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2017-08-11 / Range History

The Timpano Family: The early years

By Dana Sanders
HTF Contributor

The Timpano name and the year 1915 can still be seen on the Timpano crypt. Photo by Mia Lawson. The Timpano name and the year 1915 can still be seen on the Timpano crypt. Photo by Mia Lawson. HIBBING – Antoinette “Toni” Anderson, welcomed my daughter Mia and me into her home on July 10, 2017, to share the story of her great-uncle Tony Timpano coming to America and becoming established.

Entering Toni’s home was like stepping into a rose garden. The walls of her entryway and living room were decorated with soft shades of pink roses on wallpaper. She had pictures of her family everywhere. Mia told Toni that she and I were a lot alike when it came to displaying family pictures. Toni smiled and introduced us to her family in the many pictures.

She was so soft spoken and kind. Mia and I immediately felt at home and had no problem curling up on her overstuffed, wraparound white couch while she began telling us her family history and story.

Tony Timpano was born on December 7, 1879, in Oppido, Italy. His parents were Vincenzo and Cecilia Timpano. He was the youngest and only boy of five children. The children of Vincenzo and Cecilia were: Mary Timpano, Josephine Timpano, Maria Antoinia Timpano, Grace Timpano and Anthony “Tony” Timpano.

Tony Timpano’s parents, Vincenzo and Cecilia, and his sisters Maria Antoinia (left) and Grace. Submitted photos. Tony Timpano’s parents, Vincenzo and Cecilia, and his sisters Maria Antoinia (left) and Grace. Submitted photos. When Toni told me the names of Tony’s parents and siblings, I was already familiar with the names. However, I asked her to repeat their names a few times. Mia smirked at me. She knew I was familiar with the names and that I had heard Toni just fine. I just loved the way she said their names with her Italian accent. (I later confessed this to Toni).

When Tony was married to Selma, they named their first son James Anthony “Vincenzo” Timpano. They named their first daughter Ceceila Mary Grace Timpano, their second daughter Antonia Maria “Baby Toney” Timpano, their second son Joseph Robert Timpano and their youngest daughter Mary Helen Timpano.

Tony Timpano when he was a young man. Tony Timpano when he was a young man. Toni said that in Italy, families have very strong customs of passing down names within their family. She also said that despite families being quite large and extended, they all worked together and supported one another. They took pride in their tradition and values. She said that family meant everything to them; they were very close with one another.

Toni verified that Tony did immigrate to America in 1902. He worked in the mines for a few years and then established his own saloon in Stuntz Township (North Hibbing). Tony owned and operated his saloon for many years.

I asked Toni about Vincenzo Timpano who was named as Tony’s brother in an Ancestry Report conducted by Denny Levine. Toni said that Tony did not have a brother. Vincenzo was an uncle that Tony sponsored to come to America in 1903. Upon Vincenzo disembarking the ship from Italy, he boarded a train in New York to travel to Minnesota. Somehow, he fell off the train and died tragically on October 10, 1903. He is buried in the North Hibbing Cemetery behind the Timpano crypt.

Giuseppi “Joe” Barbaro, pictured in Italy. Giuseppi “Joe” Barbaro, pictured in Italy. I asked Toni if she had ever heard stories about the little girl supposedly laid to rest in the crypt at her grand piano. She said that she never heard that story until reading my article. She did say that it could very well be possible. Tony and Selma were married in 1908. This child would have been born around 1907 prior to the marriage of Tony and Selma. She could have been an illegitimate child. This could explain why there was a basement in the crypt—he could have hidden her away.

Toni (Barbaro) Anderson’s grandparents, Domecico and Maria Antoinia (Timpano) Daniele. Toni (Barbaro) Anderson’s grandparents, Domecico and Maria Antoinia (Timpano) Daniele. Toni was also curious as to why so much effort went into sealing the trap door to the basement. What’s hiding down there? Toni said things like that were not talked about and were kept very private back then, even within families. She did share that Tony had sponsored his father Vincenzo to come to America. At that time, Tony was tending bar and managing his saloon. Vincenzo did not approve of Tony’s lifestyle and opted to go back to Italy.

Tony also sent for his sister Grace to come to America. She was a young woman and single. Tony thought maybe she would like to start over in America. Grace lived with Tony and Selma for a short period of time and helped take care of their children. She eventually moved back to Italy as she missed her family. Upon returning to Italy, she shared with her family how well Tony was doing financially in America. He had a prosperous business, nice home and provided many amenities to his family. They were well taken care of.

The Barbaro children: Bruno (l. to r.), Toni, Stella and Santina, with Domenic (in back). The Barbaro children: Bruno (l. to r.), Toni, Stella and Santina, with Domenic (in back). Even though Tony emigrated and started a new life in America, he still felt obligated to take care of his family in Italy. He sent many packages of various food items and clothing to his relatives—even to the many nieces and nephews he had not met. He was a very proud and generous man.

In 1929, Tony and Selma divorced. Selma and the children lived in Minneapolis for a while prior to moving to California. Tony never shared with his family what happened or why the marriage dissolved. This had a devastating impact on Tony as his family meant everything to him. He lived in boarding houses for 12 years while working in real estate. He no longer had the saloon. In 1942, he married Lidwina Fedrizzi. They resided at 1901 Fifth Avenue in Hibbing.

The Barbaro children: Bruno (in front) and Domenic (l. to r.), Santina and Toni. (Stella wasn’t born yet.) The Barbaro children: Bruno (in front) and Domenic (l. to r.), Santina and Toni. (Stella wasn’t born yet.) Toni was born long after Tony had immigrated to America. Toni’s parents were Giuseppi “Joe” and Mary Grace (Daniele) Barbaro. Mary Grace was Maria Antoinia (Timpano) Daniele’s daughter. Maria Antoinia was Tony’s sister and Mary Grace was his niece. Toni (Barbaro) Anderson is Tony’s great-niece.

The children of Joe and Mary Grace Barbaro are: Santina (Barbaro) Laurienzo, Antoinette “Toni” (Barbaro) Anderson, Domenic Barbaro, Bruno Barbaro and Stella (Barbaro) Baratto.

Mia asked Toni how and when her family came to America. Toni said that in the late 1940s, her great-aunt Grace was at their house visiting in Calabria, Italy. Her father Joe had come into the house from working all day in the field farming. He was so hot, tired and dirty. Their house was a small brick building with no plumbing or electricity. The floors in the house were dirt. They were so poor and Joe wanted a better life for his family.

Antoinette “Toni” Barbaro, at age 13 when she immigrated to the U.S. Antoinette “Toni” Barbaro, at age 13 when she immigrated to the U.S. Grace suggested that Joe write to Tony and ask if he would be willing to sponsor him to come to America. Joe was apprehensive as Tony was his wife’s uncle, not his. After some thought and conversations with his wife Mary Grace, Joe wrote to Tony inquiring if he would be willing to sponsor him to come to America and start a new life for his family.

Tony was more than happy to sponsor Joe. The correspondence continued and the necessary legal documents were submitted.

I asked Toni what sponsorship entailed. She said that if someone in America agreed to sponsor an immigrant, they were financially responsible for them while they established themselves. This process did not take place overnight. Joe was not able to immigrate to America until 1954. He was required to go alone first and get established prior to sending for his family.

Toni Anderson’s wedding party. Tony Timpano is pictured at the far left. He was an usher at the wedding. Toni Anderson’s wedding party. Tony Timpano is pictured at the far left. He was an usher at the wedding. When Joe immigrated to America, he lived with Tony and his second wife Lidwina in Hibbing. Tony was 75 years old at that time. Joe pursued work in the mines. After a few years of working while living with Tony and Lidwina, Joe had enough money to send for his family. He also purchased his own home at 1712 Fourth Avenue East (Park Edition) in Hibbing.

In 1957, Mary Grace Barbaro and her five children had their legal documents in order to immigrate to America. A couple of weeks prior to the scheduled trip, they were all required to have a health check-up. This was the final requirement prior to boarding the ship and making the trip to America. Toni did not pass her checkup. She had the flu at the time and she was restricted from coming to America; she had to stay in Italy until she was healthy enough to travel. There were strict rules in place for American immigrants. It was a long journey by ship and they did not want any sickness onboard.

The Barbaro home in Park Addition in Hibbing. The Barbaro home in Park Addition in Hibbing. Since Toni was not able to travel, Mary Grace wanted to write to her husband Joe to come back to Italy. She would not make this trip without all her children. Toni was 12 years old at the time. She said that she told her mom that she had to make this trip as her dad had worked way too hard and sacrificed so much for them. Toni said she would stay with her grandparents Domecico and Maria Antoinia Daniele and her great-aunt Grace.

Antoinette “Toni” (Barbaro) Anderson. Antoinette “Toni” (Barbaro) Anderson. I asked Toni what went through her mind when she made this decision. She said it was the right thing to do, but she was afraid. Her family was everything to her. Toni said that she will never forget the day that her mom and her siblings boarded the ship from Naples, Italy. Her mother, Mary Grace, was crying so hard. She remembers watching the ship sail away.

Toni said she had her eyes locked on her little sister Stella, who was three years old at the time. She had jet black hair and a little plaid skirt on. Toni stood with her grandparents until she couldn’t see Stella anymore and the ship sailed out of sight. She confided to Mia and me that she had no idea if or when she would ever see her parents or siblings again. All of Toni’s paperwork had to be resubmitted. It would be a year before she would be eligible to travel.

In 1958, Toni’s legal documents were approved and she passed her health check-up. Her grandfather Domecico took her to Messina, Italy where she boarded the Volcania ship to America. She was 13 years old. The journey would take 13 days; Toni would travel alone across the seas to America. She was incredibly brave to say the least.

Mia asked Toni what she was most excited about. Toni said that she couldn’t wait to see her parents and her siblings. She missed them so much. The only communication she had with them was through letters. Her mother had cried daily the year that Toni had stayed in Italy. It had been a year since she saw her mom and siblings and four years since she had seen her father. Joe was meeting her on Ellis Island in New York when the ship was to arrive and they would take a Greyhound bus to Hibbing.

Toni said that when the ship arrived in

New York, she thought to herself, “This truly is the land of opportunity.” It was very different from Italy. She was so excited to be with her family and to enjoy a better life with them.

After departing from the ship, she was in a station where you could either take a train or a bus to your destination. She was looking for her father and she spotted him before he saw her. She recognized him after four years; she was nine years old when she last saw him.

He was dressed entirely different and Toni thought his clothes were so fancy compared to the farming clothing he wore in Italy. As her father was desperately trying to find

Toni in the crowd, she snuck up behind him, leaped on him and threw her arms around his neck. Her dad laughed and burst into tears. Through the years, he loved sharing this story. Toni grew up in Park Addition in Hibbing with her parents and siblings. They were very close with Tony and Lidwina. When Toni arrived in Hibbing, Tony was 79 years old. She remembers her mother Mary Grace getting upset with him at times because he could be very controlling and set in his ways. Her father would always defend Tony as he was very grateful to him. He always reminded his wife and children that if it hadn’t been for Tony, they would not be here and have the blessed life that they had. Toni said her father always looked for the good in people and was a wonderful man.

I asked Toni what Lidwina was like. She said that she was a very quiet and kind woman, and that Lidwina had been a nun before she met and married Tony. I asked her if Tony ever mentioned Selma or his children to her. Toni said she could only recall one conversation that she had with Tony about Selma and their children. He told her that he wished that he would have been smarter with his money and investments throughout the years. He said he was approached by Carl Wickman and Andrew Anderson to invest in starting the Greyhound Bus Company (that’s another story in itself—stay tuned). Tony said that he turned them down because he thought they were just trying to flirt with his wife Selma. He said that if he had been smart and had invested, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren wouldn’t have had to work a day in their life.

Toni said that Tony liked being in control and was very set in his ways. She said he could be a real “stinker” at times. Despite these character defects, he was a very proud man that honored tradition and family. He was very generous not only to family, but to many friends as well. He endured love, loss, joy and sadness. With his passing in August of 1968, he took some deep secrets to the grave that may never be told.

Before our visit with Toni, she had had conversations with her brother Domenic about having the crypt demolished and having those inside buried in the cemetery. She was under the impression that the crypt was in bad shape and falling apart. After hearing about our experience in the crypt and the stories and pictures we shared, Toni wants to pursue restoration on the crypt. She, too, is curious if there is evidence of remains of a little girl or piano in the basement of the crypt.

Her brother Domenic’s baby girl Josephine is laid to rest in the crypt. Domenic lives in Tennessee and is making a trip to Hibbing to visit Toni this fall. She is hoping that they can be granted access into the crypt to inspect it for restoration and see about opening the basement. As for now, that mystery remains sealed away. She is also curious about the coffin where a baby is laid to rest in. Is there a body of a woman beneath her in that coffin? If so, who is she?

Mia and I completely lost track of time at Toni’s. We spent a good three hours at her home listening to her story and special memories and we viewed many pictures. Toni not only opened her home to us, but her heart and her family. Mia and I were so engaged in her story and were so grateful for what she shared with us. Toni asked if I would stop by again and bring copies of the other stories that I wrote and the Ancestry Report to send to her brother Domenic. Mia and I extended many thanks and hugs were exchanged. I promised Toni that I would keep in touch. Mia and I couldn’t quit smiling for the rest of the day. We adored Toni and loved her story.

Since that day, I have talked to Toni several times and stopped by to visit. She had more stories and pictures to share. Another friendship evolved from this fascinating family history and story.

I would like to thank Toni Anderson for entrusting me to write and share her family history and story. She radiates beauty from her soul and comes from a beautiful family.

A very special thank you to my daughter, Mia Lawson. Mia has been a part of all the adventures and taken all photographs connected to the following stories: • Whistling Past the Graveyard in Ghostober • The Mysterious Timpano Crypt • The Mysterious Timpano Crypt Continued • The Timpano Family Part 1 and Part 2

I will forever cherish these adventures and experiences with Mia. It makes the stories even more precious and priceless to me.

I truly have a beautiful family and life that I am very grateful for.

Dana Sanders Zim, MN. Part 1 of The Timpano Family story was published in last week’s Hometown Focus.

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