Geneology Sketch

Geneology Sketch


Original sketch by Louis Rossetti in Nov. 1976.

For many centuries (ever since the founding of Rome), the Italian peninsula was a pawn in Europes’game of war between barbarians, civilized intruders, foreign powers, local princes and warlords, also ravaged by bloody civil strifes between papal and imperial factions, amid the chaos and disorder of society. Italy was constantly divided and dominated by various rulers before it was finally unified as a nation in 1870.
With this as a historic background, the beginning of the Rossetti clan is hidden in mystery and legend. Tradition has it that the Rossettis are an outcrop descending from a family called “Della Guardia” living in or near Vasto Italy, the Roman “Historian”, then a rural village on the Adriatic shore of Abruzzo, a region in central Italy, East of Rome.
The attached graphic chart of the Rossetti family tree is the result of compiling by two independent groups of family historians, one for each “branch”. Very little knowledge is available of the original “Della Guardia” family. I understand that there are still some Della Guardia descendants in Vasto, now grown to a city of about 40,000 but I don’t know of any direct contact with them.
The first known breakaway from Vasto occurred in the eighteenth century when Domenico Rossetti, a young craftsman, migrated to Paris France. There he founded the “French Branch” which two generations later returned to Italy. After several decades of moving about in France and again to Italy, Russia and Austria, the French Branch ended up in America where, at the present writing, it is still entrenched. The next breakaway from Italy occurred in 1821 when Gabriele Rossetti, a poet and patriot, escaped to London where he founded the “English Branch”.

The historians for the English branch are William Rossetti and his daughter, Helen Rossetti Angeli.
The recordings of the French branch were done by Adele Voetter Rossetti and her son Louis Rossetti.
No contact has been made with the original Della Guardia family in Vasto.
After corresponding for several years, direct contact was finally made between the two branches, when the writer Louis Rossetti, in May 1952 visited Helen Rossetti Angeli at her home at via Margutta 90, in Rome, where she was living with her daughter Imogene Dennis and her granddaughter Helen. Their house in London had been destroyed in 1944 by a flying bomb during World War II. She was quite knowledgeable about her famous grandfather Gabriele, uncle Dante Gabriele, father William and Aunt Christina.
Many family histories and anecdotes were discussed, also traditions, and data which had been handed down from various members of the family. The outcome of that meeting resulted in the graphic family tree prepared by Louis Rossetti who also prepared the Voetter family tree for his mothers’ side.

Gabriele Rossetti, a well-known Italian patriot and Dante – scholar, was one of the leaders of the Carbonari (the red shirted resistance movement at Naples),which he inflamed with his patriotic songs. Jailed and sentenced to death by the French oppressors, he was rescued with the help of an English Admiral, smuggled to Malta and then to London. There he married a lady of Italian origin, but English birth, then finished his later years a professor at London University. He was visited, while in Exile, by Guiseppe Mazzini and other Italian revolutionaries. Rome has a monument to Gabrielle Rossetti in Villa Borghese; Vasto has a Teatro Rossetti”, and a “Scuola Statale di Aviamento Professionale G. Rossetti, a public trade school.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a poet and painter, was a most controversial figure among the great Victorians, and founder of the “Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood”. Hundreds of manuscripts and books have been written about him and his group.
William Michael Rossetti, Dante Gabriels’ brother, a writer and biographer of the family.
Christina Georgina Rossetti was Dante Gabriels’ younger sister and quite famous for her poems and her well-known nursery rhymes.
Helen Rossetti Angeli, daughter of William Rossetti, carried on as family historian after her fathers death. She was very helpful in the preparation of our family tree.
She also sent me an impression of the family seal, which was brought over from Vasto by her grandfather Gabriel, and was also used by Dante Gabriel and Helen Angeli. Inside of its crest it carries a sturdy little Oak tree under the motto (in Latin imperative) “FRANGAS NON FLECTAS”, meaning “BREAK, DON’T BEND” which is quite indicative of the strong-willed character trait of the Rossetti clan.

Adele Voetter Rossetti is the counter part of Helen Rossetti Angeli of the English branch and of the same generation. She was of Italian birth, but of Austrian origin. Her father, Michael Voetter, was descended from a Viennese aristocratic family with German, Bohemian and Hungarian ancestry (quite typical for the old Austria). He came to Italy as an officer in the Austrian army during one of their invasions of northern Italy, and afterwards settled in Milano. His daughter Adele Voetter born and raised in Milano Italy traveled with her husband Noel Rossetti to Paris, Reval Estonia (now Russia) and Dresden Germany. At the outbreak of World War I in 1914 she prevailed upon her two sons, Adolph and Louis, to flee from Germany to Zurich and Milano and to volunteer in the Italian Army. Her knowledge of the Rossetti and Voetter families was handed down to the writer, Louis Rossetti, who prepared both family trees.
Louis Rossetti came through World War I as a captain, twice wounded, received the Silver Medal of Valor, and later graduated from Rome University and became professor at the Royal Institute for Profession Training in Rome. In 1924 he won a traveling scholarship to America where he established himself as an architect in Detroit Michigan. His marriage to Anita Castellucci marks the beginning of the conversion of the French branch to the American Branch of the Rossetti clan.
It is hoped that someone of the younger generation will continue as family historian for future generations to come and keep the Rossetti name alive and proud.

Tradition has it that the “Rossetti” name of the family came into being with Maria Rossi who married Nicola Della Guardia. It is not known whether they were at odds with the rest of the family or if her maiden name, or the red hair color of their offsprings, or both prompted them to call their children the “Rossettis” meaning “little red ones”. During the many years of political turmoil and upheavals, so many events went unrecorded, or their documentation were lost or destroyed. As a general rule most information and dates prior to about 1750 are mainly legendary data handed down by word of mouth from one generation to the next one.

Author, Louis Rossetti – Florida, 1976.

Note: Gino and Carl Rossetti have compiled the data left to them by their father Louis Rossetti in hopes of one of their offsprings will continue the family history..