Thursday, August 25, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are?

Ok, so I stole the title from the Friday evening show on NBC about stars researching their ancestries. I think it’s a fascinating show myself and it has made me wonder who I am.

So, on to my background. I’ve gotten a family tree and partial history from relatives in Michigan showing my Dad’s side of the family, I think it’s English, maybe a little Irish, Scottish, Dutch…..maybe it will be a real surprise when I have time to do more research (more to come on that in another post). My Mother’s side of the family is 100% Italian and we already know quite a bit about them. That’s the fascinating story I have to tell…..yes, I will get to the relevance of posting to my blog about my fiber life.
My grandfather, Salvatore Mazzie, my Great Aunt Angela and Bennedetto
who actually died in World War I - his likeness was painted into this picture

I grew up knowing my grandfather, Salvatore Mazzie, aka Sam, as my grandparents moved next door to us when I was a toddler, my grandfather was in my life until I was 11 when he passed away. He came to this country an illegal immigrant at the age of 19 and worked in the coal mines of West Virginia, traveled with my grandmother and my mother as a baby to CA in search of a better life, ala Grapes of Wrath, and ended up back in Ohio working in the steel mill. But the story really goes back to his parents, my great grandparents, who I never knew.

Rosina Spadafore raised her children, including my grandfather in this home, the tiny,
in disrepair center one. Left to right -  a newly discovered distant cousin
Antonio, my cousin Claudia from the Seattle area, my Aunt Sandra from Big Fork, MT - Oct 2010

His father, Antonio Mazzei (spelling different in Italy) came to Canada from San Giovanni in Fiore, Calabria, Italy but alas, he died in the coal mines there and never returned to his wife and children in that mountain top home in Italy. His wife, my great-great-grandmother, Dona Rosina Spadafore (Dona is a title reserved for higher born ladies… much as someone in a poor Southern Italian village could be considered higher born) was a weaver! Yes, a very skilled weaver! When Antonio died he left her with three children to support which she did by weaving, she was a professional weaver!
A view of San Giovanni in  Fiore from the neighbor's house

Rosina’s daughter, my great aunt Angela, told of how she wove from early morning to nightfall every day until she could no longer see the yarn. Rosina would call upon Angela, to massage her shoulders after a long day at the loom. Angela said she was a very skilled weaver. I so wish there were one piece of weaving somewhere in the family for me to treasure but I haven’t heard of any…..perhaps someone in the family has one packed away in a cedar chest that will surface one day. I wonder what kind of weaving she did?

San Giovanni in Fiore, Calabria, Italy

Aunt Angela, when not casting curses on those who disagreed with her, was talented too, she crocheted. She lived in Ohio when I was young and I visited but I can’t remember her for the life of me, I was fairly young when she passed on. From what I’ve heard she crocheted doilies and covered every piece of furniture with a doily, even those pieces of furniture covered with plastic slipcovers! I’m very honored to have a doily of hers—a tablecloth size one that resides on my dining room table every single day—it’s exquisite. My grandmother, Julia, used to refer to her as a snake-in-the-grass. Don’t cross those Italian women!
The crocheted tablecloth on my dining room table made by my Great Aunt Angela

So, I come by it naturally—who I am is a weaver with weaving in my blood. I wonder if my great-grandmother would be pleased knowing that I too, am a professional weaver. I just recently found out she was a weaver after my aunt and cousin made a trip to San Giovanni this past fall.


  1. How wonderfully interesting Cindie. I hope a piece of weaving shows up.

  2. I was sent a family tree several years ago by a cousin who thought I should have it but didn't want to open contact. How's that for family? It was her father's SAR research.

    I prefer my mother's oral history and the pieces I have. I have a photo of her in front of her grandmother's Haldane spinning wheel. I also have a piece of counterpane spun by my Frankfort Kentucky ancestors who raised the sheep, spun and dyed the wool and then wove it. I'll take that over pedigree any day.


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