De Ferrari examines own history

Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat /

Carlo De Ferrari has been sharing local history with Tuolumne County for decades. Now, he's sharing his own history.

The local historian and archivist recently released a book that delves into the history of his family and details of his own life. Spanning almost 400 pages and hundreds of years, the book features myriad stories and 442 historical photographs as it follows the Italian and Scotch-Irish ancestors who settled in the Gold Country.

The book, entitled "The De Ferrari Family: Memories of Times Past," is also the first book published by Tuolumne Heritage Publications, a new publisher dedicated to local history. The book is available at multiple Tuolumne County locations and by mail.

De Ferrari, 90, said he put the book together as a family project.

"I was getting so old, I decided I better put it together so the family would have it," he said.

The book traces his family line as far back as 11th century Italy, where his ancestors fought on behalf of then-German Emperor Frederick I. It also follows his mother's ancestors as they came to Virginia and Maryland in the 1600s before continuing West to California.

Characters include miners, business people, officials and gamblers, with much of the action looking at the communities of Big Oak Flat, Groveland and Moccasin. It also dedicates time to De Ferrari's own story, recounting his service in World War II and his three decades in the Tuolumne County Clerk's office.

"I always loved this county, and I like the people," he said.

Local history buffs might be especially interested in the book's depiction of the south county dating back to the 1800s, with people highlighted who were living there during Hetch Hetchy construction and who build some of the businesses that remain today like the Hotel Charlotte and the Iron Door.

Sharon Marovich, a member of the Tuolumne County Historical Society, said many of the pictures in the book have not previously been published. Marovich also said many volunteers helped De Ferrari put together the ambitious project.

"Carlo is well known for his attention to detail and ability to tell a wonderful story," said Marovich, who runs the nonprofit publisher with Bill Coffill, Charlie Dyer and Louise Steuben.

"I just think there's something for everyone in that book," she said. "There have not been many histories of the area south of the (Tuolumne) River."

Copies of "The De Ferrari Family: Memories of Times Past" are available at the Groveland-Yosemite Gateway Museum on Highway 120 in Groveland, the Book Nook at the Tuolumne County library on Greenley Road, Mountain Bookshop in The Junction Shopping Center on Mono Way in Sonora, Tuolumne County Museum and Charley's Books in Jamestown. Copies can also be ordered by calling 962-0300.

A portion of the proceedsfrom the book, and all future books published by Tuolumne Heritage Publications, will be donated to the Carlo M. De Ferrari Archive.

The Union Democrat
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