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Louis Fabri, Pioneer of the Fabri Family of Yerington, Lyon Co. NV

Submitted by: Pat Fabri


The ancestors of the Fabri’s of Yerington came from Lammari, Italy, a small village in the Tuscany region located outside the surrounding walls of Lucca, birthplace to the famous classical composer Giacomo Puccini and famous for its Romanesque churches and Lucchese cuisine.

Louis’ grandfather, Louigi, was born in Lammari about 1840. He married Marianna Guirlani about 1860. They had one son, Pietro born in 1861, and five daughters: Ursula, Maria, and three female triplets. Ursula married a Gregorio Donati; Maria married a widower; one of the triples became a nursing nun and the other two joined the Carmelite Order. The date of death for Louigi and Marianna is unknown.

Pietro inherited the family property and the obligation of providing a dowry for his sisters. He was also obligated to proved all clothing, blankets, bed linens and food for the two Carmelite nuns. With no other source of income, he was forced to liquidate some of his inherited property to meet the imposed obligations.

In 1882, Pietro married Annunziata Isola, daughter of Givacchino and Elvira (Celloni) Isola. Annunziata was born on April 29, 1863 in Castel Vecchio, Italy. Annunziata and Pietro had four sons and two daughters all born in Lammari, Italy. Giovanni Giuseppe Louigi (Louis) Fabbri was born on August 6, 1882 and sister Marianna in 1884.

After the birth of Marianna, Pietro found it hard to support his family and decided to join his father-in-law, Givacchino Isola, who was cooking in a mining camp in Montana (USA). The cold Montana weather brought on an attack of rheumatoid arthritis so Pietro decided to move to Dayton, Nevada, where climate conditions were more favorable. The change did not prove helpful and after trying to work as a ranch hand, he decided to return to Italy.

Friends loaned him money for his return trip but he signed promissory notes pledging his property in Italy as security. After his return to Italy in 1891, the following children were born: Amos on June 24, 1893, Elvira on October 6, 1895, Guy (Guido) on February 12, 1898 and Carlo Enrico on October 7, 1900. Pietro died in 1902, when his youngest son was two years old. Annunziata “Nonina” was forced to sell most of the remaining property to pay off the notes held by the men who had financed Pietro’s return to Italy. She had to work very hard on what was left of the property to support her remaining children. Daughter Marianna died of spinal meningitis in 1905 at age 21.

In February of 1897, before his father’s death, a 15-year-old Louis left Italy for the U.S. Traveling by train and unable to speak English, every time a food vendor boarded the train he would point to the food basket and for 5 cents received a cut of pie. Seven days later, and full of pie, he arrived in Reno, NV. He proceeded to Dayton, NV, where his father had worked before returning to Italy. He received the old country treatment of board and room and English lessons for a good day’s work. As was customary, he sent what money he could spare back to his mother in Italy to help her take care of the remaining family. In February 1908, tiring of ranching in Dayton, Louis passed along the Walker River west of Yerington on his way to the Pine Groves mine. Pine Grove was a large mining town with several boarding houses, a school and many homes. Many of the people who worked in the mine and their families settled in Yerington or on ranches in the valley after the mining boom was over. He was befriended by an Italian family but was too young for a job in the cyanide mill or mine, so he moved on to the Grulli ranch later owned by Harry Lewis. That fall, Miss Green, who later became Mrs. Lewis, was teaching at the Nine Mile School and in order to keep it going needed another student. Giving Louis a “scholarship” solved the problem. For room and board, and $15 a month, he was able to attend school.

He also had to milk five cows morning and night, and he lasted about five days before deciding to return to the Grulli’s. About this time, P.J. “Paddy” Conway was hiring men to handle his big team freighting outfits and Louis soon graduated from roustabout to a skinner of a 12-horse team. He first drove a team from Hawthorne to Bodie and later was on the Sodaville to Tonapah route. He saved $1500 and leased the Barney Reymers ranch where it took him three years to go broke. Little irrigation and hay at costing $2.25 a ton (when feed and spuds were at $12 a ton in Wabuska) was the cause; not the 18 hours a day in hard work. He claimed that credit with J.C. Gallagher and Segal kept him going that long. In 1907, he mined at the Nevada Douglas for $2 a day and board and quit when John Benassi took him in as a working partner in the Silver Palace Saloon in Yerington. With a boom in mining in the area, the business prospered.

In 1908, Louis returned to Italy to visit his mother and look for a bride. It was there that he met Gemma Masini, one of the prettiest young ladies to later arrive in Yerington as a bride. Gemma was one of seven children born to Cherubino and Antonia (Mennicucci) Masini in Lammari, Italy, on May 8, 1892. When her father was about twenty years old, he was required to serve three years in the Italian army. Gemma recalled that all Italian men were required to wear a mustache because King Victorio Alberto had one. After Gemma’s grandfather died, her father’s brother and sister sold their interest in the family grocery store to her father. The store was on one side of a three-story building and their home on the other side. As a young girl, Gemma’s mother worked on a farm owned by Gemma’s grandfather, later after her parent’s married, her mother worked as a live in maid and nanny to wealthy families. Gemma missed her mother’s absences.

In July of 1908, Louis came to her father’s store for a drink and he noticed Gemma who caught his fancy. He told his cousin that he was interested in meeting her, so the cousin invited Gemma to her house. After a short courtship, Louis proposed and told Gemma that he wanted to take her back to American with him. She was very excited about coming to America, so they were married on September 6, 1908. They left Italy on September 23, 1908 and arrived in New York about October 6th. They caught a train to Reno, Nevada, and were picked up four days later in Obusca by Louis’ brother, Amos. They traveled to Yerington in a two-horse buggy (Note: Dale Fabri still has the wool buggy blanket they used). Gemma recalled that when she arrived in Nevada, she thought it was ugly and immediately wanted to go back to beautiful Italy (she never did).

Home life in Yerington was not what she expected as they lived for a few years in the back of the Silver Dollar Saloon. It was very noisy and not a place to bring up children to say the least.

On April 15, 1905, Amos (Amadio) age 12, left Lammari, Italy aboard the ship La Savoie in Le Havre, Seine-Inferior, France and Elvira age 17, left Lammari in 1913 aboard the ship La Lorraine in Le Havre, Seinne-Inferior, France to join their brother and his family in Nevada. Amos managed to survive by working at whatever jobs were available. For a while, he drove his brother’s food wagon back and forth to Wabuska. Amos married Georgia Cheli of St. Helena, California in 1917. He served in the U.S. Army from 1917 to 1919. He operated a grocery and clothing store in Yerington for many years. He sold the stores in 1946 when he and his wife retired and moved to Reno. Amos died in 1973.

In 1914, Elvira married Melio Maionchi, son of Ellis and Maria (Poli) Miaonchi. Melio was a well-known and prosperous rancher. Three daughters were born to this couple: Loa in 1915, Marie in 1919, and Florence in 1921. Elvira died in 1986.

The following children were born to Louis and Gemma Fabri: Peter Robert Orlando on September 25, 1910, Carol Albert on June 29, 1912, Harry Enrico on December 19, 1913 and Eleanor Vanda on December 12, 1921. Around 1919, much to Gemma’s relief, Louis was able to sell his interest in the Saloon.

In 1917, Louis joined in partnership with his brother Amos in a general merchandise store under the firm name of Fabri and Company, Inc. From an October 1927 statement, the following items sold for 1 cent: eggs, peaches, apricots, butter; carnation milk was 2 cents and a broom sold for $1.10. Louis sold his interest in the business to his brother Guy in 1922.

On August 17, 1922, Louis’ mother Annunziata, age 61, and youngest brother Carlo Enrico, age 22, left Lammari on the ship Presidente Wilson at Naples, Campania, Italy to join the rest of their family in Yerington. After a brief illness, Annunziata died on January 19, 1929. She was 66 years old.

Funeral services were held on Sunday, January 20th at the Catholic Church with Father O’Connell officiating; burial was in the Catholic Cemetery. In 1930, Carlo died in Coleville, California.

In February 26, 1926, Louis had purchased the Old Mason Valley Implement Co./Dillon Hardware store which he renamed the Yerington Hardware Co. In 1939, he purchased the corner store from Luce and Sons, which expanded the business to a 65’ foot frontage on main street and 60’feet deep. In 1945, an addition was added on to the back making the store 110’feet deep. The load was getting to heavy, so the Hardware business was sold in October of 1952 to Sam Gardenswartz of Alamosa, CO. Afterwards, sons Peter and Carol devoted all of their time to the furniture business.

Around this time, the Fabris’ opened a local soda fountain called the EFF-N-BEE to give the local teens something to do after school. They offered candies, ice cream, tobacco, newspapers, and magazines, dancing and home cooked meals. Ice cream sodas sold for 15 cents, bottled soda pop 10 cents, banana splits 25 cents, sandwiches 10-15 cents, hamburgers/cheeseburgers 10-20 cents, 2 donuts & coffee 10 cents and steak was 50 cents.

On Saturday, May 29, 1948, Louis Fabri and sons Peter and Carol celebrated twenty-two years of successful hardware merchandising in Yerington. Starting at one o’clock and continuing until six the Fabris’ assisted by the store employees were at the service of the public in serving a free lunch and refreshments and distributed $500 in merchandise prizes to be given away during the “open house” hours. In preparing for this celebration, which comes as a climax to a general remodeling of the store and the construction of a large new addition the Yerington Hardware, 1350 copies of their special newspaper edition and extended invitations to the neighboring communities were printed. A special master of ceremonies, Paul Jones, experienced in entertaining crowds at large store openings was engaged for the afternoon. This celebration was the first large one ever undertaken by a Yerington store and undoubtedly brought to Yerington one of the largest crowd of shoppers in the history of the community.

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