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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Charles Filippini

The record of the life of Charles Filippini, now living in retirement in Petaluma, Sonoma county, is a striking exemplification of the truth that industry, perseverance and determination, aided by the sagacity which comes from contact with the business world, is almost without exception rewarded by success. Mr. Filippini is one of the army of men who foresaw the result of patient application in the development of the resources of California, and from the beginning of his career within its borders he adhered to a well-thought-out plan to allow no opportunity to gain a competency to pass without investigation.

Mr. Filippini is one of the sons of foreign birth and breeding who have contributed so largely to the citizenship of this broad land. He was born in Cevio, Canton Ticino, Switzerland. November 9, 1847, the son of Baptiste and Maria Filippini, who were born and reared and passed their entire lives in that country. After his marriage the father made a trip to the mines of Australia, where he followed mining for five years with good success. On his return he engaged in general contracting, building government works, roads and canals, and continued this work until his death at the age of seventy-six. The mother died at the age of seventy-four years. Five of the children born to them grew to years of maturity. Louis learned the jeweler’s trade and was following it in his native country when, in 1868, his brother Charles sent for him to come to California and assist him on his ranch; he soon started in farming for himself, having purchased a ranch in Marin county, and there he died in 1892. Milla was brought to this country in 1870; she is now Mrs. Moretti and resides in Switzerland. Angelica was brought here in 1878; after her marriage, to Paul Filippini, she returned to Switzerland to make her home and there she passed away. Leonardo joined his brothers in California in 1882 and is now a well-known dairyman in Marin county and owns a fine ranch in Stanislaus county.

Charles Filippini was educated in the grammar schools until he was eleven years of age, following this by four years in the high school, after which he was apprenticed to the stone-cutter’s trade. He soon realized that the outlook for himself in his native land was no brighter than had fallen to the lot of his parents, and at the age of nineteen years, he determined to come to the United States. He set sail from the town of Cevio December 2, 1866, and debarked at San Francisco January 20, 1867, almost penniless, but the dire situation did not distress him. On the other hand he calmly set about to find employment at his trade, but there were no large quarries nor much of anything to do at the stone-cutter’s trade in those early days in San Francisco, so he was unsuccessful. He then began looking in other directions and was successful in finding work on a ranch in Marin county. He was familiar with dairying as conducted in his own country, and he readily adjusted himself to his new surroundings. After working four months in a dairy he rented a ranch and started on his own account. After maintaining a dairy ranch in that county for fifteen years with success he came to Petaluma with the idea of purchasing a ranch, and the same year he bought twenty-five hundred and fifty-six acres in the southeastern part of Sonoma county, on the Napa county line. Without exception this is one of the finest grazing ranches in the state and is known as the Huichica ranch. Here he maintains a large dairy herd of fine cows that find excellent pasturage, besides horses and cattle, all of which, , in addition to hogs, he breeds and raises upon the ranch. The varied interests already mentioned do not represent the extent of Mr. Filippini’s resources from his ranch, for he also raises large crops of hay, oats, barley and wheat, his output of grain for one season amounting to eighteen hundred sacks. In August 1904, Mr. Filippini removed from the ranch to Petaluma, where he erected a commodious residence on Sixth street, and here he has since made his home, retired from the active duties of the ranch, which have been assumed by his sons, although he makes frequent visits in superintending its management.

Since coming to this country Mr. Filippini has made four trips to his old home in Switzerland, and on three of these he had enjoyable visits with his parents, but prior to his fourth trip they had gone to that home beyond. It was on his trip to Switzerland in 1878 that Mr. Filippini was united in marriage with Miss Emily Del Ponte, a native of that country. Twelve children were born of this marriage, and of them we mention the following: John V. graduated from the University of California with the degrees of A. B. and L.L. B., and is now practicing law in San Francisco; he married Charlotte de Martini. Emidio is a graduate of the Napa Business College; after his graduation from the college he worked for three and a half years at the machinist’s trade, but instead of following this, at the end of the time mentioned he took up ranching; he married Paulina Koch, of Santa Rosa, and they have one child, Vivian, and make their home on a ranch in Napa county. Elmira is the wife of Victor De Carli, and the mother of one child, Loretta. Alfred who graduated after a four-year term in Switzerland, is also a graduate of the Napa Business College; he is interested with his brothers in the maintenance of the home ranch; he was married in Switzerland to Anita Moretti, by whom he has two children, Louis and Alfred. Charles, who is also a graduate of the Napa Business College, is assisting in the care of the homestead ranch. Nellie is the wife of Silvio Pometta and the mother of one son, Lester. Vivian is the wife of Americo J. Bloom and the mother of two children, Stella and Americo. The other children in the family are Rose, Louisa, Emily, Baptiste and Stella. In 1896 Mr. Filippini took his family on a trip to Switzerland, and it was while there that the son Baptiste was born.

Mr. Filippini is a man of more than average capability, as it evidenced in the many interests in which he has a part outside of the management of his large ranch property in Sonoma county. Besides this, he also has an interest in a dairy ranch of twelve hundred acres in Marin county. In 1910 he organized the Petaluma Swiss-American Bank, of which he is now vice-president, in addition to which he is also interested in other financial institutions in Sonoma and Marin counties. Notwithsaanding all of the business obligations that demand time and attention from Mr. Filippini, he still has time for social amenities of life, and is an active and interested member of the Sonoma and Marin Counties Swiss Club, composed entirely of that nationality. During his long residence in Sonoma county Mr. Filippini has made a host of friends, by whom he is universally respected, and is looked upon as a gentleman of worth.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011