52 Ancestors: Who Are Mary Catherine’s Parents?

Posted by: Eileen A. Souza

While this research and analysis used other records, the primary stimulus were the census records. This post will illustrate (I hope) how I used census records as indirect evidence to support my inference that Mary C. Meisberger was Mary C. Strausser and the daughter of Peter and Sarah Strausser.

I was searching for my 2nd great-grandfather, Theobald Meisberger in the 1860 US census. I found him at the age of 22 in dwelling 1102. In the same residence was a Mary C. Meisberger, age 17. Although no relationships were shown in this census, it made sense that Mary C. may be his spouse.

Year: 1860; Census Place: Coal, Northumberland, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1149; Page: 87; Family History Library Film: 805149

Year: 1860; Census Place: Coal, Northumberland, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1149; Page: 87; Family History Library Film: 805149

I sent away to the Diocese of Harrisburg for the church records and I received a copy of the marriage register attesting that Theobald Meisberger married a Mary Catherine Strasser on 15 April 1860, which was two months before this census was taken. Common variants of her maiden name are Strauser, Strausser, Strasser, Strawser, Strosser.

Back to the 1860 US census… Taking another look I discovered that a Peter Strawser, age 41, and a Sarah Ann Strawser, age 42, lived in dwelling 1103, right next door to the newlyweds. Of course, I then wondered if Theobald had married the girl next door. So, I set out trying to prove or disprove my conjecture.

I searched for Peter and Sarah in the 1850 US census and found them in Norwegian Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. In their household was a Mary C Straser, age 7, and an Angeline Straser, age 5. I engaged the late John T. Humphrey, CG to research the Pennsylvania tax records. His research showed that Peter left Norwegian Township around 1855, appearing in Coal Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania in the 1860 US census and in the tax records in 1862 (when they began in this township).

Returning to the 1860 US census, I notice that an Angeline, age 15, is a resident of this household. The ages of both Mary C. and Angeline are consistent with their ages in the 1850 US census.

In the 1870 census, the two families still live next door to each other, but in the 1880 US census, the two families are living in the dwelling of Theobald and Mary Meisberger. This living arrangement reinforces my speculation that Mary is their daughter. The following year, Theobald sells Sarah Meisberger one of his lots. He repurchases it mere days before the death of Peter Strausser.

This is a work in progress. More about my pursuit of the parentage and birth of Mary C. Strausser can be found in the following posts:


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 In the Census.

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