For us to understand the family history and the reason for the grand emigration of the Italians in the 1880s we must try to understand what was happening, or had happened in Italy in the 1860s.
Giuseppe Garibaldi was born on the 4th of July in the year 1807 in the city of Nice, France, commonly called Nizza in Italian. By his twenties he joined the Carbonari Italian Patriot Revelotionaries and he had to flee Italy after a failed insurrection. By the year 1832 he participated actively in the Nizzardo Italian movement and went on to become a Captain in the Merchant Navy.
Throughout his revolutionary movements and naval escapades over the next thirty years he was responsible for the unification of Italy and even challenged the great Rome itself. He is now a national hero, but at that time the regions were in great crisis.
As every schoolboy used to know Garibaldi was the chap who marched up and down Italy with 1000 men in red shirts fighting everybody who was against the unification of Italy. He was the original action hero, a revolutionary, a sex symbol of the time, a global celebrity, having travelled the globe in his role as a Merchant Seaman Captain.
This handsome swashbuckler with long hair, full beard, burning eyes and his trademark red cape, cut a swathe through European politics during the mid 19th century. For three decades Garibaldi took part in every major battle in Italy, provoking revolution in Sicily, bringing about the collapse of the Bourbon Monarchy, the retreat of the Austrian Empire and the overthrow of the Papal States and the creation of the Italian nation. At one point the reigning pope put a large bounty on his head, but, no one in the Italian provinces betrayed him.
The high point of his reputation came with that infamous invasion of Sicily. He then proceeded to the mainland of Italy. First he crushed the Neapolitan army, then travelling at an incredible speed he bypassed the formidable Neapolitan Navy, which was the largest in the Mediterranean. He proceeded into the mainland and swept 300 miles north towards Naples. The population lined the roads as he passed calling him the Father of Italy and the women brought out their babies to be blessed as he passed by.
His reputation crossed the world with the speed of fire. Lincoln, the American President of the time, asked him to become a General in the American Civil War.
By the unification itself in 1860/61 the country was in turmoil and many of the peasants who had traditionally worked the lands were evicted, just like in Scotland.
The people were left to make decisions about their lives and the population started to leave their beautiful country in search for a life where they could earn money and send some home for parents, siblings, and of course their church.
This is our story.
Our family were one of the first of the Northern Italians to leave for a new life. The little hamlet of Castelvecchio, later known as Castelvecchio Pascoli, Barga, Toscana, Italy, was the home of the Quilietti family at this turbulant time.
Their house was small, really only the smaller part of a larger house and the family too were farmers.
The village is a small traditional Italian village with the Church of Saint Nicoli’ at the centre of their lives. It is here that all the family were baptised and the church is still here today. The old cemetery is now gone but the old bones still lie behind the church itself in the sacred ground overlooking the Serchio Valley.
Our Maternal family left from the homeland in the Province of Parma.
In 1871 an attempt was made to survey the Italians who were abroad, gathering the data provided by consulates in places of arrival, you do not succeed, however, to collect all necessary data, among others, those relating to the United States failed.
So were the port or border provinces, especially the North, they did record the migratory movements more conspicuous.
Parma was the Emilian province in which the phenomenon took on higher values.According to the Census, migration Parma was heading first to France and its colonies; alone received more than 55% of our emigrants, they are directed mainly towards Corsica, and then, all along the country’s eastern Alps , Marseille and Nice to Paris and Lille.
In second place, but far away from France, there was Britain, where our emigrants were concentrated mainly in London, followed two South American countries, Argentina and Uruguay, then Switzerland (especially the Canton Ticino).
The turkish empire for over 100 Parma, scattered, however, from Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt (the Suez Canal was opened in late 1869 and in Egypt there was great animation), in Istanbul, Bucharest, etc..
A significant number was in Russia, the three “poles” of Odessa, Moscow and St. Petersburg, while in Germany, our migrants were scattered in different areas of that country, in Spain were mainly present in Catalonia.
In the period 1876-1920, the province of Parma was composed of three “districts” that included the following municipalities:
District Borgotaro: Albanvale, Bedonia, Berceto, Borgotaro Compiano, Tornolo, Valmozzola
Bicester district (then called Borgo San Donnino): Borgo San Donnino Busseto, Fontanellato Fontevivo, Medesano, Noceto, Pellegrino Parmense (which included Bore), Polesine Parmense, Roccabianca, Salsomaggiore, San Secondo Parmense, Sissa, Soragna, Trecasali, Varano de ‘Melegari, Zibello
Parma district: Calestano, Collecchio, Colorno, Cornwall, Yard S. Martino, Felino, Fornovo of Taro, Golese (later absorbed by Parma), Langport, Lesignano de ‘Bagni, Lesignano Palma (Terenzo) Mezzani, Amputee, Montechiarugolo, Neviano degli Arduini, Palanzano, Parma, Sala Baganza, San Lazzaro Parmense (used by Parma), San Pancrazio Parmense, Solignano, Sorbie, Tizzano Val Parma
Torrile, Traversatolo, Vars, Vigatto (used by Parma)
The town of Bardi, now in the province of Parma, was part of the district Fiorenzuola of Arda
Municipalities of Bobbio, Caminata, Cerignale, Court Brugnatella, Brass, Zerba, now in the province of Piacenza, were part of the district Bobbio, whose territory is now largely in the province of Genoa and Pavia
The District of Borgotaro, although small in population size, food, alone, in 1876, more than two-thirds of the emigration of the Province.