Le Famiglie Cuneo e Cunio di Rovegno, Italia

Both our Cuneo and Cunio Families immigrated to the United States from Rovegno, Northern Italy.

Rovegno, Italy (Province of Genova, Liguria)


Giovanni (John) Cuneo (full name Stephano Andrea Giovanni) was born on February 6 1876 in Rovegno, Italy. His mother (Guilia Barbieri) died when he was three and his father (Antonio) died when he was 12 so he was raised by an aunt. They were a farming family and John would always grow his own vegetables throughout his life.


"My dad used to raise wonderful vegetables in the yard. He would bring in lots of manure. We had every kind of vegetable you could think of. And my dad liked that minestrone soup. We used to eat it every night. My mom would pick the vegetables and cook the minestrone. And my dad just loved it; he'd have a second helping every night. But me, I got so doggone tired of it, I couldn't even look at it. So that's why I lost a lot of weight, I guess. It was good for you, it was lots of vegetables, but I just got tired of it." - Ray Cuneo Feb. 24, 1988

  Giovanni married Louisa Cunio in Rovegno on April 25, 1902 and immediately sailed to America, around the Horn, arriving in Amador County in 1902.

  Louisa Cunio (Maria Luigia) was born in Rovegno on February 25, 1878. Her mother was Maria Isola, her father was Raffaele Cunio. She had two brothers, John and Luigi and a sister, Therisa (who eventually had 10 children).

Maria (Isola) Cunio and Luigi Cunio (Louisa's mother and youngest brother) Rovegno, Italy.


Louisa had been writing to her brother John's wife, Victoria, who was telling her to come to Jackson, California because there were openings in the gold mines.

John James Cunio & Victoria Bernero

  When Giovanni and Louisa arrived in Jackson, California he began work at the Kennedy Gold Mine in 1902.

Jackson Mine, Jackson, Calif. early 1900s

Their first child, Juliet (Jewel) M. Cuneo was born on the 4th of July, 1903. Rafaele Anthony was born on March17, 1906. They were both born at home so they had no birth certificate.

The Cuneos - 1906


 "My dad had very bad lungs and couldn't stay in the mines very long. He heard there was an opening in the scavenger business in Oakland so he packed up immediately and moved the family to 45th Street around 1909. [He became a citizen in 1910]. He was one of the first garbage collectors in Oakland. He drove on a wagon. Mom made $10,000 or $15,000 from the shares she sold of the scavenger business. Last year one share sold for 1 million dollars."  

                                                      -Ray Cuneo Feb. 24, 1988

Giovanni Cuneo (Right) on the job in Oakland

The Cuneos in Oakland - about 1913


"My dad used to smoke quite a bit, too. He used to smoke those Italian cigars, those Tosconis. They'd get a tobacco leaf and put it in a vat of wine and you let that thing soak and they'd make cigars out of it. And he didn't realy smoke them, he used to chew them. They were long and thin, about the size of my finger. He used to make his own wine and I never saw dad drunk. At night time he used to put a big bottle of wine on the table, put glasses around for everyone to drink. Three or four times a week a man in a black suit wouldcome for a visit and the two of them would sit at a table in the basement wine cellar and drink wine. In fact, it was this man who told me the Post Office test was to be given.

As a miner in Jackson, dad contracted miner's consumption. That's what killed him; he got that miner's consumption. He was 54. He never knew he had miner's consumption until about three years before he died. He had to retire early because of his health.He was so doggone weak he could hardly climb up the stairs and he would get winded just walking a few steps. And when he would sleep, he couldn't sleep laying down he had to sleep sitting up. Then he finally went to the doctor; in those days you were kind of reluctant about going to the doctor, and the doctor examined him and took an x-ray of his chest and says two, three months, that's it. And sure enough it was almost to the day." [He died Feb. 3, 1930.]                                                                                   - Ray Cuneo

  One day while Ray was visiting his mother and Jewel, his mother went out to pick some vegetables. When she didn't come back for a while they looked out the window and she was on the ground. She died of a heart attack on July 29, 1944 at the age of 65.

  "Ray's mom and Del's mom were good friends. I loved her; she was a lovely person and a typical Italian. She was very good looking."  -Josephine Carniglia

Cuneo Census Records:

Cuneo - 1910 Oakland

Cuneo - 1920 Oakland Cuneo-Carniglia - 1930 Oakland

Giovanni Cuneo WWI Draft Card