52 Ancestors: My Beloved Grandmother Is Closest to My Birthday

Posted by: Eileen A. Souza

I was born on 20 January. In Family Tree Maker, I generated an individual list that I filtered to include all those whose birth date contained “Jan” (without the quotes). Using this list, I discovered that my paternal grandmother’s birthday is closest to mine. She was born on 16 January, four days and many years earlier. This blog post is dedicated to the memory of my grandmother, Anna Bianchi Furlani.

Anna Bianchi

Anna was born on 16 January 1894 in Atlas, Mount Carmel Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. She was baptized on 11 February 1894 in Our Lady of Mount Carmel RC church in Mount Carmel.

On 20 September 1911, at the age of 17, she married Candido Luigi Furlani in St. Peter’s RC church in Atlas, Northumberland, Pennsylvania. Candido died in on 18 February 1938, before my parents were married, so I never knew him, but I have many fond memories of my grandmother.

My sister and I spent many vacations at her home in Atlas. Right behind the house was the start of a small mountain (today it is not there, having been mined right down to the ground), and we used to go up there first thing in the morning to pick huckleberries. We would then have them for breakfast with milk and sugar.

My family moved from Mount Carmel to Essington, Delaware County, Pennsylvania when I was four, so my grandmother used to visit us once or twice a year. Neither of our families had a car back then so we traveled by train or bus or both, and in those days, it meant the old steam engines.

My grandmother taught me to play Pinochle when I was a little older, and during her visits, we would spend many hours playing. Every year that I can remember when they had the January white sales, she would send my mother a package containing sheets, towels, and whatever else that was a good buy. She loved to shop so on one of her visits, I took her to the EJ Korvette department store, which was over in New Jersey, but not that far from us by car. This was her first time using an escalator, and you would have thought I had taken her to an amusement park.

She taught me to make her spaghetti sauce and to make gnocchi, a pasta made with potato starch water. One of my greatest compliments as a young adult was when she told me that she thought I made the sauce better than she did. This is still one of the most popular dishes in my family.

In August 1962, I excitedly called her to tell her I was engaged to be married, and she told me she was just got married. She had been living on her own since my grandfather died, but twenty-four years later at the age of 68, she decided to remarry. She married Walter Profit in August 1962—he was 79. My grandmother was full of surprises and never lost her sense of humor. I think I inherited that gene, thank goodness.

After several strokes, she passed away, quietly in her sleep, on 21 March 1973, at the age of 79. The previous year, her 2nd husband, Walter, had passed away in April 1972. She is buried next to my grandfather, Candido, in St. Peter’s Cemetery, Mount Carmel, Northumberland, Pennsylvania. I visit her grave every time I go up there on a research trip. I still miss her.

525 W. Girard St., Village of Atlas, Mt. Carmel Twp., Northumberland Co., PA

525 W. Girard St., Village of Atlas, Mt. Carmel Twp., Northumberland Co., PA











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 prompt takes care of the guesswork of “who I should write about.” This week’s theme is Closest to Your Birthday.


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