He was one of the most remarkable men in the United States silk weaving industry.
Born in Rogeno, in the province of Como, on 6 August 1845, Mr Giuseppe Ratti emigrated to America in 1879. He already practised the art of working silk, learned in Lombardy, and he founded his first plant in West Hoboken, New York.
The beginning was not the easiest. Mr Ratti, in fact, suffered some serious failures, but despite the difficulties he never lost his innate honesty and business acumen. This was why he easily obtained credit and, having overcome the difficulties, he had the economic power to move his plant to a more favourable location and to grow the business.
Having diligently visited various locations, in 1888 he chose the charming town of Bloomsburg, in Pennsylvania, as the most suitable due to its vicinity to excellent coal mines. Here, he built the “Silk Mil” which employed, under the strong management of Mr Yorks, four hundred workmen and women, who worked at full tilt, weaving the silk (346).
After a few years, this plant was no longer sufficient and Mr Ratti founded another two in Lock Haven, Pa, (450 looms) and in Jersey Shore, Pa, (250 looms).
In total, up to a thousand workers of both sexes were employed at the three plants, with a total of 1,046 looms. The regular production often reached three million yards of silk material of all qualities, making a value of two million to two and a half million dollars per year. The sales agents were Fleitman e Co., No. 490 Broome Street, New York City.
Until 1889 Mr Ratti, whose business was prospering, was the treasurer and owner of the majority of the shares of the company known as “Bloomsburg Silk Mill”.
Due to the importance of his business and his personal qualities, Mr Ratti was always considered one of the leading citizens of Bloomsburg, Pa. and he became a member of the management board of the two local banks, the “Italian American Trust Co.” of New York and other institutions.
In March 1906 Mr Ratti was appointed vice chairman of the board of the “Labor Bureau”, which was founded at that time in New York to offer assistance to emigrants and for their best distribution in the United States.
Of good heart and generous nature, Mr Ratti never married but did not intend to wait until his death to dedicate his support to some charitable works. Towards the end of 1905 he built, at his own expense, in Bloomsburg a small hospital with thirty beds, organised and furnished according to the most modern scientific systems, open to the poor of all nationalities, without distinction on religion or colour.
This brought him great honour considering that, at various times, Bloomsburg was home to richer Americans than him, but much less generous. Although it only had around seven thousand inhabitants, Bloomsburg, situated on the banks of the Susquehanna, in the middle of green hills, was a well-respected railway and industrial centre in the early 1900s: there were factories making carpets, fountain pens, school desks, goods wagons, foundries, a plant for weaving wool as well as various elementary schools, a High School and the State Normal College, with one thousand two hundred students of both sexes studied to become teachers.
Every year, throughout his life, Giuseppe Ratti spent some months in Italy, where his only sister lived. In 1905 he was also appointed mayor of his small native town, Rogeno, to which he subsequently endowed, at his own expense, a lovely nursery.