Accolades for Rebecca Koford, CG and “Are You My Grandpa? Men of the Same Name”

Posted on March 28, 2017 in Accolades

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending Rebecca Koford’s webinar “Are You My Grandpa? Men of the Same Name” hosted and sponsored by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG).

Rebecca reviews tactics for sorting our ancestors from other men or women of the same name in the same general time period and location. Several case studies show how these methods were effective. She presents a difficult subject in both a systematized and thought-provoking style. This is absolutely one of the best webinars I have attended in a long time.

If you get a chance to attend this lecture, I highly recommend it. Those of you who subscribe to the Legacy webinar series can find it in the webinar library here. Right now, it is free until March 31, 2017.

Rebecca Whitman Koford holds a Certified Genealogist® credential. Her focus is in American research with special emphasis in Maryland. She has spoken for the National Genealogical Society Conference, Maryland State Archives, and for groups in Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Delaware. She is a board member of the Maryland Genealogical Society and volunteers at the Family History Center in Frederick, Maryland. She has published articles in the NGS Magazine and the Maryland Genealogical Society Journal.

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Heaven (Family Recipe Friday)

Posted on March 24, 2017 in Family Recipes

When I young my mother frequently made a dessert that she called “Heaven”. She may have made this recipe up or modified it from a fruit salad called Ambrosia. The addition of optional ingredients such as, mandarin oranges, coconut and chopped pecans turns this dessert into Ambrosia. The fact that she disliked coconut and mandarin oranges were difficult to get back then makes me suspicious. But at the time, we kids had never heard of Ambrosia. We only knew and loved Heaven.

My mother used regular sized marshmallows and cut them into bite size bits, but when I started making this for my own family, I substituted the miniature marshmallows. I found that the mandarin oranges tended to overpower the flavor of the pineapple and I do not care for coconut either so I never make Ambrosia — just Heaven.

This recipe makes around 8 servings.
Prep time: 15 minutes


A dessert so good–it’s a little taste of heaven

Photo of Heaven dessert


Amount    Measure         Ingredient
1                    bag                 miniature marshmallows
1                    can                 pineapple chunks in water – drained
1                    jar                  maraschino cherries – drained
1                    pint                heavy whipping cream


  1. Cut marshmallows into ½” pieces. The pineapple can be cut smaller, if desired or you may substitute pineapple bits.
  2. Mix marshmallows, pineapple and cherries in a large bowl.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat cream until it stands without help. (If you are feeling really lazy, you can use Reddi-Whip but it makes the recipe sweeter)
  4. Fold into fruit mixture until all fruit is thoroughly covered.
  5. Refrigerate to set for 2 hours before serving.

Serving Suggestions

Serve in individual fruit compotes. Top with whole cherries, sprinkle some cinnamon lightly over fruit, or slice a banana thinly over top.



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(Not So) Wordless Wednesday – Two Mysteries and a Cute Dog

Posted on March 15, 2017 in Wordless Wednesday

I am using this theme to post my mystery photos in hopes that someday I’ll be able to solve them.

Side 1. Mary Fanibelle and her dog

Side 1. Mary Fanibelle and her dog

Mary Fanibelle is not known to me—neither is her dog. Supposedly she sent this post card photo of herself to her cousin, my grandmother, Anna Bianchi Furlani. I have not been able to date this photo but think it may be early 20th century. My grandmother married in 1911 so I don’t know if she was single or married when she received this card. These two cousins must have been close since Mary said she had the photo taken just so she could send to Anna. Mary is my Mystery 1. I have some collateral research to do to track this relationship down.

Side 2. Post card signed Mary Fanibelle

Side 2. Post card signed Mary Fanibelle

Mystery 2 is that there does not appear to be a stamp or post mark on this card. Without that it could not have been ‘sent’. I wonder how my grandmother received it. If Mary was local and handed it to her, why would she write on the post card that she was going to send it? She did not include a street address but maybe in those days, in a small community, you could get mail with incomplete addresses. Would the post office mark such a card as postage due in that time period?

I am open to any information or corrections concerning this post card and photo. I would love to be able to solve my two mysteries.

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Society Saturday – The Resources of the McDaniel Library & Archives

Posted on March 11, 2017 in Society Saturday

Logo of the Carroll County Genealogical SocietyThe Carroll County Genealogical Society’s upcoming meeting on Monday, March 20, 2017 at 7:00 PM* features Andrea Briggs. Andrea is the Archivist & Special Collections Librarian at McDaniel College. She received her Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh, and is a proud alumna of McDaniel College. Andrea is thrilled to be able to give back to the community that taught her to love history by preserving it and making it accessible to researchers.

She will be presenting The Resources of the McDaniel Library & Archives. The McDaniel College Archives at Hoover Library is the repository for the historical records of Western Maryland and McDaniel College, and for other documents and artifacts that are related to the history of the College. Andrea will be speaking about the types of resources available to researchers from the Archives, both on campus and online, as well as what kinds of information can be uncovered in our collections to assist with genealogical research.

Meetings of the Carroll County Genealogical Society (CCGS) are usually held the third Monday of each month, March through May and September through November, at 7:00 p.m. in the Dixon Room, Westminster Library at 50 East Main Street, Westminster.

*Refreshments are available at 7:00 p.m. and the meetings are free and open to the public.

Please come to our meeting and bring a friend. You will meet other folks interested in family research and genealogy and enjoy delightful talks that may help you in your own research.  I look forward to seeing new faces!

You can also come early and take advantage of our large collection of books and other materials housed at the Westminster Branch of the CCPL.  On Thursday afternoons, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., one or more society volunteers will be on hand to assist researchers. Of course, this collection is available to all anytime the library is open.

CCGS Genealogical Section at the Westminster Branch Library. Photo copyright by Eileen Souza

CCGS Genealogical Section at the Westminster Branch Library. Photo copyright by Eileen Souza



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Genealogy Mysteries 2017 – The Latest Discoveries

Posted on March 6, 2017 in Genealogy Mysteries

Genealogy Mysteries sm txt


Dying Games front cover small[1]On May 4, 2017, Steve Robinson is scheduled to release his latest Jefferson Tayte mystery, Dying Games. Although this is the sixth book in the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery series, it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story.

A murderer who leaves a family history chart at each crime scene and all the victims have a connection to Jefferson Tayte. Tayte finds himself up against a genealogical mastermind, who is determined to ruin him. Will Jefferson Tayte be the final victim?

Since initial posts on this topic over the years, I have been accumulating and reading new books, authors, and series in this sub-genre, which is really taking off. For those of you who also enjoy genealogy and reading mysteries, this is my comprehensive list of all genealogy mysteries that I have discovered to date and contains any new books I have discovered since I published my last post in September 2017.

The Latest Discoveries and Other New Releases

The Wynderbury Mysteries by Victoria Prescott feature historian Rob Tyler to combine historical and family research into a newly discovered series.

  • The Plantagenet Mystery (2014) – Kindle
  • The Hawthorn Villa Secret (2016) – Kindle

The Somme Legacy starring former police detective now genealogical investigator Jayne Sinclair by M J Lee takes us to the trenches of World War I in the Battle of the Somme. See below for other books in this series.

John Nixon’s star family historian, Madeleine Porter, is appearing again in Unearthed. This, the fifth Madeleine Porter story, is the familiar mix of family history, mystery, sadness and happiness. See below for other books in this series.

The Nigel Barnes series by Dan Waddell is being released in Kindle format starting with the first book, Blood Detective. See below for other books in this series.

Series Family History Mysteries

The Nick Herald series by Jimmy Fox features a professional genealogist in New Orleans, Louisiana

• Deadly Pedigree (2001) – Kindle
• Lineages and Lies (2002) – Kindle
• Jackpot Blood (2014) – Kindle

The Danny O’Flaherty series by Jonathan Harrington stars an American teacher researching his family’s roots in Ireland and New York City.

• The Death of Cousin Rose (1996) – Paperback
• The Second Sorrowful Mystery (1999) – Paperback
• A Great Day for Dying (2001) – Paperback

The Lottie Albright series by Charlotte Hinger features a historian and editor for the county historical society in a small town in Western Kansas.

• Deadly Descent (2009) – Kindle
• Lethal Lineage (2011) – Kindle
• Hidden Heritage (2013) – Kindle

The Demary Jones series by E. L. Larkin (deceased) is set in Seattle, Washington, with Demary as the owner of Confidential Research, specializing in genealogy and historical research.

• Hear My Cry (1997) – Hardcover
• Hear Me Die (1998) – Hardcover
• Die and Die (1998) – Paperback
• Dead Men Die (1999) – Hardcover
• The Swallow Murders (1999) – Hardcover
• Die in Texas (2002) – Hardcover

Victory (Torie) O’Shea, a genealogist in New Kassel, Missouri, is ably portrayed in a series by Rett MacPherson. Now all available in Kindle editions.

• Family Skeletons (2014) – Kindle
• A Veiled Antiquity (2013) – Kindle
• A Comedy of Heirs (2014) – Kindle
• A Misty Mourning (2000) – Kindle
• Killing Cousins (2002) – Kindle
• Blood Relations (2014) – Kindle
• In Sheep’s Clothing (2014) – Kindle
• Thicker Than Water (2005) – Kindle
• Dead Man Running (2006) – Kindle
• Died in the Wool (2014) – Kindle
• The Blood Ballad (2014) – Kindle

Natasha Blake, a genealogist in the Cotswolds in England appears in the series by Fiona Mountain.

• Pale as the Dead (2004) – Kindle
• Bloodline (2015) – Kindle

Fay Sampson is the author of the Suzie Fewings books a series about a genealogist discovering interesting secrets in her family history in England.

• In the Blood (2009) – Paperback
• A Malignant House (2010) – Paperback
• Those in Peril (2010) – Paperback
• Father Unknown (2011) – Kindle
• The Overlooker (2012) – Kindle
• Beneath the Soil (2014) – Kindle

The Family Tree mysteries by Patricia Sprinkle feature Katherine Murray as an amateur genealogist who finds strange events in the past.

• Death on the Family Tree (2007) – Kindle
• Sins of the Fathers (2007) – Paperback
• Daughter of Deceit (2008) – Kindle

Mort Sinclair, a respected genealogist and lawyer on Fogge Island off the New England coast, stars in a series by Gene Stratton. Gene Stratton, a much-traveled former CIA case officer, is a well-known genealogist who has had two prior books published: Plymouth Colony and Applied Genealogy.

• Killing Cousins (1999) – Hardcover
• Cornish Conundrum (2000) – Kindle

The Nigel Barnes series by Dan Waddell concerns a professional genealogist who assists the police, mainly Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster in London, England. This series is now being released in the Kindle format.

• The Blood Detective (2017) – Kindle
• Blood Atonement (2009) – Hardcover

Patrick Day’s series starring Anna Fitzgerald, a career detective with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Division, who becomes entangled with genealogy to trace old coins in this first book of the series.

• Murders and Genealogy in Hennepin County (2012) – Kindle

Simon Shaw, professor of history and “forensic historian” in Raleigh, North Carolina, in a series by Sarah R. Shaber, uses his expertise in historical and genealogical research to help solve murders that have their roots in the past.

• Simon Said (1997) – Kindle
• Snipe Hunt (2000) – Kindle
• The Fugitive King (2002) – Kindle
• The Bug Funeral (2004) – Kindle
• Shell Game (2007) – Kindle

The Alex & Briggie mysteries by G. G. Vandagriff, team up a spunky young widow and her rifle-toting grandmother, who run a genealogy research business called RootSearch, Inc. that seems to specialize in solving murders.

• Cankered Roots (2011) – Kindle
• Of Deadly Descent (2011) – Kindle
• Tangled Roots (2011) – Kindle
• Poisoned Pedigree (2012) – Kindle
• The Hidden Branch (2011) – Kindle

The Jefferson Tayte mysteries by Steve Robinson feature a professional genealogist who ferrets out family secrets and old mysteries using genealogy research primarily in the UK. Highly recommended.

• In the Blood (2011) – Kindle
• To the Grave (2012) – Kindle
• The Last Queen of England (2012) – Kindle
• The Lost Empress (2014) – Kindle
• Kindred (2016) – Kindle
• Dying Games (May 4, 2017) – Kindle

In the Morton Farrier, Forensic Genealogist series by Nathan Dylan Goodwin, we discover a stubborn, determined man who uses whatever means necessary to uncover the past. Highly recommended.

• Hiding the Past (2013) – Kindle
• The Lost Ancestor (2014) – Kindle
• The Orange Lilies: A Morton Farrier novella (2014) – Kindle
• The America Ground (2015) – Kindle
• The Spyglass File (2016) – Kindle
• The Missing Man (this year?) – Kindle

These books by John Nixon star family historian, Madeleine Porter. While not mysteries as we think of them, they both take us through the experiences of our amateur “detectives” unraveling the “mysteries” that surround them.

• Family Shadows (2014) – Kindle
• The Cuckoo Clock (2014) – Kindle
• Stolen Futures (2014) – Kindle
• Another Summer (2014) – Kindle
• The Cost of Silence (2015) – Kindle
• Unearthed (2017) – Kindle

The Museum Mysteries by Sheila Connolly star Nell Pratt, president of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society (think Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia) who spends much of her time solving murders through research in their collections. These books are fascinating for their mysteries, their history, and our glimpses into the lives of the archivists. Highly recommended.

• Fundraising the Dead (2010) – Kindle
• Let’s Play Dead (2011) – Kindle
• Fire Engine Dead (2012) – Kindle
• Monument to the Dead (2013) – Kindle
• Razing the Dead (2014) – Kindle
• Privy to the Dead (2015) – Kindle
• Dead End Street (2016) – Kindle

In the Family History Mysteries by Brynn Bonner, genealogist Sophreena McClure is an expert at unearthing other people’s secrets. Using old documents and photographs, Soph and her business partner, Esme Sabatier—also a gifted medium—trace family histories and create heritage scrapbooks.

• Paging the Dead (2013) – Kindle
• Death in Reel Time (2014) – Kindle
• Picture Them Dead (2015) – Kindle
• Dead in a Flash (2016) – Kindle

Geraldine Wall writes about probate researcher Anna Ames in this trilogy. These are mystery thrillers and we are drawn in to Anna’s family, life and work.

• File Under Fear (2014) – Kindle
• File Under Family (2014) – Kindle
• File Under Fidelity (2015) – Kindle

This is the first book in a supernatural genealogy detective series called Maze Investigations by M.K. Jones featuring Maggie Gilbert and set in Newport, South Wales, drawing on real historical details.

• Three Times Removed (2015) – Kindle

If you like your genealogy mysteries with a little humor, see the series starring Ben Bones, Genealogical Consultant and self-described Articulator of Family Skeletons written by Michael Havelin.

• Ben Bones and The Galleon of Gold (2013) – Kindle
• Ben Bones and the Search for Paneta’s Crown (2012) – Kindle
• Ben Bones and the Deadly Descendants (2013) – Kindle
• Ben Bones and the Conventional Murders (2015) – Kindle

Esme Quentin solves mysteries using genealogy in the West Midlands and in Devon in the books by Wendy Percival

• Blood-Tied (2013) – Kindle
• The Indelible Stain (2014) – Kindle

In the series by Cynthia Raleigh, we follow travel nurse and amateur genealogist, Perri Seamore, as she researches her family and solves murders.

• Poison Branches (2016) – Kindle
• Buried Roots (2016) – Kindle

The Jayne Sinclair series by M J Lee, starring former police detective now genealogical investigator. This interesting series takes us first through the Easter Uprising of 2016 and Ireland’s War of Independence, followed, in the latest release, by the trenches of World War I in the Battle of the Somme.

• The Irish Inheritance (2016) – Kindle
• The Somme Legacy (2017) – Kindle

Another series by Karin Kaufman features a family tree full of witches, some ghosts, and the occult, with Anna Denning, a professional genealogist determined to find the truth.

• The Witch Tree (2011) – Kindle
• Sparrow House (2012) – Kindle
• The Sacrifice (2014) – Kindle
• The Club (2015) – Kindle

Non-Series Family History Mysteries

Thomas McKerley and Ingrid Schippers, in their first genealogy mystery, Bloodlines – Touch Not the Cat (2012), introduce Cathy Macpherson, who uncovers her own and her husband’s past. Hope this becomes a series. Kindle edition.

The Marriage Certificate by Stephen Molineux (2013) stars Peter Sefton, amateur family historian. Not quite a mystery but certainly a detective story. Kindle edition.

In Silent Legacy: Discovering Family Secrets by Diana Church (2014) some German immigration history with new finds from a research trip helps Ellen O’Donnell solve a long-standing family mystery. Kindle edition.

In Finding Eliza by Stephanie Pitcher Fishman (2014), an old diary leads Lizzie Clydell down a dusty road of lies, hidden family secrets, and a lynching that nearly destroyed her family. I loved the quote “It’s just a little family history. What could go wrong?” Kindle edition.

Where’s Merrill? a genealogical thriller by Gearoid O’Neary (2013) is based upon real life historical events. The story unravels as Irish genealogist, Jed, researches his client’s mysterious maternal ancestry. Kindle edition.

Benjamin’s Ghosts: An Enid Gilchrist Mystery by Sylvia A. Nash (2014) is a cozy genealogy murder mystery set in West Tennessee. This is the start of a promising series. I hope we hear more from this author. Kindle edition.

In the Tainted Tree by Jacquelynn Luben (2013), Addie Russell inherits a house in Surrey and begins researching her English family Her research takes her back three generations to the First World War.

A century-old key may unlock the ancestral secrets of four families in The Fourth Descendant by Allison Maruska (2015).

While not a series, these genealogical mysteries by Norma Elizabeth Rawlings focus on how researching their ancestors became a life changing experience for each central character.

• Sleeping Dogs (2012) – Kindle
• Sleeping Dogs II (2013) – Kindle
• Malvern Murders (2013) – Kindle
• In the Genes (2013) – Kindle

Package from The Past by Jacqueline Opresnik is a search for a missing heir and family fortune set against the historical events of the Boer War and World War II.

Of course, for non-fiction fans there is Only A Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath by John Philip Colletta. This is an outstanding read.

All the books mentioned here are available in the editions specified and can be found at Amazon (I am not an affiliate). Many of the Kindle editions are also available in paperback and/or hardcover.

If I’ve missed any of your favorites, please let me know in the comments. I am trying to make this list as complete as possible.

Posted in Genealogy Mysteries | 8 Comments

The Adventures of Photographing a Solar Eclipse (Travel Tuesday)

Posted on February 28, 2017 in Family Memories, Family Stories, Travel Tuesday
Solar Eclipse 1979 Winnipeg, Canada. Photo courtesy of Eileen Souza

Solar Eclipse 1979 Winnipeg, Canada. Photo courtesy of Eileen Souza

It was the 26th of February 1979, and the four of us were standing in a field (or should I say ‘on a field’ since we were wearing snowshoes) in Winnipeg, Ontario, Canada. We were outfitted in full Artic gear, setting up our camera equipment, in anticipation of the sun being totally blocked out by the moon.

Going back about a month, I was reading an article in the local paper that discussed the upcoming solar eclipse in February with the next solar eclipse not occurring until the 1990s in Alaska. I had always wanted to see totality live and in person and the east coast weather tended to make this unlikely. After some persuasion, I talked my then husband and another couple into making a trip to Winnipeg, Canada, which was listed as the nearest place to us that guaranteed visible totality.

We were having a bad winter that year and most locations already were covered with several feet of snow. This was the year of the 1979 blizzard on January 13-14 in Chicago. During that winter, 89.7 inches of snow blanketed the city. The temperatures in Winnipeg were hovering around 0° F., and would drop significantly during totality.

We could not afford much time off from work so decided to drive straight through in my 1978 Chevrolet Malibu Classic, taking turns at the wheel. The next month was a flurry of activity stocking up on gear and supplies. We hit the Army/Navy stores and outlets to acquire Artic-rated clothing, snowshoes, sleeping bags, boots, etc. I rented a small U-Haul trailer to hold camp stoves, tent, camera equipment, dried foods and other emergency supplies.

The other three had telephoto lenses for their camera but I did not, so I made my own out of an Edmund Scientifics’ lens (basically an 8” tube with a lens on one end) and a couple of 2x tele-converters to give me the equivalent of a 1200mm lens. We made a field trip to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and talked them out of some solar filters so we did not have to use exposed film.

Saturday, 24 Feb 1979, dawned bright and early as we set out from Woodlawn, Baltimore County, Maryland on our great expedition. We drove through West Virginia on our way to Chicago.  Driving through Chicago was like driving through a tunnel formed by the great piles of plowed snow. The sights were fantastic—lots of photos taken throughout the trip.

Our drive to Winnipeg was uneventful. We drove in four hour shifts– the ones not driving tried to sleep or take pictures. Although we really didn’t, it seemed like we drove straight across toward the Mississippi and then made a right turn, heading due north between Minnesota and North Dakota on into Winnipeg.

It was the 26th of February 1979, and the four of us were standing in a field (or should I say ‘on a field’ since we were wearing snowshoes) in Winnipeg, Ontario, Canada. We were outfitted in full Artic gear, setting up our camera equipment, in anticipation of the sun being totally blocked out by the moon.

As the eclipsed commenced, we shot many photos before during and after totality. The photo above it the one I selected to develop as the best one I took during totality. It is framed and hanging on my wall in my office.

As soon as the eclipse was over we packed up the car and trailer for our return trip, since we had to be back at work. But fate had other designs. When we turned left at Fargo, North Dakota to continue east, we ran into a severe ice storm that blew my car off the road and plopped us down on three feet of snow in the middle of a field.

Buried in the snow near Fargo, N. Dakota 1979. Photo courtesy of Eileen Souza

Buried in the snow near Fargo, N. Dakota 1979. Photo courtesy of Eileen Souza

We were just congratulating ourselves on the wisdom of hauling all the emergency supplies, when a huge tractor trailer pulled up on the side of the highway. The driver offered to help. We had a mountain climbing rope that he used to attempt to pull us out but it immediately snapped in two. We ended up riding back in his truck to the nearest town to spend the night until the car could be towed, getting back to work a day late.

What a great adventure!!!

Posted in Family Memories, Family Stories, Travel Tuesday | Leave a comment

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday – Four Coal Miners?

Posted on February 15, 2017 in Wordless Wednesday

I am using this theme to post my mystery photos in hopes that someday I’ll be able to solve them.

Leon [Leo] Bianchi is first and Condy Furlani is third from the left. The remaining two men are unknown to me.

     Leon [Leo] Bianchi is first and Condy Furlani is third from the left.


This is a photo of four men. It appears to have been taken in a photography studio but there was no imprint on the photo nor was there a frame or holder. I believe my grandfather, Candido (Condy) Furlani is the third man fro the left. I think the first man on the left is my great uncle, Leon or Leo Bianchi. I don’t know the identities of the other two men. All probably lived in Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.

I don’t know whether they are dressed in their work clothes or their best clothes. I have seen pictures of miners going to work wearing similar overcoats and caps, but the shoes they are wearing in this photo are not work boots but they appear scuffed so they may be work shoes.

The photo may have been taken in the late 1910s or early 1920s. My grandfather’s face looks heavier here than in his 1911 wedding photo. Condy died 18 February 1938 of pulmonary tuberculosis at the age of 49. Leon died 14 December 1949, also of pulmonary tuberculosis at the age of 58. Leon was two years younger than Condy.

If possible, I would like to firm up the identifications, so I am open to any information or corrections concerning this photo.



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Polish Chrusciki (Family Recipe Friday)

Posted on February 10, 2017 in Family Recipes

Chrusciki or Krusciki, also known as bow ties or angel wings, are a Polish deep fried pastry covered in either granulated or powdered sugar. I prefer the powdered sugar. They are traditional to serve on holidays and special occasions. I tasted my first Chrusciki at my cousin’s wedding many years ago, and it was love at first taste.

I checked with my cousin to see if she had a recipe but she never made them because she thought they were too hard. I selected the recipe in this post because it sounded delicious and not too difficult for those who have never made them before. I must confess that I satisfied my love for Chrusciki by purchasing them from Polish bakeries over the years; but I think that I might try this recipe.

This recipe makes around 36 – 40 servings.
Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes.


Crusciki allrecipes 500x375


Amount        Measure            Ingredient

3                                                    egg yolks
2                 tablespoons             sugar
1                 pinch                         salt
2                tablespoons              reduced fat sour cream
½               teaspoon                   vanilla extract
½               teaspoon                   lemon & orange zest
¾               cups                           all-purpose flour
1                quart                         oil for frying (safflower or canola)
½              cup                             confectioners’ sugar


  1. In a small bowl using an electric hand mixer on high, beat egg yolks, sugar and salt until thick and lemon colored – about a minute.
  2. On low speed, stir in sour cream, vanilla, zests & flour.
  3. Transfer to a floured surface and knead 50 turns (about 2 minutes), adding extra flour as needed—up to 2 Tablespoons.
  4. Divide dough in half, keeping extra covered with plastic wrap.
  5. On a floured surface, roll each section paper-thin to at least 12″ across. Cut into 1 1/4-inch strips. Cut strips into 5-inch lengths. Make a slit in each strip. Pull one end through slit to make a bow tie.
  6. Deep fry in oil at about 350-365° F for about 30 seconds, turning once using 2 forks, until lightly golden on both sides. Do not crowd.
  7. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  8. To re-crisp place on baking sheet in a 325° oven for about 5 minutes. Cool completely.
Posted in Family Recipes | 1 Comment

Tombstone Tuesday – John Leo Noble

Posted on January 31, 2017 in Tombstone Tuesday


The tombstone of John L. Noble and his wife, Eleanor Favidge Noble in St. Mary's cemetery, Mt. Carmel, NorthumberlandCo., PA. Photo by Elizabeth W. at Find A Grave

The tombstone of John L. Noble and his wife, Eleanor Favidge Noble in St. Mary’s cemetery, Mt. Carmel, Northumberland Co., PA. Photo by Elizabeth W. at Find A Grave


John Leo Noble was baptized on 6 September, 1891 in Saint Joseph’s RC church located in Locust Gap, Northumberland Co., Pennsylvania. His baptismal record states he was born 31 August 1891, the son of Thomas Noble and Margaret McGinn Noble.

He was married to Eleanor Favidge, daughter of John and Marie Favidge, on 1 February 1916 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel RC church in Mt. Carmel, Northumberland Co., Pennsylvania. To date, I have identified three children: Irene A, born about 1917, Mary E., born about 1918 and Margaret born about 1919.

There is a flag in front of his grave with a WWII holder. I have found his WWI draft registration and his WWII “Old Man’s” draft registration but I have been unable to find any record of military service so far.

John L. Noble died 11 April 1948 of chronic endocarditis due to rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 52. He was buried in St. Mary’s cemetery on 15 April 1948. He was survived by his wife and three daughters, who lived in an unincorporated town outside of Mt. Carmel called Diamondtown.

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Leon Bianchi: Proudly Serving in WWI

Posted on January 25, 2017 in Family History, Military Stories

My great-uncle, Leon Victor Bianchi, was born on 17 April 1891 in Hazleton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, the son of Bonaventura and Mary (Bunt) Bianchi. I don’t know when this family moved from Hazleton to Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania but they appear on the 1900 US census in Mount Carmel.

Leon Bianchi on the left with two friends

Leon Bianchi on the left with two friends

Leon served in World War I and, according to his son, he was very proud of his military service. We can see this pride by his footstone which lists his rank and unit: Pvt. Bat. A 50th Fld. Art.

His WWI Veteran’s Compensation Application states that he enlisted as Regular Army for the duration of the war on 18 April 1917. He was 26 years old. He served overseas from 7 October 1918 to 14 February 1919. He was discharged honorably on 22 February 1919 on demobilization. He was promoted to Private First Class on 22 April, 1918, prompted to Corporal on 21 July 1918 and demoted to Private on 25 October 1918. Until I obtain his service records, I do not know the reason for this demotion. It occurred shortly after he went overseas.

On 7 June 1935, he married Helen (Grochowski) Toczylowski at Saint Peter’s Church in Mount Carmel. A special dispensation was required, possibly because she was previously married. It is unknown at this time whether she was a widow or a divorcee.

In every record I have for Leon, he is called Leon except one. His parish marriage record called him Attilio. This may be because he was baptized Attilio or because that is the closest the priest could come to the Latin for Leon.

Helen brought three children into this marriage Leonard Toczylowski, Edward Toczylowski, and Leona Toczylowski. Together Leon and Helen had Victor J. Bianchi, born 25 December 1925, died 28 August 1997 and Gerald Bianchi, born 30 January 1927, died 24 August 2009.

Leon died 14 December 1949 in Atlas, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania at the age of 58 of tuberculosis. He is buried in St. Peter’s cemetery in Mount Carmel. Below are photos of his headstone and footstone.

Headstone of Leon and Helen Bianchi

Headstone of Leon and Helen Bianchi


Footstone of Leon Bianchi

Footstone of Leon Bianchi



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