Tognazzini in Australia and California

From Debby Fields, United States

taj_mahalThis is a great site and as one with Swiss ancestry on my mother’s side I would like to add my little story. My great-great-grandfather, Noe Tognazzini, was born in Someo, Canton Ticino, in 1841. Alone and at the age of 14 he emigrated to Daylesford, Australia, in search of his father (I do not have that name) who was mining in that area of Australia.

Because Noe had no money he had to travel third class on board the ship to Australia. Fast-forward to 1854 when my great-great-grandmother, Maria Gentila (Zanolli) was born in Gordevio, Switzerland (Canton Ticino). When she was 18 she and her mother (Madalena Zanolli) sailed for Australia where the following year (1873), she and Noe were married.

Thirteen sons & daughters were born in Australia. One of the thirteen was my great-grandfather, Moses (1879-1950). When Daylesford became inundated with miners the Swiss Family Tognazzini sailed by way of mail boat to a new life at Pt. Sal on the California coast in Santa Barbara County. Five more children were born. The family thrived in that area and later many scattered with several settling around the San Luis Obispo area to become ranchers and store owners (Bull’s Tavern in San Luis Obispo belonged to my great-great-uncle, Albert, and I think it is still called Bull’s Tavern and is a college hang-out).

My great-grandfather, Moses, went on to marry Matilda Maria Tognazzini (no relation) from Switzerland, and they had two children: Ena (Tognazzini) Vreeland and Eddie Tognazzini. My mother is Ena’s daughter. I am very proud of my Swiss heritage and used to listen for hours to Grandma Tillie’s stories of growing up in Locarno in the 1880’s-1890s. I would love to hear from someone who can possibly remember the Tognazzini family. Thank you kindly.

5 thoughts on “Tognazzini in Australia and California

  1. My great grandfather, Joseph Robert Bonetti was born in Someo in 1858 and came to California in 1880’s. In the 1910’s he was a bank director for the Swiss American Bank of Petaluma with a “B.G. Tognazzi” along with 12 other Swiss from the same area (Valle Maggia). I wondering if this may be one of your relatives?

  2. Tim – thank you for responding to my Swiss family “story”. Unfortunately, the name you mentioned, “B.G. Tognazzi” , is different from my family’s last name of “Tognazzini”. The last name of “Bonetti”, however, sounds familiar. I seem to remember one of my now deceased Swiss family members mention the name of “Bonetti” in one of their conversations. Did your family ever settle in San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara counties at one time? I ask because your last name sounds Portuguese and many Swiss in those areas did marry immigrants from Portugal.

  3. Hi Debby,

    I believe the father of Noe were Pietro Antonio Tognazzini. I have the following entry from ‘Directory & Bibliography of Swiss and Italian Pioneers in Australasia’

    Tognazzini, Pietro Antonio
    Birthplace: Someo Date of Birth: 1811
    Parents:
    Ship: Asia Naturalisation date: 1873
    Married: Marriage Date/Place:
    Residence: Boots Gully, Vic. Years in Australasia: 1853-1888
    Death date/place: 1888, Hepburn Burial place:
    Tognazzini’s letters of naturalisation were forwarded, along with Noe’s, by Rotanzi who often acted as an interpreter. Tognazzini was the father of Pietro, Maria, Noe and Giulia. Tognazzini was widowed in 1877.

  4. Debby Fields, we are cousins. Your grandfather was my grandfather Dan’s older brother. I have more of the story if you would like to make contact.

  5. Debbie Fields……Your Great Great Grandfather Noe Tognazzini was my Great Grandfather…….Moses was brother to my Grandad, Abramo……or Abraham as he became in the U.S……What a large family heritage we share….I spent much of my childhood at Pt.Sal beach….as did my children who are of your generation…So glad you posted….

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