Saturday, 19 March 2011

Surname Saturday -- Iop

If there are other genealogy bloggers out there blogging the Iop family name this Saturday, I sure want to meet them.

Iop is a difficult name to research online.  Do a Google search for Iop and you get a lot of computer references, among other things.  The last time I searched for Iop on Ancestry, I got a lot of references to Arthafad Ap Iop, born  in the year 885 (and no, I'm not missing a digit).  But I'm not looking for any Welsh Ap Iop.  My Iop relatives are from the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region in Northern Italy.

My great-grandmother, Maria Iop, was born in 1879 in Pescincanna, a frazione of the Commune de Fiume Veneto, now in the Province of Pordenone.  The village is close to the city of Pordenone.  Her parents were Francesco Iop and Marianna Sutto.

Maria married Giuseppe Bertolo of the nearby frazione of Bannia.  In 1908, Giuseppe left Italy to go to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, where his brother Mino had established himself.  Maria appears to have been pregnant as he left; she had her fifth child, Elena Bertolo in 1909.  One baby had died very young, so Maria Iop was raising four young children without her husband.  Giuseppe later returned to Italy, at least for long enough to father Olivo, who was born in 1912.  In that same year, Giuseppe returned to Canada for good.  Then in April 1913, Maria and her children (Luigi, Francesco, Alessandro, Elena and Olivo) left to join Giuseppe in the Sault.

Maria and her children set sail from Le Havre on the S.S. La Provence on April 12, 1913.  They landed at Ellis Island in New York City on the 19th.  Maria's passport indicates that she was illiterate in Italian.  She was 33 and travelling with five children who ranged in age from nine down to a mere eight months.  Imagine.  At least she had her brother-in-law, Olivo Bertolo, on the voyage with her.

Maria and Giuseppe quickly established themselves in Sault Ste. Marie, where they had several more children:  Mariana, Amelia, Ontaria and Assunta.  Life wasn't all wonderful.  Shortly before Christmas in 1921, Marianna died at the age of seven and a half, of convulsions.  In 1932, Giuseppe died of stomach cancer.

Maria herself lived until 91 years of age.  I wish I remembered more about her, but I was a small child when she died.  And because I didn't speak Italian and she spoke little English, we didn't spend much time together.  I recently looked at the four-generation picture taken with her, Luigi, mom and me when I was a baby.  Boy, they looked proud.  That I remember.

Maria Iop never returned to Italy.  To my knowledge, none of her family came to Canada.  We have a couple of pictures and memorial cards with Iop relatives in them.  But we've had no contact with the Iop family since Maria left in 1913.  From the Italian White Pages online, it looks like there are a few Iops still in the area.  Maybe they're looking for us?

Benvenuti, famiglia Iop!


  1. Katherine, interesting story. I believe you meant to say that Maria Iop must have been born in 1879 not 1979? Molly

  2. Great story. Don't you wish you would have known your interest in family history before Ma passed away...she sure had a great memory and could have helped you with some of your searching. She wrote letters to Italy now and then and I wonder who she kept in touch with? Was any of her letters among her personal belongings that you guys went through? Hopefully, you have some alive on the Moynihan side to assist you.....keep writing and I'll keep reading. :) Sam

  3. Sam, I don't have any letters back to Ma, but there are a couple of cards and photos that her friends gave her before she left. I'll have to share them on the blog. Plus, once I get it all scanned, I'll give you a CD. ~K