|John Baptista Longinetti
was born in Genoa, Italy in 1849. In 1851, he came to the United
States with his parents. In the mid-1870's, he married Minnie Lemasney.
She was born in Shasta County, California in 1858, the daughter of Irish
immigrants Thomas Lemasney and Mary Nevin.
In 1878, John and Minnie had a son named
George, and on 29 March 1892, their daughter Mary Myrtle was born.
John was a candy maker, especially known
for his wonderful taffy, which he sold from his shop near the Flood Building
on Market Street. Myrtle once told her daughter June of the time
when she was visiting her father's shop and curiosity led her too close
to the taffy machine. Her hair became caught in the machine and one
of her curls was pulled out from the roots. Myrtle never forgot that
At the time of the 1906 Earthquake and
Fire, the Longinetti family lived at 434 Jessie Street. As Myrtle's
journal shows, they spent many hours moving about San Francisco seeking
safety before finally evacuating across the Bay to Oakland. There
they were befriended by a kindly man named Johnny Harrigan, who saw to
it that they had food and an apartment in which to stay. Sadly, Myrtle's
mother Minnie Lemasney Longinetti died several months later, on 21 October
Myrtle's father had also lost his candy
shop during the fires that followed the quake, so the family spent several
years in Oakland before they were able to return to San Francisco.
John became a chief candy maker at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory.
Myrtle was very close to the grandmother
she speaks of in her journal. Myrtle's daughter June says, "My great
grandmother's name was Mary Nevin and she was born in Ireland. My
mother adored her, and I realize now where she got all those Irish sayings
that I remember so well..." Mary Nevin Lemasney lived until 1913.
Myrtle eventually married Fred Bernard
Shaw, who was born in Iowa in 1889. Myrtle's father, John Longinetti,
spent his remaining years with Myrtle and Fred and their children.
The family lived on Sanchez Street for a time, and later on Laidley Street.
Myrtle and Fred had four children: Albert, Nevin, Robert and June.
Myrtle's father John lived until 1933.
June recalls that her family remained
very close with Johnny Harrigan, the man who had been so kind in helping
them when they were refugees in Oakland after the earthquake. She
writes, "I often wondered why Uncle Johnny lived with us when he really
was not a relative. I realize now it was because he had befriended them
by renting that apartment and giving them food after the earthquake.
Here is a funny little story. As you can imagine, Grandma [Myrtle
Longinetti Shaw] waited on him hand and foot for years and was so kind
to him. Before he died, he wanted to leave her whatever money he
had. She said, no, so he left it to the Masons."
Mary Myrtle Longinetti Shaw died in
1979. Her fascinating experiences in the aftermath of the 1906
disaster have been saved among the pages of her journal, and gratefully
shared here by her family.
Thank you to Myrtle's daughter June
Shambaugh and her granddaughter Nancy Lucia for sharing these notes and