CERINI Family History, Introduction
The ancestral home of our Cerini family is the town of Giumaglio in the Italian-speaking canton of Switzerland. It lies in Valle Maggia, one of the three main river valleys of Ticino. Giumaglio at one time was a municipality with a population that peaked at 413 in 1850. By the end of the century, the population declined to 232 and has hovered just above 200 ever since (up through 2003, according to Wikipedia). In 2004 the municipality was incorporated into the neighboring municipality of Maggia.
In April 2013, I began researching parish records of Giumaglio. Because this little community has only 10 main families (Adami, Bonetti, Cerini, Gasparri/Gasparini, Giumini, Lesina, Pedrotti, Piezzi, Pozzi and Sartori), and all are intricately intertwined, I decided to reconstruct the entire parish. Beyond Giumaglio, these families also intermarried with families up and down the valley: Broglio (Bernardi), Riveo/Someo (Tognazzini), Coglio (Lafranchi and Guglielmetti), and Avegno (Zamarone/Zamaroni), to name a few.
The parish records of Giumaglio and the church of Santa Maria Assunta (in Latin as Sancto Mario Gratiarum), cover baptisms (1668-1899), confirmations (1677-1776), marriages (1671-1899), deaths (1668-1899), and church censuses (stato d'anime) (1692-1843).
Throughout most of this time the parish of Giumaglio had been under the Diocese of Como, in Italy, until the new federal government of the restored Swiss Confederation unilaterally abolished the diocese's jurisdiction in 1859 and Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) finally responded by appointing the Bishop of Basle as administrator Apostolic over the parishes of Ticino in a nominal Diocese of Lugano in 1888. Such an administrator ran the parishes of Ticino until 1971 when a formal Diocese of Lugano with its own bishop was finally established.
Baptism records give the names of the infant, parents, and godparents, along with the names of all their fathers, all in Latin. When godparents are relatives (frequently aunts or uncles), the relationships are also given, making these superb records to reconstruct families and extended families. The parish census is equally useful in presenting households as a unit, however, ages (rather than birth dates) are often given. When dates are given, they often reflect the baptism date and therefore can be a day or two after the birth dates described in baptism records. Furthermore, priests appear to have continued adding children to families for a couple years after the census period had ended, which is good when birth dates are listed but confusing when ages are listed.
Father Domenico Antonio Calzonio seved as vicar and rector from 1747 until 1766, and on a few occasions over that time Father Giovanni Battista Pozzi, pastor of the neighboring Church of Santa Maria del Carmelo in Coglio, substituted. Father Calzonio recorded a parish census in 1760 that enumerated 39 families (41 by my count).
Next came Father Giacomo Philipponi, who served as pastor from 1767 until 1784. He may have been from the town of Someo, 2 kilometers upriver, where other Philipponi families have been noted. He was succeeded by Father C. Ludovico Orelli as a delegated vicar (Vice Parochus delegatus) during May and June of 1784.
Father Giovanni Antonio Calzonio, whose relationship to the earlier Domenico Antonio Calzonio is unknown, was first noted as rector of the church and performed one baptism on behalf of Father Orelli in June 1784. Later that year he became pastor and served through the Napoleonic Era performing baptisms and marriages as late as 1806, but the original baptism and marriage records of that time are no longer available. Father Calzonio also recorded the church census in 1795 and enumerated 31 households, including 4 Cerini households.
By 1806 Father Pietro Giuseppe Terribilini became pastor of the church and Protonotary Apostolic. From 1806 to 1808 he interspersed his 17 baptism and 4 marriage records from that time period with 106 baptism back entries from Father Calzonio's time, thereby reconstructing Father Calzonio's tenure. The completeness of these records are doubtful, but nonetheles they reflect about 5 baptisms per year from 1785-1808. Interestingly, 1808 was also the year that Emperor Napoleon ordered a census of all male residents, regardless of age. In this census, 87 males among 34 households were recorded. 90 females were also counted for a total of 177 residents. After September 1808 available baptism records ceased until resumed 17 years later in 1826. In the interim Father Calzonio's name reappeared in 1817 (two years after the Swiss confederacy was restored) on the parish census as pastor and Notary Apostolic. The 1817 parish census counted 41 families (including 6 Cerini households) and 244 residents.
Father Giovanni Giacomo Antognini/Antognino of Gambarogno served as vicar and rector of the parish from May 1826 for nearly 50 years until around March 1876. Upon taking office, Father Antognini noted in the marriage book that the cause of the gap (from 1808 to 1826) was unknown. During his tenure baptisms numbered around 13 per year in 1830s and 1840s. The population was 335 in 1843 and rose to its peak of 413 in 1850, but thereafter began to decline as emigration increased. Baptisms in the 1850s and 1860s averaged around 8. Father Lorenzo Rizzoli, of the neighboring parish of Coglio, who had previously filled in for Father Antognini once in July 1872, substituted at the parish beginning in 1876 and through 1879. During this time (since at least 1863), the average number of baptisms held at about 8 per year.
Another figure who frequenly appears in the marriage records is Father Giovanni Roggero, Commissarius Apostolicus, in Locarno (perhaps at the Collegiata di San Vittore il Moro). In this capacity he granted dispensations to couples who had a canonical impediment to their marriage (most frequently consanguinity) from 1843 through 1882. Over time his title evolved from Commissarius Canonicus Theologius (1843-1845) and Commissarius Apostolicus e Canonicus (1845-1846) to Commissarius Apostolicus (1846-1882) and Protonotary Apostolic (1857-1861). Throughout most of this time (1843-1865) he operated in conjunction with the Holy Nunciature Apostolic at the Church of St. Leodegar in Lucerne, the leading Catholic city in north-central Switzerland.
Father Agostino Anzini took over the parish of Giumaglio in 1880 until 1887. During this time, emigration accelerated and the average number of baptisms dropped to about three per year. Father Riccardo Pedrazzini served the next three years until 1890. Deacon Antonio Padlina subsequently took over the parish in 1891, served seven years until 1898, and was apparently ordained as a priest in May 1898. Lastly, Father Maggini took over the parish in 1898 through at least 1899. 232 residents of Giumaglio were enumerated in 1900.
Other Parishes and Churches
Other regional churches noted include:
- Coglio: Chiesa di Santa Maria del Carmelo (Ecclesiam [Sancta] Maria de Monte Carmelo) in the neighboring village of Coglio reportedly dates back to 1579.
- Lodano: Chiesa di San Lorenzo in nearby Lodano dates back to 1281 and was completely rebuilt in the 18th century and completed in 1876.
- Someo: Chiesa di Santi Placido ed Eustachio (Ecclesiam Sancti Eustachii) in nearby Someo dates back to 1365, was completely rebuilt in 1536, and improved in the 18th century.
- Orselina/Locarno: Santuario della Madonna del Sasso (Sanctuarii Beato Maria Virginis de Saxo), a Cupuchin monastery at Orselina, above Locarno overlooking Lago di Maggiore, that was a favorite wedding destination. It dates back to 1480.
- Muralto/Locarno: Collegiata di San Vittore il Moro (Ecclesiam Collegiate Sancti Victoris) in Muralto (Locarno) likely was the office of Father Giovanni Roggero, Commissarius Apostolicus. The site dates back to the 5th century and the present structure was built in the 11th and 12th centuriies with later rennovations completed in 1745.
The Cerini family has its earliest known roots in the town of Giumaglio in the Italian-Swiss canton of Ticino, Switzerland, the only canton of Switzerland that lies south of the Swiss Alps, and the only canton in which Italian is the official language.
Old Swiss Confederacy
Following the death of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the Duke of Milan (1395-1402), the Old Swiss Confederacy began conquests south of the Alps and into Ticino in 1403. There they wrestled for control over Ticino with the Duchy of Milan throughout the 15th Century.
In 1499 Louis XII of France sought to fulfill his father's claim to the Duchy of Milan, invaded Milan, and ousted the House of Sforza. The Swiss Confederacy allied with the Sforzas and wrested the remainder of modern-day Ticino from the French by 1512, annexed it, and installed Massimiliano Sforza as the Duke of Milan. The Swiss continued southward into northern Italy against the French but were ultimately stopped in defeat at the Battle of Marignano (Melegnano) in 1515. Milan fell to the French again but the Swiss Confederacy retained Ticino.
The French Republic (1792-1804), which had been at war with the monarchies of Europe for five years (1792-1797), took advantage of Swiss revolutionary activity in Switzerland and invaded in 1798. It annexed Geneva and establish the Helvetic Republic (1798-1803) as a client state. During this time, Ticino was splt into two cantons: Bellinzona (East) and Lugano (West). Swiss troops fought for the French, but in 1799 Swiss nationals failed to support the French in repelling an invasion of Switzerland by Austrian and Russian forces. French forces ultimately drove the invaders from Switzerland, but France subsequently withdrew from Switzerland in 1802 under the provisions of the Treaty of Amiens. The following year, Napoleon, as First Consul of the French Consulate (1799-1804), went on negotiate the Act of Mediation in 1803, which abolished the Helvetic Republic, restored the Swiss Confederacy, and provided Napoleon a buffer state between France and Austria. Mediation in Switzerland was short-lived, began to erode in 1806, and Imperial French troops occupied Ticino between 1810 and 1813.
Following Napoleon's defeat and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, the independent Swiss Confederacy was fully restored in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna, during which the "Big Four" (Austria, Great Britain, Prussia, and Russia) redrew Europe.
New Swiss Confederation
After the Swiss confederacy was restored, the Radical Party began to grow in the Protestant cantons and gained a majority in the Swiss Diet (Tagsatzung). The Radical Party proposed a new constitution that would centralize power and the Catholic cantons (but not including Ticino) responded by forming the Sonderbund ("Separate Alliance) in 1843 to protect its interests. Such alliances were forbiddben by the Federal Treaty of 1815 and in October 1847 the Radical majority moved to dissolve the Sonderbund and raised an army against it. The Sonderbund yielded after a month-long civil war of less than 100 casualties in November 1847. The following year a new constitution established a federal government. The federal government went on to replace numerous local currencies (including the Ticino franc) with a national Swiss franc in 1850. It also went on to unilaterally abolish the jurisdiction of the dioceses of Milan and Como, in Italy, over the Catholic parishes of Ticino in 1859.
After an 1853 Lombard rebellion in Milan, Marshall Josef Radetzky, a Czech general in the service of the Austro-Hungary Empire and ruler of Lombardy, sealed the border between Ticino and Lombardy and ordered some 6,500 Swiss expelled from Lombardy. This influx overburdened the canton of Ticino and plunged the region into oppressive poverty, which ignited turbulence that prompted federal authorities to step in and restore order in 1870, 1876, 1889, and 1890-1891.
With the Italian-Swiss border sealed, Ticino emigrants departed north through the Alps by rail and then west to the northern French coast where they took sail to the New World, commonly using the ports of Le Havre and Cherbourg. After arriving in New York, California-bound emigrants sailed on to Panama where they crossed the isthmus by stage coach and then caught another sailing ship up the Pacific coast to California. Later, they took the Intercontinental Railroad from New York to San Francisco. All told, 20,000 Italian-Swiss residents emigrated to California between 1850 and 1930. Many of them settled in Los Angeles, San Francisco, western Marin County, and Sonoma County.
After Radetzky's death in 1858, the northwestern Italian region of Piemonte (Piedmont), under the King of Sardinia (House of Savoy), allied with France to oust the Austrians from northern Italy and reunite Italy (1859-1861).
John Battista (Giovanni Battista) Cerini1 is believed to have made several trips back and forth between Switzerland and California but his two sons and four daughters all emigrated perhaps as early as 1880 and as late as 1892, settling in Sonoma County.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing of Aurelia Cerini's son and grandson reveals a maternal lineage identified by Haplogroup T3. This haplogroup traces back from "Mitochondrial Eve" (mtDNA L) in the Ethiopia-Kenya region some 150,000-170,000 years ago. The line later departed East Africa some 80,000 years ago (mtDNA L3) and spread into Eurasia (Haplogroups N, R, and T) where it typifies paleolithic expansion of hunter-gatherers throughout Europe, the Near East, and even into India. About 10,000 years ago (Haplogroup T) they learned to domesticate plants and began settling, forming the world's first neolithic agriculture-based cultures. Their successful technology spread throughout Europe and the Near East but Haplogroup T is only found in about 20% of this region's populations.
Curiously, Hapologroup T3, one of several isolated subgroups after Haplogroup T began settling down, has been preliminarily associated with concentrations in Germany and the British Isles. This by no means implies Aurelia's mother was from these areas but that she at least shared ancestors with those who settled in these areas in more significant concentrations.
Other Cerini Branches
Cerini families from Ticino are found along the coast of Marin and Sonoma counties from Point Reyes Station and Tomales to Sea View/Salt Point. Although not treated here, noted familes and individuals include:
- Battista Cerini (born ~1833) and John Cerini (born ~1842), found in 1880 at Nicasio Township in the coastal hills between Point Reyes and Novato, Marin County
- Angelo Cerini (born September 1851), immigrated in 1869 and settled in Plantation, Salt Point Township, Sonoma County, by 1880, Westport Township, Mendocino County, by 1900, then moved inland to Ukiah by 1910, and then down to Petaluma by 1920 and Lakeville by 1930; noted in 1930 as a cousin to Martin G. Pedrotti (1887-1955), son of James Pedrotti (b. ~1851), who hailed from Giumaglio
- Joseph Peter Cerini (1845-1919) & Angelina Maria (Piezzi) Cerini, believed to be from Valle Maggia, who immigrated by 1881 and settled in Bodega by 1890, Tomales by 1900, and Petaluma by 1910; descendants allegedly include Dora Cerini and Giuseppe Gasparini of Giumaglio in Valle Maggia
- Ponsie Cirini (born November 1878), immigrated in 1895 and settled in Ocean Township by 1900
- Giovanni Nunzio & Angelina (Piezzi) Cerini of Giumaglio, parents of:
- Isidoro (1883-1982), immigrated in 1901, settled in Tomales by 1908, and later in life lived in Petaluma
- America (1886-1908), immigrated in 1906 and died of consumption a year later at the age of 18
- Romeo (1888-1881), immigrated in 1901, settled in Tomales in 1903, and later in life lived in Petaluma; Romeo is said to have been sponsored by cousin Emil Cerini-Gasparini (1877-1945)
- Adele (b. 1884-1885), immigrated in 1904 and died soon after arrival in California
- Maria Genazzi (1890-1994), remained in Ticino
- Giocondo (1894-1995), immigrated in 1910, settled in Tomales and later in life lived in Petaluma
- Arcangelo (1896-1940), immigrated in 1914, settled in Tomales and Santa Rosa
- Ignacio remained in Ticino
- G. Cerini (born ~1863) and worked as a stone cutter in Santa Rosa in 1910
- Julia M. Cerini (born May 1880) and worked in a cannery in Santa Rosa in 1900; perhaps the daughter of John Cerini (b. 1854, as noted below) by his first wife Julia A.
San Joaquin Valley
- John Cerini (b. January 1854) immigrated in 1869 and first settled in Bodega Township, Sonoma County. His first wife, Julia A. (1860-1880) died month after the birth of their daughter. He remarried to Frances (Calzascio/Calazascia/Casacia/Casaccia) (1862-1941) a couple years later and resettled in Township 4 (Fowler/Kingsburg/Selma) of Fresno County by 1900, Township 13 (Laton/Caruthers) by 1910 and Township 15 (Laton/Coalinga) by 1920
- Angelina (Tomasini Cerini) Nesper (born August 1872), a Cerini widow/ex-wife who had settled in Fresno by 1900
- George Cerini (age unknown) who immigrated in 1882 and was institutionalized at Stockton State Hospital in 1900
- Peter V. Cerini (~1872-) & Santina L. Cerini (1881-1977), brother of Luigi, immigrated 1889
- Luigi "Louis" Cerini (~1886), brother of Peter V., immigrated 1902
- Peter & Luigi are recalled to be cousins of Enrico "Henry" F. Cerini/Cerine
- Antoni Cerini (~1844) & Maria (Felice) Cerini, parents of: