Luckily The Bolter, my paternal grandmother, had a very distinctive name of Italian origins. I had been told this, but neither I nor Mother knew how to spell the name. Once I learnt the correct spelling, the name made it very easy to find out information about that branch of the family tree. I am indebted to, you know who you are, for help with my family tree.
But another person helped too, a non blood relative with the same married name as my grandmother's maiden name.
I knew there was a Tasmanian connection and with some searching, discovered that the family was centered in the Waratah area, although spread westwards and north too.
The Italian brothers arrived around the eighteen fifties to pursue various occupations, but mostly farming. They seem to be of peasant stock, some of them illiterate, so it puzzles me as to how they could afford the migration and to buy land. Apart from the family name, they quickly anglicised their given names. In fact they seemed to anglicise themselves with extraordinary haste.
Ok, no real surprises there. Kind of how I thought it was. But wait!
Although they were Italian, they did not come from Italy, but Switzerland. They were from Ticino, the southern most canton of Switzerland.
Maybe it is changing now but the Italians of Ticino in Switzerland lead an Italian lifestyle and speak an Italian dialect. Yet, ask them their nationality, they will say they are Swiss and almost deny the Italian heritage. From my brief reading, they are only part of Switzerland because the land was 'captured'. Regardless, they have been there a very long time.
So, I am Swiss, which explains my liking of order and things that work and why I used to pull clocks apart when I was a kid. I must have missed the Italian gene that would have passed on a passionate, voluble, hot temperament.
This is the Tichino village where my ancestors came from, Corippo. There are few remaining permanent residents, but mainly holiday visitors. While the interiors of the houses have been very much modernised, the exteriors must remain unaltered. I can also see why I don't like flat land.
Photo by Frank Kaiser for TrekEarth.