01 Mar Carlo Tura
I remember Carlo “Pappy” Tura, my grandfather, as a very lovable, kind, sweet man who took pride in every one of his 8 children and 20+ grandchildren. As a child, I have fond memories of visiting my Tura grandparents in Saugus, Massachusetts on Saturdays with my Dad. It was a small house, but full of people. My father’s brothers would be there with their children but without their wives. Gramma’s 90 + year old father also lived there. We called him Grandfeathers.
Pappy and his eight adult children
The smell of pipe smoke was always in the air, in addition to whatever was cooking. On the property were wonderful vegetable and flower gardens, a chicken coop, and a shed (no children allowed in there), a picnic area, a big beautiful dog, cats, and for a while, a goat. Pappy grew some unusual vegetables, such as white tomatoes and white eggplant. I remember glass eggs in the hen’s nests to help encourage them to lay eggs. In the front yard were dinner plate dahlias and geraniums growing out of whitewashed car tires. Every summer we picked blueberries on the hill in back of his property.
Carlo and Mildred, also known as Pappy and Gramma, lived a block from the Saugus River and the Saugus Ironworks. The Ironworks, founded in 1646, was the first successful ironworks in the New World and made cast iron, wrought iron and steel products. It was restored in 1916 and in 1968 it became a national park. But when it was still operating as the Ironworks, we loved to walk with Pappy to get his mail. This was a treat because his mailbox was on their property and on the other side of the Saugus River! We’d cross a bridge to get to the Ironworks. Pappy had his own key to the Ironworks property, and he would open the back gate. We walked on a path past the waterwheel, forge, mill and the ironmasters house. He would unlock the front gate to a row of mailboxes. The dog always came with us.
Pappy and Gramma with their children in Saugus
If it was near a holiday, all the grandchildren would receive a little cake of their own when we visited. Each cake was decorated with frosting and candies that represented holiday. Each child also got a cake on their birthday.
I knew he was from Italy but didn’t think beyond that or wonder about his life in Italy until he was gone. Through documents my Dad had and by talking to one of my Dad’s cousins in Kingston, Massachusetts, Alfred Tura, I started to put together his story.
Carlo Tura was born in Renazzo, Cento, Ferrara, Italy on 25 March 1893 to Pietro Paolo Tura and Maria Nannini. Pietro’s father was Antonio Tura born in 1827 in Castile D’Argile, and his mother was Adelina Accorsi. The census report from Cento states they were tenant farmers, but I don’t know much else about their life in Italy.
Carlo left home on March 16, 1910 at the age of 16, departing from Naples aboard the ship Romanic. He celebrated his 17th birthday out on the ocean. I wonder if he celebrated with fellow passengers from Renazzo? According to the ship manifest, he was in 3rd cabin. He travelled on a passport, was single, a farm laborer from Renazzo, Italy and his final destination was Plymouth, Massachusetts. His brother Alphonso who he was joining at 234 Court Street in Plymouth, MA paid for his passage. He had $20 in his pocket. Other passengers onboard from Renazzo were Raffaele Gilli, Guiseppe Cavallini, Angela Maria Melloni and her children, Luigi Benotti, Mattia Carafiti, Antonio Soldati, Guiraldi Filiberto and Agostino Cristofori. They arrived in Boston on 29 March 1910.
In the United States Federal Census of April 1910, Pappy was living with his 27-year-old brother Alphonso who was married to Josephine Sacenti and their toddler son named George. Alphonso and Carlo worked at the Plymouth Cordage Mill. Josephine was a homemaker.
Brothers Alphonso and Carlo in the New World
When Carlo arrived in Plymouth, cousins who had immigrated from the Cento area were already here. A ship manifest shows that in 1896 Pietro Paolo Tura, Pappy’s father, had accompanied Generosa Tura Reggiani and her children to Plymouth to join her husband. She was born in 1855, so it is unclear whether she was a sister or cousin to Pietro Paolo.
Pietro Paolo Tura’s brother Desiderio had children already in Plymouth – Alphonso married to Elvira Balboni, Ruggiero Robert married to Adelina Tassinari, Luigi Albano married to Olga Giberti, and Medarda married to Egisto Roncalli. They had a brother Primo who was also in Plymouth but he eventually returned to Italy and lived in Rimini.
Pietro Paolo Tura’s other brother Ferdinando Tura also had children already in the Plymouth area – Ida Adelina who married Isodore Benotti; John Ferdinado who married Catherine Minelli Ragazzini and Medarda who married Luigi Manganelli.
Carlo Tura, Pappy, helping to build a house
In Kingston, Massachusetts, the town next to Plymouth, the Tura’s had a grocery store, a clothing store and a pharmacy.
Carlo left Plymouth in April 1911 and moved to Lynn, Massachusetts. My aunt told me that he did not like the work at the Plymouth Cordage. In addition, his brother and his wife had selected a girl from Italy for him to marry, and he wasn’t quite ready for that.
He boarded with the Benea family in Lynn, Massachusetts. They were also from Renazzo, Italy. Albina Govoni Benea was a widow who owned the house. Her son Francesco Benea and his wife Caroline Lenzie also lived there. They were bakers.
Carlo with the Benea family in Lynn, Massachusetts
In 1913, Carlo got a job with the Boston &Maine railroad out of the Lynn train yard and he worked there until he retired.
In 1918, Carlo Tura and Francesco Benea registered for World War I. The address they both listed was 132 Alley St., Lynn where they must have been living. On July 21, 1918, Carlo reported to Fort Devens where he was a Sergeant, Bakery Co. #415. He was honorably discharged on Dec. 13, 1918. He spent his entire Army life at Fort Devens and was there during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. He was lucky to survive. A lot of soldiers died at Camp Devens and around the world from the Spanish Flu.
Carlo in his World War I uniform
Carlo returned to Lynn, Massachusetts where he met my grandmother, Mildred Elizabeth Curtis. They were married on April 26, 1919, and moved to Saugus, Massachusetts in 1921. They had 9 children: Charlotte Pauline; Charles George (who died at 3 months of age.); George Louis (my Dad); Emma Maria; Alphonse Pietro; Leonardo Aldo; Mildred Elizabeth; Charles Francis; and, Joseph Curtis.
Gramma and Pappy
My Dad remembered that Pappy would never allow the dishes to be done before 6 pm. He remembered a child being badly scalded at his sister’s house in Renazzo and he wanted to keep all the children in his house safe. My Dad also fondly remembered Pappy’s homemade potato gnocchi. He had no measuring cups. He just used his hand to measure and seemed to get the ingredients just right. When ready, the kitchen table would be cleared and the pasta dough rolled out and cut. Another favorite that Pappy made was pastafagiole.
George Tura – the father of Janice Tura, the author of the story, with his father Carlo before he went to Europe during WWII
My Dad and his brothers caught eel in the Saugus River, kept alive in a barrel of water until they were to be cooked at home. Pappy also made his own beer and wine. He knit all of his family’s socks. My aunt told me he taught her to knit using two long nails
Carlo had two sisters in Renazzo – Alda Tura Accorsi and Emma Tura Gallervia – whom he wrote to often. My uncle Charlie Tura visited them when he was in the Army and stationed in Europe after World War II, and again in the late 1960’s with his sister Emma and his brother Pete who lived in the Boston area. I remember him saying that his Aunt Emma’s family had a lumber mill in Renazzo. Unfortunately, letters from Italy were lost and we’re left with only what we remember and what we can go back in time to learn.
Carlo’s sister Emma Tura Gallerani
Carlo’s sister Alda Tura Accorsi and her family
The children of Carlo and Alphonso had two reunions during the 1980’s and I was fortunate enough to have attended them. The first one was at the house of Alphonso’s daughter in Kingston, Massachusetts. I remember sitting at tables outside. There were lovely gardens and a rabbit pen. All were happy to see each other, and lots of pictures were taken. The second reunion was at a summer home on Cape Cod that my Dad’s sister rented.
Carlo never returned to Renazzo. His home and family were here. He passed away a week after my Gramma died. They are buried at the Riverside Cemetery in Saugus.
I would love to someday visit Renazzo and learn more about Pappy and my Italian ancestors, maybe even meet some relatives.
Conversations with family
Italian census reports
US census reports and WWI documents
Saugus Ironworks website: https://www.nps.gov/sair/index.htm