Genealogy Do-Over Week 3 –My Strausser Project, Tracking Research

Posted on January 23, 2015 in Genealogy Do-Over

I am following the Modified Participant Options for the Genealogy Do-Over journey. I will be doing over my research for my 3rd great-grandfather, Peter Strausser, and his family in the hopes of knocking down a couple of brick walls.

My research goals are: firm up my documentation to form a sound proof argument that Mary Catherine Strausser is the daughter of Peter Strausser and Sarah (Mumma) Strausser; trace Peter Strausser and his known descendants in the hopes of finding some living descendants who may be able to provide me with some knowledge of this family; and determine the parents of Peter Strausser.

Our topics for Week3 of the Genealogy Do-Over

Tracking Research

Modified Participant Options: If you have never used a research log before, consider using one of the formats above or creating your own. Another option is to see if your preferred genealogy database software has a way of tracking research; some have a To Do List option, others have something similar to a Research Log.

I watched a video presented by Thomas MacEntee on Using and Managing a Genealogy Research Log.  In the past, I basically just recorded all my notes in a steno notebook that I dedicated to that project. I found this inadequate because I would go to transcribe them and realize I was missing items and had to do the research over to get the missing information.  I recently switched to using MS OneNote; but without a specific template, it is just an electronic steno notebook.

I am seriously thinking about giving a research log a chance, although initially it appears it will take longer but will probably save time in the long run.  I downloaded the template Research Log developed by Thomas MacEntee and plan to use that template as my Strausser Project research log. It will be an interesting experiment.

Another task I accomplished this week is taking a refresher training class in Evidentia. I took a great class quite a while ago when I first purchased Evidentia but never really used it. I had forgotten what great features it has.  I particularly like the fact that once all sources and claims are entered and tagged, it can generate many useful reports.

Conducting Research

Modified Participant Options: With your current research, start with yourself. Check to see that all information is accurate, based on your self-interview, and make sure each point of data can be tied to at least one record. If something is missing a corresponding record – like a birth location – then mark it as “unsourced” and add it to your To Do List for further research.

I reviewed my existing research from myself to my 2nd great-grandmother, Mary Catherine Strausser. I believe she is the daughter of Peter Strausser and Sarah (Mumma) Strausser. I have solid documentation of all events up to this point, including the marriage record from St. Edward’s parish register that documents the marriage of Mary Catherine Strausser and Theobald Meisberger on 15 April 1860 in Coal Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. Unluckily for me, no parents’ names were mentioned in the register entry and there was no civil registration of marriages in Pennsylvania in 1860.


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The Genealogy Do-Over journey is a 13 week challenge from Thomas MacEntee, of GeneaBloggers. Week Three (16-22 January 2015)  #WK3GenealogyDoOver

© Copyright 2015 Old Bones Genealogy, L.L.C.


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52 Ancestors 2015 Edition: #3 Maria Bunt Bianchi (1865 – 1944), a Tough Life Takes a Tough Woman

Posted on January 20, 2015 in 52Ancestors, Family History


Undated photo of my great-grandmother, Maria (Bunt) Bianchi

Undated photo of my great-grandmother, Maria (Bunt) Bianchi


The suggested theme for this week was “tough woman.” As soon as I saw the theme, the name of my great-grandmother jumped to mind.  Even though I never met her, I have always thought of her as a very tough woman throughout her life.

Maria Bunt (var. Bond, Bont, Bant, Bion, Bonn, Bundt, Pond) was born on 8 December 1865 in Bohemia, which in 1865 was part of the Austrian Empire. Her birth date was provided by her death certificate. Shortly after her birth, in June 1866, the Seven Weeks War broke out between Austria and Prussia, with most of the battles occurring on Bohemian soil.  Austria lost but kept control of Bohemia. Maria grew up in turmoil amid the conflicts between Germany, France, Austria and Italy as they carved up Europe.

It is estimated that she entered into marriage with Bonaventura Bianchi between 1880 and 1882. Their first son, Peter was born on 21 June 1882 in Austria. Maria was 17. According to a marriage record from St. Peter’s RC church in Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, PA, Teresa [Christina Teresa] was born in Luxemburg on 27 November 1883.  According to his death certificate, Henry Richard Bianchi was born 7 March 1885 in Germany and according to his Civil Registration, Joseph Biancki [Bianchi] was born 9 December 1887 in Dudelingen [aka Dudelange], Luxemburg.

Sometime during November of 1888, the family immigrated to the United States, departing from Antwerp, Belgium on the SS Noordland and arriving in New York on 1 December 1888. Remember that little Joseph was only eleven months old during this voyage. If he survived the voyage, he would celebrate his first birthday eight days after they arrived at Castle Garden. The ship’s manifest listed their current residence as Dudelingen and it also showed that the family was housed on different decks.  Maria was on Aft U while all the children were on V. Caring for the children must have been demanding.

Further research unfolded another hardship for Maria–she was four months pregnant.  Five months after they arrived in New York, on 20 May 1889, Maria gave birth to Violet Josephine in New York.  I do not know if they were still in Castle Garden or just chose to remain in New York City until the baby was born. Talk about hardships—crossing the Atlantic steerage while pregnant and nursing an infant.

After the new birth, the family traveled to Hazelton, Luzerne County, PA. They remained there several years. Attilio (aka Leon) was born 17 April 1891 in Hazelton.   They were still in Hazleton when Mary was born 5 July 1892 but they were in Mount Carmel by 16 January 1894 for the birth of my grandmother, Anna Bianchi. Anna was followed by Lucy, who was born 26 February 1897 and by Charles, who was born 23 December 1898.

The child, Joseph, does not appear in the 1900 US census with the family so it is presumed he may have died prior to this date. This is supported by the 1900 census, which states that Maria had eleven children of which nine were still living. There was another unknown child who also died prior to this census. After the census, Helen was born on 28 October 1900, Margaret was born on 2 January 1902 and Mildred was born on 14 May 1904.

Then in 1906, her husband, Bonaventura died at the age of 51 on 25 December 1906 of coal Miner’s Asthma (more popularly known as Black Lung), leaving Maria with eleven children to support by working in a grocery store and later as a janitress in the public school. She had to support herself and family through the Great Depression. She never remarried. In the 1940 US census, Mary still has one of her grand-daughters at home and she is still working at the age of 74.

In 1908, her daughter Mary Bianchi had a son possibly out of wedlock since Mary did not marry John Pieri until 1914. Victor F. Bianchi was born on 19 October 1908 and raised by Maria Bunt Bianchi.  Maria’s youngest child, her daughter Mildred died of diphtheria on 11 December 1909.

In the 1910 US census, Maria owned their home, having received it through the probate of her husband.  In the 1920 US census, she was a renter. A sheriff’s sale was held 24 May 1913 and title to her home passed to Emanuel Tasin.

Maria died on 1 April 1944 at the age of 77. She is buried with her husband in St. Peter’s cemetery in Mount Carmel. See my earlier post “Tombstone Tuesday – Bonaventura and Mary Bunt.”

Maria’s obituary indicates she was a native of Bohemia and lived in the area [Mount Carmel] for more than half a century. She was survived by 8 children, 43 grandchildren (11 in the armed forces) and 15 great-grandchildren. Her death certificate listed her father as Lawrence Bunt of Bohemia, which is the only clue I have to a possible parent. No mother was mentioned.



Week 3 of 52 Ancestors 2015 Edition, a blogging challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow in her blog No Story Too Small.

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52 Ancestors 2015 Edition: #2 Marie King 1921 – 1951 (Tombstone Tuesday)

Posted on January 13, 2015 in 52Ancestors, Family History, Tombstone Tuesday
Headstone of Marie (King) Fey, St. Ignatius Cemetery, Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania (photo courtesy of Charles Schmidt)

Headstone of Marie (King) Fey, St. Ignatius Cemetery, Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania (photo courtesy of Charles Schmidt)

For this week, I selected a remote collateral ancestor, Marie C. King, since I have only two Kings in my database—Marie and her father. Marie is my 3rd cousin 1x removed. She is the daughter of Francis J. King and Agnes (Shuda) King, who is my 2nd cousin 2x removed.

In the 1930 US census, Marie is enumerated as Marie C. King, age 5, born in Pennsylvania. She is residing in the household of Frank J. King, head, age 35 and she is listed as his daughter. The remaining residents are Agnes M. King, wife, age 32 and Muan [?] S. King, daughter, age 4. Their residence is Locust Avenue, Centralia Borough, Columbia, Pennsylvania.  So far, I have been unable to any members of this family in the US 1940 census.

Marie’s death certificate lists her as Marie Collette Fey. She was born 12 August 1921 in Centralia and died 20 August 1951. Her parents are listed as Francis King and Agnes Shuda.  The informant for the personal information is Mr. Lamar Fey, 1204 Walnut St., Ashland [, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania]. She was buried on 23 August 1951 in St. Ignatius cemetery in Centralia.

The Find A Grave memorial contains a note as follows:

“*Note: thought there is space on the headstone for Marie’s husband Lamar, he is interred with his second wife in Pottstown, PA.”

There were two interesting points on this death certificate:

  1. Marie’s usual residence was given as Locust Avenue, Centralia where she had lived with her parents in the 1930 US census. Since there are no house numbers in either document, I cannot determine if this is the same house or not.
  2. The informant, Lamar Fey, was most likely her spouse but he listed an address in Ashland. I wonder if they were separated, possibly due to her two year illness.



Week 2 of 52 Ancestors 2015 Edition, a blogging challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow in her blog No Story Too Small.

Posted in 52Ancestors, Family History, Tombstone Tuesday | 1 Comment

Genealogy Do-Over Week 2 – Peter Strausser Family, Setting Research Goals

Posted on January 11, 2015 in Genealogy Do-Over

Week 2, in my case, is somewhat abbreviated since I selected to do only a modified Genealogy Do-Over with a focus on a small portion of my database. As I stated in my Week 1 post, I am planning to do-over my research for my 3rd great-grandfather, Peter Strausser, and his family in the hopes of knocking down a couple of brick walls. In that post I combined my initial Genealogy Do-Over with my 52 Ancestors challenge post. I may choose to combine them again, if it is warranted rather than duplicate material. Our topics for Week 2 of the Genealogy Do-Over:

Conducting Self-Interview

I have no personal knowledge of Peter Strausser or anyone in his family so I am not self-interviewing. I plan to recreate my family group sheets for this family as part of my research. I did review my family group sheets for the Meisberger family since it was Theobald Meisberger, my 2nd great-grandfather, who married into the Strausser family.  I am confident that my research and documentation from myself through to Theobald’s father Michael Meisberger, is solid and well-documented.

Conducting Family Interviews

Again, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents are all deceased and unavailable for interviewing.  I had not completed my research on Peter’s family down to discovering any living descendants so I can’t interview them. I hope to make this part of my do-over as well.

Setting Research Goals
I have three primary goals for doing over my research for Peter Strausser and his family:

  1. Firm up my documentation to form a sound proof argument that Mary Catherine Strausser is the daughter of Peter Strausser and Sarah (Mumma) Strausser.
  2. Trace Peter Strausser and his known descendants in the hopes of finding some living descendants who may be able to provide me with some knowledge of this family.
  3. Determine the parents of Peter Strausser.



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The Genealogy Do-Over journey is a 13 week challenge from Thomas MacEntee, of GeneaBloggers.  Week Two (9-15 January 2015)




©2015 copyright Old Bones Genealogy, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Sunday’s Obituary – Thomas P. Noble (1882 – 1934)

Posted on January 11, 2015 in Family Photos, Sundays Obituary

The Mount Carmel Public Library in Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania has much of the areas historical newspapers on microfilm. A kind volunteer created an index to the microfilm, which is now online at their website.  If you find your ancestor on the index, you can then request a copy of the obituary for one person for $5.00 or the obituaries for 5 persons for $20.00. For those of you with Northumberland County, PA ancestors, this is a fabulous resource.

I have been submitting my requests a little at a time over the years but this year I hit a jackpot with the obituary of my great-grandfather, Thomas Noble. One of my best finds for 2014. This obituary appeared in “The Item” in March 1934. Apparently, it was front page news.

There is one problem with this obituary.  It identifies Thomas’ parents as Mr. and Mrs. John (Taylor) Noble.  The birth certificate from the GRO office in England identifies his parents as Edward Noble and Mary Devine, which is correct and supported by many other documents, including UK and US census records.  Mary’s parents happen to be John Devine and Rose (Taylor) Devine. This may be part of the mix-up.

Thomas P. Noble, son of Edward and Mary (Devine) Noble c. 1931

Thomas P. Noble, son of Edward and Mary (Devine) Noble c. 1931 (photo inserted by Eileen A. Souza)




Former Mount Carmel Township Official Passes Away

Due to Stroke


    Mount Carmel Township today mourned the death of one of its most prominent and most beloved residents, Thomas P. Noble, former constable, school director, supervisor, health officer and retired veteran miner.

In his eighty-second year, “the grand old gentleman,” as he was known by many friends, died at 9:30 o’clock last night at the family home in Connersville following a long illness.

He had been bedfast ever since he suffered a stroke over four years ago.

The end came suddenly.  Members of the family heard him calling and when they went to the bedside, they found that he had breathed his last.

The funeral will be held Tuesday.  Requiem mass is to be celebrated at 8:30 a. m. in the Church of Our Lady here and interment will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery at Beaverdale.

Mr. Noble was a native of Liverpool, England. He was born November 30, 1852, a son of Mr. and Mrs. John (Taylor) Noble.

As a young boy, he labored in the mines of England. Many were the interesting stories of his early experiences that he related in later life. He told of how even women and girls worked in the underground pits overseas, how donkeys were used instead of mules, how much men often pulled or pushed mine cars instead of the donkeys and how some of the mines extended underneath the sea.  It was so hot “inside,” he said that workmen at times had to shed some of their clothing.  He further related how a kind of circular stairway was used to get in and out of the mines.

When 11 years of age, Mr. Noble came to this country with his parents who immediately settled in Locust Gap. There, he again worked about the mines. The family later moved to Mount Carmel, remained here only a few years and then re-turned to the township by taking up residence in Connorsville.

Mr. Noble’s residence in Connorsville covered a period of approximately 32 years.

He was first elected to public office in the township in 1887 as constable, serving on year.  In 1888 he was elected a member of township school board and served two years. In 1890, he became township supervisor also for two years.

At the conclusion of his term as supervisor, Mr. Noble retired from public life for a time but in 1912 he was named health officer in the township and held the post until as late as 1931 when he resigned because of his health.

Fourteen years ago he retired as a miner after having spent 58 years working underground, including his boyhood days in England. Mr. Noble  worked almost all of the time at the Locust Gap colliery. He was an expert in his occupation.

Mr. Noble enjoyed excellent health until he suffered the stroke two years ago last January, Until then he  used to walk daily from  his   home in Connorsville to this city to get his mail and newspaper. He considered it great exercise.

His wife, formerly Margaret McGinn, Locust Gap girl, died just five months ago today at the age of 62.  Her death broke a marital bond of 57 years.  The couple had been visiting at Locust Gap.

A son, Leonard, 31, died of pneumonia a year ago January 24th.  He was the youngest of the family and the first claimed by death.

Mr. Noble was a member of the Church of Our Lady.   Fraternally, he was affiliated with the Order of Owls.

The survivors include the remaining sons and daughters, Edward, Thomas and Mary, all at Mt. Carmel, Christ at Kulpmont, Anna, married James Ryan of St. Clair, John at Mount Carmel, James of Wilkes-Barre and William also of township, 23 grandchildren and two sisters. Mrs. Catherine Sharp, Shamokin  and Mrs. Michael Breslin, of Locust Gap.

Mount Carmel Item, Vol. XLVL No. 120, Saturday, March 24, 1934, Pages 1 & 2.

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52 Ancestors 2015 Edition: #1 Peter Strausser (1818 – 1890) – A Fresh Start and a Genealogy Do-Over

Posted on January 7, 2015 in 52Ancestors, Family History, Genealogy Do-Over


Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small asked, “What ancestor has been so confusing to research that you’d like to have a fresh start?” I had to select my 3rd great-grandfather, Peter Strausser. And it isn’t that researching Peter, himself, is so confusing, it is trying to research his origins and parentage that has been driving me nuts.

On December 15, 2014, Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers fame announced his Genealogy Do-Over to start on January 2, 2o15. He invited all of us to join. His frustration resonated with me and I decided to join the Do-Over with my focus being Peter Strausser.

Yes, I am going to start from scratch researching this ancestor. I have already put on hold all prior research and set up a new research folder just for Peter. I have been inundated in men named Peter and/or Johann with this Pennsylvania German family. And sometimes the Johann is John and sometimes he is Heinrich (his middle name).

Years ago when I started my research to find Peter Strausser’s parents, I think I did everything wrong. I collected names even from Ancestry trees (OMG!), I have snippets of information on any Strausser, Strasser, Strauser, Strawser that existed in Northumberland and nearby Pennsylvania counties. I have been trying to do cluster research but correlating the data was becoming impossible. I needed a better approach.

What I really needed was a fresh start. Thank you, Amy for suggesting this theme and Thomas for your Genealogy Do-Over.

I have documented evidence (the marriage record from the Diocese of Harrisburg) that my 2nd great-grandfather, Theobald Meisberger married Mary Catherine Strausser on 15 April 1860. Their next door neighbor in the 1860 US census is Peter Strausser and his family. In the 1880 US census, Peter and his family are living in the same household as Theobald and Mary. I have blogged about these relationships before. Please see my post “52 Ancestors: #23 Mary Catherine Strausser – Evidence Analysis.”  While I am fairly satisfied that Mary Catherine Strauser is the daughter of this Peter Strausser, I do not feel that I have sufficient evidence to attempt a valid proof argument. This will be the foundation for my research on Peter Strausser.

For Week 1 of the Do-Over, I have completed the following first week tasks:

Setting Previous Research Aside

At this time, I have placed those paper and digital documents relating only to Peter Strausser and his family in separate folders. I created a new database in FTM 2014 called Peter Strausser and located it within the Peter Strausser Do-Over 2015 folder. I have not finalized this decision as I may decide to take this opportunity to try out other software.

Preparing to Research

I created a digital folder on my hard drive named Peter Strausser Do-Over 2015. All digital documents and images will be placed under this folder.  I have not decided whether I will use sub-folders or let the file naming convention control all my files.

My current system is to file by color coding (Blue – Paternal Male, Green Paternal Female, Red – Maternal Male, and Yellow – Maternal Female). Each folder is the surname name of a couple (ex., Souza – Furlani). Children are filed with their parents until married when they get their own folder. Each family folder contains the following sub-folders:  Birth-Baptism, Census, Church, Correspondence, Death, Education, Immigration & Naturalization, Marriage, Media, Military, Passenger Ship Manifests, Passenger Ship Photos, Research Plans, and Wills & Land Records, This system applies to my paper and digital files. This has always worked well for me but it may be time to look at some other methods of organization.  Here are some examples of my current folder system.

Example of Primary Family Folders

Example of Primary Family Folders

Example of Category Sub-Folders

Example of Category Sub-Folders


I’ve decided to try the file naming convention suggested by Diana Ritchie in her Genealogy Do-Over post on Facebook. This naming convention would work whether or not I use folders and sub-folders. I have also begun gathering my tools for research. So far, the tools I have chosen to use for this project are:

  • Microsoft Word 2010 and Excel 2010
  • Microsoft OneNote 2010 as my research log
  • Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills for citation guidance
  • Evidentia from Evidentia Software, LLC to enter and analyze sources
  • Family Tree Maker 2014 as my database (tentatively)

I have to admit I did not “get” the research warm-up exercises.

Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines

Finally, I reviewed my research process. I decided I needed to apply the same diligence to my own research as I would a client, so I am going to treat myself as a client. One item that will be close at hand throughout this process is the wonderful Research Process Map by Mark Tucker of ThinkGenealogy.




Week 1 of 52 Ancestors 2015 Edition, a blogging challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow in her blog No Story Too Small.

Posted in 52Ancestors, Family History, Genealogy Do-Over | Leave a comment

52 Ancestors: #52 Mildred Bianchi (Tombstone Tuesday)

Posted on December 30, 2014 in 52Ancestors, Family History
Footstone of Mildred I Bianchi, St. Mary’s Cemetery, Mt. Carmel, Northumberland, Pennsylvania (photo courtesy of Robert David Miller)

Footstone of Mildred I Bianchi, St. Mary’s Cemetery, Mt. Carmel, Northumberland, Pennsylvania (photo courtesy of Robert David Miller)

I thought I would celebrate the last of my 52 Ancestors posts in 2014 with the only other female veteran of the US Army that I’ve found (the other one being myself).  I just discovered this information recently and I am very proud of my 1st cousin 1x removed, Mildred Bianchi.

Mildred Bianchi was the daughter of my great-uncle Peter Bianchi and Catherine (aka Kate) Gower. The Social Security Death Index lists Mildred’s birth date as 18 March 1913. She was born in Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. The birth date and place entered on her “Application for WWII Compensation” agree with the SSDI.

Mildred Bianchi's Senior photo, 1931 Mount Carmel High School Yearbook

Mildred Bianchi’s Senior photo, 1931 Mount Carmel High School Yearbook

According to the 1931 Mount Carmel High School yearbook, The Carmelite, Mildred was always willing to help others. She was a senior and a member of the “Girl Reserves.”

Mildred had two older siblings: Leona Bianchi (~1909 – ?) and Vincent J. Bianchi (1910 – 1992). I have been unable to find any record of any marriages for Mildred. Mildred may have remained single her entire life.

The “Application for WWII Compensation,” which I just found today is a wonderful document that provides her full name of Mildred Irene Bianchi and her military service.  She entered active service on 22 July 1942 at Fort Hancock, New Jersey.

Mildred served in WWII from 22 July 1942 thru 28 April 1943 and from 8 June 1945 thru 18 January 1946. Mildred was in Foreign Service status from 29 April 1943 thru 7 June 1945. She was separated from active service on 18 January 1946 at Fort Dix, New Jersey. The application was approved 23 May 1950.

Mildred’s footstone provides her rank of Captain in the Army Nurse Corps.  What I’ve seen so far has led me to believe that she may have made a career in the Army Nurse Corps.

There is a conflict of death dates for Mildred. She died either 24 February 2001 (Veteran’s Affairs BIRL S Death File) or 11 March 2001 (SSDI). Further research is needed both to resolve this conflict and learn more about her military career.

She is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Mount Carmel.



Week 52 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, a blogging challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow in her blog No Story Too Small.

Posted in 52Ancestors, Family History | 2 Comments

Blog Caroling – Mary’s Boy Child

Posted on December 22, 2014 in Blog Caroling

FM Blog Caroling sm

I first heard this carol when I was in high school and listening to a Harry Belafonte Christmas album.  I fell in love with it, especially the way he sang it. Later our church began incorporating this carol into the Christmas liturgy, for which I was very grateful as I enjoy singing it as well as listening to it.

You can watch the video of Mary’s Boy Child sun g by Harry Belafonte on YouTube at and see the official lyrics below:

Mary’s Boy Child with Words by Jester Harrison

Long time ago in Bethlehem
So the Holy Bible say
Mary’s Boy Child, Jesus Christ
Was born on Christmas Day

Hark now, hear the angels say
New king born today
And man will live forever more,
Because of Christmas Day

While shepherds watched their flocks by night
They saw a bright new shining star
And heard a choir from heaven sing
The music came from afar

Hark now, hear the angels say
New king born today
And man will live forever more,
Because of Christmas Day

Now Joseph and his wife Mary
Came to Bethlehem that night
They found no place to bear her Child
Not a single room was in sight

Hark now, hear the angels say
New king born today
And man will live forever more,
Because of Christmas Day

By and by they found a little nook
In a stable all forlorn
And in a manger cold and dark
Mary’s little Boy Child was born

Trumpets sound and angels sing
Listen to what they say
That man will live forevermore
Because of Christmas Day

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52 Ancestors: #51 William Condy Furlani – Days of Christmas Past

Posted on December 22, 2014 in 52Ancestors, Family History, Family Memories
Furlani Family Christmas 1957, 35 Center Ave., Essington, Delaware County, PA

Furlani Family Christmas 1957, 35 Center Ave., Essington, Delaware County, PA


As I gazed at this photo, it brought back many memories of my Dad, William Condy Furlani, at Christmas. I remember him bringing in the tree from outside where it had been left to drop a bit.  There was always some trimming that needed to be done to fit it into the stand.  If I remember correctly, the tree was always decorated the weekend before Christmas. You could not start too soon or the tree would be dead before the big day.

First the angel tree topper was placed on the top of the tree. I thought this angel was so beautiful. Her hair was made of real “angel hair“(you can’t buy this anymore). She wore a satin robe and had golden wings.

Next the lights were added. They had to be placed just so. One color could not be too close to other lights of its same color. My mother did not like the yellow lights that came with the string, so they were removed and our tree was lit in red, blue and green.  Each light was backed by a star reflector that created beautiful effects when the tree was lit.

We all joined in to add the glass balls and metal bells, all in red, blue, green and silver colors. Finally, it was time to add the tinsel. It had to be put on one strand at a time so it would not tangle. That was my least favorite chore.

The village under the tree was set up by my Dad. He always wanted boys but just had us three girls instead. I think he created this train village so he would have an excuse to play with the train. I loved to play with the train, too. I was happy when I had two sons and could buy them all the neat things I wanted to play with as a child, which were not considered proper for a girl. I used to ask Santa for toys like an erector set, a chemistry set—well you get the idea.

Above the train village you can see the nativity scene. It is housed in a red vinyl covered bookcase that normally held a set of encyclopedias. They were removed and stored away for the holidays and the bottom shelf was covered with red crepe paper. My Dad painted a watercolor backdrop for the scene with Bethlehem, palm trees and the Christmas star.  This was fastened around the inner sides of the top shelf and the manager and figures were set up against this lovely painting.

Another year, Dad made one of my favorite Christmas decorations. A glass ball Christmas tree. He used a wood block covered in aluminum foil as the base and he inserted a straightened hanger wire in the middle. Along the hanger wire, he alternated glass Christmas balls from the largest on the bottom to very tiny balls at the top. The tree was then topped with a silver star. It really sparkled at night when all the lights reflected on it.

We woke up on Christmas morning to find all our presents under the tree. Some were wrapped and others were not. The family rule was that we could not open or play with anything until our parents awoke. I am sure we used to be slightly louder than normal in the hopes it would wake up our parents sooner.

Following the opening of gifts, we attended children’s mass at St. Margaret Mary’s RC church in Essington, Delaware Co., Pennsylvania.  We came home from church, ate breakfast and played with our toys. One of the other big traditions for just us children was to visit our friends and see their tree and their gifts. Our friends would also visit our house to do the same.

Christmas was and still is my favorite holiday of the year. I still continue many of the traditions from my childhood.  Our tree is always topped by an angel. There is always a village.  For many years there was also a train with the village but we haven’t set up the trains in a while.  Finally, we have a nativity scene but, alas, no ancient Bethlehem backdrop.


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Week 51 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, a blogging challenge initiated by Amy Johnston Crow in her blog No Story Too Small.

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52 Ancestors: #50 Edward Francis Noble (1877 – 1953)

Posted on December 16, 2014 in 52Ancestors, Family History

According to both his baptismal record from St. Edward’s RC church and his WWI Draft Registration, Edward Francis Noble was born 12 April 1877 in Mount Carmel Township, Northumberland County (Co.), Pennsylvania (Pa.).  He is the oldest son of Thomas and Margaret (McGinn) Noble and my great uncle.

When it comes to his marriage there was an interesting anomaly.  The church register of Our Lady of Mount Carmel RC church in Mt. Carmel states that Edward married Elizabeth Roney on 23 June 1903.  In the 1900 Us Federal census, the household of Edward Noble consists of:

  • Edward Nolle [Noble], head, born Apr 1877, age 23, married 1 year
  • Lizzie Nolle [Noble], wife, born Apr 1879, age 21, married 1 year
  • Gertrude Nolle [Noble], daughter, born May 1900, age 0/12

Some thoughts I had was that there may have been a civil marriage in 1899 or they may have been living together, finally making it legal in 1903.  Unless I can find a marriage license record in the courthouse, this is probably a mystery that will never be resolved. The couple is still together and in the same household in 1910.

The next oddity encountered with Edward is that he is enumerated without his wife and child[ren] in all the remaining available US censuses.  In 1918, he lists his next of kin on his draft card as his father, Thomas. At first I thought his wife died, but his daughter was not present in any of these census records either.

In 1920 and 1930, he lived with his father (who died in 1931) and in 1940, he is living with my grandfather, William J. Noble in Mount Carmel, Northumberland, Pa. I don’t remember him living with us when my mother and I lived with my grandparents in Philadelphia during 1944/45, while my father was serving in the military.

Death Certificate of Edward Francis Noble died 26 May 1953

Death Certificate of Edward Francis Noble died 26 May 1953

It was not until I found Edward’s wife’s death certificate that I discovered the answer. Elizabeth Agnes Roney Noble died on 9 October 1952 in Haverford, Delaware Co., Pa. with a marital status of separated. Edward died seven months later on 26 May 1953 in Mt. Carmel, Northumberland, Pa. His marital status at death was widowed. He is buried in St. Mary’s cemetery in Mt. Carmel.



Week 50 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, a blogging challenge initiated by Amy Johnston Crow in her blog No Story Too Small.

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