The most important document that my parents left me is a copy of my Paternal Grandparent's marriage certificate. It is important because of time, place, and purpose.
Our families all have given us some bit of oral history concerning their life and origins. My father often told me the story of how his parents met each other and married. As I remember it, my grandfather was a shoe salesman in Italy who lived in the flat lands. One day he traveled into the mountains to sell shoes and met his future wife. That was it. I did say a bit of oral history. What does one do with that? Well, it's a beginning and sometimes the full story takes years to complete.
The passport of my Grandfather, dated in 1913, states that he was a resident of the city of Teramo, in the province of Teramo. To the west of Teramo city, are the Apennine Mountains. Teramo City isn't exactly in the flat lands but it is a lot lower than the Apennines. Onto the the wedding certificate which was dated in 1939. My grandparents were married in Italy and migrated to the United States in the early 1900s. Why a marriage certificate dated 1939? The marriage certificate shows that my grandparents were married in the province of Teramo in the commune of Valle Castellana. The linked google maps image shows the municpal building in Valle Castellana. I assume that, or an earlier building, is the source of the marriage certificate. At 2,000 feet above sea level, I guess Valle Castellana could be considered in the mountains. My Father's bit of oral history seems accurate.
We now have the time, 1939; the place Valle Castellana; but we need purpose. Well, purpose is explained by another document of my grandmother's that include the words
Be it known that . . . having petitioned to be admitted a citizen of the United States of America . . . had in all respects complied with the Naturalization Laws of the United States in such case applicable and was entitled to be so admitted, the court thereupon ordered that the petitioner be admitted as a citizen of the United Staes of America.
Yes, it's a Certificate of Naturalization. My Grandmother became a United States citizen shortly after she received the copy of her marriage certificate.
Now, we have purpose. Apparently, my Grandparents lost their marriage certificate on the trek from Italy to the United States, needed an official copy of it for my Grandmother's naturaliztion, and requested a copy of the marriage certificate from Valle Castellana which they received in 1939. I'm sure my Father played a major role in getting this done for his parents who found each other in a small commune in the Apennine Mountains of Italy.