Arrival and Settlement
The story of the American West would be incomplete without telling the story of the Italian settlement of the west. This is especially true of California and the settlement of the Gold Country counties of the" Mother Lode" of Northern California. The Italians were one of the earliest and most important groups of people to settling the California foothills of the Sierra Nevada referred to as the "Mother Lode".The Italians settlement in the Mother Lode began with the Gold Rush. From the 1850s through the 1880s, Italian immigrants from Northern Italy, primarily from the area around Genoa in the region of Liguria, settled in large numbers in the Mother Lode counties of California's Gold Country.
The Italians came early in the states history. Lured by the promise of gold and land, the early Italian pioneers of California came to stay. Here they could use the traditional skills of their cultural heritage to develop the land and the region. The Italian immigrants established themselves in the mining, cattle ranching, lumbering, construction and stone masonry, fruit and vegetable market gardening, orchard, grocery, olive oil, railroading, mercantile, banking, restaurant, hotel and boardinghouse, and the vineyard and the wine industries of the California Gold Country. Their descendents still carry on the traditions brought to early California by the people from Italy. Their heaviest settlement was in the southern Mother Lode and by 1870, 25 percent of the Italian population of California lived in the three foothill counties of Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumme. They were soon one of the largest immigrant groups in the Mother Lode. Most came from the same region of Italy and represented the distinctive chain migration of the Italians from the area around Genoa, especially from the province of Chiavari. Later waves of Italian immigrants from Liguria and other regions of Italy, such as the Venetians from the Veneto region also settled in the Gold Country and carried on the traditions brought by the early Italian pioneers. To this day, the Mother Lodes populated by many Italian Families that have their roots in the Gold Rush.