Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County

Full Text Newspaper ArticleSanta Cruz Sentinel-News, Morning Edition. Feb. 1, 1942. p. 1


Fishermen With 23 Sons In Army And Navy Are Bound To Wharf
While Boats Lie Idle And Sea Food Is Needed

They sit about the wharf these days, mending nets and cleaning gear and hoping that the time will soon come when they can again take out the fishing boats they have owned and operated in Santa Cruz county for decades.

Santa Cruz has twelve of these sad non-citizens of Italian birth, who are deprived of their livelihood because the country they left thirty and forty years ago is one of the Axis nations.

Good residents they have been of Santa Cruz. They have reared their families in their church. Most of them are property owners and tax payers. To the service of Uncle Sam they have given twenty-three of their sea faring sons, virtually all of them in the navy.

On behalf of the twelve Mrs. Mary Carniglia, wife of one of them and daughter of another, has written their pledge:

All of us, called aliens, unitedly resolve that we will answer any appeal from the American nation, be it from the federal, state or city authorities, with energy and all the fervor and ability that is ours. We ask in these solemn moments not to think of distinction of origin, race or creed.


With its problem of separating fifth columnists from peaceful and worthy residents of foreign birth the department of justice has had no time to work out formulae which will safeguard the nation and at the same time allow such men as Santa Cruz fishermen to earn a living for their families and at the same time add to the country's food supply.

Hope of these Italian born fishermen lies in efforts being made in their behalf at Washington by Representative John Z. Anderson of this district. So far he has secured little more than acknowledgment of his effort. From Lemuel B. Scofield, special assistant to the Attorney General, he has a brief paragraph:

This matter is receiving attention at this time and as soon as this service is in a position to furnish you any definite information you will be promptly advised.


To the fishermen here Representative Anderson has written:

"As stated the matter is undergoing the most thorough consideration at the present time from every angle, and I hope that a definite decision will be reached without undue delay.

"I sympathize in every way with the fine men of the Italian fishing fleet who are prevented by certain technicalities from becoming citizens and for that reason have to be deprived of continuing their operations for the present time.

"I am doing everything I can to bring their trustworthiness to the attention of the proper authorities, and I earnestly hope that a policy will be adopted which will permit your people to return to their normal way living."

On their behalf it is urged that the sea food they formerly brought to the market is needed. Last year tons and tons of tuna were brought ashore by these men which were sold to the Franco Italian Canning Company, which packed it for the government.

To urge this aspect of the situation upon the department of justice Joseph M. Mardesch, president of the Franco Italian company is now in Washington.


The story of the good Italian residents of Santa Cruz who until December 7 did virtually all the fishing which brings its catches in to the municipal wharf is an epic of a combined movement half around the world of men and women from one little town in Italy.

Could the mayor of Riva Trigosa, a town of 5000 in a sheltered bay at the eastern end of the Italian Riviera, come to Santa Cruz he would find names here which would read like a directory of his home town.

Stagnaro, Carniglia, Bregante, Ghio, Loero, Canepa, Zolezzi, Cecchini, Olivieri - all came from Riva Trigosa, hardly more than a village, three miles south of the small city of Sestri Levante, which is a summer and winter resort and a seaport for the ancient city of Liguria, 28 miles away by railroad.


The coast is precipitous except for the beaches at river mouths. In appearance it is like Carmel Highlands and the cliffs south of it in Monterey county. Between Sestri Levante and Spezia, 25 miles, the railroad runs through 18 miles of tunnels.

Lisurgia was an independent nation before the Caesars. Two centuries before Christ the Roman road pushed north through Spezia, Riva Trigosa and Sestri Levante to Genoa and Roman legions conquered the peaceful farming people. The blood of the people of Riva Trigosa goes back in pure strain to the Lisurgians, whose civilization is still evidenced by artifacts which antiquarians find in their hills.


Before Roman days the men of Lisurgia were shipmasters, sailing their small trading vessels along the Mediterranean coasts of France and Spain and occasionally across to Africa. Fishing was done by the women of the community, who dried their catch on the sunny beach or carried it in basket-woven ceste on their heads to the tiny nearby communities which grew olives and grapes and grain.

The people of the town are intensely religious. Two Catholic churches serve them, that of La Madona del Buon Viaggia in the town and that of La Madona del Soccorso on a nearby headland. One was - and is - the church of Our Lady of Good Voyage, the other the church of Our Lady of Succor; both showing in their names the sea faring lives of the people.


In Santa Cruz the emigrants from Riva Trigosa kept their best traditions. Their children were kept in the church and in school. The girls were rigorously chaperoned. The boys went to work on the boats as soon as they were big enough.

Legends of the old days are kept alive, such as the ancestor of the Ghios who, sailing as a boy on the Mediterranean, was captured by the Turks. Made a servant and put to attending the Turkish children he sang a lullaby in Italian of, "A cancer to your father, a cancer to your mother - "


A number of the older Italians here were cabin boys in around the world voyages which brought them to our Pacific coast. Half a century ago the first of them started fishing in San Francisco, with their boats coming to Monterey Bay particularly in the salmon season.

Gradually they established homes here and the earthquake in San Francisco was occasion for their transferring their residence entirely. Concerning the failure of some of the older men to become naturalized citizens Mrs. Carniglia explains:


"They went to fish from midnight until 4 o'clock in the morning and returned at 3 or 5 o'clock in the afternoon. When they were ashore there were trawls and nets to mend; when they went home it was time for bed. When they fished all night they left at 4 in the afternoon and returned at 7 to 9 o'clock in the morning.

"Some of them can not read nor write, but they appreciate what a blessing this country has been to them and they have proved themselves true and faithful residents, even if technical non-citizens."

In her home Mrs. Carniglia is conducting night classes to which Italian men, some older than she is, are learning to read and write, preparing for the time which conditions will be changed and they can be naturalized as citizens.


The twelve unhappy men of Italian birth who find themselves classed as aliens and as enemies of the people with whom they have lived as neighbors in Santa Cruz for nearly half a century are:

Steve Ghio. Born in Riva Trigosa. Came to Santa Cruz 43 years ago. Taypayer. Has four daughters and four sons; of the latter two are in the navy and another who volunteered was rejected because of fallen arches.

Giovanni Olivieri. Came to Santa Cruz from Riva Trigosi 38 years ago. Of his three sons two are in the navy and one in the army; he has three daughters also.

Marco Carniglia. Came to Santa Cruz from Riva Trigosa 38 years ago. His wife is Marie Carniglia, a daughter of Giovanni Bregante and his wife Maria Stagnaro. Marco came to Santa Cruz 28 years ago. Of his five boys and two daughters the oldest son is in the navy.

Batista Bregante. Came from Riva Trigosa 38 years ago. He was married here and has two sons and three daughters.

Frank Bregante. Brother of Batista and of Mrs. Marco Carniglia. Came to Santa Cruz from Riva Trigosa 32 years ago and was married in Capitola to a daughter of Alberto Gibelli, who four decades ago received a medal for heroism in rescuing 24 people from the steamer Rio de Janeiro which sank in February, 1901, near Golden Gate.

Serafino Canepa. Thirty eight years here. Taxpayer for many years. Has three sons and two daughters, all married except one.

Niccolo Bassano. Came to Santa Cruz in 1841. Taxpayer. He three sons one of whom is in the navy.

Giacomo Stagnaro. Son of Cottardo Stagnaro, Sr. Born in Italy but 33 years in Santa Cruz. Has four daughters and four sons, of whom two are in Uncle Sam's navy.

Agostino Olivieri. Twenty eight years in Santa Cruz. Two sons, both in the navy; and two daughters. A taxpayer for many years.

Fortunato Zolezzi. 19 years in Santa Cruz. Born in Italy, married in San Francisco. One daughter.

John Stellato. Seventeen years here. Born in Italy but married Antionette Olivieri in Santa Cruz. One daughter.

John Cecchini. Native of Riva Trigosa; 18 years in Santa Cruz. Has two daughters.

Copyrighted by the Santa Cruz Sentinel-News, Morning Edition. Reproduced by permission.