Roots in Giumaglio, Switzerland
The ancestral home of our Cerini and Giumini families 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 nearby 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. Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) eventually responded by appointing the Bishop of Basle, in Switzerland, 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.
Pastors of the Parish of Giumaglio
Father Domenico Antonio Calzonio (1747-1766)
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).
Father Giacomo Filipponi (1767-1784)
Father Giacomo Filipponi (Philipponi), reportedly of Gordevio[Medici], about 8 kilometers downriver from Giumaglio, served as pastor from 1767 until his death on March 29, 1784, at about the age of 62. He was succeeded by Father Ludovico Orelli as a delegated vicar (Vice Parochus delegatus) from May to November 1784.
Father Giovanni Antonio Calzonio (1784-1826)
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 for 42 years, including the Napoleonic Era. Original records during Father Calzonio's tenure are inexplicably unavailable with the exception of one death record in December 1784 and the parish censuses of 1795 and 1817. The censuses enumerated 31 households (4 Cerini households), in 1795 and 41 families (including 6 Cerini households) and 244 residents in 1817.
Father Francesco Vacchini, Pastor and Rector of the Church of Santa Maria del Carmelo in neighboring Coglio, was delegated to substitute for Father Calzonio and tend to the parish of Giumaglio. He performed a baptism, marriage, and last rites in February and March 1806. Later that same year Father Pietro Giuseppe Terribilini became pastor of the church and Protonotary Apostolic. In addition to performing the usual rites and recording them, he set about transcribing numerous records from Father Calzonio's earlier tenure from 1785 to 1806. The completeness of these records are in doubt. For example back entries of death records from that time frame are only for adults. Nonetheles these records 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 baptism and death records ceased until after Father Calzonio's death on February 18, 1826. His death was the first to be recorded in 1826 on the same page that Father Terribilini left off on 17 years earlier.
Father Giovanni Giacomo Antognini (1826-1876)
Father Giovanni Giacomo Antognini of Gambarogno served as vicar and rector of the parish from May 1826 for nearly 50 years until his death at his parish residence on June 17, 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, officiated at Father Antognini's funeral and substituted at the parish 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--blood relations) 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, north to south, include:
- 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.
- 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.
- Maggia: Chiesa di San Maurizio and the chapel Chiesa della Madonna delle Grazie. The Chiesa di San Maurizio was built in 1636 on a site that dates back to 1000, the first parish and mother church of the lower Maggia valley. The Chiesa della Madonna delle Grazie was built on the site of an earlier chapel in 1510.
- 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 northern Italy, Louis XII of France sought to fulfill his father's claim to the Duchy of Milan, invaded Milan in 1498, and ousted the House of Sforza in the Second Italian War (1499-1504). Meanwhile, in northeastern Switzerland, the Swiss defeated the Holy Roman Empire in the Swabian War (1499) and gained de facto independence for the Swiss Confederacy within the Holy Roman Empire.
Wars in northern Italy continued (1508-1516) with frequently changing alliances among the chief forces of France, the Holy Roman Empire, the Papal States, and Venice. Pope Julius II hired an army of Swiss mercenaries in 1512 to fight the French in Milan, and with them the Swiss brought their ally Massimiliano Sforza. The Swiss wrested the remainder of modern-day Ticino from the French, annexed it, and installed Massimiliano 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.
Following the Protestant Reformation (1517), the Holy Roman Empire split between Catholics and Protestants. Resulting wars such as the Schmalkaldic War (1546-1547) and the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) devastated Europe while Switzerland officially maintained neutrality. At the conclusion of the Thirty Year's War, the Peace of Westphalia (1648) formerly established the Swiss Confederacy as independent from the Holy Roman Empire.
Napoleonic Era (1798-1815)
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: Lugano (West) and Bellinzona (East). 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. It 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.
The gold rushes of California (1849) and Australia (1851) prompted emigration overseas. Meanwhile, to the south, and after an 1853 Lombard rebellion in Milan, Josef Radetzky, Viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia (1848-1857) under the Austro-Hungary Empire, ordered some 6,500 Ticinese expelled from Lombardy and sealed the border between Ticino and Lombardy for two years. This influx overburdened the canton of Ticino, halted trade, and plunged the region into oppressive poverty, ultimately contributing to 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 followed the Ticino river valley up into the Alps, over St. Gotthard's Pass, to Lucerne, Basel, 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).
Giovanni Battista Cerini6 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.