The Story of the Santamaria Family

The history of the Santamaria family begins back in 1881 and has a leader, a man of extraordinary and restless character. Bartolo Santamaria, was born in Salina in the Eolian Islands, a sailor for a Genovese Company. He was a man to whom the world seemed too small and no place good enough to settle down. He had itchy feet, as his son Joseph describes him. In 1881, Bartolo left Italy to go to America with his wife. The first three children were born in the “New World”. Three years later, he became an American Citizen, but his insatiable curiosity and spirit of adventure drove him to try his luck in Australia. A country then much unknown to the rest of the world. In Sydney, together with his brother John, they opened a fruit business.

In 1886, Joseph is born in Rinella (Eolie). The Business goes very well, but Bartolo is not satisfied as yet and goes back to Italy then returns again to Australia in 1891 — this time to Melbourne. Here he buys a fruit business. His wife, together with his sons, join him in 1893. Unfortunately, the Santamaria family at the same time, lose three children, the first three, two of them die in America and one in Italy. The daughters, Felicia and Rosina were born in Australia. They now live in Brunswick. Bartolo takes other trips and Joseph follows his father’s footsteps and goes back to Eolie. In 1906, he tries his luck by going back to America where he worked in grocery store, but he finds that the American way of life is not for him. Maybe for a twenty-one year old, loneliness is a major obstacle for a happy stay. After only five months he goes back to Italy and six weeks later returns to Australia where his family joins him after eighteen months in 1909. Joseph opens a General Store in Traralgon partnered by a friend. Later he sells his share and goes back to his family.

The First World War was fast approaching and Joseph marries only a few days before the beginning of the war in 1914. He Marries a young lady from the Eolian Islands, MARIA TERZITA COSTA who had been living in Australia with her brothers. Joseph opened a fruit business in Brunswick to provide for his family. He has three children . Bartolomeo (Bob), Josephine and Felix (Phil). Joseph, as mentioned earlier, loves to move around like his father, and after the war he took his family back to Italy.

We are now in 1922, Twelve months later the family returns to Australia where Joseph, Bernard and John are born.

In 1929, Joseph Bought a grocery business (Licenced) in Sydney Road Brunswick, but as the years go by, the son Felix takes over most of this activity. Joseph retired from business in 1962. His Parents died in Australia in 1933. Joseph Santamaria’s social life was rich as well as dynamic like his working activities. He was for many years President of the Eolian Society, taking an active part in assisting the Eolian people and Italians in general. He helped all those in need in particular during the depression years when migrants were the most affected.

Joseph was also a member of the Club Cavour. His dynamic character, he certainly inherited from his father, and learned a lesson of prime importance : that was to give his children an education adequate to the growing needs of modern life. He wanted his children, not only to be prepared physically and be willing to work, but to make full use of their intellectual capacity. Today they hold well secure and respected positions in the community.

Bob is a Lawyer, and takes an active part in the life of the country, Josephine holds a Humanities Degree; Felix (Phil) has followed the business activities of his father, Joseph is a specialist in Medicine, Bernard is an Insurance Consultant and John is an Accountant. The Santamaria’s are a very large family. Mrs. Maria Terzita, after a marriage which lasted 53 years, died in 1966; but to Joseph, as well so many happy memories of his partner, has the love of 45 grand children and 7 great grand children. He has no fear that the Santamaria name die.

He has given Australia intellectual qualities towards a great future.

In the building of St. Anthony’s Church, he has donated a Stained Glass window representing St. Vincent de Paul in remembrance of him and 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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