Much historical and useful information can be learned by researching old books about our ancestral villages. Also highly useful is contacting (and hopefully receiving a reply) the municipal offices in the villages, and trying to find living descendents of a common ancestor. Although many of us in the US are interested in our ancestry, we commonly find that persons in our ancestral villages are not — they are living their ancestry, while we are trying to discover it. Much of the information below was discovered not only by using microfilmed church records, but also by making contact with distant family and their friends in my ancestral villages, and establishing relationships with people in Trentino I met online. Additionally, there are quite a few online booksellers that deal in foreign books.
The Iob (Job, Yob) Family Name
The name IOB is apparently derived from the Biblical “Job” (Giobbe in Italian). At times, the name was also used as a first name, as in Job de Job. Although the most common spelling is IOB, the Latin version JOB is very frequently encountered, especially in the civil records of the 15th to 17th centuries (during this period, the church was the maintainer of the civil birth, marriage, and death records). Today, both versions are commonly used in Trentino. Most emigrants to the US had the spelling changed to YOB as a result of the manner in which the name was pronounced (the letters “I” and “J” were pronounced as if it was the English letter “Y”).
Due to the presence of many different branches (or clans) of families with the same last name, there were a large number of marriages where both husband and wife had the same last name. In addition, there was a limited variety of first names (Giovanni, Giusppe, Giacomo, Francesco, Maria, Anna, etc.) in use. Many of us have already encountered the difficulty of trying to find the right ancestor among the many with the same first and last names.
Sopranomi for the Iob Family
In order to keep track of marriages and relationships between persons with the same last name it was very common to add a second name known as a “sopranome” (nickname) to the different family lines. The sopranome was used in order to distinguish the different lines from each other, and in many instances, is the only means to determine the person referred to in a document. For example, some of the sopranomi for the IOB families in Cunevo are –perotel, -bottes, -sicher, -brun, and –remus.
My IOB branch was known as IOB-sicher. Sicher, of Middle-High-German and Hebrew origin, is derived from the Latin “securus”, meaning “safe” or “certain”. The Sicher name itself is found in area Medieval records, e.g. there are references to a Sicherius, who was a priest in Flavon and attended a Diocesan Synod in the year 1336. Sicher is also a common surname found in the Val di Non village of Coredo.
The earlist reference that I have found to a specific person using –sicher is Joannes de Sicheriius de Joppis in 1553. Is this the derivation of the –sicher in my family line? Unfortunately, I don’t know.
Although there has been a IOB family presence in the villages of Cunevo and Flavon since the early 1400’s, the earliest I have been able to directly trace my Sicher line is to Gio’ Batta IOB-sicher of Cunevo, born circa 1739.
The Iob Rural Noble
There was a noted Job family (descendents of whom are still in Cunevo) known as de Job. This family was of the rural noble class, wealthy, and had many highly placed members. Rural nobles are not nobility, but rather members of a privileged class entitled to special respect, wealthy, and exempt from many of the taxes and duties that the other villagers had to bear. The de Job line has been partially researched to 1409, and during the late 1500’s and early 1600’s members of this branch were granted a coat-of-arms. The coat-of-arms was granted on behalf of the Emperor of Austria, to whom members of this line performed valuable services during the Rustic War of 1525 and thereafter. Based upon family stories, I am directly related to this line too. However, I have not been able to locate any documentary proof of this relationship.
Tracing my –sicher line further back or directly linking to the de Job line will be difficult due to the destruction of the church records in an 1802 fire.
Various documents are available at local, state and notarial archives, but expert and time-consuming assistance would be required to find, read, and translate the material. The following are examples of documents that have been found:
- The Trento state archives contain the records of the “notaio” (notary) Giovanni Cemi from Tuenno. These records document that on 1 June 1671 in Cunevo, Elena, the widow of Sicherio Job assumed custody and responsibility for their minor son Giovanni Giacomo Job-sicher.
- The notarial records at the Trento archives also refer to a Francesco Iob-sicher, who on 18 July 1751, assigned an income or “wealth” of 35 Ragnesi to the church of S. Giovanni Battista in Flavon. The document was signed in the house of Pietro Pasqual, who along with Giovanni Battista Dolzani of Flavon, acted as witnesses to the signing.
Although there is an almost certain relationship to the Iob-sicher persons mentioned above, I have not been able to document it, and likely won’t be able to.
Sometimes it pays to think “outside the box” — it is common in Italy to have photos of the deceased on their tombstones – one way to find a photo of a deceased ancestor. For example, here is one found in a Cunevo cemetery that was forwarded to me by a distant cousin I met via the internet (thank you Franz Job).