Troy's Genealogue

What's New?:


Family Histories:

Families of Valle Maggia, Ticino

June 2017
Northern California
Valle Maggia ReunionJune 2016
In the planning now is a reunion for descendants of Valle Maggia, 21-22 July 2018, in the Santa Rosa area. People far and wide are invited--stay tuned for details and check in on FacebookFacebook with the "Valle Maggia Families" group.
Italian and Latin Names
Parish records, from which most of this information comes, is primarily written in Latin, while civil records are primarily written in Italian. Names that have only been observed in Latin but have either been converted to Italian or left in Latin are rendered in italics.

Parish Reconstructions of Giumaglio and CoglioTop

When I set started working the parish records of Giumaglio and Coglio in March 2013, I understood it was going to be more of a family bowl of spaghetti than a family tree. The parents of my immigrant great-great-grandmother, Aurelia Cerini, were both Cerinis--and as it turned out, they were second cousins. So right from the start I figured the only way to get to the bottom of this bowl of spaghetti was to do it all--everybody, no exceptions. I completed Giumaglio 22 months later and then undertook Coglio, which I completed in May 2017 after 14 months.

The set of microfilmed records includes the following:




June 2017I am now working through three microfilms for the parish of Someo, but I am still working on how to scope this project. It won't be a full parish construction like Giumaglio and Coglio, given that my family's first direct blood line connection in Someo begins in 1804, so, at present, I am focusing on any connections to Giumaglio and Coglio families, and on my Tognazzini family and others connected to that family. These films cover:

Cross-Referenced Resources

The parish reconstruction is done in a Family Tree Maker database and output in two forms: an alphabetical index of all parishioners of Giumaglio and Coglio in PDF form and a GEDCOM upload of the same to Rootsweb Worldconnect. I also have the database uploaded to and will share upon request.

Parish Reconstruction Notes

Parish records, from which most of this information comes, is primarily written in Latin, while civil records are primarily written in Italian. Names that have only been observed in Latin but have either been converted to Italian or left in Latin are rendered in italics.

Note that the Giumaglio records are incomplete between 1785 and 1806 and then there is a gap between 1808 and 1825, with the exception of a parish censes that was taken in 1817.

Parish records in Coglio were destroyed in a fire in January 1745 and Father Giovanni Battista Pozzi interviewed parishioners to reconstruct baptism and marriage records dating back to 1658. Death records were not reconstructed, nor are any available on microfilm until 1888. Most Coglio parishioners will therefore have only estimated death dates based on the last time they were noted in records.

I've also migrated earlier work on Giumaglio families in California into the parish database. Many have been correlated, others have yet to be.

As this is a work-in-progress, please do not incorporate any of this information, as is, without first discussing and comparing the sources. Source information and translated transcriptions of select records are available upon request.

Baptism records give the names of the infant, parents, and godparents, along with the names of all their fathers, all in Latin. When godparents are relatives (frequently aunts or uncles), the relationships are also given, making these superb records to reconstruct families and extended families. The parish census is equally useful in presenting households as a unit, however, ages (rather than birth dates) are often given. When dates are given, they often reflect the baptism date and therefore can be a day or two after the birth dates described in baptism records. Furthermore, priests appear to have continued adding children to families for a couple years after the census period had ended, which is good when birth dates are listed but confusing when ages are listed.

Parishes and ChurchesTop

Other regional churches noted, north to south, include:

Historical BackgroundTop

May 2013 The Cerini family has its earliest known roots in the town of Giumaglio in the Italian-Swiss canton of Ticino, Switzerland, the only canton of Switzerland that lies south of the Swiss Alps, and the only canton in which Italian is the official language.

Contemporary Events
  • 1403: First Swiss Transalpine campaign into Ticino
  • 1455: Gutenberg Bible
  • 1493-1519: Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
  • 1499: Louis XII of France invades Milan
  • 1503-1513: Pope Julius II
  • 1512: Swiss annex Ticino
  • 1513-1521: Pope Leo X
  • 1515: Swiss conquests halted at Battle of Marignano
  • 1517: Protestant Reformation
  • 1519-1556: Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
  • 1555: Peace of Augsburg
  • 1618-1648: Thirty Years' War
  • 1648: Peace of Westphalia
  • 1798: France establishes Helvetic Republic and Canton of Lugano
  • 1803: Helvetic Republic abolished; Canton of Ticino established
  • 1810-1813: French reoccupation of Ticino
  • 1815: Congress of Vienna ends wars, restores Swiss Confederacy
  • 1846-1878: Pope Pius IX
  • 1847: Sonderbund War
  • 1848: Swiss Federal state established
  • 1849: California Gold Rush
  • 1851: Australian Gold Rush
  • 1853: Italy closes border with Ticino
  • 1859: Swiss abolish Italian diocese jurisdiction over Ticino
  • 1870: First uprising in Ticino
  • 1876: Second uprising in Ticino
  • 1888: Pope Leo XIII establishes nominal Diocese of Lugano under administrator
  • 1889: Third uprising in Ticino
  • 1890: Fourth uprising in Ticino

Old Swiss Confederacy

Following the death of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the Duke of Milan (1395-1402), the Old Swiss Confederacy began conquests south of the Alps and into Ticino in 1403. There they wrestled for control over Ticino with the Duchy of Milan throughout the 15th Century.

In northern Italy, Louis XII of France sought to fulfill his father's claim to the Duchy of Milan, invaded Milan in 1498, and ousted the House of Sforza in the Second Italian War (1499-1504). Meanwhile, in northeastern Switzerland, the Swiss defeated the Holy Roman Empire in the Swabian War (1499) and gained de facto independence for the Swiss Confederacy within the Holy Roman Empire.

Wars in northern Italy continued (1508-1516) with frequently changing alliances among the powers of France, the Holy Roman Empire, the Papal States, and Venice. Pope Julius II hired an army of Swiss mercenaries in 1512 to fight the French in Milan, and with them the Swiss brought their Milanese ally Massimiliano Sforza. The Swiss wrested the remainder of modern-day Ticino from the French, annexed it, and installed Massimiliano as the Duke of Milan. The Swiss continued southward into northern Italy against the French but were ultimately stopped in defeat at the Battle of Marignano (Melegnano) in 1515. Milan fell to the French again but the Swiss Confederacy retained Ticino.

Following the Protestant Reformation (1517), the Holy Roman Empire split between Catholics and Protestants. Resulting wars, such as the Schmalkaldic War (1546-1547) and the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), devastated Europe while Switzerland officially maintained neutrality. At the conclusion of the Thirty Years' War, the Peace of Westphalia (1648) formerly established the Swiss Confederacy as independent from the Holy Roman Empire.

Napoleonic Era (1798-1815)

The French Republic (1792-1804), which had been at war with the monarchies of Europe for five years (1792-1797), took advantage of Swiss revolutionary activity in Switzerland and invaded in 1798. It annexed Geneva and establish the Helvetic Republic (1798-1803) as a client state. Dating back to the Old Swiss Confederacy, Valle Maggia (the river valley) was administered as the landvogtei (bailiwick) of Valmaggia. With the establishment of the Helvetic Republic, the Canton of Lugano was formed to comprise the landvogteien of Lugano, Medrisio, Locarno, and Valmaggia. Similarly, the Canton of Bellinzona to the east was also established and both cantons of Lugano and Bellinzona would later merge to form the modern-day Canton of Ticino after the Helvetic Republic was abolished and the New Swiss Confederation established.

Swiss troops fought for the French, but in 1799 Swiss nationals failed to support the French in repelling an invasion of Switzerland by Austrian and Russian forces. French forces ultimately drove the invaders from Switzerland, but France subsequently withdrew from Switzerland in 1802 under the provisions of the Treaty of Amiens. The following year, Napoleon, as First Consul of the French Consulate (1799-1804), went on negotiate the Act of Mediation in 1803, which abolished the Helvetic Republic, restored the Swiss Confederacy, and provided Napoleon a buffer state between France and Austria. Mediation in Switzerland was short-lived and began to erode in 1806.

In 1808, Emperor Napoleon ordered a census that named every male, regardless of age. That census was incorporated into "Pro Valle Maggia" (1970) in a chapter on "Le famiglie valmaggesi nel 1808"

Imperial French troops occupied Ticino between 1810 and 1813.

Following Napoleon's defeat and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, the independent Swiss Confederacy was fully restored in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna, during which the "Big Four" (Austria, Great Britain, Prussia, and Russia) redrew Europe.

New Swiss Confederation

After the Swiss confederacy was restored, the Radical Party began to grow in the Protestant cantons and gained a majority in the Swiss Diet (Tagsatzung). The Radical Party proposed a new constitution that would centralize power while the Catholic cantons (but not including Ticino) responded by forming the Sonderbund ("Separate Alliance) in 1843 to protect their interests. Such alliances were forbiddben by the Federal Treaty of 1815 and in October 1847 the Radical majority moved to dissolve the Sonderbund and raised an army against it. The Sonderbund yielded after a month-long civil war of less than 100 casualties in November 1847. The following year a new constitution established a federal government. The federal government went on to replace numerous local currencies (including the Ticino franc) with a national Swiss franc in 1850. It also went on to unilaterally abolish the jurisdiction of the dioceses of Milan and Como, in Italy, over the Catholic parishes of Ticino in 1859.

Ticinese Emigration

The gold rushes of California (1849) and Australia (1851) prompted emigration overseas. Meanwhile, to the south, and after an 1853 Lombard rebellion in Milan, Josef Radetzky, Viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia (1848-1857) under the Austro-Hungary Empire, ordered some 6,500 Ticinese expelled from Lombardy and sealed the border between Ticino and Lombardy for two years. This influx overburdened the canton of Ticino, halted trade, and plunged the region into oppressive poverty, ultimately contributing to turbulence that prompted federal authorities to step in and restore order in 1870, 1876, 1889, and 1890-1891.

With the Italian-Swiss border sealed, Ticino emigrants followed the Ticino river valley up into the Alps, over St. Gotthard's Pass, to Lucerne, Basel, and then west to the northern French coast where they took sail to the New World, commonly using the ports of Le Havre and Cherbourg. After arriving in New York, California-bound emigrants sailed on to Panama where they crossed the isthmus by stage coach and then caught another sailing ship up the Pacific coast to California. Later, they took the Intercontinental Railroad from New York to San Francisco. All told, 20,000 Italian-Swiss residents emigrated to California between 1850 and 1930. Many of them settled in Los Angeles, San Francisco, western Marin County, and Sonoma County.

After Radetzky's death in 1858, the northwestern Italian region of Piemonte (Piedmont), under the King of Sardinia (House of Savoy), allied with France to oust the Austrians from northern Italy and reunite Italy (1859-1861).