Like so many young men in the early 1900s, Giovanni Francesco Valerio emigrated to the U.S. in search of work and better opportunities, leaving his hometown of Castellamonte, Italy, where he was born in 1887. At age 17 he arrived in New York, then traveled to Ravensdale where he started work as a coal miner. He boarded in the home of his uncle, John London who had emigrated from Castellamonte in 1881. His aunt Carolina was also from that same village. In America he anglicized his name to John Frank Valerio. By 1914, Frank as he was generally known, filed his Declaration of Intention to become a citizen. The 1915 explosion of the Ravensdale mine claimed the lives of 31 miners and disrupted hundreds of lives, including Frank’s. Following the outbreak of World War I, he joined the Army and became a U.S. citizen, while serving at Camp Kearney in San Diego in 1918. A year later he was working at the Durham coal mines, then married Minnie (Aliment) Nello in 1923. She died tragically four years later leaving four Nello children from her previous marriage: Joe, Dominic, Pete and a daughter.
In 1934, Frank married the widow, Clotilda (Cavecchi) Silvestri. Clotilda’s first husband Carlo Silvestri died in 1929, but left her and their six children a $10,000 life insurance policy, allowing the widow and orphans a clean start. The family relocated to Kangley, where Frank worked at Palmer Coking Coal’s Durham mine and later Continental Coal’s mine in Ravensdale. By the early 1940s Frank was employed at the Selleck mill of Cascade Timber Company, then eventually worked for and retired from King County Roads. John Frank Valerio died in October 1967 at the age of 80. He left a suitcase filled with memorabilia, including this photo, to his stepson, Joe Silvestri. Additional biographical information was provided by JoAnne Matsumura of Issaquah and Donna Brathovde of Ravensdale.