The Catasti Onciari [Taxable Property Census]: Mining These Valuable Records

The value of the catasti in Italian genealogy is often overlooked. Few of these records are available digitally or by microfilm. However, this will change in the coming years, as FamilySearch is digitizing many of these records and some of the Italian Archivi di Stato [Provincial/State Archives] have digitization projects underway. The records will be much more accessible for a researcher outside of Italy.

The catasti shouldn’t be overlooked due to their value in adding key details to your family history. These records are often a means of finding information on whole family groups before the start of civil registration and can be extremely valuable when the parish records have been destroyed or damaged. How much information can be found and the years of the censuses differ by province and time period, with the oldest catasti being less descriptive.

In the province of Ascoli-Piceno, taxable rural land and buildings were recorded as far back as 1855, while taxable non-rural buildings were recorded back to 1877. Besides notarial records, this is the only type of document in this province that identifies rural land and buildings in the 19th century. While often difficult to decipher, the records can provide valuable details on a family.

Below are translated abstractions of two of these records which demonstrate the type of information that can be found (used with permission).

1855 Census Entry for Giovanni Quaglia

Number 493

[illegible word] 33

Giovanni Quaglia, son of the deceased Marco [Quaglia], from Paggese

“ne Luigi fo Gio” [this is very faded but may mean Luigi, son of Giovanni Quaglia][1]

 

Map Name: Santa Maria

Map Number: 931

Hamlet [where property is]: Paggese

Cultivation [type of taxable property]: two rooms on the ground floor [one illegible word] in Paggese

Annotations: [two words, unsure of meaning]

 

Map Name: Tallacano

Map Number: 1940

Hamlet: Acquavida

Cultivation: Chestnut [meaning chestnut trees]

Classification Index Number: 206[2]

The totals owed in taxes were also calculated.[3]

COMMENTS: Giovanni Quaglia owned two rooms in the bottom floor of a building and a stand of chestnut trees.

In this record, Giovanni Quaglia’s father, Marco Quaglia, was indicated to be deceased in 1855, which is consistent with other records found.

  • In Rosa Sermarini’s 1843 baptismal record, Marco Quaglia was indicated to still be living.  
  • In Luigi Quaglia’s 1848 baptismal record, Marco Quaglia was indicated to still be living.
  • Within the 1879 ecclesiastical marriage record of Luigi Quaglia and Annunziata Buatti, Marco Quaglia was indicated to be deceased.

Therefore, we can intimate that Marco Quaglia passed away between 1848-1855.

 

On the same page as Giovanni Quaglia’s census entry, is the census entry of his brother, Alessandro Quaglia, which names their mother.

Census Entry for Alessandro Quaglia

 

Number 492

“Muta” [?, abbreviation] 32

 

Alessandro Quaglia, son of the deceased Marco [Quaglia], brother of Giovanni [Quaglia], and Maria Morgante, widowed mother

With usufructuary[4] “in the locale of Gio Luigi son” [these words are very faded][5]

 

Map Name: Arola

Map Number: 388

Hamlet: Venella

Cultivation: arable land

Classification Index Number: 136

 

Map Name: Santa Maria

Map Number: 900

Hamlet: Paggese

Cultivation: [unknown translation][6]

Classification Index Number: 24

 

Map Name: Santa Maria

Map Number: 1010

Hamlet: Paggese

Cultivation: House for the same use

Classification Index Number: 140

 

Map Name: Tallacano

Map Number: 1935

Hamlet: Fasso Bianco

Cultivation: Chestnut [meaning chestnut trees]

Classification Index Number: 206

The totals owed in taxes were also calculated.[7]

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[1] As noted, these words are very faded. They also appear to be written in different ink, perhaps indicating that they were placed on the record subsequent to its creation. Since there is other evidence that Giovanni Quaglia passed away that same year [in 1855], this notation may be noting his heir as his son Luigi. His heir would have been responsible for paying the indicated taxes at the end of the year.

[2] This is like a code entered on a U.S. tax return that is required to note the type of taxable property.

[3] Ascoli Piceno province, Italy, “Catasto [Census], 1855”: number 493, regg. [collection number] 836, census entry for Giovanni Quaglia; Archivio di Stato di [Provincial/State Archives of] Ascoli Piceno, Via S. Serafino, 8-c, 63100 Ascoli Piceno, Italy.

[4] Likely meaning that Maria Morgante had the right to enjoy the use and advantages of another’s property, in this case Alessandro’s property, for her lifetime. We may find that these rights were spelled out in her husband’s will.

[5] These words are very faded and appear to be written in different ink, perhaps indicating their subsequent placement on this record after the death of Giovanni Quaglia.

[6] This must be a very old agricultural term. I could not find it in any nineteenth century dictionaries in my collection.

[7] Ascoli Piceno province, Italy, “Catasto [Census], 1855”: number 492, regg. [collection number] 836, census entry for Alessandro Quaglia; Archivio di Stato di [Provincial/State Archives of] Ascoli Piceno, Via S. Serafino, 8-c, 63100 Ascoli Piceno, Italy.