The following excerpt came from a book authored by Monsignor
Peter Oberto - (History and census of the Italian immigrants from the
seven towns of the Asiago Plateau on the Gogebic Range of Michigan and
On the other side of the
Atlantic Ocean in the United States, Raphael Pompelly discovered iron ore
in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at Newport Hill on October 8, 1871.
This led to the development of the Gogebic Range in Michigan and
Wisconsin. During the 1880s a new process for making steel had been found
and steel manufacturing centers were developed at Chicago, Cleveland, and
Milwaukee, where iron ore was brought in by ships from the newly
discovered ore mines on the Gogebic Range.
The first railroad was extended to Ironwood from the steel manufacturing
districts to bring in mining machinery about 1884. The Gogebic Range began
to be populated in 1885. Ironwood became a village on September 2, 1887
and was devastated by a fire on September 17,1887. On April 8, 1889
Ironwood became a city and shortly afterward was connected to Chicago via
Milwaukee by the Chicago and North Western Railway. The Panic of 1893
closed mines and there was an extensive epidemic of typhoid fever. On
March 11,1907 Erwin Township was created out of Ironwood Township. East
Ayer Street, known as the "old county road," was the only road that
connected Ironwood and Hurley with Bessemer and Wakefield. Near the
Newport Mine (Newport Location and Jesseville), the Bonnie Mine (Bonnie
Location in Irwin Township), the Purtain Mine (Yale Location) and the
Ironton Mine (Bessemer) was where most of the immigrants from the Asiago
More than 2000 immigrants from the plateau arrived at Ellis Island in the
Port of New York and even more from other smaller U.S. ports as well as
through Canada and Mexico from 1890 to 1924. Many left from the Port of Le
Harve, France. This was a sad period in the history of the plateau.
Families and mends were separated; many never to see each other nor the
land and mountains of the plateau again. The former railroad station at
the town of Asiago, built in 1909, was the point of departure for many
immigrants from the plateau. A bronze statue on the left side of the
railroad station was erected some years ago to commemorate this exodus.
About 464 immigrants made their journey from the plateau to the Gogebic
Range between 1890 and 1924. Those that were definitely born on the Asiago
Plateau were 227 adults plus 27 children equaling 254 people. Most of
these people-approximately 96 families-stayed and raised their families
and died on the Gogebic Range. There were 49 boarders living with some of
these families. Most of these boarders and a few families either returned
to Italy or settled in Detroit or Chicago or some other smaller city.
There were also 193 adults plus 17 children equaling 210 people born in
Italy. Many of them were boarders - 86 immigrants - and 42 families that
settled on the Gogebic Range for only a few years and for that reason
information about them is scarce. There is a high probability that these
immigrants came from the Asiago Plateau. Their last names were Rigoni,
Passuello, Stella, Pertile, Carli, Basso, Pesavento, Forte, Longhini,
Guzzo, Frigo, etc. They spoke the same language, the Venetian dialect,
which was distinct from other dialects of Italy and lived with families
born on the plateau. People usually immigrated to areas of the Upper
Peninsula where others from the same area of Italy had gone. For example,
many from Lucca, Italy settled at Hancock, Michigan. Southern Italians
from the town of Simbrio in Calabria settled in Ishpeming, Michigan. Those
from the Bergamo area north of Milan, Italy settled in Negaunee, Michigan.
This was a pattern also found in other parts of the United States.