A-Z Challenge Surnames T


TONUS is the surname of my paternal grandmother Maria TONUS. She was born in 1912 and died in 2007.

She came from a very large family with 12 children. Longevity runs in the family as she was going on 96 and one of her sisters lived to be 104, a brother was 97 and several others were over 90 when they passed.

She was born in Azzano Decimo in an old farm house that was over 100 years old when she was born. The family had come to this town from another town called Gaiarine, Italy. I have a cousin in France who’s down extensive research into the family name and there are several branches who are all related way back.

In Europe, there are a lot of nicknames given to families to differentiate them from each other. For our branch is was TONUS detto TORTAN. We’re not sure if there was a marriage way back between TONUS and TORTAN or if it’s just a nickname, but it’s very helpful when checking b/m/d records to see that nickname and then know it’s one of ours.

My grandmother married my grandfather Vittorio PAGOTTO in early 1933. She was carrying my father at the time. This is their wedding photo.

Maria Tonus and Vittorio Pagotto -wedding photo January 1933.JPG

Maria TONUS & Vittorio PAGOTTO February, 1933


My grandfather and his father helped build the local parish church in Azzano Decimo. Here is a photo of a lot of the citizens in front of it. This must have been taken just before WWII as some of the children are doing the Nazi salute! Italy, at that time, was ruled by Mussolini who was a fascist.

Opening of Church in Azzano with locals in front.JPG

My grandfather stands at the front with the white pants and beret and my great grandfather is the man in the middle with the big white handlebar mustache. It’s interesting to me that there are shoes scattered about in the forefront.

My grandmother was a very anxious woman who worried endlessly. She became quite the handful when she got older. I know I’ve inherited some of that. I just hope I inherited her longevity as well!

About tiesthatbindsite

I'm a genealogist with a passion for Scottish and English ancestry. I'm trilingual so I can also do research in French Canadian records and Italian records. My love for family history began 35 years ago and continues to grow every day. My family is very important to me and I hope to instill in them a love for "where they came from" so that they can better understand who they are. I also want to share my love of family history with anyone who understands how important it is to not lose site of their ancestors. They all have a story to tell.
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2 Responses to A-Z Challenge Surnames T

  1. John Tonus says:

    My father was Antonio Tonus born in Azzano Decimo in 1911. He had many sisters, none of them were named Maria, and he was one of 13! So I can concur that the family is very prolific. I have no information on my grandparents but I think my grandfather’s first name was Sante. I do know that my father’s family moved to Bannia at some point but I don’t know if this was before or after WWII. The nickname Tortan is very interesting in that my father often made reference to the fact that his family was referred to as i Tortani. He explained that the nickname come from the custom of making una torta, (ie cake), by taking the blood of a pig of a freshly slaughtered pig and slowly mixing flour into the blood while it was still warm. Sounds absolutely gross but, back in the day, you wasted nothing.


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