What remains – physically speaking – of your ancestors?
What is left of what they produced during an entire life?
As per my experience, in most cases nothing. Their names are reported on a few documents that were not written by them, and you are lucky if your great-grandparents were literate enough to sign them, so at least a signature is left.
Yes, in most cases all what’s left of them is their signature. Or at least, this is what we are able to find now, because surely they produced many things during their lifetime but most of these things do not exist any longer, or we do not know they produced them.
For this reason, it is so unique and amazing when you find out that the seeked ancestor was no less than the builder of the local church doors!
The way this was discovered can be called serendipity: I was not making an in-depth investigation, I had just started the research in the parish archive when, on the birth act of Angelo Malnati from Besano – Karen’s 2nd great-grandfather – I stumbled upon a note that the local priest wrote, perhaps for gratitude or for (successfully) keeping memory of this important event.
“Note: in 1886 basing on a project of Eng. Pietro Prestini, he built the three doors of the parish church”
And here they are. These are the doors that Karen’s ancestor made. After 134 years they are still there, a part of Besano’s life, doors that are used every day, something that everyone can see and touch and take photos of. Surely also Karen, who is going to come to Italy in a few months and who will surely enjoy touching the same figures that had been carved by her “grandpa” Angelo Malnati.
Once a first bit of info is discovered, others come at hand more easily, so it was quite straightforward to find the confirmation that the doors were still the same ones built by Angelo Malnati in 1886: a book about the history of Besano reports, in fact, all restorations made to the church, including the Malnati artifacts, with no subsequent work on the doors.
Courtesy of BookSprint Edizioni: Salvatore Merlino, Besano Storia-Cronaca, BookSprint Edizioni https://www.booksprintedizioni.it/libro/libro-documento/besano-storia-cronaca