From St. Antonio (Morobbia) to California

From Mark Lesina, United States

In response to Robert Ransom

Mark LesinaThe stories from Valle Morobbia are all very similar, but each very special and different in their own way. As Gary Carlson mentioned in his posting there were many families in the valley with the same names and they intertwine many times and sometimes not at all.

How the generations fall also causes some interesting patterns. Gary’s mother and I are “the same generation” however he and I are just several years apart in age. His mother’s great-grandmother Marianna (nata Martini) Sarina and my great-grandfather Giovanni Martini were brother and sister. They were two of the children of Pietro and Marianna (Grisetti) Martini.

1999-st-antonio-9The Church of St Antonio, Valle Morobbia

Pietro Martini (Oct 18, 1819 / Oct 06, 1879) married (May 08, 1843) Marianna Grisetti (May 07, 1821 / Jan 16, 1879) all in St Antonio, Valle Morobbia, Canton Ticino, Switzerland. They had seven children:

1)  Pietro Giuseppe Martini (Aug 20, 1844 / June 30, 1914) married (Apr 27, 1871) Maria Codiroli (Aug 18, 1846 / Feb 26, 1921)

2)  Giuseppa Martini (Nov 20, 1846 / Jul 25, 1905) married (May 16, 1881) Antonio Battista Maretti (Oct 08, 1856 /     )

3)  Giovanni Martini (Feb 07, 1849 / Sep19, 1911) married (Mar 10, 1880) Angelina Maria Martini (Apr 05, 1859 / Nov 07, 1941)

4)  Marianna Martini (Mar 28, 1852 / Nov 23, 1920) married (Jan 12, 1874) in Carlo Giuseppe Sarina (Nov 19, 1836 / Feb 23, 1900)

5)  Martina Victoria Martini (Sep 29, 1855 / Oct 09, 1933) married (Feb 12, 1880) Tomaso Maretti (Jun 07, 1855 / Dec 01, 1918)

6)  Margherita Martini (Mar 19, 1859 / Mar 21, 1859)

7)  Maria Martini (Jan 20, 1863 / Mar 21, 1933) married (Jan 13, 1884) Giacomo Pedraita (Jan 08, 1856 / Oct 14, 1942)

The children of these seven siblings were the generation that immigrated to the States (or in some cases the next generation).

Note from this grouping, none married a Tamagni, but many of their descents did – and many of their ancestors were also Tamagni(s), as the mother of Giacomo Pedraita. He was the son of Giuseppe and Domenica (Tamagni) Pedraita. Also of special note is the line of Carlo and Marianna (Martini) Sarina, as there are many Tamagni(s) within this line. From this line some stayed in Switzerland and others came to California, many settling near Petaluma.


Unknown Buletti and Giuseppe Tamagni

In Del Norte County – there was for a time a few Tamagni(s) that lived there. For example Giuseppe Tamagni, who worked on the Robert Sarina Ranch in 1918, Giuseppe was his nephew. By the 1930s he was working on the Louis Sarina ranch in the Salinas Valley, with his brother Hugo Tamagni. He finally settled near Petaluma.

Also in Humboldt County to the south of Del Norte County, there were more Tamagni(s). They would on occasion visit my grandparent’s ranch. With the passing of time and just a few photos we have never determined how they actually fit into the history. Were they just friends of the family, from back in the valley, or were they a cousin of some type and to whom. We have determined that Mrs. Tamagni was born a Sarina – but to which line we do not know.

The census records for John and Mary Tamagni list John as being born about 1891 (actual 02.29.1890) and having arrived in the States in 1910, while Mary’s year of birth is not clear on the census as there is a mistake. Their children were: Edward J Tamagni (1914), Lilly M Tamagni (1917) and Elvira (1925 – Her name is unclear, but I recalling seeing this name on a photo once.). In the 1930 census they were listed as living in the District 40 – Rohnerville of Humboldt County. Special note is that two records down was the Silvio Domenighi family.


Back Row: John & Mary (Sarina) Tamagni, Charlie Rossini & Romilda (Sarina) Rossini Sr., Erminia (Martini) & Elvezio Lesin

Seated Middle: Harry Mossi

Seated Front: Walter Mossi, Charlie Rossini, Eugene Sarina, Lillian (Lesina) Russell, Benny Lesina and Ruby Rossini

Another example of they came from the same valley and were they relatives or friends and countrymen, is the Mossi family, from Humboldt County. They too visited the ranch near Crescent City – and their names too match the names of the family, but a connection has never been made. Here is a short history of Joseph & Delfina (Sarina) Mossi from a history book of Humboldt County.


Back Row: Joseph Mossi, Charlie Rossini Sr., Elvezio Lesina

Standing Back: Ameilia (Rossini) McNamara, Olympia (Lesina) Rodgers, Nelda (Rossini) Sarina

Standing Front: Walter Mossi

Seated: Harry Mossi, Eugene Sarina

JOSEPH MOSSI was born in the village of Carena, Canton Ticino, Switzerland, February 10, 1882, the son of James and Anna (Buletti) Mossi, who are engaged in farming and dairying at Carena. They were the parents of twelve children, nine of whom are living, Joseph being the youngest of the family. From a lad he made himself useful on the farm, excepting when he was attending the public schools. After completing his studies in the local school he assisted his parents until 1902, when he came to the United States, a desire he had cherished for some time. His first location was at Cheshire, Mass., where he was employed in factories for four and one-half years, after which he went to New York City, where he was employed in hotels for two an one-half years. In May, 1909, he came to California, and at Santa Cruz spent nine months on a dairy. In April, 1910, he went to Petaluma, there also working on dairies until the spring of 1913. It was in this year that he came to Humboldt County, and immediately found employment with a dairy m an. He remained with this employer until November, 1914, when he determined to start in business for himself and leased the present ranch of eighty acres, two miles north of Ferndale, which he devotes to a dairy, having at present twenty-two milk cows, the product being sold to Libby, McNeill & Libby. The ranch lies in the Eel river bottom, the rich land raising ample hay and green feed for his herd.  In South Adams, Mass., occurred the marriage of Joseph Mossi and Delfina Sarina, also a native of Ticino, and to them have been born four children, as follows: Albert, Harry, Mabel and Alvina. Mr. Mossi is ‘an energetic and ambitious young man and the success he is accomplishing is well merited.

History of Humboldt County California

History by Leigh H. Irvine: Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California, 1915

Transcribed by: Martha A Crosley Graham 28 April 2006, Pages 1095 – 1144

Gary Carlson, did do some research and found that; Delfina’s parents were Celestinus Sarina and Antonio Grisetti. Her father’s parents were Giovanni Sarina and Maria Tamagni. Her mother’s parents were Antonio Grisetti and Maria Sarina. Her paternal grandfather’s father was Tomaso Sarina.


The Church of St Antonio, Valle Morobbia with the view of the Valley taken from the above road

9 thoughts on “From St. Antonio (Morobbia) to California

  1. Mark, thanks for the enlightening family history! By chance, have you joined Facebook? There is a group named “Tamagni of the World Unite”. So far, it currently has 136 members. There are many photos, etc of Ticino. Please join. My mother, Evelyn (Tamagni) Ransom, age 90, knew Giuseppe “Joe” Tamagni and Hugo Tamagni in the 1930’s when they lived in Petaluma. They owned & ran a tavern near the Petaluma River. They were distant cousins. Our cousin, Chester Buletti’s, mother was a Tamagni. Her parents were Giuseppe Tamagni b.1874 (my grandfather’s brother) and Martina Martini b.1877, both in Valle Morobbia. Chester presently lives in Santa Rosa, CA. Today, some Buletti, Codiroli, Martini, Mossi & Tamagni descendants & cousins live in Sonoma County, CA. My grandparents, Cesare Tamagni & Giuseppa (Buletti) Tamagni were married in 1906 in the Church of Sant’ Antonio (shown in your photos) before emigrating to America in 1910. I believe Celestinus Sarina was my great-grandmother, Martina (Sarina) Buletti’s, brother. Her parents are recorded as Carlo Giovanni Sarina, 1822-1872, and Marianna Felicita (Tamagni) Sarina, 1824-1885. My great-grandmother emigrated about 1913 and lived her last years in Freestone, Sonoma Co, CA until her death in 1946. She is buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Sebastopol, CA. Again, your photos & family history is greatly appreciated.

  2. Hello: Enjoyed reading your exchange. I too have ancestry in the Valle Morobbia and have been to San Antonio. I know Chester Buletti; he is the brother in law of my dear friend Mabel Bassi Ghisletta who is truly the last Swiss in California that knows all the old world stories.

    The Tamagni name is also well known in Napa County where a bridge is named for Charles Tamagni, a long time county supervisor and close family friend in the very old days.

    Tony Quinn

  3. We are looking for ancestors of Charles Tamagni, who is mentioned by Tony Quinn above. He will be honored at this years Cemetery Discovery Walk on Sept 25 at St. Helena Cemetery.

  4. Hello, I am writing from Geneva Switzerland and I found your Mossi’s family story quite interesting.I have relatives in Petaluma California .Ted and Emma Mossi passed away a few years ago and the only living members is her daughter Adele Mossi Ericson who owns a ranch on old adobe road in Petaluma.Her father, Ted Mossi came to the States in 1909, a few months after he was born in Sasso Piatto , the first village at the beginning of the valle Morobbia which is icorcorated into the city of Giubiasco. I had his name posted at the memorial wall at Ellis Isld NYC.I personally spend 5 years studying at the University of California Berkeley( class of 84).I would like to know if I can find others Mossis in the Petaluma / Santa Rosa area which whom I can keep in touch. Furthermore, I will be glad to know if the Mossi from Ukiah are from the Valle Morobbia area or from Italy.Somebody can answer my question?. I regularly came to California once/ twice a year and I will be glad to meet a feww offsprings of my beautiful valley.Do not esitate to contact me at,
    best regards,
    Flavio Mossi

  5. Hello Flavio,
    I hope I can be of a little help. I will check with some of my cousins in Petaluma area and see if I can find any additional information for you. But in the mean time I have put this together for you; I hope you find it helpful.

    In the 1930 census for the Petaluma area a G. Mossi age 44, with his wife Romilda Mossi age 45, their son Theodore C Mossi age 20 and Angelo Verzasconi age 60 laborer, were living next door to another Mossi family, a James Mossi age 55, wife Mary 50, with children Peter 27, Lilly 20, and Florence 13. In one of the historical accounts of Sonoma County, he is recorded in the following article:

    JAMES MOSSI Many are the sturdy sons of Switzerland who have come to this western commonwealth to take advantage of the chances for progress which their own country could not offer them. Among the Swiss-American citizens who contribute so largely to the population of Sonoma County is James Mossi, the proprietor of a ranch in the vicinity of Petaluma. Born in Canton Ticino, Switzerland, January 6, 1870, he was the descendant of a long line of Swiss antecedents who had been contented to till the soil and tend their flocks in the land which had given them birth.

    By the time James Mossi had attained years of discretion he dared to take chances for his future that his predecessors had not thought of taking, and the year 1887 found him taking passage for the United States. The vessel dropped anchor in the harbor of New York, and from that city he came by rail to California, first to Humboldt County, where he remained for four years, and from there to Sonoma County. In 1894 he returned to Switzerland to assist his father for a time, but his desire to return to California was so strong that in 1896 he again came to the Sunset land. He is now leasing one hundred and ninety-three acres on Rural Route No. 3 from Petaluma, his ranch being devoted largely to stock-raising, owning thirty cows, besides calves, young stock and tow horses. Chicken-raising is also a feature of his ranch enterprise but as yet is not carried on to any large extent. This as well as his other branches of agriculture, however, are being enlarged and extended as rapidly as his means will allow, and with the success he has had in a short time comparatively that he has been located upon the ranch a promising outlook awaits him.

    For his wife Mr. Mossi chose one of his country-women in Miss Mary Tamagni, who was born in Canton Ticino, Switzerland, in 1875. Four children were born into this household, Peter, Milia, Mary (who died when four months old) and Lillie, the two last mentioned being twins. The parents were reared in the faith of the Roman Catholic Church, and in this faith, too, they are rearing their children. Mr. Mossi favors Republican principles, but nevertheless he is independent in the casting of his ballot, giving more attention to the qualifications of the candidate for the office than for the party he represents. Mr. Mossi is not so absorbed with his duties upon the ranch that he has no time for recreation, and when opportunity allows he indulges in hunting.

    History of Sonoma County, California

    In looking at the records from Ellis Island – It looks like when Guglielmo aka “ William” Mossi immigrated to the States he was traveling in the company of Archille Mossi – I believe he is the man you are referring to as the Mossi from Ukiah. The manifest lists both men as being from Italy – which is a common mistake within the Ellis Island manifest – and the village of origin is listed as Ticino. The manifest goes on to list Guglielmo, next of kin in Switzerland as his wife Romilda and Archille’s as an uncle Augusto Mossi in St Antonio. While they were going to an uncle Enrico Pedraita and a John Buletti in California – there is some additional writing but I cannot make it out. Guglielmo, wife and son are listed as arriving on another manifest.

    Since the names and families from Valle Morobbia are very interwoven, I might suggest that on your next trip to Ticino that you go to the Archievo in Bellinzona and look at the commue registries. Once you have found your line and who you are looking for, the siblings and cousins of Guglielmo then check the Ellis Island web site for those who may have immigrated. From there the Census for California will give you a good idea of where they went – Many of the Mossi went to Sonoma and Humboldt Counties in Northern California. And in the article about Joseph Mossi on the original posting, it seems like a group had first went to Massachusetts area. From the book that listed the article about Joseph Mossi of Humboldt County, there were two additional people mentioned, I have include this information below:

    PETER MOSSI was born in Sant’ Antonio, Ticino, Switzerland, March 10, 1872. His father, also named Peter, was a farmer at Sant’ Antonio. Young Peter was educated in the public schools of his native place and in the high school at Bellinzona, at the same time remaining on the home farm and making himself generally useful until the age of seventeen. It was at this time that he determined to try his luck on the Pacific coast, of which he had heard such good reports. His brother Joseph had come to California a dozen years previous and was living in Placer County. So in May, 1889, Peter joined his brother in the latter county and for a short time was employed in a saw-mill, after which he returned to San Francisco bay. After working a short time in the salt works in Alameda he found employment on a dairy at Point Reyes, Marin County, afterwards following the same line in Sonoma County, until March, 1895, when he came to Humboldt County. Until 1904 he was employed on dairy ranches in the vicinity of Ferndale, after which, in partnership with Thomas Pedrazini, he purchased a liquor establishment. In 1906 he bought his partner out and has since continued the business alone, being now located in the center of Ferndale.

    Mr. Mossi was married in Ferndale to Miss Victoria Re, also a native of Switzerland, born at Cevio. Fraternally he is a member of the local lodge of Druids, of which he is past officer. Politically he is a Republican.

    CHRIS MOSSI was born at Carena, Canton Ticino, Switzerland, October 28, 1869. His father, James Mossi, a dairyman there, married Annie Boletti (Buletti) and both are living on the old home. Of their ten children Chris is next to the oldest and was brought up to be an industrious lad, learning farming and dairying as it was done in his native Ticino, and he also received a good education in the local schools. In 1889 he came to Santa Cruz county, Cal., where he worked in a saw-mill during the summer and then on a dairy near Davenport. He continued in that vicinity until 1902, in that year coming to Humboldt County. After working a while in the Eel River valley he went to Scotia and was employed on the Pacific Lumber Company’s ranch for two years, after which he leased a ranch in that vicinity and ran a dairy of thirty cows. In December, 1908, he leased the McDonald place of one hundred twenty acres at Grizzly Bluff, where his herd of milk cows numbered fifty-five. In January, 1915, he sold his interest and lease and has since been in the employ of the Hansen dairy ranch.

    In 1909 Mr. Mossi made a trip back to Switzerland, visiting his old home, and in December of that year was married at Carena, being united with Miss Delmonica Enriceta, also a native of that place, and they have two children, Lena and Alice. Fraternally Mr. Mossi is a member of Branch Forty, Lodge No. 96, Santa Cruz. Politically he is an ardent believer in the principles of the Republican platform.

    History of Humboldt County California

  6. A man named Ed Tamagni was a friend of our family. He lived in Yuba City, Ca. and grew up in Humboldt county. He told us his family had come from an area in Ticino near where my family lives. My family is from Malvaglia. The names are Righenzi and Scossa.

  7. Hello Sandra!

    Nice to met you! Malvaglia is a very nice place! I believe Ed Tamagni would be the son of John and Mary Tamagni, the couple pictured above in the article. Are you still in contact with his family? Since writing this I have learned a little more about the families in the above photos:

    Mrs. Joseph (Valentino) Mossi (Delfina) and Mrs. John Tamagni (Mary) were sisters born Sarina.

    Mr. John Joseph Tamagni had a brother Adolph who also went to Humboldt County and a brother Joseph who went to Philadelphia, while a sister Sylvia stated in Ticino.

    John (Valentino) Mossi was one of 12 children; Delfina Mossi 1862 – * Giovanni Mossi 1864-1870 * Giuseppa Mossi 1866-1922 * Cristino Carlo Mossi 1868-1952 * Serafina Mossi 1870- * Enrico Mossi 1872-1894 * Martina Mossi 1874-1923 * Carolina Mossi 1876-1965 * Eugenio Mossi 1877- * Pietro Giuseppe Mossi 1879-1916 * Valentino Mossi 1882-1940 *Antonio Mossi 1886-1908. Cristino Carlo and Valentino went to Humboldt county, while their niece Geneva Gianocca, daughter of Carolina, went to Del Norte County and Smith River where she married Robert Sarina Sr. They are mentioned in other articles about the Ticinese of Del Norte.

    All the best
    Mark of Seattle

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