@example.com
In 1996, the village commissioned a book entitled “Quella era la vita allora, I racconti degli anziani di Fondo, Tret, e Vasio“, by Marco Romano. The book (written in Italian) is a collection of interviews with 47 village senior citizens detailing aspects of life in the village and remembrances of years past, stories of growing up in the early 1900’s, etc. Abstracts from this book help us see how our ancestors lived – the memories of those interviewed are common to the other villages in the area. e.g.
• Federica Cologna, born in 1912, tells about leaving home at age 13 to work. Lunch would be brought to her, and consisted of polenta and potatoes, polenta and salad, polenta and cheese, etc. Meat was a luxury she did not often see, and available only when an animal was killed. Moving to Fondo with her husband, she tells of the importance of animals – for work, for transportation, for food.
• Carlo Bertagnolli, a carpenter born in 1921, tells of his father emigrating to America, working as a carpenter in the mines in Wyoming, and then returning to Fondo after seven years. The law required children to attend school from age 6 to 14, with attendence after that point not mandatory. After fulfilling the required schooling, Carlo left and helped his father at work. His life growing up was common to the other villages in Val di Non.
• Others speak of wedding ceremonies, large families where 7-12 children were common; working in the fields and woods; stories told by their parents about hardships during World War I; parents and grandparents were who were conscripted into the Austrian army for service on the Russian front; hardships during World War II.
If you have read some of my prior postings, I am an advocate of using historical books and periodicals to flesh out family history. Family history is more than names, dates, and places — that data definitely helps, but does not give us a flavor of our culture and how our lived, worked, or survived.