Saturday, March 17, 2007

Italians & The Portland Water Works

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This photo was one of the many wonderful one shared with me by the Baldrica family. It shows Joseph Marco Parisi standing in front of one of the Portland reservoirs with some of his family in 1925. From left to right: Pietro Parisi (Uncle Pete), Henry (Hank), Joe Baldrica (Mary's husband), Mary Parisi Baldrica (Joseph's daughter), Marina (his wife) and Joseph Parisi. Notice how jaunty Mary looks in her jodphurs and boots (quite daring and modern in 1925).

The reservoirs and the Portland Water Works were a huge part of the Parisi family history, and Joseph Marco, along with countless other Italians, were a huge part of the early Water Works history. I wanted to explore some of that history in this blog entry.

Portland began construction of 24 miles of pipeline from Bull Run to the city in 1893. This was a HUGE public work project, made larger because the Water Committee also began constructing reservoirs at Mt. Tabor and City (Washington) Park, as well as expanding the water distribution system in the city. Keep in mind that the brush clearing, ditch digging, road building and everything else was done largely by hand. The modern machinery we are used to seeing on our public works projects had not yet been invented. The City of Portland needed labor, and they needed it quick.

At the same time, many events were occurring in Italy that caused the people there to think about looking elsewhere for a better place to live. I'll discuss these in a future blog soon when the topic will be immigration of the Parisi family. By the time these Italians arrived in America, the vast tracts of usable land had been or were being homesteaded. Even though they were farmers in the old country, most Italians did not move to the small farming communities because discrimination was high and they didn't want to be isolated or ignored. The Italians mostly moved into cities and became urbanized, providing the labor for jobs that no one else wanted. Because there were so many of them, discrimination against them was rampant and the wages poor.

I believe Constante Albertini was one of the first from Premione to immigrate to Portland, and secured employment with the Water Works. He probably wrote home about the opportunities he found and encouraged others to follow him. Joseph Marco was one that took him up on the offer, coming to Portland around 1890. According to Anthony Parisi, Joseph Marco's son, the Albertini's were relatives, although he wasn't sure how. My current research does not extend back far enough to show the link (but I'm working on it!). As shown in the previous blog entry, both Constante and Joseph would eventually become foremen leading the Italian crews on Water works projects.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Portland Water Dept. Payroll - Jan. 1903

Page of Payroll Records for the City of Portland, and close ups:
1) Top: Lines showing all information and signature for C. Albertini and Joe Parisi
2) Middle: Close up showing signatures of C. Albertini and Joe Parisi
3) Bottom: Entire page
This is one of the great finds we had at the Portland Archives. A big thank you to Brian Johnson, Assistant Archivist, who proved to be a big help (and a great guy too!). I had never seen my Great-Grandfather's signature before -- it always is surreal experience to find something like that.
I will not be transcribing the whole page, but just the two lines pertaining to C. Albertini and Joe Parisi. In my next blog, I'll talk about the Parisi's, Albertini's, and the Water Works. And, yes, there's a family reason while C. (Constante) Albertini is included.
My best transcription:
Name: C. Albertini
Occupation: Foreman, West Portland
Time: 1 month
Rate: $80/month plus car fare
Amount Due: $81.55
Warrant No. 14
Signature Line
Name: Joe Parisi
Occupation: Sub-Foreman, West Portland
Time: 27 days
Rate: $2.50/day plus car fare
Amount Due: $67.50
Warrant No. 15
Signature line

At this time, Joe was supporting his wife (who was pregnant) and 5 children in a home he had purchased, so he probably also had a mortgage. On $2.50/day. Wow.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Parisi Family -- 1894

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The Parisi Family from left to right: Marina holding baby Cecilia, Joseph Marco (in back), Anthony Parisi (middle front), and Mary Parisi (seated). This is the earliest photo I have of the Parisi side of my family. Since Cecilia is still a baby, and was born 16 Nov 1893, I estimate that this picture was taken about March 1894.
The photo was given to Ed Bjore by the Albertini sisters - family friends who came over from Italy with the Parisi's (more on that later!). The Original Photo was taken by Davies Studio, N.W. Cor. Third and Morrison Sts., Portland, Oregon. I've zoomed in for more detail on the photo posted above, and cleaned it up a little in Photoshop.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Research Trip to Portland

Wow! I just spent about five days in Portland on a wonderful genealogical research trip. I've got a lot of new stuff that I'll be posting soon: pictures, stories, documents, etc. It was a pretty heady trip -- I visited every place I wanted to see, met so many wonderful people, came home with 3 CDs plus over 150 scanned or photographed images, and heard many, many stories.

The best part: Cousins! First cousins, second cousins, once-removed, twice-removed, and many more connections I haven't sat down to figure out. All wonderful people, all a lot of fun to be with, and all willing to share photos and stories. I can't even begin to describe or thank all these lovely people. It was an absolute pleasure to meet or reconnect with all of them and my new New Year's resolution is not to lose touch with any of them! I'll be talking about them in future blogs as I post their pictures and stories.

I'd also like to shout out to Ed and Pam Bjore -- thanks for putting me up (and putting up with me!) for five days, driving me around, and sharing all your research and stories! There are no better hosts or great research buddies.