David A. Onofrio
(February 2006 -- Riverview, MI)
From where did your family emigrate and when? Who emigrated
(self, parents, grandparents) and what were their names?
My Piemontese grandfather Camillo Onofrio was born in Casale Monferrato on August 15, 1884. He married Giovanna (Jeanne) Verani in Ozzano Monferrato on January 10, 1908. They had two sons, Oreste and Armand Onofrio who were born in 1908 and 1910, respectively. Oreste and Armand lived with their Verani grandparents near Ozzano after Camillo's wife, Giovanna (Verani) Onofrio died at my father Armand's birth in Nice, France in August 1910. Camillo came to the USA on Feb. 16, 1914 from Ozzano Monferrato. My uncle Oreste and father Armand came to the USA from Ozzano in 1922 with an older uncle, Carlo Barbano. They came to Detroit to live with their father Camillo, who had already come ahead of them to the USA.
What led them to their destination (relatives already there,
hopes of a job at a mill, mine, etc. Please explain)?
Oreste (14 years old) and his brother, Armand (12 years old) left LeHavre, France in 1922 to join their father Camillo, after being raised by their grandmother and grandfather, Ernesto and Maria (Zeglio) Verani, in or around Ozzano (not real sure of this).
Were they part of a migration chain?
The birth record I have from Casale Monferrato for Camillo Onofrio shows "No Mother or Father's name", which has been a big mystery to me. However, there is one document that I have that shows his parents as Carlo Bosco and Anna Cavallo, but this may not be true and it cannot be substantiated, In fact I don't know how the name Bosco fits into my genealogy?? Unfortunately. I know of no other relatives of Camillo Onofrio other than my uncle and my father, now both deceased. I hope someday I will find out more about my grandfather, his true parents and my grandmother Giovanna (Verani) Onofrio and any relatives with the name Verani.
Did they emigrate to another location before or after (Argentina,
France, England, etc.)?
No, I believe my grandfather came directly to the USA from either Nice, France or from Ozzano (without his sons) and settled himself in Detroit, where he became a cook in the Statler Hotel in downtown Detroit. My father did not live with his father in Italy but joined him in the USA at age 12.
Did they settle among other Piemontesi and were they members
of a Piemontesi society (fraternal, mutual aid, etc.)?
Not sure there were other Piemontesi in the Detroit area except for Carlo Barbano who was Camillo's brother in law from Ozzano. Camillo lived on Lawndale street in an area that was called Delray, which was inhabited by many Italian immigrants and their families.
Did your family maintain Piemontesi traditions
-- language, culture, history, cuisine, etc.?
Yes, my father married an Italian woman named Ida Bagozzi who was born in the USA, but had family from the Austrian Tyrol area, now called Trentino. My mother's family came from Castello Contino near Cles and Tioni di Trento. Both my father and mother spoke Italian fluently although with slightly different dialects. (Piemontesi and Trentino). My father was later a chef in many fine restaurants in and around the Detroit area for over 50 years. He really knew how to cook and my mother and I are thankful for his talent in preparing Italian cuisine. My father died in 1994 at the age of 84. My mother is still living at age 89.
Did your family return home to visit or to live after the initial
emigration? Did they maintain contact with family back home?
No, my father did not go back to his roots where he was raised in the hills around Ozzano. He did say he would have liked to go back but never did. I think his sad memories of knowing that his mother died at his childbirth was too much to handle. I think that is why he never return to Italy. I have made some contacts with the Ufficio (municipo/town hall) and Parrocco (parish priest) of Casale Monferrato and Ozzano to get some information on the Onofrio name but the information I have only goes back to my grandfather. I hope someday to gather more information.
Do you identify yourself more as American, Italian or Piemontese?
More American, but the older I get the more I lean to my heritage of being Italian (half Piemontese). I wished I had learned how to speak Italian when growing up at home, so that I could better communicate with Italians. However, it is never too late to learn (Italian) and I have started a self teaching course with the help of a book of translations and a CD.
Have you visited your family's town(s) in Piemonte? What was
your experience like?
Not yet. I will be going to visit Casale Monferrato and Ozzano in September 2006 with my wife, Barbara, and 89-year-old mother and I will spend time doing some family research on my genealogy and ancestry.
Have you studied your Piemontesi genealogy? Please explain
I have made some inquires about my grandfather and my father, but I could only gather a little information on them. I know Camillo was born in Casale Monferrato on August 15, 1884 and my father Armand was born on August 29,1910 in Nice. Just after my father was born, he was sent off to live with his deceased mother's parents somewhere around Ozzano in 1910. I have copies of my grandfather's birth record, his marriage license from Casale Monferrato and my father's birth record from Nice and a document from Ozzano which appears to be a copy of my father's "passport" dated in 1922 so that he could come to the US to live with his father Camillo. I am anxious to find out more about my family when I visit the region in September 2006.
Do you belong to the Piemontesi nel Mondo, Famija Piemonteis or
any other organization?