52 Ancestors 2015 Edition: #9 – Mary C. Strausser (1842 – 1897), Born in Norwegian Township or Not?

Posted by: Eileen A. Souza

Extract of 1850 US census, Norwegian Twp., Schuylkill Co., Pennsylvania with the household of Peter Strasser highlighted

Extract of 1850 US census, Norwegian Twp., Schuylkill Co., Pennsylvania with the household of Peter Strasser highlighted


Last night I had a brainstorm. Like many genealogists I spend too many of my sleeping hours mulling over my current brick walls. I can’t remember what led me to begin thinking about the birth place of my 2nd great-grandmother, Mary Catherine Strausser, daughter of Peter Strausser and Sarah (Mumma) Strausser. I remembered that I estimated her birth date around 1843 based on the above 1850 US census. It suddenly struck me that I could track her birth against the tax assessment information that I have on her father, Peter Strausser [Strasser]. So this morning, I completed that task and here is what I found.

Some family trees on Ancestry.com and the IGI say that Mary C. Strausser was born in Norwegian Twp., Schuylkill Co., Pennsylvania. I now have some difficulty with this conclusion.

In 2009, I had some research of the tax records completed at the PA State archives by eminent genealogist, John T. Humphrey, CG (dec’d). His research began with the 1831 and 1832 tax assessments of Norwegian Township and he stated that no families named Strausser, Strasser, Strauser, or Strawser were taxed in this period. He notes that an Adam and David Strasser were assessed for taxes in 1844. He suggests that David and Adam moved into the area between 1832 and 1844 from some other location.  Peter Strasser does not emerge in the tax assessments until 1847.

Mary Catherine’s tombstone provides a birth date of 29 Dec 1842. No other source of birth has been found yet. As of 18 Sep 1850, in the 1850 US census, Mary Catherine was enumerated as age 7 years, which would support a Dec 1842 birth date. Her sister, Angeline, is listed as 5 years of age. Angeline’s death certificate gives her date of birth as 24 Dec 1844; again the census enumeration is consistent with this birth date. Peter Strauser did not appear in the tax assessments lists in 1844, 1845, or 1846 either as married or single, which suggests that Peter and his family may not have been residents of Norwegian Twp. prior to 1847.

David and Adam disappear from the tax records of Norwegian Twp. in 1848. Peter pays taxes in 1847, 1848, 1849, 1850 and 1851. Peter is joined by a Levi Strasser in 1852 in Norwegian Twp. They pay taxes for 1852, 1853, 1854. In 1855, both Peter and Levi are gone from the tax assessment rolls of Norwegian Twp. They both show up in the 1860 US census for Coal Twp., Northumberland Co, Pennsylvania.  The microfilms for Coal Twp. tax assessments begin in 1862. From that point on Peter can be traced in Coal Twp. until his death in 1890.

Mary Catherine married Theobald Meisberger on 15 April 1860 and they lived in Coal Twp. until her death in 1897. My conclusion from this exercise it that it is not very likely that either Mary Catherine or Angeline was born in Norwegian Twp., Schuylkill Co. Now I just have to figure out where they were born. Angeline’s death certificate may provide a clue as it lists Peter and Sarah (Mumma) Strausser as being born in Berks Co., Pennsylvania.



Week 9 of 52 Ancestors 2015 Edition, a blogging challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow in her blog No Story Too Small.

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