The plaque on the right of the entrance to the church explains the dedication of Rosa Solari to her husband, Pietro Solari.  His grave sits across from the plaque between the two Italian Cypress planted by Rosa.   The plaque does not explain that at that time there was no water on the hill and Rosa would carry buckets up the steep hill to water the two trees.  However, you will not find Rosa's grave next to her husband.  Hence the question, where is Rosa?  The story is below.

Pietro Solari (see figure ) came from a small mountain village in northern Italy, just south of Genoa.  The village was in the province of Chiavari, which was in an area known as Liguria (Solari, J 2003).  Like many other of his countryman, Pietro followed the dream of gold and a better life to the rich country of California in America (SICS 2000).  It is most likely that he arrived in the late 1850s or early 1860s with his brother Sebastian.  He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1867, at the town of Sonora in Tuolumne County, California, (Dept. Of Justice 1867) and according to immigration laws at the time one must have lived in the United States for at least five years to become naturalized (Colorado State Archives 2003).  There is no information as to what occupation Pietro, or his brother, had when they first arrived in this new country. It can be speculated that they joined the thousands of other Argonauts and mined for gold in the foothills of-the Sierra Nevada, probably in the area of Calaveras and Tuolumne County.  However, it is known that by 1870 Pietro was living in the town of Copperopolis, Calaveras County, and was working in a store (U.S. Census 1870).  His brother Sebastian is not with him at this time, but is probably residing in the same area for it is known that he became a successful storeowner in Murphys by the 1880s (CSHP files).

It was sometime in the 1870s that Pietro and Sebastian went back to their native home in Italy, the region of Liguria.  Here, the two brothers courted two of three sisters of the Lagomarsino family, Rosa and Angela, the third sister was Eugenia (see figure).  In 1877 or 1878 the brothers married, Pietro married Rosa and Sebastian married Angela.  After the wedding both couples returned to California.  Pietro and Rosa gave birth to their first child, Clara, in 1879.  (Solari, J. 2003).  Pietro Solari and family had settled at Robinson's Ferry by 1880, located near Angels Camp in Calaveras County.  The 1880 census identifies Pietro, age 45, as a merchant and Rose, age 23, as a housekeeper, and they have one daughter, Clara. age 1 (U.S. Census 1880).  It is believed that by 1882, the Pietro Solari family had moved to San Francisco.  This is indicated by a family letter dated 1882 and addressed to Mrs. Pietro Solari, Green St., San Francisco, CA, from her Uncle Dave Lagomarsino (Solari, J. 2003).  Pietro's brother, Sebastian, or Bastian as he became known, returned to Calaveras County with his wife (see figure ), and lived in the town of Murphys where he had a successful retail store business beginning in the 1881-1883 period.  This building which contained the store is still there (see figure).

For Pietro and Rosa Solari the stay in San Francisco was not long and by January of 1883 they had moved to the town of Columbia in Tuolumne County, Calif.  They immediately bought an existing mercantile business in a brick structure on Jackson Street from F. McPherson and Hilton, the transaction being completed on January 18, 1883 for $950 (Deeds 1883).  The Solari's set up their own general store here, selling everything from shoes and bonnets to nails and cheese (see figure).  Their home was in a wooden frame structure attached on the west side of the building and included in the Lot sale.  Within the next few years the Solaris managed a successful business and had four more children (see figure ); John (1883), Anthony (1884), Victor (1885), and William (1887).  John, however, died in infancy.  Pietro and Rose were Roman Catholic and their children were raised as Catholics.  They attended St. Anne's Catholic Church on Kennebec Hill in Columbia.  It is most likely that Pietro and Rosa maintained a close connection with the local Italian community.  Columbia, and Tuolumne County in general, had by the 1880s a large Italian community, mostly all from the same region in Italy, Liguria.  This community thrived in the Mother Lode and kept up many of their cultural traditions, such as language, food, religion, family, and music, while also assimilating into their new home, America (see section).  It is believed by the present Solari family that Rosa was a modern woman of the time, she was able to read and write, and wanted to be successful and blend into her new country.  She focused on her children and wanted them to be raised American, thus all their names were more American, their names were never pronounced or spelled in an Italian manner, except possibly by Pietro and Rosa.

Sadly, Pietro died unexpectedly in 1888 leaving Rosa, or Rose as she became known, with a business and four small children.  At this time the estate was worth $4882.76; cash - $1447.43, merchandise - $2535, other personal property - $50, real estate - Block 9, Lot 11 (Deeds 1888).  After burying her husband in the cemetery at St. Anne's Catholic Church, Rose hired a local man to manage the store for a time while she cared for her children and home.  (Solari, J. 2003; Solari, N. 2002; Eastman 1950s-60s).
Sometime later, probably about a year, Rose came back to take over management of the store and found that much credit had been extended to customers.  One of these customers was a local stonemason who had charged over $100, a lot to pay at that time.  So, instead of cash payment, Rose asked the man to create a suitable grave monument for her late husband.  The grave, directly in front of St. Anne's church is still there today and has a date of 1889 on it (see figure).  The inscription on the headstone reads:
Here Rest in Peace Pietro Solari, A Native of Italy, Died Mar. 13, 1888 Aged 51 yrs. A Precious One From Us is Gone.  A Voice We Loved is Stilled.  A Place is Vacant in Our Homes Which Can Never Be Filled.  (CSHP files:  Churches).

In 1892 Rose planted two Cyprus trees in front of the grave, and she hand carried pails of water up the hill to the site to water them.  The trees still grace the grave today (see figure) and have grown quite tall from the early loving nourishment that Rose gave them.  (Solari, N. 2003).
Thus, at the end of the 1880s, Rose Solari, a 33 year old widow, with 4 children, the oldest 10 years old, and with bills to pay, took charge and began her career as a single business owner and operator (Solari, J. 2003; Solari, N. 2002; Eastman 1950s-60s).  The Solari store (see figure ) continued to offer a large variety of products for sale including:  clothes, shoes, cloth, ties, toys, knives, utensils, dishes, pots and pans, kitchen accessories, tobacco, liquor, wine, condiments, sweets, toiletries, health products, food products, cheese, crackers, fish, fruit, vegetables, grain, flour, nuts, seed, tools and hardware (Solari Store Account Books 1880s-90s, CSHP files).  The children helped in the store when they could.  Children, especially well behaved ones, who came into the store, got lemonade and cookies.  Rose made buying trips for the store to San Francisco and this meant taking a long and complex route.  From Columbia she took a stage to Sonora, here she boarded a train to Stockton in the San Joaquin Valley, and from here she took a boat to San Francisco.  The same route was taken on the return trip.  (Solari, N. 2002; Solari J. 2003).

Rose's children went to school locally, in the red brick schoolhouse just a few blocks away (see figure).  The children played and lived in the heart of downtown Columbia where lively businesses and vices could still be found in this declining Gold Rush village.  One family recollection is that the Chinese Joss Houses in town were forbidden to the children by Rose, however, the Solari boys still happily ran through them as fast as they could to try to catch a glimpse of the opium users.  Rose welcomed the out-of-doors and often loaded up the wagon and took her children and dogs on trips into the mountains (see figure) or to the local mountain town of Twain Harte, or even Yosemite National Park (Solari, N. 2002); which is over two hours away from Columbia by car today.  The family also enjoyed playing cards, such as whist and briscola - a traditional Italian card game.  Some of the children played musical instruments.  Victor played coronet and was in the local band, and it is believed that Clara might have played the piano.  Rose also put in a garden in the back of the store in Columbia.  It is said that it encompassed the area from behind the store all the way to Columbia Street to the east, and Jackson Street to the north, encompassing the whole Lot (see figures ).  The garden may also had gone over to Main Street at one time, after the old buildings there had long gone and the land had been mined out.  The garden reportedly had lots of shade trees, flowers, some nut and fruit trees, some herbs and maybe even some vegetables.  It was surrounded by a picket fence and was a cool, quiet oasis for the family and pet dogs (see figures).  (Solari, J. 2003).

As time passed and the children got older they were able to help more and more in the store.  Anthony, the eldest boy, took on more and more responsibility at the store, which would become his destiny as an adult.  Clara also remained at home as an adult, helping at the store and being a companion to her mother and brothers.  Victor went off to learn a trade in San Francisco in the 1900s, and was in the city at the time of the 1906 earthquake.  He first worked as a draftsman and later he worked at Fleishackers Paper Box Factory until World War II. William graduated with the first class to do so at Sonora High School and in 1908 he went off to law school in San Francisco.  He graduated in 1910, after which he went into law practice.  Sometime after 1906, the Solari family built an apartment building in San Francisco, at 1420 Taylor Street.  The family managed the building and kept one of the apartments for their use (see figure).  This building still exists but is no longer owned by any of the Solari family.  The youngest son, William, married Sylvia Campodonico in 1915 and remained in the city.  He was the only one to marry of all the siblings.  William was also heavily involved in the preservation and restoration efforts for St. Anne's Catholic Church and Cemetery in Columbia from 1923 to 1926.  Later his sons would continue on with concern and support of this old church as members of the "Save Our St. Anne's Church Committee".  (Solari, J. 2003; Solari, N. 2002; CSHP files:  Churches).

Tragedy struck in 1920 when the Solari home in Columbia was destroyed by fire (see figure) (Banner 1920).  Anthony then bought another home a couple blocks away on Pacific St., between Broadway and Italian Bar Road (see figure).  A wooden structure was then built on the site of the old residence and used as general and grain storage for the store next door (see figure).  The Solaris still had their apartment in San Francisco and by 1920, Rose was relinquishing the management of the store to son Anthony while she spent more time going between Columbia and their apartment in San Francisco (see figure), (Solari, J. 2003).  Rose Solari, businesswoman, matriarch and mother, died in San Francisco on February 16, 1925, she was 67 years old.  At this time she was reported as a resident of San Francisco.  After all the work she perfomed at Saint Anne's and Columbia, she was after all an urbane woman of Italy and is thus buried in Colma, California, a suburb of San Francisco.  Both Clara and Anthony were executors of their mother's estate and all the estate was divided equally between the siblings (Deeds 1926).  The store building and Lot became the property of Anthony and he continued managing the store business; none of the other siblings worked in the store anymore. Clara still lived in Columbia with her brother, but went visiting family in San Francisco often (Solari, J. 2003; Solari, N. 2002).  In 1928, Clara purchased some Lots adjacent to the store.  These properties consisted of Lot 1 and 2 just to the west of the store, on the east side of Main St., from the corner of Main and Jackson and to the south (see figure).  On the corner of this Lot was the Magendie building, which was also the Brunet Store, but to the south of this was just empty lots, the old buildings having been long gone and the area mined out, except for the Magendie building, which is still there today.  In 1935, Anthony acquired Lot 1 of Block 12, located across Jackson St. from the store, on the northeast corner of Main and Jackson Streets (see figure).  This was the Pioneer Saloon, which was located in the early brick structure that is still there today.  It remained a Saloon at this time, managed by a Carlo Franco (Eastman 1950s-60s; CSHP files:  Building Histories).  It was also in the 1920s that a small wood framed shack and shed was attached to the back of the store (see figures).  It was used for cooking, meals, relaxing, cleaning up, and extra room for storage.  The structure was believed to have been removed, or burned down, by the State around 1957 along with most of the storage building on the west side of the old Solari store (Solari, J. 2003; Baker 2001).

Anthony died in 1937 and is buried in San Francisco; he was 54 years old.  At this time the Solari Store in Columbia was closed for good (see figure).  In 1947 the State of California purchased the property from the Solari family as part of Columbia State Historic Park.  The State also acquired the Alberding building (Pioneer Saloon) from the family in the same year and the Magendie building and Lots in 1948.  Victor died in 1947, Clara in 1957 and the youngest sibling William in 1974.  All are buried in Colma next to their mother Rose (CHSP files:  Solari; Eastman 1950s-60s, Solari, J. 2003).  William and his wife Sylvia had three children, William Jr., Rafael, and Jerome, who in turn have their own children.  Jerome, the last of the grandchildren of Rose and Pietro still owns property in Columbia and has been an invaluable source of information and enthusiasm, as well as his nephew Stephen Solari.  So the Solari family lives on and the connection to their past, to Columbia, to the Solari Store and to Pietro and Rose Solari has never been broken.

St. Anne's Catholic Church, Columbia, CA