My granddad was the youngest of 3 sons, born to Giuseppe Diamantini and Maria (Bolognesi) Diamantini in Sonoma County, California, on 16 October 1914. My mother — his daughter – always said he was born in Calistoga, which is in Napa County, or in Mark West Springs, which is in Sonoma County. The California Birth Index lists the county as Sonoma; I still (!) need to order the actual certificate, so I guess we’ll see.
The U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936 – 2007, database online at Ancestry.com lists Grandpa’s birth place as Santa Rosa South, and his name as James Diamantine. He made his application in 1942, and at this time, he and his brothers were Anglicizing their name from Diamantini to Diamantine.
I knew my grandfather’s name to be James Eugene, but I do not know the name he was born with. According to the California Birth Index, a first name for my grandfather is not listed on the birth certificate. However, on the 1920 census, his name is given as Trenton (which doesn’t sound very Italian to me, nor is it a family name that I know of.)
My granddad’s two older brothers were Gaspare Antonio (aka “Gilbert”), born in 1904, in Italy, and Francis Angelo (known as Frank), born in January 1909, in Healdsburg, Sonoma, California. Although the State of California required registering births as of July 1, 1905, there is no certificate for Frank. My great-grandparents, just recently in the U.S. – they arrived in 1908 – likely did not know “the routine”. However, I do have a copy of Frank’s Social Security Application, on which he states his date and place of birth.
I have not been able to find the family on the 1930 census (yet), but presumably they were living near Healdsburg, as my grandfather attended Healdsburg High as a member of the Class of 1934.
While in high school, my granddad played football, and also met my grandmother, Elizabeth.
James and Elizabeth married on 22 November 1934, in Healdsburg, and then went to live in Tracy, California, where they worked at the service station owned by James’ older brother Gil. My mother was born within two years of their marriage, and life was good, until Elizabeth died in 1940, after giving birth to a stillborn daughter.
After my grandmother’s death, my grandfather came back to the Hayward area, where his parents were living. They fixed him up with an Italian woman his age who lived down the street from them, and the two were married in May 1941. James and Jean (“Nonna”) had 6 children in the next 10 years.
Grandpa worked in the shipping yards during World War II, and later worked with his brothers, who owned a lumberyard. He was also a beekeeper, and, in the early 1970s, he and Nonna moved out to Manteca, California, where they had a ranch, and where he cultivated a vineyard.
But Grandpa began to suffer from Parkinson’s during the late 1970s, and so he and Jean decided to sell the Manteca property, and move back to Hayward. I only saw my granddad a few times when I was growing up, and didn’t go out to California to see my mom’s relatives at all for a period from about the age of 10 to the age of 25.
Grandpa’s Parkinson’s got worse over the years, to where he could barely walk and talk. He died in May 1995, at the age of 80, in Hayward, and is buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward, near his parents and his brothers.
Social Security Administration, “U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database,
Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60901 : accessed 11 January 2016), entry
for James Diamantine, 1995, SS no. 567-24-6586.
Social Security Administration, “U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014,” database, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3693 : accessed 11 January 2016), entry for James Diamantine, 1995, SS no. 567-24-6586.
1920 U.S. census, Sonoma County, California, population schedule, Enumeration District 152, Santa Rosa, sheet 4, page 12B, dwelling 83, family 84, Joe Diamantini household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=6742 : accessed 20 December 2018); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm publication T625, roll 151.
“California Birth Index, 1905-1995,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VGQF-SHV : accessed 7 July 2016), Diamantini, 16 Oct 1914; citing Sonoma, California, United States, Department of Health Services, Vital Statistics Department, Sacramento.