The following brief mining history of her grandfather and father was submitted by Joyce Sanders to Miners’ Memorial.
Guiseppe (Joseph) Mariucci left his homeland of Genoa, Italy in the late 1800s to begin what was one of three trips across the Atlantic Ocean, working as a cabin boy in order to earn passage money for his young family. In May 1898, leaving the port of Le Havre, France by steamship, they headed for America. They landed at Ellis Island in New York with many others who were striving for a new beginning.
Guiseppe, his wife Maria, along with their sons, Domenic age ten, and Elizo (John), age three, traveled from New York to Iron Mountain, Mich. At the turn of the century, Iron Mountain is where many Italian immigrants came to work in the iron mines.
Maria, a very enterprising woman, opened a boarding house to help supplement the family income. In June 1900, Luigi (Louis) was born. He was fondly known as GeGe by his friends.
As work began to dwindle, miners were given the opportunity to move to other places. At the age of three, GeGe, along with his family and other miners and their families, began their trek to the state of Kansas. Loaded into cattle cars, they traveled by train to the small town of Frontenac where they settled for the next several years. It was here that a sister, Anna, was born. Later, when new mines opened in surrounding towns, the family moved again to settle in what was known as North Radley.
At the age of 13, GeGe was given the choice of continuing school or working in the mines. He chose the mines where his father continue to work also. Dad was small in stature; he worked on his knees in the mines. During a cave-in at one of the mines, he was able to crawl through the small hole to safety before rescuers arrived.
As the years passed, life was good for the Mariucci family. They were the first people in the town of Radley to own a car. They owned another boarding house, a movie theater, a dance hall and a barber shop. The family also brought wild horses down from Wyoming and Colorado, which they broke and sold. Music was also an important part of their family life. Each child played several musical instruments and formed a band. They played throughout the area and at the family-owned dance hall. My dad, GeGe, was an accomplished drummer.
In June 1920, Dad married our mother Emma Peradotto. They raised five children. They are Joe, Wilma, Gloria, Joyce, and Connie, along with a granddaughter Barbara. GeGe continued to work in the mines until they played out in the mid-1930s. From then on, he supported his family through odd jobs until the early 1940s. He earned enough money to buy a farm on the old airport road in Pittsburg. He worked as a plumber’s helper, a common laborer, in defense work, and as a farmer.
Life on the farm was ideal for raising a family. They raised chickens, hogs, and cattle. Most of the livestock were used for the family’s needs. The activity of butchering, smoking the meat and making the sausage kept them busy. A lot of farm land was rented out to others but Dad kept a large space for the family garden. It was tended with loving care and produced enough to not only feed his family, but others.
Italians are known for their love of good wine and from the basement of our family home, came many a batch. Persimmon, cherry and blackberry were among my favorites. Homemade bread and jam was served on the table along with fresh milk and eggs. If you happened by unexpectedly, the Mariucci door was always open and you were greeted with a warm welcome and plenty to eat.