Name/Location and any other credentials/background that you would like to provide: My name is Carol DiPirro-Stipkovits, I am the Niagara County Genealogical Society President, a Member and have a monthly genealogy column in the Niagara Gazette and Lockport Union -Sun and Journal. I was born in North Tonawanda but now live in Cambria.
How long have you been researching your family tree? I’ve been dabbling since before the internet, when it was Microfiche at my local library in my teens. I started back at it about 15 years ago. but when my sister gave me my maternal grandmother’s notebook where she kept dates, recipes, grocery lists, etc. …i was hooked. I needed to know more about her life.
Who is your favorite ancestor? I admire my paternal grandmother, Estella Giardino Rosso, very much. She traveled from Italy for weeks on a ship with her two small children (2 & 3 years old) shortly after the death of her oldest child, to join my grandfather in the US. Upon arriving she was held in the Ellis Island infirmary for 2 more weeks waiting to be released to my grandfather. They eventually went on to own a home and raise 10 children with very little. They achieved the American dream.
Describe one of your brick walls – My great grandmother, Nellie Constantina. After my grandfather was born, her husband, Francesco Rosso/Russo, left for America never to return to Italy for his family. I struggle to find records on her.
What are some of the surnames in your family tree that lived in our Western New York area? Giardino, Cote, LaPlante, Rosso, Russo, Rossow,
What was something surprising that you discovered while researching your family tree? My Mom’s ancestors have deep roots in Canada dating back to the founding of it as New France in the early 1600’s. Many of their names are listed on a commemorative plaque of Quebec’s earliest pioneers.
What are some of your favorite online resources? I upgraded my Ancestry subscription to Full Access and LOVE it. Depending on the region I am researching my favorites are Patriomoinequene.ca, familysearch.org, italiangen.org, hungaryexchange.com, findagrave.com, Fultonhistory.com, genealogiequebec.com, fold3.com, newspapers.com and I love chat boards (yes, they still exist!) for particular branches of research. I have about 35 Google alerts set that have helped me too. I am also a member of many societies, via online, in countries and states that are significant in my research. Genealogists are so eager to help each other. Facebook groups are amazing in that way too.
What are some of your favorite local resources? Our NCGS library, of course, is not only a great resource for records but the librarians are very knowledgeable. Joining local societies really kick started my research. The people I interact with at programs make me feel like a newbie! So much to learn if you just reach out and ask. The local historians office is a great resource too. They know the history of your area, old street names and clues about the people who lived there.
What are some of your favorite ways to educate yourself to become a better genealogist? I read so much! Not only about genealogy standards and research but the history of where my ancestors originated which gives me a better understanding of the world’s timeline. Look for anniversary books from historical societies in your area of research. For $15 I purchased a 200 year history of the small town in Canada my maternal grandparents were from and found biographies of so many ancestors. I also try to attend as many local/regional seminars as possible every year and take online courses in the cold winter months.
Have you had you DNA tested? If yes, which websites? Yes, I did the Ancestry DNA test. When I only vaguely understood my results and everything that went with it, I offered to teach a DNA class at our society. This forced me to figure it out and it was the best thing I could have done! I now consider myself a bit of a DNA guru. I’ve also found new cousins which is a bonus!
What is some advice that you would share with a beginning genealogist?
Talk to your elderly relatives now. I put it off and its a big regret. Take a recorder and ask them questions, let them talk. Years from now when you’re tree is leafy, listen to these recordings and you’ll recognize the people in your tree.
Don’t add anything to your family tree without a source attached and don’t trust anyone’s info unless you see the source yourself.
Take your time. Genealogy research is so much more than copying and pasting facts. Learning who your ancestor was when alive will add so much to their story.
Find your tribe! Join a genealogical society and get involved, you won’t regret it.