Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Pasta Genes

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.


  1. Oh, I would love to go there too Andrew..it is so great looking up our heritage isn't it?
    Our German Au Pair has told me alot about my Grandfather's Great Grandad's home town of Leipzig in Germany...we even found the Brewery that he ran all that time ago! Of course, as Susi (our Au Pair) pointed out, Germany has such a long history...longer than our documented 200 years. She laughs when I say that some building is "old" when it is under 500 years old!

  2. Hi Andrew..... one day we will have to work out how our families fit together. I have been to Corippo three times now- easy to access from Locarno. I hope you get to see it one day as well!

  3. Yep Cazzie, we Aussies really don't have a good concept of old. Brewery in your family heritage...ok, that explains...

    Hi Margaret,seventh cousin thrice removed by marriage. Corippo looks great. I wonder if I would feel any family connection if I visited. Worth visiting in its own right anyway. Not so far back really. My great great grandfather's hometown.

  4. you would probably find that you are quite a good yodeler if you gave it a go.

  5. Great great grandfather for me too: Giuseppe (Joseph) Scettrini. Left the Aussie goldmining lot behind and came to the West Coast of NZ which was more mountainous so probably reminded him of home. Tried yodelling without success as an eight year old.

  6. Doubt it Ian. Can't sing but I do like Mary Schneider.

    Snap Margaret, same one. Married Maria nee Gambetta. Son Giovanni married (Maria) Johanna nee Scilacci.

  7. Snap indeed. We are not as distant as you thought! I am descended from his eldest daughter Johanna, married Francis Davis Payn.

  8. S'cuse us everybody. Family biz y'know. Johanna who married Payn would have had a brother James who married Priscilla Jacobs, my branch, and there we separate. I think James had an Italian name at first.

  9. Not quite as close in one sense.... my Johanna was born on the Australian goldfields, but her father Giuseppe was then possibly your ancestor's brother. Too many Giuseppe's around to keep all the generations traight. Giovanni Scettrini and (Ma) Johanna Scilacci were my three times great grandparents. Scetrini/Gambetta are 4X great. But definitely the same line. My cousin Maurice Payn has met up with some Scettrini's in Oz but we weren't sure of how closely we were connected. James (I think that might have been Giocomo but not sure of Italian spelling) and my Giuseppe who married Catherine Henneberry might then be brothers. Which would make us about fourth cousins!
    I have an exam next week so need to ignore the genealogy until then, After that I will e-mail you!!!

  10. Anonymous5:23 pm

    Ah six degrees of seperation at work....

  11. No probs M.

    Bit less than six Anon. Pretty good though.

  12. Your mail Thursday will bring a lead to Goldfields Swiss-Italian heritage centre.

    and that hot passion is the Southern Italian kind. The North of Italy has all the cool and style.

  13. Ron Barassi's family came from the same area, settled in Vic in 1850s due to the gold but then started growing wine grapes.
    If you missed it here is his ep of Who Do You Think You Are?

  14. ah yes, it's all in the genes, and explains why Hot Andrew doesn't mind an athletic tackles full-forward in the ruck position.

  15. Eagerly await Emstacks. I better check a map to see what I was adjacent to. Those genes you mention have never come to the fore.

    Jayne, I have missed all of those. Listening now. Thanks.

  16. Anonymous9:25 pm

    Hello Andrew ( and Margaret if you are peaking)...
    I have met two more Scilacci cousins, one here in the same state of Utah and one near Corippo. Since I have done a lot of work with the church records and have a lot of photos from Rae Codoni's archive, we have been recreating our little bit of history on geneanet I think it is. If you are interested, let me know and I will give you the exact link. I hope all is well with you and also with the KiwiNomad.
    Say hello at david.silva@law.utah.edu


  17. Hi David,
    I am peeking! I am out of plaster- but my hand function is still 'recovering'... Have a Massey assignment to type, then hopefully will get around to telling you more about my Scettrini family!! I have indeed been thinking of you in recent days!