Grandpa Narciso Vinci


My mother’s family history was (supposedly) a simple story: an Italian grandfather just off the boat, who married a nice Polish girl. That should make for a nice simple genome, right?

Not so much. According to the 23andMe database, my genome shows similarities to people from Hungary, Finland, and the Czech Republic. I have a small but significant segment of “Balkan” DNA, not to mention a drop of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.

So what happened back in Europe, with my great-grandparents and their forebears?

I know a little about my Polish grandmother Lottie, but almost nothing of my Italian grandfather Narciso. He was dapper and handsome, and he liked posing for the camera – look:


Mom always said he was good with kids; naturally she’d say something like that, but then again, there’s this nice picture of him posing with his kids and stepchildren (I think the one with a bucket on his head is my late uncle Primo):


According to my great-aunt Estelle, Grandpa Narciso was a bit of a dog. He romanced both my grandma Lottie and her sister Julia at the same time; Grandma got pregnant first, so she won the prize (so to speak), and Mom was born a few months after the wedding.

Grandpa Narciso died in a mining accident 1926, when my mother was six years old.

I did a Google search for “Narciso Vinci” the other night, and found his name listed on a website documenting the people buried in the Old Wilkeson Cemetery in Pierce County, Washington State. The website included this note:

Old Wilkeson City Cemetery, Wilkeson, Pierce County, Washington.


(There are two cemeteries at this location. The old Cemetery was

overgrown and all but forgotten; the data is from the old Cemetery only)

Submitted By: Ryan William Wagner as part of his Eagle Scout Project

which included cleaning the headstones and clearing the overgrowth.)

Good for Eagle Scout Ryan William Wagner, for cleaning off my grandfather’s grave and recording his name.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

2 Responses to Grandpa Narciso Vinci

  1. starproms says:

    So interesting – all the family history and I’m going to check out the website you mention. Don’t you just wish you could call up your ancestors and have a good, long chat with some of them?

    • I’d like to have a nice talk with a few of them, anyway. I wish I could have known my mother’s father; everyone seems to have liked him. My father’s father, on the other hand, was apparently a big angry threatening guy – he’d lost a hand and had a metal hook – and I’m a little relieved that I was denied the opportunity of knowing him.

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