Italians began arriving in Milwaukee before the Civil War and formed settlements on the East Side and the near South Side. The 1900 census lists Tony and Anna Williams as the only Italians in Bay View. Within a few years, immigrants from the Piedmont and Le Marche began arriving after leaving the mines and quarries of Northern Michigan and Wisconsin. While most Southern Italians settled on the East Side, a small number migrated to Bay View - by 1915, at least two Sicilian families had become Bay Viewites. Most of the original Bay View Italians made their homes in the small area bounded by Russell, Superior and St. Clair Streets, where many of the lone male immigrants initially lived in rooming houses.

Most of the immigrant men worked at the Illinois Steel Company, Nash Company, Vilter and a handful of Tuscans at the European Statuary Company founded by Pietro Piacentini. Savino Gardetto helped men to get jobs at the rolling mills and also was a court clerk. His father, Joe Gardetto, and another immigrant, Frank Barbieri, both ran popular taverns that featured bocce courts. Individuals such as Peter Giaudrone and Joe Lupini helped their "paisans" to take out naturalization papers.

Like other immigrants, Milwaukee's Italians created mutual aid societies, the first being the Galileo Galilei Society organized in 1883 by Domenico Baroni and Poliodoro Baccalini. The eighth Italian organization formed in this city was the "Societa Di Mutuo Soccorso Giuseppe Garibaldi." The first meeting took place on December 7, 1908 at the rooming house now known as "Potter's End." Starting out with 40 members, the society grew to 136 members in 1929, 192 in 1939, and 219 in 1952. Today, there are approximately 125 members. In 1939, the society Americanized its name to "Italian American Mutual Aid Society Giuseppe Garibaldi," and both English and Italian were spoken at the meetings.

True to the memory of Garibaldi, the members wore dark uniforms with red hats and even carried ceremonial swords. The founders of the society found that the Irish priest at Immaculate Conception Church - like many of his peers - not only didn't appreciate Italians, but also had a special resentment for any group honoring Garibaldi. Garibaldi, during his lifetime, had tried to conquer the Papal states in Italy and made no secret of his dislike for the Catholic Church, which he felt was a yoke on the neck of Italian peasants. It took a long time for the Bay View Italians to "make peace" with the priests at the church, but this was finally accomplished.

The Garibaldi Society has a long tradition of annual picnics. In years gone by, the members would march in a parade, accompanied by a band, to Timmerman Park. The group meetings were usually held at either Gardetto's or Barbieri's Tavern. In the days prior to World War 11, when inexpensive insurance was not available, the organization's sickness and death benefits were crucial to members. One of the leaders, Pietro Negronida, usually gave orations at the funerals of deceased members. The emotional support given to grieving families by club members was perhaps even more important than the financial benefits. This fraternal spirit was characteristic of the Bay View Little Italy that included perhaps 150 families.

In 1929, the Italian women in Bay View formed the Anita Garibaldi Society. This group offered benefits similar to the men's society and prospered for many years before disbanding in 1965. The women also founded a religious society,.Our Lady of Lourdes, at Immaculate Conception Church in 1934. The main reason for organizing the groups was to procure the service of an Italian priest who would visit several times a year to hear confessions of the women in their native language.

For its members, the Giuseppe Garibaldi Society provided companionship and social activities, but occasionally, the group became involved in other matters. In 1935, some members participated in the newly-organized Italian American Civic Association of Bay View. The following year, the association erected a small monument at St. Clair and Potter Streets in remembrance of two Italian American soldiers killed in World War 1. In the 1930's, the Garibaldi Club also sent representatives to meetings of the Casa Colombo Italiana - the first Italian Center in Milwaukee. Today, members march in the annual procession at Festa Italiana.

The Giuseppe Garibaldi Society is now Milwaukee's oldest Italian organization in terms of years of continual existence. It continues to attract new members and to provide the fellowship that the immigrant founders, our parents and grandparents, had in mind at the turn of the century...
...by John Andreozzi




  • Giuseppe Alessi   (Marche)
  • Remigio Cialdini (Marche)
  • Giuseppe Mici (Marche)
  • Sabatini Bacialli (Marche)
  • Marcello Ciancamerla (Marche)
  • Angelo Naspini (Marche)
  • Ernesto Barcelli (Marche)
  • Alfredo Fiorelli (Marche)
  • Camillo Paganelli (Marche)
  • Giovanni Battistini (Marche)
  • Giuseppe Gardetto (Piedmont)
  • Umberto Paganelli (Marche)
  • Giacomo Benna (Piedmont)
  • Francesco Giaudrone  (Piedmont)
  • Luigi Piccini (Marche)
  • Giorgio Boggio (Piedmont)
  • Giuseppe Grottoli (Marche)
  • Giuseppe Rachini (Marche)
  • Federico Brigidi (Marche)
  • Luigi Ligi       (Marche)
  • Vincenzo Romagnoli (Marche)
  • Nicola Brigidi (Marche)
  • Luigi Luccarini (Marche)
  • Augusto Sabatini (Marche)
  • Aldo Cantoni  (Marche)
  • Nazzareno Luccarini (Marche)
  • Adele Santi (Marche)
  • Adolfo Carbonari (Marche)
  • Nazzareno Marconi (Marche)
  • Egidio Scaglioni (Marche)
  • Augusto Carbonari (Marche)
  • Pietro Martinelli (Marche)
  • Ferdinando Streccioni  (Marche)
  • Domenico Ceccarini     (Marche)   
  • Alfonso Masciotti (Marche)
  • Nazzareno Zuccarelli (Marche)


Giuseppe Garibaldi Society

Milwaukee, Wi. 53207