The Martinioas, Traversis and Dolcinis of Cevio

by Sally Gale, United States

I would like to know is if there is anyone in Cevio who can tell me anything about either the Martinioas, the Traversis or the Dolcinis.  

My great-great grandmother Katherina was a Traversi. She was sent for when my great-great grandfather, Charles Martinoia, got set up in Chileno Valley and was ready to settle down. Her family’s Switzerland house is right across from my great-great grandfather’s house (The Martinioa House. They are right across from each other on the Cevio Square, Canton Ticino, Valle Maggia.)

Katerina Traversi Martinoia

Up the road a piece in Cevio is the Dolcini house. It was owned by our family until about 30 years ago, at which time the family gave it to the town of Cevio. I remember my Mom signing something. This was because all of the Dolcinis had left Cevio for California.

The house I live in now, and the ranch Mike and I operate, was the first Marin County home of my first ancestors here in the US.

Charles Martinoia


Charles Martinoia and Katherina Traversi bought this ranch in 1862 from Henry Halleck, who became President Abraham Lincoln’s Chief of Staff. (Ed. Read the swissinfo article including quotes from Sally. )

So, one of their 7 chiildren, the youngest, Anita Martin (the name was changed for business reasons), married Peter Dolcini, one of their hired men. That’s how the Dolcini name entered into the family. My Mother, who grew up on a ranch in Hicks Valley (that is still in the family), Marin County is named Anita Dolcini.

The Martinioa name died out here and is known only in history. Even in Cevio I think there are no Martinioas. We were unable to find any when we visited. We did find an elderly relative who lived in the Martinoia house, but she was too ill to meet us. There are Traversis left in Cevio….and there are some here, but I have not met them.

I have the Dolcini and the Martinoia geneologies. A nice man named Ray Codoni from Sacramento did the Martinoia one for me, and my Aunt Margaret Dolcini Manthey passed on the Dolcini one to me some time ago.

48 thoughts on “The Martinioas, Traversis and Dolcinis of Cevio

  1. Hi Sally,

    My name is Alison Dolcini. My father is Michael Dolcini and my grandfather was Albert Dolcini. Our family migrated from Cevio To Sacramento and I would really appreciate any information you could share about the Dolcini family history.

    Thank You,

  2. Hi Alison,
    I have sent you messages twice, and both timews they have not gone thru. Wrong Code! Is the response.
    So I am sending this to see if it will go thru.
    Please let me know.
    I do have quite a buit of info…….
    Sally Gale

  3. OK, Allison, I will try to get all of this down again, and hope it goes through.
    Michael Albert Dolcini was a brother of my great grandfather, Peter Arnold Dolcini. Michael Albert was born April 7th, 1849 in Cevio, and died in Petaluma, Ca., in July 20th, 1932. His parents were Joseph Dolcini (b.1812 in Cevio and D 1856 in Australia) and Dominica Mattei Dolcini (B 1811 in Cevio). I have a photo of her. She did not leave Cevio. Their 8 children were Domenica, Carolina, Marguerite, Michael Albert, Enrico (Henry) Celeste Dolcini, Pater Arnold Dolcini, Nina and Joseph. I knowsomething about the children of some of these 8 children.
    Michael Albert married Isolina Marie Palla July 20th, 1884 at St Vincent’s Church, Petaluma, Ca. She was born Sept 20th, 1861 in Cevio and died in Petaluma July 20th, 1932. They had 5 children.
    The father of Peter and Michael Albert died penniless in Australia. He apparently abandoned his family. This according to Georgio Cheda. And as I said, the mother vnever left Cevio. Her photo shows an old woman, bent, wearing the traditional dress of her villiage.
    Hope this helps,
    Sally Gale

  4. Hi Sally,
    There is a lot of information about the Dolcini family in the book: “NICASIO The Historic Valley at the Center of Marin” by Dewey Livingston with Elaine Doss.
    Available from the Nicasio Historical Society, P O Box 111, Nicasio, California 94946
    They also have a website with information about this book that was first published in May 2008. There is a selected surname index at the end of the book, with many entries for Dolcini, as well as many other Swiss Italian names who were among the first dairy farmers there in the 1800’s as were my Martinelli ancestors.
    Best wishes,

  5. Hi Marcia,
    Thanks for this.
    Yes, the Nicasio Historical Society did a nice job overall.
    Not all of the info on the Dolcinis is accurate, tho. it is based on oral histories, and they are not always accurate.
    Calvin Dolcini, who is the source for this info, is my Mom’s first cousin. He dad and my grandfather bought the home ranch (in Hick’s Valley) together, where my Mom grew up. My grandfather and Calvin’s father, Alvino, were raised on what is now Calvin’s ranch in Nicasio.
    Do you know Peter Martinelli?
    Rod Martinelli was my Mother’s lawyer.
    Sally Gale

  6. Hi Sally, Yes, Peter Martinelli is my 3rd cousin, I have met him a few times and visited Fresh Run Farms once. Rod Martinelli was my mother’s second cousin. I met him once at a family reunion in 1994 when he brought copies of the Point Reyes Light Newspaper that had a special issue about immigration to West Marin from Maggia and elsewhere in Ticino.

    I am so impressed with your restoration project of the Chileno Valley Ranch. I read a newspaper article about it from 1997 online.

    I left a message on your 707 area code phone number a few days ago.
    Best Wishes,

  7. Hi Sally,

    My name is Mike Dolcini, Alison’s father, and I reside in Sacramento. I have been in contact with Virginia Dolcini and have shared some family history with her. My last visit with your end of the family was some 30 odd years ago, when we had a family get together in Petaluma. What a day, and half the night, that was.

    Best Regards,


  8. Hi Mike,
    Good to hear from you!
    Obviously you are named for my great Uncle “Michael”……
    Virginia lives two ranches down and has been diligently working on this family history for quite some time. She deserves a lot of credit.
    There is another project which you might be interested in, as you seem to have an interest in family history. It is a rather large book newly put together by Dewey Livingston, containing several interviews, or oral histories, of a nomber of the Dolcinis here in Marin County. The books are not available as yet, but will be soon. They can be obtained from the Marin Resource Conservation District, a small board of which I am a member. Cal Nancy Scolari at 415-663-1170. Copies will be sold at cost for around $10.00.
    We still have to get permission from all of the contributors to be able to make this available to family members outside this area. But I do not think this will be any problem.
    Other families which have been studied (oral histories taken) are the MacDonalds, the Cordas, the Grossis. The Spalettas are part of the Grossi family.
    Of the Dolcini Family, there are interviews of Neil McIssac, Virginia Mossi, Fred Dolcini, Anita Dolcini Googins (94 years old), myself, Earl Dolcini. It’s a reayy nice book. Has photos too.
    Thanks for the note, and it is good to get in touch. Please stop by when you are in Marin.
    Sally Gale

  9. Hi Sally, My great grandfather Eliseo Traversi. Eliseo Traversi, migrated to the Petaluma California area somewhere about 1878 or so from Cevio, Switzerland. He was listed in the Petaluma, Sonoma County census of 1880. Eliseo returned to Cevio after spending only 5 years in California and married Clelia Respini. Eliseo’s father’s name was Giacomo. My grandfather Rinaldo Traversi came to Petaluma at the age of 16 in 1913 from Cevio, Switzerland. My family still owns a Traversi house in Cevio. If you have been there you can’t miss it. It’s up the road a bit just outside the square. The house was built against a huge rock and you can climb out onto the rock through the attic and see the entire village from up there. If you have the names of Katerina’s parents that would be a huge help.

    Stephen Traversi

  10. HI STEVEN,
    I do not know much about the Traversis. I know there are some in Petaluma. I believe Katerina (My g g grandmother) had a brother who was in business with my g g grandfather at the time. I would suppose his name would be on the county records as a land purchaser. Usually these purchases were done as a group, in his case his partner might be Carlo Martinioya, or “Charles Martin”. I imagine your g grandfather would be the brother of Katerina Traversi Martinioya.
    I have been to Cevio and seem a house, I believe it was pink, on the square across from the Martinoiya house, now “Cavalii” or something simillar. I was told that was the Traversi house. The house you describe sounds much more interesting!!
    By the way, there is a new cheese factory, The Lafranchi Cheese Factory in Nicasio, which is now making and selling cheese from recipies from the Valle Maggia! These Lafranchis are my cousins.

  11. Wow, so much information here! I would like to add this.
    In 1813 Martino Martinoia was godfather to Giovanna Mattei, she later married Giuseppe Mattei (first cousins). This Guiseppe Mattei was the older brother top Domenica (b 1811) who was the wife of Giuseppe/Joeseph Dolcini it seems. I have the details of Domenica parents, grandparents and great grandparents, which I can provide for you if you wish.
    Other details are from the cemetry in Cevio and you may have this information. Battista Mattei fo Cipriani d. 1918 aged 91, in the same grave as Margherita Mattei Martinoia d. 1865 aged 34 and Teresa Mattei Martinoia d. 1910 aged 69. I have a photo of the grave, if you want it.
    cheers from Oz, Barb

  12. Hi Sally. I am Michael Dolcini’s sister, Albert Dolcini’s daughter, descendant of Henry Dolcini. Do you have any information on Henry, other than that he partnered with two brothers on a dary farm in Pt. Sal near Santa Maria, California, until his death? I think some of us from the Sacramento area would like to get to know some of the Petaluma side of the family. Aside from putting together a family reunion many years ago, I have only met Arnold’s children. I know Virginia Mossi is working on family history also, do you have the status of that effort?

  13. I have a fifth cousin, Anthony Guichard, who lives in Portola Valley.
    His great grandfather was Henry Dolcini. I believe he was killed by a horse, and owned the ranch at Guadalupe, which is now owned by Calvin Dolcini and my uncle Earl Dolcini.
    There was a dispute regarding the ownership of the ranch after Henry was killed, and his wife did not keep the ownership. It could be that there were partners, and that the partners kept the ranch. I am not sure of this, but Anthony can tell you their side of the story.
    There were some well educated relatives on that side of the family at U C Davis. One woman was postmistress. Anthony (Tony) remembers her.
    I am note sure about Virginia’s progress. She is on Chileno Valley Road, petaluma, under fred mossi.
    There has been a book made (I am involved), an oral history of the Dolcinis. Please call the RCD office at 415-663-1170 to order a copy. They are less than $20.00. They are oral histories of several of the Dolcini Family Members here in Marin. Virginia is interviewed, as is her son, Fred, myself, my Mom, Neil McIssac Junior, LaFranchi, etc. Calvin. There are old photos.
    I know you will find talking to Tony rewarding. Please let him know that I gave you his number.
    You may call me here at home to discuss this further. I can be found in the Petaluma directory under Mike Gale, Chileno Valley.Thank you.
    Very interesting to hear from you!

    • Hello Sally,
      I’m Melody Bailey Hjerpe, granddaughter of Valente Francis and June Rose Dolcini of Davis, great great granddaughter of Joseph and Dominica Mattei Dolcini. Anthony Guichard is my first cousin. Just to fill in some possible blanks, the book that my mother was putting together for my 8 siblings before she died, tells us that Henry Celeste Dolcinni had just purchased a team of very spirited horses and challenged the stagecoach, which ran between Guadelupe and Santa Barbara to a race. Bets were placed and it began. Henrys new team became out of control and he was pulled from the wagon, breaking his neck. The date was November 23, 1893, he was 40 years old.
      Henry was one of the few persons at that time with the foresight to buy life insurance, and he had $15,000. His wife Henrietta took $3000 of that amount and built the house in Guadalupe that apparently still stands today. She took in “drummers”, (traveling salesmen) to defray expenses while raising six children. She saw to it that each of them received a college education
      The woman you speak of above who was postmistress in Davis was my grandmother June Rose Dolcini. My grandfather Valente was postmaster until his death and my grandmother took over the position at that time until she retired. I remember going to her office at the post office as a small child..
      I too would love to see the photo Dominica Mattei Dolcini, my GG Grandmother.
      Anything that I may be able to contribute to your endeavors?
      Best, Melody

      • Hi Melody,
        It is so nice to see this email from you! Wasn’t Valente also an instructor at U C Davis?My Uncle Arnold Dolcini went to U C Davis around the early ’40s, as a student…There was a large trophy that he won which was displayed for a long time there. And my daughter, Amy Gale Culver, graduated from medical school at U C Davis, along with her husband, in the mid 1990s.
        Yes, I had heard the story of your GG Grandfather’s death. Very sad. It set off a series of dramatic events in the family. Actually, there have been 3 horse related deaths in Dolcini family lore.
        Your account of the accident is the best I have heard so far and I will print it out and keep it. Thanks very much. Also, I am wondering whether you have gotten in touch with Susan Kasper from Sacramento??
        Are you a history buff? it sounds as though you are. My Mother, who is 96 and very much with it, lives with me. You are welcome to visit with her and also welcome to see what I have. I do not believe I have a photo of Dominica Mattei Dolcini, however.
        Thanks for getting in touch!
        I might just repeat that the Marin Resource Conservation District has copies of the oral history book they made a few years ago. Call Nancy Scolari at 415-663-1170 to order a copy.
        We are planning another project but I do not know when it will be ready. We would like to post photos and stories on line of the swiss families who migrated from the Canton Ticino…..

        Thanks again for getting in touch!!
        Sally Gale
        Petaluma, Ca.

  14. Giuseppe Dolcini (b 1812) arrived in Australia on the “Europa”. He was lent 800 fr by the ‘commune’ for his passage. He was one of a number who wrote to the commune pleading their case for money for the voyage (Cheda p 284) as well as two Traversi brothers and Battista Martinoja. He left Cevio 29 10 1854 and arrived 1855. He died in hospital in Sydney, without papers and penniless, 19 February 1856. (ref Cheda, Giorgio: L’Emigrazione Ticinese in Australia, Vol 1 & Gentili, J: THe Settlement of Swiss Italian Immigrants in Australia.

    Perhaps he did abandon his family, but he didn’t have much time in Australia to do anything, about 12 months. He was obviously without the support of his community – most of the ticinese stuck together, so perhaps there was something very wrong. Most ticinese were on the Victorian goldfields and he was a long way from them. Nevertheless many immigrants had difficulty coping with the harsh world they found themselves in. Some murdered, some got murdered, some got too drunk and fell into mines and died, and so on.

    Sally, could you post the picture of Domenica Dolcini (nee Mattei), my own great, great, great aunt? Then, with your permission I would include it in the ‘book’ I am preparing based on the life of her nephew Alessandro Mattei.

    Again, if you want Mattei information, just let me know, ok?

    cheers from Oz,

  15. This is all pretty amazing! ( I just read all the comments from the beginning.)
    Before I forget, do call me (Sally Gale) at 707-765-6664 for any info, especially ( This to Susan) regarding how to get ahold of Anthony Guichard (see my comment above), a descendent of the Henry Dolcini Clan.
    Barbara, please feel free to call me regarding your research.
    Good for you for writing a book!
    Regarding the photo of “Domenica Mattei:I am assuming the photo that I have is of the mother of Peter Dolcini, but I do not really know as it is not marked. I may have been told this by my cousin, Emeline Martin, (d. 1996). (Georgio Cheda stayed with my cousin Emeline when he came here to research his books.)
    The photo shows a woman, very old, who is dressed in the old way, with an apron, bonnet,etc. I think you probably know what I mean. it’s a traditional dress. I have been told that this dress varied slightly from village to village, so that one could be identified by their clothing variations.
    I will have to take a photo of it and scan it and email it to you. I’m getting a new camera today.
    What you have to add about Joseph Dolcini is very interesting. it would be tragic if his family felt abandoned and in reality he had simply gotten sick and died within a year of his arrival in Australia.
    Also, may I ask if you read Italian? I have 2 volumes of Cheda’s book and can’t read them, although I have a friend who translated some letters and they are very revealing.
    They refer to life in San Luis Obispo and that area in the late 1850s and early 1860s.
    It would be great to translate these volumes into english.
    As for the Mattei info, the answer is “Yes! I would love to have info on Domenica and her ancestry.
    Regarding the photo of the gravesite, Yes, I would like this too.
    Barbara, do call the Marin Resource Conservation District and ask to order the Oral History book on the Dolcini Clan. Dewey Livingston did the interviewing. The RCD sponsored it. It s quite a treasure. Photos, oral histories of about 6 people. The book will grow, I believe.
    Thank you,
    Sally Gale

  16. Hi Sally,
    I don’t know if the English translation, published by swissinfo, of the chapters of Cheda’s book on the Valle Maggia slipped your attention, but the translator, Jay Grossi, is willing to make it available to anyone requesting it. Jay lives near Sacramento. See his comment to his own recent blog post.

    Here’s the link to one of Jay’s translations of Cheda.

  17. HI STEVEN,

    I have just finished reading all or the entries on this “Traversi” and Dolcini web site, which my son forwarded to me. His name is James Traversi Normandi and he is 50 years old. I am 80 years old and my grandfather was Riziero Traversi who was your great grandfather’s brother, Eliseo. If I have this correct, your father is Eliseo “Elli” and his father was Rinaldo Traversi. Rinaldo was my mother’s first cousin. Her name was Dora and she had 2 sisters, Gemma and Stella. Riziero had a ranch on Old Adobe Rd in Petaluma. Stella ran the ranch till she died. For years she took me to Rinaldo’s ranch on the 4th of July for a wonderful picnic. I am sorry that I didn’t maintain contact with your dad. I saw him a few times when in Mill Valley where he was building a house. A few years back he called me on Christmas or Thanksgiving at my son Jim’s house in Forest Knolls and we spoke for a short time. LIfe goes by so fast and we lose track of time. I have never posted anything before as I never knew about this site till now. Riziero emigrated to San Luis Opispo when he was a very young man. He moved to Petaluma and married Clorinda Filippini. They leased a very large ranch in Hicks Valley from a man named Pedrazzini. My mother Dora and Stella were born there. My grandmother contracted tuberculosis and the family moved back to Cevio, where Gemma was born.. They returned to USA in 1903 and purchased the ranch in Petaluma. I am certain my son Jim would enjoy meeting you. He visited Cevio in 1985 and met Gianrico, who has since died. However, Renato Traversi still lives in Bellinzona with his wife Elisa. My wife and i visited them a few years ago and saw the Traversi house in Cevio, where Giacomo lived. He of course, was my great grandfather and your great great grandfather.
    Well that is enough history for now. I have a business in Forest Knolls in west Marin with my son. I hopefully can get in touch with Sally Gale, who has many posts on this site. and somehow is related to all of us as well. best regards, James Normandi

  18. Dear Sally, Greetings from Melbourne Aust. RE Martinoja connections in Victoria circa 1860. We have been looking into the family history of the Passalaqua-Martinoja family,with roots in Nth Italy (Alessandria near Genoa) and Swiss-Italian district of Ticini. Mary Ann Martinoja was born at Talbot Victoria in 1860 to Filipo and Domenica Martinoja (nee Righetti) who emigrated from Someo and Cervio in Switzerland circa 1850 . At 19, in 1879 she married Prospero Passalaqua from Alessandria (arrived Aust 1855) and had 9 children (8 surviving). She ran a farm and the Farmers Arms Hotel with Prospero in Guildford for 28 years until his death in 1914. She died at 87 on 22nd October 1947. Both are buried in Guildford Cemetery. A distant and fleeting reference. The Hotel is gone but some of the stone cottages they built have survived and now the descendants celebrate their Swiss-Italian heritage each year with a small festival. Best wishes from down under, Mark Allaway and Jill Lancashire (great, great, great, grand-daughter of Prospero P).

  19. Hi Mark,
    This is so great! I love this site!
    I am looking at my geneology on the Martinoia side and I do not see these names. That does not mean anything, however.
    Perhaps the parents of Carlo Martinoia are also the parents of your ancestor?
    My ancestor, Carlo Martinoia, (great great grandfather) who settled here in Chileno Valley in 1862, was born of Giacomo Maria Martinoia(b. 16 Nov., 1761) and Maria Margarite Raspini (b. 5, July 1764). They were born and married in Cevio, Valle Maggia (married 20 Feb., 1786).
    Carlo immigrated about the same time as your ancestor. I know some of them went to Australia, where conditions were harsh, and some came to California and prospered.
    San Luis Obispo was an earlier residence for many of the immigrants who eventually settled here in Chileno Valley and Marin County, Ca.
    The church records in Cevio are your best source of information, I believe. I will ask Dale to find out how people can access them.
    When are your Swiss Italian Get Togethers?

  20. Hi Dale,
    Can you let the readers of this blog know how to access their birth and marriage records from their home places in Switzerland?
    I am fortunate that a friend, Ray Codoni, did this for me.
    I also do not know how to look up the siblings of my own ancestors…….
    Sally Gale
    Chileno Valley, Ca.

  21. Oh Sally,

    I did check for responses, but onlyknow rereading all the above comments, did I see your response to me…. forgive me.

    You will be pleased to know that I have done even more research and have found more – linking DOLCINI, MARTINOJA and MATTEI’s. But that just gets so confusing – I need to see it as a tree to keep track of it. But for everyone I will write out some simple stuff here. I will number the generations from 1. to 5. All were born in Cevio. The informatin below is primarily the church records, unless indicated otherwise.

    1. Antonio Maria MATTEI, father of

    2. Giuseppe Maria MATTEIi who married Maria Domenica MATTEI (cousin) and fathered

    3. Dr Antonio MATTEI b. 1786, who married Maria Domenica MATTEI (1st cousin) and fathered (that he was a dr is in Cheda)

    4. Adolorata (needs to be confirmed, she is in Cheda but could be Dr Pietro’s wife)
    Giuseppe Maria b. 1807 (married Giovanna Maria MATTEI – 1st cousin – who fathered generation 5. below)
    Maria Domenica b. 1811 (married Giuseppe DOLCINI in 1835)
    Dr Pietro Mattei b. 1818 (married Adolorata SOLDATA in 1850)
    Maria Agatha b. 1820 (married Carlo RESPINI (Giocomo Carlo) son of Barolomeo in 1838) – 2 of his bros came to Aust.
    Margarita b. 1822 (married Giocomo Antonio MARTINOJA in 1850) – he came to Aust.
    Maria Assumpta b. 1824 (married Giov Bapt MARTINOJA, then married again to Pietro CAUZZA)
    Giuliano b. 1828 (married Giocomina MORETTI in 1873)
    Constanza b. 1830 (married Giocomo BALZANI in 1850
    Catarina dob unknown (married Baptista MORELLI son of Antonio in 1850) – he came to Australia)

    5. Maria Domenica b. 1832, d. 1834
    Maria Giocomina b. 1833
    Pietro b. 1835 – went first to Aust then returned to Cevio, was in Wales then California.
    Antonio Maria ‘Alessandro’ b. 1838 – my great grandfather
    Marianna Tranquillina b. 1841
    Giuseppe Cesare Giuliano b. 1845
    Tranqillino b. 1848

    Now, the Cevio church records are available on film from LDS and are very challenging to read – the writing is difficult. They only have baptisms and marriages of course, including some interesting data circa the 1850’s. It is written in Latin mainly and it is hard to go from Latin to Italian to English…. You can order them online, it is easy to do.

    Re that wonderful man Cheda. I can’t read Italian really, although my couple of years of study does help and my Spanish language helps. The info Cheda had in his book on Cevio is very helpful indeed. The letters are a hard slog. I have some translated by an academic here: Tony Pagliaro and published in an Italian Historical Sociaety (Co As It) newsletter here Vol 2, No 1, 1991, but they are Australian related and none of the names are directly relevant to us. I have tried the google translater with interesting results.

    Valuable references for Aust Ticinese are:
    – Gentili, J “The Settlement of Swiss Italian Immigrants in Aust”, Uni of WA, 1988, zand
    – Gervasoni, C “Research Directory & Bibliography of Swiss and Italian Pioneers in Australia”, Ballarat Heritage Services, I have the 2002 edition.

    Sally (etc) my email is

    I don’t how much more I can add, but I do want to find out why DOLCINI was in Sydney. Some ship owners dumped their passengers there and they were found floundering and in desperate straits, but I didn’t think that happened to the ship he was on…. but that could be checked out.

    Thank you for your response of 12 mths ago!, hope to hear back 🙂 and respond more quickly this time.


  22. Hi Barbara,
    Thanks for this. Very interesting. Thanks for the Mattei line stuff!
    The Dolcini who went to Australia was my great great grandfather on my mother’s side. I have a list of his wife and children…I could fax you this. I think you already know this however.
    Joseph Dolcini was born in Cevio and died in Australia, penniless and without papers according to our family legend. His wife was Domenica Mattei. They had 8 children in Cevio before he left. Three of them came to Petaluma; my great grandfather, Peter Dolcini, and his brothers, Mike and Henry(Enrico). Only one girl came to Ca. and she was Carolina. She married Bernardo Tonini.
    Peter Dolcini is the Dolcini who married the bosses daughter (Anita Martinoia) and got not only a wife but a ranch out of it as a wedding gift.
    There is another Joseph Dolcini. He is the son out of wedlock of Carolina Dolcini, a twin daughter of Joseph and Dominica’s. He was born in Cevio in March 25, 1872. He immigrated to California and married Georgiana Wallman in 1904 or 1905.
    Have you finished your book on the Mattei’s, or on one of them? Your ancestor?
    We have finished our books on several families here but if we can get the funding we will continue researching the families that settled here from switzerland. Again, see 415-663-1170, Nancy Scolari, Marin Resource Conservation District for copies of our books.
    Thanks for this!
    Sally Gale

  23. Hi Sally,

    First a correction for the information above. The Margarita MATTEI (generation 4 above) who married Giocomo Antonio MARTINOJA is the daughter of Giuseppe MATTEI (who in turn was the son of Giuseppe and Anna Maria MATTEI she was NOT the daughter of my Antonio Maria MATTEI – I don’t know who that one married.

    Now an addition. Marianna MATTEI daughter of Dr Antonio MATTEI (generation 4 above), married Carlo Fillipo TRAVERSI in 1825.

    I got to and typed up my Cevio data and it has been most confusing, all the names become a blur after a while. It seems that the same names are repeated throughout the generations in the MATTEI family. Eg a Margarita DOLCINI daughter of Pietro married Giuseppe MATTEI son of Giovanni Batista. The years 1832 to 1850 saw a population boom that must have had interesting results. My MATTEI’s seem to have been keen to keep it all within the family – 3 generations of cousins marrying and then so many marriages within the same families (RESPINI, MARTINOJA, MORELLI, DOLCINI especially).

    The census of 1832 that I was able to sneak a look at in 1992 when I was researching there showed there were probably 8 MATTEI households some with very large families. Come the 1850s there would have been a population explosion and housing must have been scarce. No wonder the blockade and the crop failures made immigration so attractive.

    I am working on my book but most of my research and writing is focussed on the stories that I publish for my extended family here, a newsletter every month. I adapt these newsletters for publication here on the blog (I am working my way though my great aunts and uncles and their families) I have about another year of newsletters before I can concentrate on the book.

    Thanks for what you have written, but yes, I have all I need of your DOLCINIs for the present. Congratulations for your books, they sound great. I might put off buying them until such time as I visit your country – let’s hope it’s not too long. But my mum, in typical Swiss Italian fashion, at almost 102 years, simply shows no sign of letting up – so no travel while she’s here!

    cheerio for now,

  24. Hi Sally,

    This page has been very informative. My cousin by the same name, left a message regarding his great grandfather, Eliseo. My great grandfather, Joseph Traversi, left Cevio in1866 as his parents, Charles and Mary (Cristofanini) had both passed away before he turned nine. After arriving in California, he went to work for Charles Martin in Chileno Valley. We don’t really have much information on siblings other than the fact that he had eight brothers and sisters. Several brothers went to Australia – we met one descendant, Reginald Traversi some years ago. We do know at least two sisters came to America – perhaps one was Katherina?

    Steve Traversi

    • Hi Stephen,
      Again, I have not been in on this conversation for some time!
      Are you in touch with the two Marks below? They are trying to gather more info on the Traversis.
      You can get all of the names of the brothers and sisters of Elisio from church records in Cevio. if you want what I have on Katerina Traversi’s lineage, please let me know and I can fax it to you. But I don’t have her sibs.
      What is interesting about all of these names (Christofanini, for e.g..) is that if you go back in the various genealogies, you run into them. Christofanini is one of the names in the Peter Dolcini genealogy. (Peter married a daughter of Katerina Traversi, my great grandmother, Anita Martinioya.)

  25. Hi Sally again, Apologies fro a delay in responding since Nov 2011.

    You asked about information on the Swiss Italian festa in central Victoria, Australia. The festa is held annually in Hepburn Springs and has grown in popularity recent years. We usually visit a small lavender farm (originally settled by Aquilino Tinetti in 1860).

    The Festa can be viewed @

    The farm site is @

    We are planning to visit Europe in August 2012 travelling to Nth Italy & Sth Switzerland. We will be visiting Cevio on route and will be in contact if we strike any new connections. regards Mark Allaway & Jill Lancashire

  26. Hi Sally and others,

    My maternal grandmother was a Traversi born in Victoria around 1900. Her father Carlo Traversi was quite successful being a postmaster based in Daylesford, Rutherglen and then South Yarra. Postmaster was a quite senior government position but they obviously got moved around a bit.

    His father Carlo Traversi Sr came out from Cevio in 1853 with his brother which is when quite a few of the names mentioned in the previous posts left to try their luck in the Victorian gold rush. So the story goes he walked from the port of Melbourne to Daylesford (about 100miles) and earned his keep playing his cello.

    He ended up owning a theatre and dance hall in Daylesford where he apparently put on all sorts of overseas performers.

    A few of us are trying to put together our family tree and would appreciate anything you might have on either the Cevio or US side of the family please.

    One of the best documents I have come across on the Swiss Italians in Australia is at

    Click to access Carlson_1997compressed.pdf

    Be patient as it’s about 14mb.

    I’ve also come across a Carlo Traversi in Italy who is a successful graphic artist, and another in the US along with a Giovanni Cevio Traversi who I think are probably related. Carlo is a very successful rock climber and dominates any google search for Carlo Traversi!

    For those that are interested, Daylesford is a beautiful small country town in the hills not far from Melbourne and well worth a visit if you are ever out this way.



    • Hi Mark,
      What a nice note! I am afraid this is my first time seeing it!
      I keep mentioning Georgio Cheda’s work, but he did a great couple of books on the migration to Australia. Are you familiar with them? He compiled letters, signs, etc. He is a great resource and lives in Switzerland in the Canton Ticino. As mentioned in this blog, my son recently visited him there and so I can refer you if I have your email address.
      How interesting that there is a rock climbing Traversi!! With the name of Carlo!
      I do not have much on the Traverses. There is a Traversi who comes around here once a year with an old car club…they are local, and his wife seems to know about the family. That’s a thread, I know! Perhaps I an find something on him.Thanks for the referral,
      Sally Gale

    • Wilhelmina Campbell (B 1861, Mauritius; D 1935, Australia) was a sister of my great-grandmother, and the wife of Achille (Aquillino?) Traversi (1860-1906, Australia), son of Carlo Traversi (B 1831, Cevio; D 1872, Daylesford). I’ve learned a lot via Ancestry, and have combed through the Carlson document, but am always looking for more info on the family!

    • Hi Mark — we’re related in some distant way: Wilhelmina Campbell (B 1861, Mauritius; D 1935, Australia) was a sister of my great-grandmother, and the wife of Achille (Aquillino?) Traversi (1860-1906, Australia), the son of Carlo Traversi (B 1831, Cevio; D 1872, Daylesford, Victoria, Australia). Thanks so much for posting the link to the fascinating Carlson work.

  27. Hi Mark, Sally and all,

    My great great great aunt Marianna Mattei married Carlo Traversi in Cevio in 1825. His sister Maria Domenica was the one who married Giuseppe Dolcini, Sally’s forebears.

    It is possible that my Carlo Traveresi was the father of your Carlo Traversi who arrived in Aust in 1853, Mark. hmmmm!

    I have done a fair bit of research on my family in Cevio and in Aust. In particular I have studied the film of the church records held by the LDS. I need to look at them again soon. If I order them Mark, are you interested in trying to read them to find your Traversi’s? They would be held at the Genealogical Society of Vic in Collins St Melb. They are really hard to read though. Let me know, ok?

    I am in Port Melb, ph 9676 2158, so if you are in Melb, we could catch up.

    Sally, you probably know I have been in contact with Jim Roof (Calif), who is also a Dolcini descendant. I believe he is planning a trip to Petaluma soon. The wheels are slowly turning. As I look at all the informatin on this website. I think, it would be really good to try to draw it all up. I am especially interested in Cevio circa 1850. It would be great if we could recreate who was there and what happened to them!

    Now, some more general info. I am still researching and haven’t really started on the book yet. I have been producing a newsletter every month on my Mattei family here in Aust from 1850 to about 1950. I’m currently woring on issue no 17 and have another two to do before I can call this exercise quits. Then I have no more excuses but need to get down and write.

    Some of the newsletters were published here on the blog, but they are too long and don’t really work here. If anyone wanted to go on the mailing list, just let me know and I’ll put you on.


    • Hi Barb,
      Yes, do put me on your newsletter list. I would love that!
      I would think a great person to talk to about the world of Cevio in the 1850s would be Georgio Cheda in Switzerland. I believe you can reach him through this blog. He is highlighted here in the migration section. My son recently visited him there…….it would be good for you to travel there I think!

    • Barb,
      Another thought;
      We are thinking of putting together a website with what info we have on the swiss immigrants to Marin County. The purpose would be to acquaint descendants with their heritage as far as we know it. There would be links too.
      It would be sort of a central clearing house for those organizations which have gathered oral histories and the like. Perhaps the county would help us with records.
      You have done this sort of work. What do you think?
      Sally Gale

      • Hi Sally,
        Can you tell me your email address and I’ll get the newsletters to you.

        I started a Facebook page called “Mattei family of Australia” – it has proved an interesting vehicle for some discussions between distant cousins. But its not been an overwhelming success, thank goodness because that would mean more work. It seems that people are glad for you to give them information etc, but there is not too much in return, some even have trouble introducing themselves to others and saying who they are. Nevertheless it has been good. You are welcome to come aboard there and check it out. I don’t know how it seems to others because as the administrator, I get a different picture. Of course, I am also rather upractised in the mechanisms… not much time.

        I did try to start a web site, but only using google to start it up. I was going to take too much effort for me to get it going, so I gave in.

        Many people interested in genealogy here are not that computer proficient. The older people who know the connections are the ones who may know stuff and they aren’t always computer literate.

        What do I think of your idea? I think it’s great. I’d carefully consider its focus and how it could work, and I would get someone who knew how to set it up to do it (ie a professional) and show you how to manage the site. Good luck. Maybe you could start with a Facebook page and see how that could interest people…..

        Finally, I am building a larger profile of the Mattei family of Cevio of the 1850 period – which includes Dolcinis etc. I have some LDS film recently sent here for further investigation. So I am trying to build an understanding of the family and the interactions with other families at about that time. I’ll keep this site here in mind if there is anything to report.

        Hope all is well in your part of the world,

        ps my email is:

        pps I met Cheda in 1992, he was wonderful then. I have looked carefully at his volumes on migration and found much rich information there, sadly my Italian is not any good though. No plans to return to Cevio for a while…. sad.

    • Wilhelmina Campbell (B 1861, Mauritius; D 1935, Australia) was a sister of my great-grandmother, and the wife of Achille (Aquillino?) Traversi (1860-1906, Australia), son of Carlo Traversi (B 1831, Cevio; D 1872, Daylesford). I’ve learned a lot via Ancestry, and have combed through the Carlson document, but am always looking for more info on the family!

  28. Hi Mark,

    I believe Carlo Fillipo Traversi is the one who married my great great aunt Marianna Mattei, and they are your great great grandparents. Since I spoke with your cousin (?)Marilyn, I have done some follow up research.

    Cheda only refers to Carlo Traversi son of Carlo Fillipo Traversi as coming to Australia in March 1854. His brother Giovanni Battista left in Oct 1854 with another brother Stefano Antonio Maria Traversi on the same boat.. There is no record of Carlo Fillipo Traversi leaving Cevio for Australia. All up Cheda has records of 9 Traversi’s.

    Gervasoni has some interesting information on your ancestor, his knickname was Senty.It seems he was reluctant to pay wages and was taken to court a couple of times too. Gervasoni mentions 12 Traversi’s in all.

    Gentili mentions 11 Traversi’s. He mentions Carlo son of Carlo Fillipo as the keen musician of a viola.

    I hope this clarifies some of the Traversi information.


  29. Hi!
    I just found your site! It is great! Iam a casual genealogy buff – meaning, when I get the time between a husband, two small children, working full time, taking care of my Grandpa , I will toodle with my family history. I LOVE it! A relative has done much research on a Cevio side of our family. My Grandpa (whom I care for) is the grandson of Ettore Aqualino Morelli, who is the son of Michele Morelli – from Cevio. There is a Mattei in there, either Ettore’s step-mother or mother, and their is a Christofannini in there. My Morelli’s came to the California Central Coast (Santa Cruz) where they farmed and harvested artichokes. Ettore was also the manager of Coast Dairies in Davenport. I was wondering if you have any casual or in depth knowledge of any of these names. My relative may have already contacted you about it. Thank you for any information!

    Melanie O’Connor

  30. Hi Melanie,
    This is what I have on Michele Morelli etc:
    from Cheda, of Morelli men who journeyed to Aust – Guglielmo b. 1799, son of Carlo Antonio (dec’d); Michele Morelli b. 1839, son of Guglielmo; and 8 other Morelli men from seven different families all born in 1820s and 1830s.

    from Gentili, he has only 5 Morelli men in Australia, no Michele.

    from the internet according to Gary Carlsen and other sources: Michele b. 1839 d. 27 Sept 1889 in Cevio, was the son of Guglielmo and Maria Marguerita Mattei (my g g g aunt). It seems he also had a step mother, Serena Mattei whom he married in 1875. Michele married Maria Santina Christofanini who was the daughter of Giovan Pietro and Maria Domenica Pedrazzi.

    Click to enlarge This later information is especially interesting because in a wild gold mining camp called Blackwood in 1855, a Morelli murdered a Christophanini after a night of drinking and gambling together. Morelli was never found, he escaped into the bush and was obviously protected by the family men at Blackwood.

    I have a picture reputed top be of our tio Morelli, who probably died about 1898 or thereabouts. His first name is unknown…. is he the murderer?

  31. Hi Sally, I met you many years ago, when I stopped by your house in Chelena Valley at the house that you fixed up(!) that had belonged to Charles Martin. My great aunt was Evelyna Fairbanks Martin and she was married to the son, also Charles Martin. They never had children, but my uncle Roy and my father, Mark whose mother died during childbirth were raised by Evie and lived at the smaller house down the road. How many brothers and sisters did the senior Charles have? and do you know how it came about that Charles married my great aunt. My father died many years ago and never told me the story of how his little Irish aunt married an Swiss gentleman. Thanks, love to visit with you some time…I have a photo album and I live over in Calistoga.

  32. Hi,
    I do not have your name…….
    My mother, Anita Dolcini Googins, who lives with me, went to college at U C Berkeley from 1034 to 1938. For 2 of those summers, she lived at the ranch in Tomales and worked as a driver (She drove a Packard)for her Aunt Evie, after Charles passed away. She describes Evie as small and cheerful. She knew the boys, both Roy and Mark Fairbanks. She recalls that the youngest married a woman named Mamala (?) and the other married a woman who took care of Aunt Evie. Mom does not recall anything about how Evie and Charles got together, but the marriage seemed happy.
    It strikes me that Mom might be a good person to talk to, either on the phone or in person, about those days. You do have to ask a lot of questions, but she rises to the task. ( She is 96) She likes company and you would get more out of her if you visited. Bringing photos would be good…perhaps it will help me identify some old photos that were given to me by a Dolcini relative, and the photos would jog her memory.
    I have no photo of Aunt Evie. I do have one of Charles though.
    Do you know the story of how Evie’s ranch became the Blue Mountain Meditation Center?? I do if you are interested.
    I am sorry not to have answered this earlier, but I do not check this website unless Dale Bectel from Switzerland directs me here!!
    Sally Gale

    • Sally, I would love to visit with your mother. I live over in Calistoga not far away.I have an album and my great aunts diary of her and Charles’ trip to Cevio in 1929 where they spent about a year in that area My uncle Roy married Mammola Martini and her daughter, Alice Fairbanks Redding lives in Tomales. best, Mary Fairbanks Constant

    • It is no longer active. We are keeping it accessible as a research tool for interested parties due to the valuable genealogical information it contains.

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