The 1880s were the heyday of the development of Italian gardens in Sonora.
At the north end of town, John Rosasco purchased Ezra Dane’s Gardens, sold them to Louis Dondero, who in turn leased to Giovanni Ghiorso and the Peiranos, and finally in 1905 sold then to Luigi and David Volponi.
On the west end of Sonora, the family of Phillippo Cavallero farmed land that later became the Tuolumne County Fairgrounds. At the Sanguinetti Ranch, south of town on the Mono Road, the family planted fruit and nut trees, vegetables, and berries for the local market, as well as establishing a cattle business and slaughter house.
In central Sonora, three Italian families operated gardens on East Lyons Street: Peter Palemone took over the Dentone vegetable garden. Palemone grew hay and vegetables on lands later known as Palemone Gardens and Simpson Terrace; Louis Quierolo had a garden just below, covering the flat where the Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is now located, and planted fruit trees, grapevines, and vegetables north of the road, later developed as the Quierolo Subdivision.
In 1872 several Italian families were farming on or near Lyons Street: A. Angelo, J.A. Rocco,
Rocco & Antonini, Bartonoli, D. Martini, Joseph Graziola, and others nearby.
This was the impetus for Giovanni Oneto’s purchase of Bache’s Garden and other properties on Lyons. In addition to operating an Italian store out of his basement, Giovanni loaned money to other Italian families so they could establish gardens and build homes.
The gardens eventually extended all the way down to Tar Flat. These included his son J.B. Oneto and daughter Kate, and members of the Ferretti, Lepori, Ghiorso, Sanguinetti, Cassaretto, Costa, Gardella, Garaventa, De Voto, and other families.
The farmers delivered their produce in wagons, often as far as Standard and other localities, until the 1920s when the advent of the automobile made it easier for purchasers to come to them.
This article was excerpted from Sonora Historic Resources Inventory, City of Sonora, by Judith Marvin, Terry Brejla, and Sydney Hinton, Foothill Resources, Ltd.