Tuesday, January 26, 2016


written by HIMSELF
compiled by Norma Jones Oreno
approved by John Peter Oreno

Norma and John Oreno
Why was I born?  This is a very important question to me.  For believing in pre-destination or foreordination whichever it might be called, I believe that I was called or brought into this life to be the instrument to bring this family of mine into eternal and everlasting life together.

It all started many years ago in the town of Turino, Italy with two illegitimate babies being born in the same maternity home for unwed mothers and being thrown together and raised practically as brother and sister, being separated at short intervals as they were taken into different homes from time to time. 

Lucy (Lucia) Bozza born May 16, 1879 and John Simone Oreno born July 16, 1879. 

John (Simone) followed the trade of his foster father of repairing and making chandeliers and traveling to France to sell and install them in the homes of wealthy people. 

At the age of sixteen, he was taken gravely ill with Typhoid Fever and was left for dead by the doctors.  Lucy (Lucia) would not give up and, with her fingers, cleared his throat of the mucus which was shutting of his breathing and was the means of saving his life.  This led to an everlasting love.

They were married in 1896. They moved to Bosco, a small town near Turino.  Born to them there was a son, Michael, on January 22, 1897.  Four years later, another son, John Peter (myself) in December 5, 1901.  At this time, my father was called into the Italian army to serve his time in the ski patrol (Alpine Division, English Corps.)  My mother and we two boys lived with his foster parents, until his time was served.  I remember very little or nothing of my life in Italy, but snatches of the old stone home with steps going up the side and someone playing the accordion on those steps is the only real thing I can remember.  Later my mother told me this was my grandfather's brother, Mike.

Norma Jones Oreno
On getting out of the army, my father decided to come to the United States.  He left Italy in 1905 and sailed for the U.S. alone, leaving my mother and we boys behind with his parents until he could establish himself and send for us.  This took two years at which time, he travelled all the way across the U.S., establishing himself in Clelm, Washington.  This is where we finally were reunited with him in 1905. 

My journey on the boat was vaguely remembered.  The boat was named _______.  The first recollection I have in Washington was an event where my father and his father's brother were out hunting and shot a woodpecker.  Later we found a nest of baby birds and I cried all the way home because I wanted the birds.

From Washington, we moved to Mercur, Utah where a baby boy was born to my parents (stillborn).  My mother fell.  This we think was the cause of her losing her baby.  This was a sad event in our lives as it was a lively full term baby and my mother said he looked just like me.  He was buried in the old Mercur cemetery, but on later visiting this place, I could not find the grave.

A daughter, Mary, was born in Mercur on June 17, 1911.

My father on coming to the U.S.  Engaged in ore mining.  Each mining town he lived in would have a slump in work and he would move the family to another town where work was more plentiful.
Friend with Norma Jones
The events in Mercur I remember.  I loved the mountains and would roam the hills over, seeking adventure in every crag and rock.  

The Italians in this town formed a club which they called the Ball-del-Fil-fer which was the dance of the wire corn or instrument as we would call it.  I remember on night, when they were dancing at one of the neighbors, my father and a friend were discussing guns.  My father owned a shotgun just like it from a Sears catalog.  He wished to see the gun.  I being hungry followed them home.  I was sitting by a cupboard.  My father thought the gun was unloaded.  He loaded and unloaded it to show the man how it worked.  It discharged, hitting the cupboard right next to my head.  My father was so upset, he was very careful with his gun thereafter.

They moved from Mercur and work was scarce there and the mines were going down, to Bruster, Colorado.  We didn't stay there very long.  We moved to Bear Gulch, Colorado for a short time.  And from there to Gunn, Wyoming.  It was in Gunn, Wyoming that another sister, Nellie was born 22 February, 1914.

We then moved to Bingham, Utah, where my youngest sister, Eva, was born 24 Sept, 1915.  Was here when World War I started and Mike joined the army and went to France.  It was in 1918 while in Ophir, we had the worst epidemic of influenza ever known.  Whole families died of it.  I worked in the Ophir mines.

In 1919, we moved to Silver City, Utah.  We lived there only a few months.  We bought a house in Eureka, Utah right on Main Street, in front of the Tintic High School.  Here we lived the longest time.  Dad started leasing on his own and struck some rich ore.  He was a hard worker and got silicosis of the lungs.  He was determined I was going to get out of the mines, so he sent me to Kansas City, Kansas to the Sweeney Automotive and Electrical School.  He built a garage and when I returned, I ran the garage and he sold gas.

Dad's health failed fast after that and on 12 September, 1927, he died from a lung hemorrhage, he being only 48 years old.  He had often said how he would like to be buried in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Salt Lake City.  This is where we laid him to rest.
Norma   Merrel

Mother was in such shock that she was put in the Holy Cross Hospital.  She had a large goiter in her neck which was removed at that time.  It was discovered also that she had sugar diabetes.  We moved into Salt Lake City the next year, 1928.  Mike moved into our house and we rented the garage.

In the spring of 1929, I came to Eureka to repair the roof of the garage and there I met a girl, Norma Jones, who became my wife on 19 June, 1929.  I took her to Salt Lake City to live.  My sister Mary married Jack Ackerman 4 May, 1929.

Mother met and married Frank Ratto on 1 October, 1929 and moved to Hunter, Utah.  Here Nellie and Eva met and married cousins, Myron Powell and Mell Davis.

Mother's health failed fast and on 2 February, 1936, she died in a diabetic coma and was laid to rest at the side of my father.