05 July 2009

From Ossolaro to Australia - Italian Family History Research

This blog has already introduced the little village of Ossolaro in Italy.

The village is about 50km as the crow flies from where one of the most important battles in Italian history, and world history, was fought.

The Battle of Solferino took place just over 150 years ago, on 24 June 1859. As a consequence of the battle, the Red Cross was founded.

Osso in Italian means bone. I am yet to find the origins of the name Ossolaro. If you can assist, please do!

Here are some links you might find interesting:

Brief background to Italian unification
(the first sentence of the article is very funny)

You may be wondering about the connection between this family history blog and Solferino. The reason is that it affects anyone with Italian ancestry.

Did any of your ancestors fight in the battle? Were any of them subsequently conscripted into the Italian army?  Whose side were they on at Solferino?  The Italian army did not even exist then, and nor did Italy as a nation.  One one side of the fighting were the French and Sardinian armies.  On the other side were the Austrians.

Conscription has long been a part of Italian life. It only ended in the last few years.  Conscription is likely to be one of the main reasons why so many young men decided to migrate in search of a better life elsewhere. Most probably wanted to save themselves from being sent to battlefields.

My husband is likely to be in Australia because his family members from Ossolaro wanted to avoid being sent to war. It seemed to them to be safer to go to the other side of the world than to stay in Italy.  Even so, at least one of my husband's great uncles became wealthy as a consequence of war.  More about that another time.

The Italo-Turkish war (1911-1912) was a precursor to the First World War. Did your Italian ancestors migrate to anywhere during that time?

The main town near Ossolaro is Cremona. It was not a good place to be during the Fascist era, either, as this link might indicate:

Did your ancestors migrate from Italy to escape Fascism?

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I especially appreciate historical insights.