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How do you begin finding your Poggioreale ancestors?


So, you want to study your Poggioreale family. Where do you begin? 

Here are some suggestions from PIA friend and consultant, Marilyn Maniscalco Henley,

who has been successfully studying records for over 20 years!

We live in a marvelous time where so many family records can be found with an online search. Certainly not all records are on the internet, but many basic records are available. If you are a beginner, it is suggested that you follow some basic genealogy guidelines, many of which are freely available. They will contain suggestions that you start with yourself and work back, listing full names, dates (as you know them), and places of birth, marriage, death, residences, etc.

So, where do you look for records?

1906_March_18_Maniscalco_Pietro_Messina_Maria marriage March 18,1906 rec 5,image 190 crp2


American Records:

Prior to the internet, finding family records was a painstaking and slow process.  Today many records are available on the internet.  You can search for birth, death, marriage, census and other records for the deceased family members you are searching.  


For no cost to you, is a free online research site and of a World Tree project of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).  Records from around the world have been microfilmed and digitized for many years and are made available at no charge to everyone. There is an ongoing process to digitize all of their microfilmed records, which are available online. Occasionally, some records are restricted for viewing from your home computer, due to a contractual agreement with the repository holding the records. Those records must be accessed at a family history affiliate library. 

There you will be able to search a wide array of records:  the site offers instructional opportunities as well.  There are several pay-to-join sites as well, the most well advertised is

Sicilian/Italian Records:

In order to find your family’s Sicilian/Italian immigrant records, you need to know the name of the town where they were born and married to generate records. Many immigrant’s U.S. death records only show Italy or Sicily as place of birth and often, no parents’ names.  And remember! Sicilian and Italian Women did not (and still do not) use their married name in Sicily or Italy. Therefore, a married woman is almost always listed by her maiden name on passenger lists even as her children are listed with her under their husband's family name.

Passenger ship lists are a good first place. You can coordinate the possible date of arrival with census records; the records for 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 have an entry column for the date of immigration. The actual date may turn out to be within a few years of any date listed, and the census closest to the immigration date is usually the most accurate in case there is a big difference.  When looking at a passenger ship list, check the last pages of the entire list to the section of Detained Passengers where there is fascinating information about why and for how long and when released. 

The Naturalization Declaration or Petition has information given directly by the immigrant whereas a census record could have been given by another person. The actual Naturalization certificate does not give any details, but the other two will ask about their date and place of birth, marriage date with spouse’s name (sometimes with maiden name) and date and place of birth and children and both ship names and arrival dates. The dates may be off a little, as will the ship names, but usually they are pretty close. 

What are the Riveli di Beni e Anime records?

by Marilyn Maniscalco Henley (2020)


Riveli di beni e anime, literally translated means “Reveal of goods and souls”.  These records are also knows as Tax Assessment Records or Census Records.

Riveli records provide the names and descriptions of those families who pay taxes, which includes any taxable property, buildings and/or animals. Riveli Records for Poggioreale and other Sicilian towns are underutilized and very hard to decipher. Also, they are (at this printing) only available online at the from a family history center or FamilySearch affiliate library.  

These records for Poggioreale (Trapani) at the site are for the years 1714, 1748 and 1811-1816. They are usually not indexed (there’s an index for 1811), so each record must be viewed to read the family names. Since they begin before the Poggioreale civil records are available, church records are often necessary to connect with the families. Poggioreale church records are not available online, but there are some that have been extracted from the actual church records over many years that we are able to utilize.

We have included some of the Riveli records of 1748 found for the Todaro name and the basic information that we were able to decipher for each. Also, we have included a Wiki article from the site to help explain some of what is on these records, although the Poggioreale Riveli records do not necessarily have the same information for each of the years. 

An explanation of these Riveli and what you can gleam for them is taken from the Family Search Wiki page, Sicilian Riveli Records By Robert Ralph Porcaro Columbus Day 12 October 2005 (

The Riveli Records served as a census to record inhabitants (anime) and possessions (beni). The Riveli pages were bound together in a volume with a string threaded through a hole near the top of the page and another string through a hole near the bottom of the page. Most volumes held the records of up to 1,000 pages. A few Riveli records exceeded 1,000 pages. 

Purpose of the Riveli

A Riveli was a census to determine population and taxation for revenue. The Riveli served the king of the country as a monitor to determine how many males there were in the kingdom that were of age to serve in the military or to work on road projects and also how many animals and producing farm land was available to produce food for the kingdom. 

Information on Riveli Records.

Tips on Using the Riveli:


There are many words used in a Riveli record that are common to most records. Following is a list of a few words to be familiar with: 

  • tassa = tax 

  • terra = land 

  • anime = souls/inhabitants 

  • beni = goods/possessions 

  • lordo = gross amount to be taxed 

  • netto = net amount to be taxed (usually 5-10%) 

  • mascoli = male 

  • fimmini = female 

  • capo di casa = head of household 

  • moglie = wife 

  • figlio = son 

  • figlia = daughter

The name of the head of the household is listed on the top of the page (usually on the right side), and again in the text of the Riveli (usually after the word anime), and at the end of the Riveli on the left side of the final page. 

Sometimes the name of the father of the head of the household is listed on the first entry at the top of the page and once in a while the mother’s name is also listed.

Within the text of the Riveli is first the name of the head of the household followed with the name of the wife (sometimes with her maiden name) then the children. Sometimes the children are listed with son’s names first then daughters next. 

Ages are listed for males only. But I did find a few records where the females had their ages listed. Be aware that ages were estimates and then rounded off to the nearest ten years, so in most cases are not accurate. 

In many Riveli records the head of the household has his nearest neighbors listed also. Look for family groups. It is interesting to note that the Riveli record for the common person was often scribbled and brief whereas a Riveli record for the aristocracy was printed in formal calligraphy with detailed pages. Sometimes the pages were adorned with fancy borders and large calligraphy letters. 

I have even found pages with ink line drawings of the person taxed. The conclusion of each Riveli had the name of the tax assessor and at times the signature of witnesses and occasionally the priest of the community. 

Items Taxed

Taxation was placed on people and possessions including real estate, buildings, and animals. The animals were divided as: 

  • caprai = goats 

  • giumenta = mares 

  • cavalla = horses 

  • bovi = cattle 

  • vacche = cows 

  • pecore = sheep 

  • asini = donkeys 

  • muli = mules

I saw pigs mentioned in the Riveli but never on a tax summary. The animals that pulled carts were inventoried separately (animale ad uso di carrozza). 

Note that the taxation was ten percent of the value. (2197=219, 1049=104 etc.) 

Land was taxed according to use such as: 

  • irrigatablili = able to irrigate 

  • frumentale = for growing grain 

  • boschigne = wooded or orchards 

  • rampanti = sloped or hillside 

  • non pagano = not profitable.

Houses were taxed by the amount of rooms on each floor. Included in the assessment were vineyards, orchards, groves, water wells, farm tools, sheds, silos, and household furnishings. Land was sized in hectares. One hectare=2.47 acres. 

Special Recognition: It is apparent that the Riveli records were focused on the peasant farm workers. Very few Riveli records were found listing nobility. However, when they were found they listed the person’s title such as Don or Donna for honorable people and Duca, Duchessa, Barone, Conte,Contessa, and Principe, for nobility. 

Items of Interest: A few records listed a ten year back tax for persons that lived and worked in a community but had not been taxed for the past ten years. See the 1811 Riveli for taxation for individuals living in a community between 1800 and 1809. 


Monetary Values on Riveli Taxation:

Many of the Riveli records assessed the taxes in a system that is recorded in history. The following are from Monete Siciliane Antiche on the internet at Also from the introduction to the book Lo svilupo Di Villafrati 1596-1960 by Giuseppe Oddo. 


Monete Sicilane Antiche: In 1862 the Cambio Rate was: 

  • 6 Denare =1 Grano 1 Grano = .0215 Lire 

  • 20 Grani =1 Tari 1 Tari = .425 Lire 

  • 12 Tari =1 Scudo 1 Scudo = 5.10 Lire 

  • 30 Tari =1 Oncia o Onza 1 Oncia =12.75 Lire

(Tariffe: Bestia di Carico) Tariff on animals information is from Lo Sviluppo di Villafrati 1596-1960 by Giuseppe Oddo (page 16). 

  • Bestia di Carico (loaden or burden) = Grana 2 

  • Carro a 2 Ruote (cart with two wheels) = Grana 4 

  • Bestia di Lettiga (litter or pulled) = Grana 6 

  • Carrozza a 4 Ruote (cart with four wheels) = Grana 8 

  • E 2 Cavalli (cart with two oxen) = Tari 1 

  • A 4 Buoi (with four oxen) = Tari 2

Riveli records could be your means to bridge from your civil records back in time. Note that many of the available records are a generation apart, so a person listed as a child on one record will appear as the married head of a family in the next record.


Here is an example of how I used the Riveli Records in a search using the 1748 Riveli di beni e anime, Poggioreale (Trapani), 

From Family History digital images #7555238:

Rec # 33    Image 48    Giacamo Todaro


Giacamo son of Fran (Francesco) and Paola Guzetta



Francesco Todaro     head of household age 40

Anna             spouse

Paola             daughter

Francesco         son age?



1748 Riveli di beni e anime, Poggioreale (Trapani), 

From Family History digital images #7555238

Rec # 353    image 332    Rosario Todaro


Rosario Todaro of Giacomo and Margherita Ricca



Rosario Todaro     head of house     age 58  

Giovanna         spouse


(Rosario would be born about 1690 – but approximate ages are on census; ancestry tree has a Rosario Todaro married to Giovanna Anna Migliore in 1704.) 1748 Riveli di beni e anime, Poggioreale (Trapani), 

From Family History digital images #7555238

Rec # 443    image 404    Vittorio Todaro


Top:  Vittorio Todaro of Francesco and Paola Todaro



Vittorio Todaro head of household age 30

Domenica     spouse

Giuseppa     daughter


1811 Riveli di beni e anime, Poggioreale (Trapani), 

From Family History digital images #7555861 Item 5 Image # 655


Column headings: record number, surname, first name, property, description (Riveli), worth, tax, and?

Record # 79        Todaro, Vittorio – Land bordering Nicolo Catalano – 2.13.17

Record # 194        Todaro, Grazia widow of Francesco



1811 Riveli di beni e anime, Poggioreale (Trapani), 

From Family History digital images #7555861 Item 5 Image # 656


Column headings: record number, surname, first name, property, description (Riveli), worth, tax, and?

Record # 315        Todaro, Vittorio 

Record # 358        Todaro, Giuseppe 

Record # 359        Todaro, Rosario 

Helpful Links to Records:






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