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TUA, JOHN BATTISTA (1871-1960)

John Tua was born Giovanni Battista (John the Baptist) Tua in Marseilles, France, on November 18, 1871. The son of Italian immigrants, Tua, was educated in France and Italy and learned to speak both languages. During his youth he also worked in a tunnel that connected the two countries. In July 1891 he moved to the United States, settling in Osage City, Kansas, and lived with his two sisters. Tua became an American citizen in 1892. He did odd jobs and eventually moved to Hartshorne, Indian Territory, in 1896. In 1898 he relocated to McAlester and labored in the Fassino brothers macaroni plant. In 1900 Tua and William Morgan started "Bill and John's Place," a restaurant and confectionery. In 1902 Tua married Netta Rose Silott.

Tua's ability to learn languages led to a job as the official interpreter for Judge William H. H. Clayton's court in Indian Territory. Like his namesake who paved the way for Jesus, Tua paved the way for many Italians to immigrate to Oklahoma, by finding them jobs and places to stay, and loaning them money. The latter was relevant, because Italians typically did not trust banks. Therefore, they put faith in Tua for banking purposes. He also developed a steamship and travel agency to assist people, mainly Italians to travel to and from Italy, especially for the purpose of bringing brides back to Oklahoma. He served as a representative for the Italian government until 1941, when the United States broke diplomatic relations with Italy. From 1941 through 1959 he operated a tourist and foreign exchange agency. He, like many Italians, dealt in land speculation. John Tua died on February 24, 1960.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Kenny L. Brown, The Italians in Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980). Jerre Gerlando Mangione and Ben Morreale, La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian American Experience (New York: Harper Collins, 1992). Pittsburg County, Oklahoma: People and Places (Wolfe City, Tex.: Henington Industries, Inc., 1997).

David G. LoConto

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