Since we now knew that Grandpa Francesco Cottone was born in Librizzi Messina, I was very eager to find the address for the Comune asap. So in November of 1998, I wrote to the Ufficio dello State Civile in Librizzi (98064 Librizzi, Messina Italy), requesting birth information for my grandfather and any other family documents. Simultaneously, I did a small “mass mailing” in Librizzi to anyone with the Cottone surname.
In December 1998, I received a letter from a Signore Cottone. He wrote that he was astonished and curious that someone from America was inquiring about the Cottone family. He believes that we’re 3rd or 4th cousins (still yet to be determined). He also stated that while I waited to hear from the Ufficio, he included 2 birth certificate extracts!!!! 1 was Francesco’s and the other was for Anna Cottone, Francesco’s sister!!! Another great-aunt!!
I was surprised that he and not the Ufficio was the first to send the certificates. But the town is very small (recent population search shows approximately 1900 people) and when the letters arrived for each Cottone family, it must have been a surprise for all of them. Shortly thereafter the Ufficio sent the same birth certificates along with my great grandparents birth, marriage and death information.
Signore Cottone also included a postcard showing the main piazza, Piazza Catena.
Thus began my correspondence with him……