Miners, Milkers & Merchants

From the Swiss-Italian Alps to the Golden Hills of Australia and California

Miners, Milkers & Merchants is a moving story of immigrants and history brought alive through the letters of three Swiss-Italian brothers who migrated from the Vallemaggia to Australia and California during the nineteenth century gold rush frenzy.

Forced out by poverty, the brothers joined the over twenty-nine thousand emigrants, one out of five inhabitants, who left the Swiss Canton of Ticino between the 1850s and the 1930s.

In letters written to their father Luigi, the young men tell of their hopes, fears and struggles. They share excitement at new sights, announce successes, lament their sorrows and express yearnings for home, revealing details of mid-nineteenth century life in Northern California’s dairy lands, silver-booming San Francisco and Australia’s gold rush country. Their letters reflect the universal story of all immigrants: the dreams, courage, hard work and leaps of faith required to start a new life in a foreign land.

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