Rita Tournour Holt
(April 2005 -- St. Louis, MO)
From where did your family emigrate and when? Who emigrated
(self, parents, grandparents) and what were their names?
My Piemontese grandparents were Giovanni Battista Tournour Viron, born 1864 Gravere, Piemonte, Italy, and his parents were Francesco and Madelena Olivero Tournour Viron. birth dates unknown. I know that Battista had some brothers, as when he married my grandmother Barbara Nurisso (born Sept. 8, 1869 in Gravere) on May 31, 1889 in Gravere, he brought into this marriage either two or four brothers for Barbara to take care of. Wow, what a thought for a new bride. Francesco Tournour Viron was evidently still alive but his wife Madelena Olivero was not on the wedding license information. Battista and Barbara had three children: Eugenio Leon Tournour Viron born April 1890, Onrena born Sept. 25, 1892, and Maggiorino Celestino Antonio Tournour Viron born Sept. 3, 1893, all in Gravere. They had a small farm in Gravere where they raised grapes on the mountainside and some bottomland property near the Catholic church where they raised trees for wood, fruit and vegetables.
What led them to their destination (relatives already there,
hopes of a job at a mill, mine, etc. Please explain)?
Living was very difficult in those days and since the tradition of the family was the military, Battista -- who was against this vocation -- choose to depart Gravere and leave for Bracebrige, Ontario, Canada, where other Tournour Viron and Nurisso relatives had emigrated earlier to work in the tanneries of the area and also in the fruit orchards. Battista went first in late 1902. His immigration records at Ellis Island had the name spelled incorrectly as J.B. Cournour Viron so it was difficult to find until someone in Canada found the records for me. Barbara and children followed in February 1903 through Ellis Island.
Were they part of a migration chain?
They were not exactly a chain of migration but then again they may have been since they followed other relatives.
Did they emigrate to another location before or after (Argentina,
France, England, etc.)?
They did emigrate to another location after Canada, the family went to Wilcox, Pennsylvania where Battista and son Eugenio worked laying ties for the railroad. Barbara and Onorena worked at a boarding house or ran one, not sure of which. In 1907 or thereabout an arranged marriage was made for the daughter Onorena; how l don't know, as her husband to be was Julius Cesare Corno, who had immigrated to St. Louis, Missouri and worked at the longest bar in the world at the St. Louis World's Fair, which l think was in 1904. Onorena was only 16 years of age but for some reason the wedding license says she was 18 years of age. Cesare, as he was called, was about 10 years older. The couple journeyed back to the St. Louis area. Somewhere along the line the rest of the family returned to Bracebridge.
Did your family return home to visit or to live after the initial
emigration? Did they maintain contact with family back home?
In 1913 Battista and Barbara left on a boat for Gravere, Battista became ill on the boat and then contacted pneumonia riding on an open-air train to Gravere after they docked. He died in Gravere and was buried there. Records show Barbara returning to Canada via Ellis Island as a widow (in) June 1913. They evidently went back to see about the property, which stayed in the family until many years later when it was given to a cousin Luigi Tournour Viron. By this time the family reunited in Canada and moved to St. Louis, Missouri to be with Cesare and Norena (she never used that name when she got older but used Norine and Nora. She seemed to favor Nora.)
Did your family maintain Piemontesi traditions
-- language, culture, history, cuisine, etc.?
Yes, the family did maintain Piemontesi traditions, they spoke the language, and passed it to their children. Cuisine was definitely Piemontese. They were a very close-knit family and lived on a farm in the Lemay Ferry area of St. Louis County, Missouri. Later, Eugenio Tournour Viron and Cesare Corno owned and operated a restaurant on DeBolivar just south of Delmar (Avenue) in St. Louis. Norine waited the tables, Cesare was the chef and Eugenio ran the business end and also worked in the restaurant.