52 Ancestors: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Posted by: Eileen A. Souza

I can see the table now set with my best china and silverware, surrounded by eight empty chairs, waiting for the arrival of my nominated ancestors. Of course, two of the chairs are reserved for my husband and me.

I could not narrow down the list of ancestors to one couple, so I settled on three couples, who are my most difficult brick walls.

First, I’ve invited Peter Strausser and his wife, Sarah Mumma Strausser. I am very sure that Peter and Sarah are my maternal 3rd great grandparents via my mother’s mother. They are most likely the parents of Mary Catherine Strausser, who is my 2nd great grandmother. You can read about this relationship in the two posts listed below.

My object in inviting them is to ask Peter and Sarah a very important question of about their parentage, “Who are they?” It would also be nice to discuss their lives. In the 1880 US census, both Peter and Sarah entries show their parents as being born in Pennsylvania.

A will left by Johannes [John] Strauser of Windsor Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, makes a bequest to his grandson, Peter Strauser, son of his late son, Johannes Strauser. I have tracked Peter and Sarah back to 1847 Norwegian Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania via tax records and believe he migrated there from Berks County possibly Windsor Township. He may be the Peter in John’s will.

Peter and Sarah are both of German origin, so on our dinner menu will be my Wienerschnitzel with spaetzle.

The two posts I’ve listed below contain all the information I have on Peter and Sarah, at this time.


Next, I’ve invited Bonaventura Bianchi and his wife, Mary [Maria] Bunt. Bonaventura and Maria are my paternal great-grandparents via my father’s mother.

I have the passenger list that shows them arriving in the US in 1888. Please read the second post below for more information on their journey. I have found many documents concerning this family but very little to get me back to their birthplaces. I have just “Italy” for Bonaventura and “Bohemia” for Maria.

Bonaventura only left four records in this country: his appearance in the 1900 census, a photo, his obituary, and his tombstone, as he died in 1906. Maria left several photos, including the one in my earlier post “52 Ancestors – The Bianchi Women”.

I invited Bonaventura and Maria as I would be thrilled to be able to ask them where they came from, and about all the places they’ve lived, both individually and together. I have children recorded born in Austria, Prussia, Germany, Luxembourg, New York, Hazleton, PA, and Mount Carmel, PA. This couple didn’t just pass through.

Since Bonaventura and Maria spoke Italian in their household, I assume they enjoyed the food as well. I plan to place my homemade gnocchi with my homemade red sauce and meatballs on our dinner menu. I would guess that my grandmother learned how to make her sauce from Maria. She then taught my mother who taught me. The best compliment I ever received is when my grandmother told me that I made the sauce better than she did and I always loved her sauce.

The two posts I’ve listed below contain all the information I have on Bonaventura and Maria, at this time.


Edward Noble b. 1827 d. 1872, photo courtesy of RoadRunner at findagrave.com

Finally, I’ve invited Edward Noble and his wife, Mary Devine Noble. Edward and Mary are my maternal 2nd great grandparents via my mother’s father.

It appears that they emigrated separately from Ireland to England before 1851 when my great-grandfather was born. According to their marriage record from the GRO, they were married in 1852, having five more children before emigrating to the US around 1864.

I’ve invited Edward and Mary to learn more about their birthplaces in Ireland and about their family. Did any of their family emigrate to England with them? Where is their young son, James, buried? Edward’s tombstone states that he came from County Mayo, Ireland. I have a possible baptism record for Mary showing that she was baptized in County Longford, Ireland.

For Edward and Mary, who are of Irish birth, I have added potato pancakes, roast pork, and applesauce.  These dishes complete my ancestor dinner menu.

The two posts I’ve listed below contain all the information I have on Edward and Mary, at this time.


The 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, initiated by Amy Johnson Crow, is a series of weekly prompts to get you to think about an ancestor and share something about them. The guesswork of “who should I write about” is taken care of. This week’s theme is Invite to Dinner.

NOTE: Please ignore the photo that presumably represents the Pottery Yard in Newbottle, County Durham, England. I found out last week that Google Street View led me astray. There were Pottery Yards in both Newbottle and Houghton Le Spring back in the 1860s. Today the one in the photo is the only one that survived, and it is in Houghton Le Spring and not in Newbottle.

DISCLOSURE: None of the individuals in the black and white photo are related to me.


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