The Franzia Wine Family

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1901-1911

The Franzias quickly started the large family that eventually reached eight children. Their first ch

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1850-1903

In 1850, the Italian Peninsula was a hodge-podge of states belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, o

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In 1850, the Italian Peninsula was a hodge-podge of states belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, of provinces of the Austrian Empire, and of several independent states. The region of Liguria, of which the major city is Génova [Genoa], at that time, was part of the Kingdom of Sardinia, whose capital city was Torino, to the north of Liguria in Piemonte.

From 1852 until his death in 1861, Sardinia’s wily statesman, Count Camillo Cavour, engaged his country in a series of alliances and wars, which lasted until 1871, to unify the peninsula into the modern nation state of Italy under King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia’s reigning House of Savoy. By the time of Cavour’s death, the unification process had legs of its own and military heroes in the form of Giuseppe Garibaldi and his red-shirted army.

1901 Italy; Standing l-r: Giovanni Battista Franzia; Catterina Bonfiglio Franzia; Gianna Franzia; Camilla Franzia; Seated: Teresa Franzia; and Francesco Franzia. These are Giuseppe’s parents and siblings. Almost every Italian family had at least subsistence crops to provide food and a vineyard to grow grapes for the family’s wine. Most Italians outside the large cities made their own wine. These skills would serve Giuseppe’s future family well. He was probably baptized at the church in Vado Ligure.

In April of 1893, twenty-two-year-old Giuseppe joined the flood of northern Italians emigrating to the Americas. At Génova he boarded the Kaiser Wilhelm II, a North German ship, which was headed for the United States. Giuseppe listed himself as a laborer on the ship’s manifest. The ship had been built in 1889 by the Vulcan Ship-building Company, of Stettin, a then-German Pomeranian port city, now part of Poland. It was constructed of steel; its length was 460 feet. The hull was painted white.

Traveling with Giuseppe was seventy-two-year-old Francesco Carrara, also from Vado Ligure, who was listed on the ship manifest as a farmer [born about 1821]. Francesco was likely Giuseppe’s future grandfather-in-law. Both men listed San Francisco as their final destination. The month-and-a-half voyage from Genova ended at Ellis Island. The Kaiser Wilhelm II passed the new Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor [It was seven years old.] and arrived at Ellis Island on May 9, 1893.

The Ellis Island immigration depot was a processing center for third-class ship passengers arriving in New York Harbor. [Most first and second-class passengers were processed by immigration officials on board their ships.] The new arrivals were ferried from their trans-Atlantic vessels to Ellis Island, where they disembarked and were guided in groups into registration areas in the Great Hall, a room 200 feet long and 100 feet wide. There they were questioned by government officials who determined their eligibility to land.

Upon completing the registration process, newcomers were ushered into rooms where they were examined by doctors. The processing was extremely businesslike–to the point of being dehumanizing. Processing typically took between three and five hours. Three days was the usual quarantine time. The immigrants were issued often-lice-infested blankets to cover themselves as they slept. The two men would have been able to purchase their railroad tickets for San Francisco right on Ellis Island. They then began their great transcontinental trip across the United States, traveling on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad to Los Angeles and then north to San Francisco.

Arriving in San Francisco, Giuseppe found work at a truck garden for fifty cents a day. It was a lot of hard work for poor pay. He may have roomed with Francesco Carrara. The following year, 1894, Giuseppe left San Francisco, traveling by steamboat from San Francisco to the San Joaquin River town of Stockton. It lay eighty miles east of San Francisco in California’s great Central Valley. There he looked for work, going from one Italian farm to another. When he arrived at the farm of Giacomo Sanguinetti on Milton Road, he found work and stayed for some time. Sanguinetti had come to California in the early 1850’s during the gold rush. The two men would have a life-long friendship.

In 1897 Giuseppe started his own truck farm on rented land north of Stockton at what is now the junction of Highway 99 and Wilson Way. After that he moved a short distance north to the area now called “The Morada District.” Here he rented land to farm that lay near the present intersection of Highway 99 and Foppiano Lane on what is now Solari Lane.

In 1900 Giuseppe, now having some money saved, sent a letter to Italy proposing marriage to someone in Vado Ligure. A letter arrived, but it was not from the woman to whom he had proffered marriage; it was from Teresa Carrara. Teresa said that her friend did not choose to accept his proposal, but that she, Teresa, was willing to become his wife if he would like. Many of the Italian immigrant men acquired wives in a similar, non-romantic fashion. Teresa had reasons for wanting to travel to California. Her father and uncle were already there, living in San Francisco. Her father was busy earning money to bring his family to join him. Teresa had likely known Giuseppe before he left Italy and heard about him in her father’s letters.

Giuseppe accepted Teresa’s offer and their marriage pact was sealed. Giuseppe’s bride-to-be shipped out of Genova aboard the Werra, a 433’ x 46’ foot ship owned by Nordeutscher Lloyd of Bremen, Germany. The ship had been construct-ed in 1882 at Glasgow, Scotland. Teresa arrived at Ellis Island June 20, 1900, and survived the cattle-like treatment the immigrants received there. After three days of the usual quarantine, she boarded a train bound for San Francisco. Meanwhile, her betrothed made plans to travel to San Francisco to meet Teresa at the railroad station. After he arrived, Giuseppe probably found a hotel room in the North Beach area. Known as “Little Italy,” it bordered the city’s notorious Barbary Coast, infamous for its gambling, prostitution, and crime. The area was made lastingly infamous in the 1936 film, San Francisco, starring Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, and Spencer Tracy.

On 4 July, 1900, Teresa arrived by train in San Francisco. Giuseppe, with Teresa’s father, Antonio Carrara, was there to meet her. Wasting no time, Giuseppe took Teresa to the rectory of the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul and tried to get the priest, Rev. B. C. Redahan, to marry him and his fiancé immediately. For whatever reason, possibly Fourth of July festivities, the priest would not marry them until July 7. This required Giuseppe to pay for his hotel expenses for three days, which upset the thrifty and not-wealthy Giuseppe. At the wedding, the witnesses were Teresa’s father, Antonio Carrara, and Adelaida Piuma [abt. 1869-1930], a sister-in-law of Antonio who lived in San Francisco. Adelaida was married to Antonio’s brother Francesco Carrara the younger [abt.1863-1940]. The Piumas were from San Genesio, one of the small villages making up the community of Vado Ligure. The younger Francesco’s family is buried at the Italian Cemetery at Colma, San Mateo County, California, just south of San Francisco.

Antonio Carrara had come to the United States in 1893, arriving at Ellis Island April 17 on the La Champagne, having sailed from the French port of Havre. He was number 0697 on the ship’s manifest of passengers. He traveled directly to San Francisco. This was only a few weeks before Giuseppe Franzia and Francesco Carrara the elder were to depart. It appears highly likely that the seventy-two-year-old Francesco Carrara was the father of Antonio and his brother, the younger Francesco.

In the memoirs of Giuseppe’s cousin, Giovanni Piuma of southern California, Antonio Carrara is mentioned as living in San Francisco in November of 1894. Antonio took the visiting Piuma to the vegetable market on Sansome Street, where the Italian farmers dumped their vegetables onto the wooden sidewalk and sold them from there. Piuma was amazed at the preponderance of the Genovese dialect of Italian heard at the market. He said it felt as if he were in Italy. The vegetable vendors tended not to buy the expensive land near the city; they were anxious to earn money to return to Italy as soon as possible.

Teresa had been born May 30, 1879, in Savona Province. She was the daughter of Antonio Carrara [1858-1938] and Angelina Peluffo [abt. 1858-before 1888]. Teresa had two younger half-sisters, Maria Carrara [1888-1970], and Angelina Carrara, [about 1891-1920’s]. They were the children of her father and her step-mother, A. Colomba, surname unknown. Teresa’s maternal grandparents were Stéfano Peluffo [abt. 1815-1890] and Angelina Pessano [abt.1820-?]. An uncle to Teresa, Francesco Pessano Peluffo, born 1854, married Maria Rebagliatti on August 14, 1881, in Montivideo, Uruguay. Emigrant Italian families were often divided in this way. Some chose to live in the United States, while others emigrated to Argentina, Uruguay, and southern Brazil. About half of the population in Argentina and Uruguay have Italian roots through one ancestor or another. In Brazil about ten percent of the population have Italian roots.

Seven months after his daughter Teresa arrived in the United States to marry Giuseppe Franzia, the rest of Antonio’s family arrived. Ellis Island records show Colomba Carrara, age 32 years, 11 months [born March 1868], resident of Vado, departed from Genova on the Archimede. She and her daughters Maria, 11, and Angelina, 9, arrived at Ellis Island February 23, 1901. Colomba was newly arrived in California when she and Antonio served as godparents for the first Franzia child.