Throughout the decades, my Great Grandmother encountered numerous challenges, but she was always able to persevere while at the same time still finding enjoyment and purpose in her life. The 1930s were a tough time for the whole country but, as always, Agnes made the best of the bad situation.
In 1977, when the mini-series “Roots” took America by storm, thousands of people adopted a new hobby called genealogy. And Maria Buchignani Taeuffer was one of them. One of her first steps was to interview some of the oldest members of her family that she could find. This precious snippet of conversation with her aunt, Louise Giorgi DalColletto, was recorded sometime in the late 1970s and allows us to hear the voice of our beloved Aunt Louise/Nonna one more time…
My mother was born Maria Columbia Buchignani. Her parents were Vittorio Alberto Buchignani and Eva Veronica Giorgi.
Growing up in Healdsburg, California I remember spending a lot of time visiting with my mother’s cousins on her Giorgi side. But there were also numerous families in town and the surrounding area named Buchignani, and we never socialized with any of them. My mother’s explanation was that “We’re not related to them.” By the 1990s there were 39 Buchignani families in Sonoma County. There were 160 in California. But, of course, we were not related to any of them.
In October 1903, Eugenia Selestine Hoar, daughter of Benjamin Franklin and Eugenia Chichester Hoar of Healdsburg married A. Claude Congleton, son of Agnes Call Congleton Wilson of Bailhache Avenue. The young couple set up housekeeping in Healdsburg and on February 13, 1905 their son Claude Franklin Congleton was born. Eugenia, better known as Jennie or Birdie, and baby Claude kept the home fires burning while Daddy Claude was away working as a brakeman for the Railroad.
One very basic building block of family research is to catalog your family’s movements via census records. These reliable documents provide us not only with evidence of where our people lived across time but also indications of family relationships, countries of origin, occupations, etc., etc. However, every family historian soon learns that the information contain is not always 100% accurate nor is it always complete. I suspect we all have that branch of the tree consisting of people who, by all appearances, were intent on hiding from census takers.
The original Cliff House in San Francisco was built on the bluffs above Ocean Beach in 1863. It was extremely difficult to reach and only the rich and famous could afford to pay the $1 fare to use the toll road. By the end of the 1870s it was losing money so gambling and liquor were introduced, much to the detriment of the establishment’s reputation.
Richard Buchignani was 17 years old when he graduated from Healdsburg High School in June of 1942. His first order of business was to begin his attempts to join the military so that he could participate directly in the war effort. He was able to get his mother, Eva Giorgi Buchignani, to sign his under-age application to join the Coast Guard on July 7, 1942. While he waited for that to be processed, he took a job at the shipbuilding facility on Mare Island in the San Francisco Bay Area.
John and Mae Congleton Taeuffer started their married life on March 2, 1902. They set up housekeeping on the Magnolia Drive ranch located south of Healdsburg where John had grown up and where his father, Ernest Taeuffer, still farmed. The couple’s first child was a son, born November 11, 1902. They named him Ernest Louis Taeuffer, after both his grandfather and his late uncle.
Aden C. Congleton was born around 1809 in New York State. Details about his early life are as yet undiscovered, but it is known that in 1849 he heard the siren call of the California Gold Rush.