Friday, November 25, 2011

Farming runs deep in family roots

Friday, November 25, 2011
I just read a column in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette in which the author describes how he has discovered numerous famous relatives while doing his family tree research on It appears he may be related to Bob Hope, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Mamie Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Booker T. Washington and Judy Garland.

I also have been researching my family tree on the same website. And what have I discovered about my own famous relatives? So far, that most of my descendants were farmers, not a profession that generally gains mention in the history books or tabloids. In Italy, the death certificate of my great grandfather Pietro Spadoni lists his occupation as colono, which translates as farmer or tenant farmer. His sons Enrico, Michele and Eugenio learned farming from their father, but only one, eldest brother Enrico, could inherit the family farm, so Michele, my nonno, set off to America in 1903. His occupation on the ship’s log is listed first as “peasant,” but then, perhaps as an early concession to political correctness, this is crossed out and the word “laborer” is written over the top.

Enrico Spadoni and wife Eufemia in
the Spadoni home in Italy.
Enrico was my grandfather's older
brother, who inherited the family
Michele did not farm as a profession in America, but he had a large vegetable garden and orchard for the needs of his wife and seven children, and the family also raised chickens and sold the eggs. On my mother’s side, both her grandparents were farmers, one in Eastern Washington and one in Carroll County, Indiana. The only one of my great grandparents that may not have been a professional farmer was Torello Seghieri, who is said to have been a musican. However, I spent three months this year living on a large Seghieri family farm in San Salvatore, so I know the Seghieri family is steeped in the farming tradition.

While I have found evidence of some Spadoni family members in antiquity who were distinguished (an ambassador, a cardinal, a lawyer for the Pope and various city leaders in Lucca), certainly none were household names that are still known today. However, I am proud to know that my ancestors worked diligently with their hands and with the soil to produce the fruits of an honest day’s labor. I believe that they would endorse The Farmer’s Creed, as do I.

The Farmer's Creed
I believe a person's greatest possession is their dignity and that no 
calling bestows this more abundantly than farming.
I believe hard work and honest sweat are the building blocks of a person's
I believe that farming, despite its hardships and disappointments, is the
most honest and honorable way a person can spend their days on this earth. 

I believe farming provides education for life and that no other occupation
teaches so much about birth, growth and maturity in such a variety of ways.
I believe many of the best things in life are free:  the splendor of a
sunrise; the rapture of wide open spaces; the exhilarating sight of your
land greening each spring.
I believe true happiness comes from watching your crops ripen in the field
and your children grow tall in the sun.
I believe my life will be measured ultimately by what I have done for my
fellow man.
I believe in farming because it makes all this possible.

-- Author Unknown

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