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Sergio Ottino
(May 2003 -- Orinda, CA)

From where did your family emigrate and when? Who emigrated (self, parents, grandparents) and what were their names?
My maternal grandfather, Antonio Francesco Querio came to the U.S. probably in the late 1800s. Learned that he made numerous trips back and forth to Spineto, Castellamonte, TO where he was born in a tiny settlement called "Ai Boschi" (at that time it was AO). He was in Roslyn, Washington working in the coal mines, where at that time he met my father-in-law, Antonio Arneodo. After repeated trips he was "marooned" by WW I. Soon after the war he came to the Bay Area and found work in Oakland and then sent for his son, my uncle Emilio Querio, followed shortly by the eldest daughter, my mother Amalia Anna Querio in 1921. A short time later he sent for the rest of the family, my grandmother Margherita Nigra Poro, and two remaining daughters, Clorinda and Irma.

My paternal grandfather, Antonio Ottino made at least three trips to the USA, starting in the late 1800s. He too ended up in Roslyn, WA working in the coal mines. There was a large group of "Piemonteis" there, living in Roslyn, Ronald and Cle Elam all mining communities. This grandfather was from Verrua Savoia, TO, on the Po river between Cresentino and Brusasco, on a hilltop called "La Rocca di Verrua" there is an old fortress there. My grandfather Ottino was marooned in Roslyn there during WWI. He was a widower, his wife Carolina died in Verrua along with her youngest daughter Ines in 1918. Shortly after the war he too came to California and worked for the RR in Willets, CA. Then he too came to the Bay Area where there were many Piemontesi. In 1921 he sent for his son, my father, Giacomo Ottino.

My wife is also piemontese, Her father from Frise CN, her mother, Caterina Cresto was from Pont Canavese, TO. She was a "mail-order bride" who went to Roslyn, WA to marry Antonio Arneodo. He too was in Roslyn before the war, and even served in the U.S. army during WWI. He was a miner, then quit to become a cobbler. My wife, Ernestina, was born there in 1922, and they too moved to the bay area in 1924-'25.

What led them to their destination (relatives already there, hopes of a job at a mill, mine, etc. Please explain)?
All the piemontesi seemed to have settled in the Bay Area from Oakland to San Francisco to Richmond. They congregated together with a common language, customs and holidays. They all got work in the cities as groundskeepers and all service industries much like the immigrants today, and small businesses My father met my mother in Berkeley, and were married in Oakland. They formed a little Piemonte of their own. At one time the Piemontesi almost dominated the Sons of Italy in the Bay Area.

Did they emigrate to another location before or after (Argentina, France, England, etc.)?
They all ended up in the Bay area, but they tried minework mostly. There is almost a trail of Piemontesi that can be traced from their landing in New York, and then tracking along the northern U.S. looking for a better mine job. They started in Michigan, came across in Illinois, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, then down to California. (Note: there was a retired General of the Army, an Italian, active in the Sons of Italy, who was writing a book on this. Lost track of him, I'll try to find him if you wish). They left behind many small colonies of Piemontesi in all of the mining towns.

Did they settle among other Piemontesi and were they members of a Piemontesi society (fraternal, mutual aid, etc.)?
They settled near other Piemontesi who had preceded them. Again, common language, customs, paisani, etc.

Did your family maintain Piemontesi traditions -- language, culture, history, cuisine, etc.?

All of us, my aunts and uncles lived in one household, working together in the salami manufacturing business, and then later in the grocery business, so we spoke nothing but Piemonteis, maintained all the old customs, holidays, cuisine and we youngsters would listen and learn about the "old country." I was kicked out of school in the fourth grade, because I did not understand English!

Did your family return home to visit or to live after the initial emigration? Did they maintain contact with family back home?
I visited Italy in 1967, and found where my parents, and my wife's mother were born and lived. My mother visited Italy in 1980 (?). My father never did. One of my uncles and his family visited Italy and France. We all found and met relatives. Now however there are only cousins left. Some of those relatives visited us here in California. We still maintain contact with these cousins, some 33 households between me and my wife. We have visited all of them.

Do you identify yourself more as American, Italian or Piemontese?
I am an American, but all of my friends know me as the Italian; at church. In the Lions, and socially.

Have you visited your family's town(s) in Piemonte? What was your experience like?
We finally located the very last of our relatives, on my wife's side in Frise, Sarazin, CN, way up near the alps separating Italy from France.

Have you studied your Piemontesi genealogy? Please explain why.
I have studied some of our genealogy with limited success. I want to know where we came from, how our names were formed, and how long we were settled in certain areas. I have received some very conflicting information, which is discouraging. If you can direct me to a researcher I would appreciate it.

Do you belong to the Piemontesi nel Mondo, Famija Piemonteisa or any other organization?
I belong to the Piemontesi nel Mondo, director; Sons of Italy, past president; member of the Fratellanza Club, 54 years; member of the Colombo Club over 40 years.


Il testo in italiano è in preparazione


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