(January 2003 -- Kansas City, MO)
From where did your family emigrate and when? Who emigrated (self,
parents, grandparents) and what were their names?
My father immigrated from Masserano which is near the city of Biella
in (at that time) Vercelli Province. My father's name was Giovanni
Basileo Secundo Achino-Bianchina. You'll note that it was a hyphenated
name which is unusual in Italy but is fairly common in that area.
He dropped the Achino portion when he arrived in this country and
Anglicized his first name to John. He arrived in this country in
May 1908 in New York where he lived and worked until he retired
to Florida at age 65. He was 13 years old.
My mother arrived in New York in November 1916 at the age of 13.
She came from a little town in Asti region called Incisa Belbo which
has now changed it's name to Incisa Scapaccino. Her name was Adelina
Velosia. My Mother also lived (and worked sometimes) in New York
until she retired to Florida with my father.
What led them to their destination (relatives already there,
hopes of a job at a mill, mine, etc. Please explain)?
In the case of my mother, it was to join the rest of her family.
Her father died when she was only 18 months old and the family (she
had three older sisters) was destitute. As a result, my grandmother
moved to New York to seek employment with the two oldest girls.
The two youngest were farmed out to relatives and worked for their
room and board as sort of nannies. As the children reached working
age, my grandmother brought to work in New York in the garment industry
as seamstresses. My mother remained in that job, off and on, until
My father, on the other hand, had no relatives here nor did he know
anyone. I have no idea how he got into the country at the age of
13 without a sponsor. I can find no record of him at Ellis Island
which leads me believe he snuck into the country somehow. He came
to this country as what we would call a runaway because of a dispute
with my grandfather. My grandfather sent him to a Catholic High
School in Biella which was very strict. My father was always a bit
of a rebel so he left the school, which he hated, and came to this
country. I have no idea where he got the money. He later, apparently,
made his peace with his father because he sent money to Italy so
that his whole family (father, mother and older sister) could come
over. I never knew my grandparents because they died before I was
born but I did know my aunt who lived next door to us in Hempstead,
Did they emigrate to another location before or after (Argentina,
France, England, etc.)?
No, they immigrated to this country only. My father was a fierce
patriot of this country. He wouldn't even go back to Italy when
I went to work for an airline and could have gotten him free transportation.
He drummed patriotism into my head from when I could understand
Did they settle among other Piemontesi and were they members
of a Piemontesi society (fraternal, mutual aid, etc.)?
Yes, they originally lived on 44th Street in New York's Hell's Kitchen
area. They moved to Hempstead, New York shortly after I was born.
They did not belong to any organizations that I know of.
Did your family maintain Piemontesi traditions
-- language, culture, history, cuisine, etc.?
We spoke Piedmontese at home although both spoke good English. We
often ate traditional Piedmontese meals. I did learn something about
the Piedmontese culture and history but both of my parents did not
speak often about Italy. They both considered themselves as Americans.
Both were naturalized citizens. My mother through the usual method
of naturalization and my father through military service in WWI.
Did your family return home to visit or to live after the initial
emigration? Did they maintain contact with family back home?
They never returned to Italy. I suspect that neither wanted to remember
their life in Italy. My grandmother and one aunt did move back to
Italy and my mother corresponded with them regularly.
Do you identify yourself more as American, Italian or Piemontese?
I identified myself as an American. I also served in the military
during the Korean War and like my father, am a wounded and decorated
Have you visited your family's town(s) in Piemonte? What was
your experience like?
I have never been to my parents' home towns. As I indicated, I worked
for an airline and my wife and I travelled extensively. I've been
to Rome and even Milan but I've never gone to their old homes. I
did, however, love Italy.
Have you studied your Piemontesi genealogy? Please explain why.
I have traced my father's genealogy to 1585. His family lived in
Masserano for this whole time and so were relatively easy to trace.
A friend of mine who lives in Italy did it for me. He does genealogy
as a profession so, fortunately for me, he could read all of the
old church records in Latin. Very interesting background and it
shows the surprising frequency of inter-marriage ... usually to
My mother's family goes back to the early 1700s, also all in the
same small town. Also some very interesting facts as well as the
same sort of inter-marriage ... again with cousins.
I wanted to find my genealogy because I feel that they are a part
of who I am. Not many people can know the name of their distant
relatives in 1585.
Do you belong to the Piemontesi nel Mondo, Famija Piemonteis or
any other organization?
I do not belong to any Piedmontesi organization.