Giuseppe Maio

 

Written by Dr. Eugene A. Maio. One in a collection by Allen Bachoroski, Local Historical Writer and author of “Tales Along the Highway of Legends”

 

The small town of Grimaldi, Italy, is a cluster of weather-aged stone buildings that nestles in the rolling hills in the southern Italian region of Calabria. Through its woods thick with chestnut trees herds of goats and cows wander along its dirt roads shared with ox driven carts. The five thousand or so inhabitants of Grimaldi live a very simple, rural life in a town whose closely-huddled buildings area a vestige of the feudal preoccupation with security. In this idyllic but secluded hillside town Giuseppe Garibaldi Maio was born in 1866. As a young boy he entered the local seminary to study for the priesthood. After a few years he decided to leave the seminary and to continue his education at the University of Cosenza where he graduated around 1886. Giuseppe then entered the military school in the southern Italian city of Bari where he completed his training with the rank of Captain.

Returning to Grimaldi, Giuseppe met and married Maria Antonietta Anselmo. It was not an easily arranged marriage. Antonietta came from an aristocratic Tuscan family from Florence that had settled in Grimaldi. Giuseppe came from much humbler origins but his university education and his military rank moved the Anselmo family to accept him. Guiseppe and Antonietta were married in 1898 in Cosenza, the regional capital of Calabria.

Soon after his marriage, Giuseppe entered the Italian Consular Service and received as his first mission the post in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was there that the Maio’s first two sons were bore, Victor (1899) and Emillio (1901). Six months after the birth of Emillio, Giuseppe was transferred to the Consular Office in Denver, Colorado where he took up his post as Italian Consul in 1902.

Southern Colorado at the time was the final destination of hundreds of immigrant Italians who settled in the area to find work in the coal mines. The area was also particularly attractive to a number of Calabrians who found the terrain around southern Colorado quite similar to the rolling hillsides of their native Italy. It was Trinidad that Giuseppe was transferred in 1904 as Consular Officer to assist the hundreds of newly-arrived Italians with problems of immigration and citizenship. In 1919 Giuseppe received title of cavalier from King Victor Emmanual III for his meritorious service to the Italian immigrants in Colorado.

So large was the immigrant population of Trinidad and the surrounding Las Animas County that shortly after taking up residence in Trinidad, Giuseppe began an Italian newspaper, Il Corriere di Trinidad. It was in Trinidad also that five other sons were born to the Maio’s: Armando, Silvio, Franscesco, Giovanni, and Mario. An only daughter, Derna, died at the age of two of spinal meningitis in 1913.

What made life in Trinidad so pleasant for the Maios was the [presence of many relatives and friends who also immigrated from Calabria, from the towns of Aiello, Grimaldi, and Cosenza. These Italian paisane formed deep friendships that bonded their lives through social religious, and commercial activities. Giuseppe was an avid outdoor sportsman and never missed a hunting or fishing season accompanied by his Italian compadri or by several of his sons who inherited their father’s love for the Colorado mountain streams.

In 1933 Giuseppe retired as editor of the Il Corrierre and enjoyed retirement up to his death in 1941. Four of his sons — Emillio, Silvio, John, and Mario — transformed the Italian weekly into an English language daily newspaper, The Morning Light, which published until 1953. In the same building the oldest son, Victor, opened a print shop. Giuseppe lived to see all seven of his sons become successful in a variety of commercial and civic enterprises. His widow,Antonietta lived until 1967.

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