(The following was written by Betty Livingston, a granddaughter of Joseph Magnani, on March 1, 1998.)
Italy E.B. Doran Carrara li 25th July, 1892 To whom it may concern The undersigned can freely say that during the time
that Mr. Joseph Magnani was in his service here at
Carrara, he always found him very sober, pleasant
disposition and very willing to his work. Mr. Magnani is one of a poor but honest family here
and his aged mother greatly depends upon him for
support. My personal experience with him enables me
to cheerfully recommend him to any one who may need
his services. E.B. Doran
With this recommendation and little else, Joseph Magnani immigrated from Italy to the United States. He arrived in Texas but continued on to New York to start what can only be called a very successful life in his new country. He married a widow, Mary Silva (without children), and together they had four, all born in New York. Joseph was most versatile and industrious in supporting his family. We heard he started a business making a decorative plate that was used in the early homes as part of the light fixtures. Gas or electric, I forgot to ask my mom. Mom remembered him as a cook and complaining that the steam from the ovens clouded his glasses once he began to wear them.
Joseph brought his mother and I think his brother from Italy. My mom learned her Italian from this grandmother and also the practice and love of the Catholic religion. Mary Silva, my grandmother, was born in New York. Her family came from Bologna, Italy. She seemed to me to have an accent so probably Italian was her first language.
Grandpa Joseph moved his immediate family in one sweep to California, more opportunities I'm sure, leaving his mother, brother and the others in New York. They kept in close communication and sometimes visited each other. I'm sorry I never met this gracious lady from Italy. But I know my mother always held her dear to her heart. In Mom's later years when she began to paint she painted her grandmother's face. It was the only portrait I ever saw her try.
The Magnani children were Adeline, my mother, Emma and Loretta, my aunts and Tom, my uncle. Though all were born in New York, most of their youth was experienced in San Francisco, where Grandfather settled. In fact they all spent the rest of their lives in San Francisco except my mother, Adeline, who moved across the bay after she had married my Dad and had three children all born in San Francisco.
San Francisco is a beautiful city. Grandfather did well. I remember him as a street car conductor, but he did construction work. He built a magnificent two story stucco home on Vulcan Street, a street so steep it has stairs instead of a walkway along the front of the house. He ended up owning about five homes clustered in the Vulcan street area. He took two world tours by himself because Grandmother wouldn't go on the water. At the side of this home is a huge hill with rocks on the very top. It still is there, the rocks, I mean. Oh! it's built up of course, but those rocks are still there and every time I visit I try to get there and sit on the rocks, looking down on my grandparents' home and across the spectacular view of this historical and magnificent city.