Over the last couple of months I have come to know a bit more about buznannu Wigi. Earlier this year I found a passport application for his travel to Australia in 1915. I searched to find any record of him working here in Australia, but could not find anything. After confirming with my great aunt in Gozo that he did travel to Australia for work, my uncle here in Australia told me that he had purchased land in possibly Wentworthville here in Sydney and had tried to get my buznanna to come out to Australia, however she did not want to, so he sold up and went back home.
I dug a little into this, looking up the Historical Land Records via the NSW Land & Property Information government agency. I didn’t find much on there (well at least from what I could see). I had emailed NSW State Records in September and they have only just gotten back to me advising me that any immigrant wishing to purchase land in Australia first had to become naturalised, and that a person needed to be in the country for at least 5 years before being eligible for applying for naturalisation. Naturalisation records for NSW after 1904 are held by the National Archives of Australia. I am uncertain as to how long he stayed in Australia. The bit that isn’t piecing together for me is that his passport application was made in 1915. I have a passenger’s ship list with his name on it for 26th March 1915 on the Orontes. Now he had previously been married and then widowed and remarried my buznanna in 1919. With the information I have from my uncle stating that he had purchased land and had tried to convince buznanna to come over, doesn’t really match up timframe-wise. It also doesn’t make sense to me that he would up and leave for Australia when he had 2 children to his previous marriage. It just doesn’t add up. Not to say it didn’t happen, it could be possible, but it may have happened differently. Not sure what my next move from here is, but I am determined to find evidence of his being in Sydney.
Looking at this into more depth, the photo I have of him – not sure of where it came from, but I am going to assume that it may be his passport photo? I’ll have to track down where this photo came from as I am sure this will give me a better understanding of the information I already have.
Knowing my nanna and how my mother was raised, it wasn’t that they weren’t well-off, but they weren’t the richest on the Island either. They lived a hard life. However, the story of his picture tells me something else. He is well groomed and well dressed. He is wearing a suit with a tie. On his marriage certificate it states his occupation as being a “zappatore” [Italian]. From looking this word up online, there are a few translations;
- sapper: a soldier responsible for tasks such as building and repairing roads and bridges, laying and clearing mines, etc.
- digger: 1. a person, animal, or large machine that digs earth. 2. a man, especially a private soldier (often used as a friendly form of address)
- hoer [noun]: 1. a long-handled implement having a thin, flat blade usually set transversely, used to break up the surface of the ground, destroy weeds, etc. 2. any of various implements of similar form, as for mixing plaster or mortar. 3.
4. [verb] hoed or hoeing is to dis, scrap, weed, cultivate etc.
A sapper makes sense, as it seems to be a well-off job if you tie it in with how you read his photograph. But then a digger or a hoer makes more sense as I know they lived in a village with lots of land and working the land was what they did back then. Also, taking into account what his father Fonzu did for a living, his occupation is documented as a digger. So I think I am safe to make the assumption he was one too. I could also read further into his photograph and take a stab at saying the suit he is wearing is probably his best suit and only suit.
I have a major obsession with wanting to know how my ancestors lived. I get a lead, and I am drawn to be even more obsessed to find out what he did in his life. To be continued…