The Santamaria Family

The history of the Santamaria’s begins in the early 1881. It has as an advocate a man of restless and extraordinary character. Bartholomew Santamaria, born in Salina, in the Aeolian Islands, is a sailor with a Genoese shipping Company. He is a young man to whom the world seems small and has no suitable place upon which he would set his roots. His son Joseph would say at a later date the earth was to hot for his feet, and the history of Bartholomew’s history confirms this. In 1881 Bartholomew emigrates from Italy to America together with his wife and offers his talents to several activities. The first two sons and one daughter are born in the new world. Three years later he obtains American citizenship; but his spirit of adventure dares him to try his fortune in Australia in 1886. During this time little is known of Australia in the rest of the world. Together with his brother John he opens a green grocery business in Sydney. His son Joseph is born in Rinella in 1886. The business is quite satisfactorily flourishing, but Bartholomew’s wish to establish himself and settle in Australia has not reached its final aim. He returns to Italy in 1891 and then back to Australia, but this time to Melbourne where he purchases a green grocery business together with his brother John.

His wife, with his sons Joseph and Bartholomew are reunited in 1893. Meanwhile the Santamaria family has lost the first three children, the two sons died in America and the daughter in Italy. In Australia two daughters, Felicia and Rosie are born. The Santamaria family has now settled in Brunswick. Bartholomew continues to journey overseas. His family goes with him. Joseph follows his fathers steps. After the Santamaria’s returned to the Aeolian Islands, he in tum tries his luck by migrating in 1906 on his own to America. He works in a grocery store, but he is not satisfied with the American environment. Perhaps his lonelines: at the age of 20, would be the greatest obstacle to a happy settlement. After only 5 months he returns to Italy, but six weeks later he returns to Australia. He is reunited with his family here 18 months later in 1909.

Joseph opens a grocery business at Traralgon, in company with a friend and compatriot. He sells his share of the business to his partner. As the dangers of the first world war are rapidly approaching Joseph marries. Several days later the war of 1914 commences. His wife is Maria Terzita Costa, a young Aeolian woman, who had migrated to Australia together with her brothers some time earlier, Joseph opens another business in Brunswick in order to be self sufficient and to provide for is own new family. Three children are born: Bartholomew, Josephine and Felix. Joseph, too, loves moving about as his father had previously done. So after the War, he and his whole family return to Italy. It’s 1922. A year later he returns to Australia. Another three sons are born: Joseph, Bemie and John.

In 1929 Joseph purchases a licensed grocery, the premises of which are situated at 166 Sydney Road, Brunswick. As years go by, all business activities are to this day shouldered by his son Felix. Joseph resigns from business affairs in 1962. His parents Bartholomew and Josephine died in Australia, at an advanced age in 1933. Joseph’s social life has been rich and augmented by labourious activities. For many years he has been president of the Aeolian Islands Society, always participating in all essential activities towards the Aeoloians and all Italians who are in need of assistance. His activities have been particularly intensive during the years of the great depression, during which time migrants were first to suffer the consequences, Joseph was also a member of the Cavour Club. Joseph Santamaria, who with a dynamic character, certainly hereditary from his father Bartholomew, has merited the first and great lesson - the necessity to provide for his own children an education adequate to the ever increasing needs of medérn life. His wish is that his children have the will to work with their hands, but that they may also have the full use of their intellectual capacities. The aim of Joseph’s life has always been in his acquired conviction. His sons and daughter have this day a position in life which is secure and respectable.

Bartholomew (Bob) is a lawyer and is involved in civic activities; Josephine has teaching diplomas; Felix, as already mentioned, has continued his father’s business activities; Joseph is a specialist doctor; Bernie is an insurance manager; and John is an accountant. The Santamaria’s are proud of their numerous and happy family. Maria Terzita, after a marriage lasting 53 years, dies in 1966. However to Joseph, together with the memories of his wife, are left those affections of 45 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. Joseph Santamaria has given to Australia minds which he guided to a just approach and the conquest of a great future.

His donation towards the erection of St. Anthony’s Shrine is a window representing St. Vincent de Paul in memory of himself, his wife and his family.

An extract from “Ricordo del Santuario di S. Antonio e dei Fondatori” - A commemorative book celebrating the opening of St Anthony’s Shrine in Hawthorn.

More information on the shrine and book -

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