Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Anita Seghieri left easier life and her French connection behind for family
As a follow-up on my conversation with Dr. Sergio Nelli last spring, I did some online searching for sources on the Seghieri Bizzarri family. I found very little, but I did uncover enough to tie together some information I learned several years ago from sister-in-law Rosemary Spadoni. Thankfully, Rosemary’s passion for family history took hold much earlier than mine did, when there were still enough people around from the previous generation to gather family stories. Rosemary had been told that Anita Seghieri, the Italian grandmother I never had the privilege of meeting because she died before I was born, served as a nanny for the children of some wealthy relatives in Montecarlo, Italy. She served so well that the relatives took her with them when the family moved to France because the father had some sort of ambassadorial position.
This probably would have taken place sometime between 1903 and 1908. During those five years, Michele Spadoni lived in America as a single man, likely saving up money so that he could return to Italy and take Anita as his bride. The other side of the story goes that Anita moved to France with the wealthy family, learned to speak French and lived in first class accommodations while she watched over the children.
When I learned about the noble Seghieri Bizzarris, Rosemary and I speculated that a branch of this noble line may well have been the family that Anita worked for. Now I have found an Italian archive that shows we were most likely correct. The archive says Giovan Francesco Sanminiatelli, a member of a noble family of Pisa, married Luisa, the daughter of Prior Simone Seghieri Bizzarri, and they had eight sons and two daughters. It goes on to say that one of the sons, Donato, became a lawyer and then attorney general to the Court of Appeals of Florence. Later, he became a member of the Parliament of Tuscany, a minister of the Department of Interior, the prefect of Florence and a counselor of the state. His highest positions were held during the 1840s and 1850s.
Anita was not born until 1883, so this was not the family she served. However, Donato had a son, Fabio, born in 1837, and the archive goes on to say that both Fabio and his son, also named Donato, were both “officers for the ministry of foreign affairs between 1860 and 1915.” It seems obvious, then, that both Fabio and Donato would have had ties to Montecarlo, as descendants of Luisa Seghieri Bizzarri. It is then quite possible they would have traveled to neighboring France as foreign ambassadors. I can’t prove our theory without going to much more trouble than I am willing to take, but this information adds much plausibility to the family story. I am willing to accept it as highly likely.
This also adds to my respect for my grandmother, the daughter of a musician, who left a life of relative ease and prestige to marry my grandfather. Michele was the youngest son in a farming family, and he would inherit nothing from his father. Then the couple left everything that was familiar to start over in a new country for the purpose of giving their children a better future. Anita learned to shoot a gun to protect the family and became a chicken farmer to provide extra income. Although she wished to return the family to Italy, she stayed in America for the sake of her children. I wish I could tell her what a large and respected extended family she and Michele founded. I wish I could tell her, “Thank you for your sacrifices, Nonna. I appreciate my life here every day.”