It is Valentine's Day in a few hours and Maria Catterina Zanotti-Cussio's story is a love story I haven't written about yet. Maria Catterina (who was known as Catterina) was born on 26 Jan 1830 in Cugelio, Torino, Piemonte, Italy. She was the daughter of Secondo Zanotti and Maria Teresia Cussio (I have seen this name spelled Cuffia, but I believe that this is a misinterpretation of the long "s" in earlier handwriting. In my family records it is spelled Cussio). Both these names are quite common in Cugelio. She was the second daughter and third child out of six.
In 1846, her older sister, Domenica, married Giovanni Tinetti and went to live in Torre Canavese with him. Domenica and Giovanni had five living children and two stillborn. The second stillborn child died 12 Jan 1862. On 3 Apr 1863, Domenica died leaving Giovanni with five children aged 4 to 17. Catterina came to look after the children. After awhile of this Giovanni felt that it wasn't seemly for her to live there and that people might talk. So he offered to marry her in name only in order to protect her reputation. According to the family story she said, "I will marry you, Giovanni, but only if we are to be husband and wife in full". He was very happy and they were married and they had one son and five daughters, one of whom was my great grandmother, Angelina. Their son and their youngest daughter, Adele, died young. Three of the other four daughters went to America and stayed there. So this left Catterina with only one daughter, Albina, nearby after 1890. I do not when Catterina died, Giovanni died in 1904.
We don't have a photo of Catterina but I do have one of two of her daughters and perhaps she resembled them.
An interesting thing in researching her is that the only marriage record that I found is much later than one would expect. It is dated 14 Aug 1878. This was after all their children were born. I found no other record in either Torre Canavese or Cugelio. Did they live in sin all that time? Did they have a religious ceremony only and later decide to get the Civil record? Were they married elsewhere? I have no idea but I think the records would've called the children illegitimate if they hadn't been married.
Last May when my sister and I visited Torre Canavese and were being shown by cousins, one descended from Catterina's daughter, Albina, and the other from Domenica's daughter, Maria Teresa, I said I wanted to see Cuceglio. They asked why and I explained that both Albina and maria Teresa's mothers had been born in Cuceglio. They didn't know that! They were very happy to show me the town which is right next to Torre Canavese.