Thursday, April 10, 2014

Guido’s Italian children were left behind with their grandparents

Thursday, April 10
I have to admit I had some doubts that Guido “Frank” Spadoni was telling the whole truth when he filed for divorce from Armida Giuntoli (Who were those Tacoma Spadonis?) in Pierce County, Washington, in 1919. Armida was in Italy and Guido in Tacoma, so she would not have been able to contradict his claim.

Guido, the eldest of nine children, had come to America in 1906, leaving behind Armida and four children but sending money to Italy regularly for their support. In the divorce papers, Guido said that his wife had left him after their last child had been born and he had not seen her since 1906. He said his parents were raising the children, but the court filing doesn’t mention that Armida, his parents and the children were not in America. The divorce was granted, and Guido married Iva Bisbee in the same year. They divorced two years later, and Guido, who by then was going by the name Frank, married a third time and had two children in the Tacoma area.

Today I found a state of the family document in Ponte Buggianese for Guido’s parents Agostino and Vittoria. Dated June 11, 1911, it lists four children in the home as nipoti, grandchildren. Guido is named as father and Armida as mother. There are other children of Agostino and Vittoria living in the house as well, two of whom were approximately the same age as Guido’s children. But there is no Armida Guintoli on the page—and one can only assume that she had departed of her own accord, leaving the children in the care of Guido’s parents.

Children: Evelina, Alessandro, Ferruccio, Giulia. Mother: Armida Giuntoli.
The records also showed me the date of birth for each child. The first, Giulia, was born March 6, 1899, when Guido and Armida were only 19 years old. Next was Alessandro on Oct. 7, 1901. This is also the same year that civic records list Guido and Armida’s official marriage, although they could have had a church wedding earlier. Evelina followed Jan. 2, 1904, and Ferruccio on April 2, 1906. By the end of 1906, Guido had left for the United States, and there is no record that he ever returned to Italy for even a visit.

From one of Guido’s American granddaughters, I received a photo of Armida and the four children that had been sent from Italy. The photo is not dated, but Ferruccio looks to be less than 2 years old, so that would date the photo to around 1908. Apparently sometime between 1908 and 1911, Armida left, as Guido had said in his divorce papers.

I had wondered if perhaps Guido had abandoned Armida, because it seems he never returned to Italy, but it appears his version is reasonably accurate, although she did not leave in 1906 as Guido claimed in the divorce filing. In defense of both, Italy was in the midst of a severe depression, and families had to make tough choices. Armida had been left to raise four children without a husband, but Guido had felt the need to find more stable employment to help his family survive amidst difficult times. With Armida gone, Guido would not have been able to care for the children had he wished to bring them to Tacoma—thus they grew up without parents but under the care of their grandparents, who were still relatively young.

I am trying to find out what became of the four children left in Italy, but I had little success today. I found out that Alessandro married Amelia Ragghianti on Sept. 30, 1922, but the office closed for the day before I could determine what happened to the others or if Alessandro or Amelia had any children. The Ponte Buggianese archives are only open two days a month, and they might be closed for the Easter holidays April 24, so today may have been my last chance this year. Well, now I have a reason to come back to Italy next year.

1 comment:

  1. Makes you think about how blessed we are to have steady work that is close to home.



Comments welcome.