07 September 2011

Getting to Know Great Grandmothers - Part One

It often surprises me that I probably now know more about my husband's great grandmothers than my own.  The maiden names of my great grandmothers were Annie Spottiswoode, Annie Ginn, Harriet Lloyd and Edith (Lily) Howells.  The maiden names of my husband's great grandmothers were Agata Bracchi, Carolina Galito, Maria Burratto and Vittoria Fachin.

Anne Spottiswoode was born in Antrim in Northern Ireland.  Annie Ginn was born in London.  Harriet and Lily were both born in Shropshire.  Agata was born in Lombardy.  Carolina was born in Basilicata.  Maria and Vittoria were both born in the Veneto.

I have especially become a great admirer of Vittoria.  You may have seen the picture of her and one of her younger daughters in the right hand column of this blog.  I have also put the picture here today:

You may like to know that Vittoria's daughter Carmela, shown in this photograph, was quite a small woman herself.  She was my husband's nonna - grandmother.  Vittoria must have been tiny!

The photograph was taken in 1953, when mother and daughter were reunited in Italy for the first time since 1927.  Vittoria had been a widow for many years, including the years of the First World War, during which time the family home was on the front line of several battles.  It is very likely that the family mostly lived in poverty.

I think it important to think of Vittoria of the Veneto in her middle aged years, when she was trying to protect her teenage daughters from the soldiers of both sides in the fighting.  Have you ever lived on the front line of a war?  Have you heard of the Battle of Vittorio Veneto?

Wikipedia - Battle of Vittorio Veneto

As far as I am aware, Vittoria's daughters mostly left the Veneto upon their marriages.  One went to live in Belgium.  One went to Switzerland.  One went to Canada.  One went to Turin, and one, Carmela came to Australia.  Carmela had a brother who went to Australia earlier than she did, with her husband Charlie to escape from the fascists' brutality.

Do any of your ancestors come from the Veneto?  Did they arrive in Australia in the 1920s?  Were they living on the front line during World War One?

I think of Vittoria as a very brave woman, a survivor, and someone with a great sense of humour - as you will find out if you follow this series of blog posts.

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I especially appreciate historical insights.