Italian Migration Story 1903-1915

By Janet O'Conor Camarata
   Between 1900 and 1915, 3 million Italians immigrated to America becoming the largest nationality of “new immigrants” during the late 19th and early 20th century. They were mostly artisans and peasants. Many were unable to read, write or speak English and were listed as “laborers” on passenger lists. The migration included representatives of all the regions of Italy, primarily from the Mezzogiorno region of Italy-- southern Italy including the “boot” of Italy and the Islands of Sicily and Sardinia. Alfonso and Antonina (Pastorello) Aronica with their children and grandchild are one such family.

       The Aronicas are an example of “chain migration,” a simple concept where early immigrants are known to be more likely to move to a new country or community if people they know already live there. And in turn with each new immigrant, they also are more likely to move where people they now live.  Over a span of many years, the Aronica family pulled three gen…

Franklin—Growth and Struggles of Company Coal Town

Part II—Fire Spreads Death in Franklin Mine By MaryLynn Strickland By 1894 the miners of Franklin were working side by side—people who had migrated from Pennsylvania and Ohio, immigrants from Wales and England, single young Italian men hoping to earn enough money to bring their families to the US and black miners who had been “imported” from the mid-West in 1891.  
Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper articles in 1894 related stories of miners striking throughout the United States.  Miners in Roslyn, Washington, had become divided over a wage reduction.  The August 18 paper reported that black miners had accepted the reduction; white miners were holding out and there was talk of moving black miners from Franklin to Roslyn.  Other news of the world dominated the front page of each issue.

But “Stifled by Smoke” was the headline on the front page of the August 25, 1894, issue.  A full two columns on the front page, complete with a list of 37 victims of the fire and a layout of the mine, …


By Michele Norton Mattoon
Grandma worked on the railroad. No, that’s not a typo. Grandma worked on the railroad. No, not a cushy desk job! My grandmother, Mary Grady, of Ravensdale, Washington, at age 40, went to work on an all-woman railroad section gang and worked eight hours a day doing back-breaking manual labor. Women do all the jobs men do now, but that wasn’t the case in 1942. In fact, it was such a big deal that The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Pathé and Time Magazine all came to town to report on it. 
First, let me tell you a little about Grandma. Born Marija Bele in Slovenia in 1902, Grandma lived on and worked the fields (haying) at the family farm in her small community. Our family has always said we were from “good peasant stock” and I think Grandma’s beginnings prove that.

After marrying and immigrating to America in September 1922 at age 20, Grandma arrived in Hobart, Washington. Her husband had settled there the year before. Alone, and not knowing a word of English, Gr…

Colletta Seminar

Sept. 22, 2018 at beautiful Salish Hall on the Green River College Campus, Auburn

The day began with coffee, tea, books, raffle items and a great Silent Auction John Philip Colletta, PhD., began the day by introducing us to archives, libraries and manuscript repositories, discussing who created the records or documents and where we might find them. After a thorough introduction, he dove into several research cases, which included the records and how he found them. This was very enlightening, because so often we find one piece of evidence but never follow up to find the records and story behind the notation in an index, or sentence in a book.

Before lunch, we traveled through the Library of Congress, and what research one can do in each of the specialized Reading Room/Research Centers. After lunch, we learned of some Lesser Used Federal Record, which provide detail about our ancestor's lives and biographies, rather than lineage. The amount of information one can find is astounding…

Franklin—Growth and Struggles of Company Coal Town

Part I—The Rest of the Story By MaryLynn Strickland
A couple of miles east of Black Diamond is the town of Franklin, now a ghost town but once the site of the Oregon Improvement Company’s mine.  Inhabitants were made up of immigrants mostly Welsh, English, Irish, Italian and Scots.  Other European immigrants included Swedes, Poles and Austrians.  When the Seattle to Walla Walla Railroad was extended to Franklin, coal was shipped to San Francisco and the operations grew.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 18, 1891, described Franklin thus:

“Franklin is blessed with one of the most beautiful sites in Washington, though it is the last place a real estate man would choose for a townsite.  It clings to the steep side of a mountain which rises precipitously from the right bank of the raging, roaring, tumbling Green river (sic).  The main part of the town is so high up the mountain that the railroad has to crawl up the side to the tail of a Y and then turn back again to reach the required el…

How Are You Related? Let Legacy Family Tree Calculate the Ways!

Are you related to a direct-line ancestor in more than one way? If you are not certain, do you know how to find out? What method have you used to determine ALL the different ways in which you are related to an ancestor or another individual? This has been my dilemma for years, until I discovered the answer in Legacy Family Tree.

 Let me explain.

My paternal grandmother, Mabel Clair Maris, was a birth-right Quaker – meaning her parents were both members of the Quaker (Society of Friends) religion when she was born. The Quakers are a very close-knit community and members were “disowned,” i.e. removed from membership if they married outside their faith. The Quakers also tended to move from one community to another as groups of families. Consequently, several of my Quaker immigrant ancestor’s descendants migrated from Pennsylvania to North Carolina and ultimately to Indiana and intermarried along the way.

My four paternal 2nd-great-grandparent’s surnames are MARIS, JONES, HADLEY, and WOOD…

Black Diamond, Washington by Katie Hanzeli

“If it wasn’t for coal, there never would have been a Black Diamond, Washington.”1

     About 1885, the Black Diamond Coal Company of California sent Morgan Morgan, their
superintendent and Mr. P. B. Cornwall, the company’s president up North to check out the prospect of moving its entire operation from Nortonville to what is now Black Diamond, Washington. Coal, good quality coal, had been discovered in Newcastle, just North of there and explorations showed that even more was to be had. Morgan and Cornwall liked what they saw. The mostly Welsh and some Italian employees, their families and all the equipment were packed up, lock, stock and barrel, and moved to Washington.      Even before coal became king, there were homesteaders nearby, who had to go to Seattle via Covington to get supplies. Everything else they grew themselves, including tobacco.2 They had been settled in the area since the early 1870’s.      Welsh, Italians, Slovenians, British and other nationalities flocked to the…