Friday, December 7, 2007

Garibaldi, Meucci, Mariani, and a Lost History

Sent from a descendant who wished to remain anonymous, via a friend:


Sir. My great-grandfather Domenico Mariani came from Italy some time around 1844, here is a history about him.

We know that he was on the other end of the phone as it was in those times and first heard the voice of Meucci. When Meucci took Bell (AT&T) to court over the rights to the invention grandpa Mariani was his witness. AT&T sent around some men to offer my Grandfather $25,000 to return to Italy where could live very good on that but he said friendship was more important. That is the kind of man Italy put out in those days! Italian Blood was more important then they money. needless to say Meucci lost the case.

We Know that history doesn't have Garibaldi in Cuba, but letters sent to my Grandfather has him there on the QT. We love all that we come from, growing up in Brooklyn NY's mostly Italian community (waterfront) we learn to love the culture and it's people! There is much more to the life of this great Italian, but this will do. God Bless.


The information I have is that he was born in 1805 in or near Milan. He played in Teatro alla Scala for 20 years. He was a musician with the violin, viola. We believe that he came to America with the first Italian opera company in about 1844. We know that he played at the Tacon Opera house in Havana, Cuba for 4 or 5 years with Antonio Meucci. He lived with Antonio Meucci, and Giuseppe Garibaldi in New York City in the 1850's.

From 1860 to 1885, he played at the NYC Academy of Music and the Metropolitan Opera House, under the direction of many persons, including Luigi Arditi. He played under the control of the Impressario Mr. Mapleson.

My GGGrandfather was important in influencing the Regimental Army bands of Massachusetts during the American Civil War 1861-1865, and was a music teacher and drum major.

We know that he had the reputation as one of the finest violists in America in the 1870's.

We do not know exactly where he was born in Milan.


A letter from the "Old Country." [records department]:

Let me only state that, whenever there was a problem with the Meuccis, Domenico Mariani was with them, helping them with his own means, sacrificing his own time and interests, for the mere sake of friendship. For example, when Esther (Meucci's wife) was confined in her bed as an invalid, Domenico came and cooked the meals for her, also giving her invaluable moral assistance, to the point that she exclaimed to him: “Bravo, Mariani; you are a great man. You will be the man that will cure me.” [Deposition of Domenico Mariani, in the Bell vs. Globe and Meucci trial, Answer 24].

Moreover, referring to a visit paid to the Meuccis in 1873, Mariani stated [Ans. 55]: ". . . In 1873 I went to Staten Island to visit Mrs. Meucci that was sick. We sat at the table, and they told me, crying, that they were in extreme poverty. Meucci recalled to the memory the times of plenty, and added: “Of so much gold nothing is left us”. This made me cry also. Meucci had once a marine telescope of the value of about $280. Tagliabue, who was keeping a store for optical instruments offered for the telescope one dollar. I cried with pain at not having money, and Meucci cried in confessing to me that he was living on charity. His friends sent him flour, provisions and other things."

You should have in your records all the above: I only quoted it to let you understand how high I value your ancestor.

All the information you kindly included in your email agrees quite well with that in my possession.

You can be well proud of such a great ancestor.

Cordially yours,

Basilio Catania

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