52 Ancestors: Happy Father’s Day to Theobald Meisberger

Posted on June 13, 2018 in #52Ancestors
Photo of modern Steinbach, Ottweiler, Saarland, Germany, birthplace of Theobald Casper Meisberger

Photo of modern Steinbach, Ottweiler, Saarland, Germany, birthplace of Theobald Casper Meisberger

All my grandfathers and those before were deceased when I was born so I never knew them. Although I love him and miss him, I did not want to focus on my Dad again, when I so recently featured him for the Military theme. The next ancestor who stands out to me for the Father’s Day theme is Theobald Meisberger. Everything I have found out about him makes me believe that he placed family, religion and community as his upmost priorities.

According to his birth certificate, my 2nd great-grandfather, Theobald C. Meisberger was born in Steinbach, Rhenish Prussia on the 25th of December 1837. He was the eldest son of Michel Meisberger [Sr.] and Margarethe Bettinger. Today, Steinbach is probably considered a suburb of Ottweiler, Saarland, Germany.

As stated by his Declaration of Intent, Theobald Meisberger emigrated from Prussia, departing Havre and arriving in New York on 23 June 1854. Michael Meisberger, [Jr.], his brother, arrived in New York on 4 September 1854. Theobald and Michael, [Jr.] were both naturalized on the same day—6 August 1860. Michael Meisberger, [Sr.], their father, was their witness. Michael [Sr.] arrived in the US prior to his sons and was naturalized in 1 November 1858.

Theobald married Mary Catherine Strausser, daughter of Peter and Sarah (Mumma) Strausser, on 15 April 1860 at St. Edward’s RC Church in Shamokin, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. Their nine children are: Eva Mary Gunther (1861 – 1941), John A. (1862 – 1936), Emily Margaret Madara (1864 – 1928), Elizabeth Sara M. Depner (1866 – 1948), Clara Ida (1867 1871), William T. (1869 – 1929), Johanna Burns (1871 – 1957), Clara Elizabeth (1873 – 1876), and David Theodore (1886 – 1955).

The 1860, 1870 and 1880 US censuses all display Theobald’s occupation as a miner. The 1900 US census lists his occupation as grocer. This census was enumerated only 12 days prior to Theobald’s death.

In 1873, Theobald was elected Constable of Coal Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania and he, also, purchased his first lot, partitioned it, and built a house on the second lot.

In the 1880 US census, Peter and Sarah Strausser, his wife’s parents, and their family were living in Theobald’s household. In 1881, he sold the second lot to his mother-in-law, Sarah Strausser. My conclusion from Theobald’s property sale to them is that he was trying to help them by enabling them to gain back their privacy and independence. In 1890, he purchased this lot and house back from them right before Peter’s death on 11 December 1890. Sarah followed Peter in death on 26 May 1891.

During his lifetime, Theobald managed to acquire sufficient land to bequeath a house and lot each to Andrew and Eva Mary (Meisberger) Gunther, George and Sarah Magdalena (Meisberger) Depner, Dennis and Johanna (Meisberger) Burns, William Theodore Meisberger, and David Theobald Meisberger.

R12-L21 Theobald Meisberger on monument. Photo courtesy of John HaileIn an 1897 Souvenir of St. Edward’s Church booklet, Theobald is listed as one of the founding church members, who was present and contributed to the church from 1866 until his death. Theobald C. Meisberger died on 13 June 1900 and is buried in range 12, lot 21 of St. Edward’s cemetery in Shamokin. Photo courtesy of John Haile.

Theobald cared for his wife and nine children and provided for their futures on a coal miner’s wages. In addition, he contributed to his church and community. I don’t really know what kind of man he was, but his actions proclaim him to be someone who cared very much for the welfare of his family as a father should. Happy Father’s Day!

 

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 Father’s Day.

 

 

 

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52 Ancestors: St. Paul’s Chapel, Atlas, PA

Posted on June 5, 2018 in 52 Ancestors, 52Ancestors
 St. Paul's Chapel, Atlas, Northumberland Co., Pennsylvania

St. Paul’s Chapel, Atlas, Northumberland Co., Pennsylvania

 

When I saw that “Going to the Chapel” was this week’s theme, I searched all my records for references to the word ‘Chapel’. I found only one occurrence and that was to St. Paul’s Chapel in Atlas, Northumberland Co., Pennsylvania. Atlas is a small village on the outskirts of the city of Mount Carmel, where both my grandmother, Anna Bianchi Furlani and her mother, Mary Bunt Bianchi lived. Both Atlas and Mt. Carmel are in the Borough of Mount Carmel. I lived in this borough from my birth to age four.

The reference to St. Paul’s Chapel came from an obituary in the Mount Carmel News Item, dated 12/13/2006, reporting the death of Victor Bianchi at the age of 98. Victor was my 1st cousin 1x removed.

“KULPMONT — Victor F. Bianchi, formerly of 26 Second St., Strong [near Mt. Carmel and Atlas], passed peacefully at the age of 98 on Tuesday, Dec. 12, at Serenity Gardens, where he was a guest the past four years.

He was born in Atlas on Oct.19, 1908, and was a son of the late Mary Bianchi. He was a lifelong resident of Strong and was employed as a miner and steel worker.

He was married July 4, 1932, in St. Patrick’s Church in Philadelphia to the former Mary E. Pollock, who preceded him in death on March 22, 2005.

He was a member of Divine Redeemer Church in Mount Carmel, and formerly a member of St. Paul’s Chapel in Atlas.”

I was intrigued by the text I highlighted in red above–it mentioned the word chapel. I wondered why Victor changed parishes, and since a chapel was unique in my genealogy, I decided to learn more about St. Paul’s.

St. Paul’s was established in 1928, as a mission chapel of St. Peter’s Church to serve its parishioners in the Atlas area. Originally housed in the Woodrow Wilson School, on May 20, 1928, the auditorium of the school became the site of the first Mass celebrated in Atlas. Father Paul D. Weaver (pastor of St. Peter’s) was the celebrant. Mass continued for a year at the Wilson School until Fr. Weaver purchased a former school building and converted it into a chapel.

The completed chapel was dedicated by Rt. Rev. Philip R. McDevitt, Bishop of Harrisburg, on Sunday, June 30, 1929. Celebrant of the Solemn Mass was Monsignor Aloysius Meuwese, pastor of Our Lady’s Church. There were two sermons that day – one by Bishop McDevitt, and one in Italian by Father Bonomo.

In June 1971, St. Paul’s Chapel was made a territorial church to include Atlas, Strong, Diamondtown, and Wilburton 1 & 2. In January 1972, property was purchased for use as parish offices and meeting site. “St. Paul’s Center” was dedicated on April 30 of that year. In November of 1973 the Conventual Franciscan Friars assumed administration of Saint Paul’s. During the friars’ tenure, St. Paul’s saw many physical upgrades and improvements, including renovations to the interior of the church.

St. Paul’s celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1979, and its Sixtieth Anniversary in 1989. June 30, 2018 would have been its 89th anniversary. St. Paul’s Chapel, Holy Cross, St. John the Baptist, Our Mother of Consolation, and St. Peter’s were all closed in 1995, designating Divine Redeemer Parish to serve the parishioners from the closed churches. This explains why Victor was now a member of Divine Redeemer and formerly a member of St. Paul’s Chapel.

The churches that closed were primarily in Mt. Carmel. Most churches in this area were ethnic based. Holy Cross (1892 – 1995) served the Lithuanian people; St. John the Baptist (1892 – 1995) served the Slovak people; Our Mother of Consolation (1896 – 1995) served the Polish population; St. Peter’s (1904 – 1995) served the Italian and Tyrolean communities; and St. Paul’s Chapel (1928 – 1995) aligned with St. Peter’s communities.

I was baptized in St. Peter’s, and it is heartbreaking to see all these great churches closed and decaying.

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 Going to the Chapel.

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52 Ancestors: Finding My Dad in WWII

Posted on May 23, 2018 in 52 Ancestors, 52Ancestors
William C. Furlani at Camp Croft Infantry Replacement Training Center abt. April 1944

William C. Furlani at Camp Croft Infantry Replacement Training Center abt. April 1944

My dad, William Condy Furlani, served in the US Army during World War II. After his death in 1989, I did not discover any military records among his belongings. I first found his enlistment record on Ancestry. He enlisted on 20 December 1943. This record provided me his service number, which I needed to send for his service records.

Several years ago, I requested a copy of his service records and received the reply that Army records from that period were destroyed in a 1973 fire, and sending me an additional form requesting that I tell them all I knew. Since I had already told them all I knew in the original application, I let that slide. They did send me a replacement for his Purple Heart. I decided to try to piece together as much as I could from other sources.

I have three photos and a postcard to account for my dad’s service. Two of the photos are just a picture of him in his uniform against a neutral background, nothing written on them so not much use as clues at this time. The third photo is the one seen above. Written in white on the photo are the words ”Photo by E. A. Beeks, Spartanburg, S. C.” Above the words is written “#542.” The sign hanging in the back row has “D” on the left, “Message Center” across the top and “Semper Vigilans” across the bottom, finally the number 26 on the right.

A search for the photographer helped identify this camp as the Camp Croft Infantry Replacement Training Center, which was officially activated on 10 January 1941. It was part of the Fourth Service Command, with housing for some 20,000 trainees and support personnel. It served the War Department for the next four years-plus as one of the Army’s principal IRTCs and as a prisoner of war (POW) camp. The men who came to Spartanburg and Camp Croft were, for the most part, from New York, Pennsylvania, and New England. My dad was from Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.

Later I managed to find him on several rosters that have been made available by these units online. From these lists, I discovered that he was in the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 255th Infantry Regiment, 63rd Infantry Division. Each of these units has a website with the history of their organization, which enabled me to get a sense of what their engagements were like. I would like to know more about the campaign(s) in which my father may have participated.

Based on a newspaper article I found in the Mount Carmel Item on Newspapersdotcom, I now know that when he finished basic training, he ended up in Belgium, where he was wounded (stepped on a landmine and luckily did not lose his leg). The postcard I mentioned earlier was to my mother to let her know that he was recovering from his wounds.

I finally found his Application for World War II Compensation. He filed it on 17 January 1950. We were living at 87 Center Avenue, Essington, Delaware Co., Pennsylvania at the time. This document provided some excellent information. Of primary interest, it listed that he began his first of two periods of domestic service 10 January 1944 (he enlisted 20 December 1943), which lasted until 10 August 1944 (most likely Basic and Infantry training). He was in foreign service from 11 August 1944 to 1 December 1945 (some of this period was in a hospital in England). He then returned home 2 December 1945 and was honorably discharged 7 December 1945.

 

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52 Ancestors: My Multi-Lingual Heritage

Posted on May 15, 2018 in 52 Ancestors, 52Ancestors

 

Anna Bianchi Furlani and her youngest son, my godfather, Robert Furlani.

Anna Bianchi Furlani and her youngest son, my godfather, Robert Furlani. 

There were many other languages in my family.

I’ll start with me. I sang in Latin in the church choir for many years in my youth. This was when the Catholic church still used Latin extensively. I also took two years of Latin in high school, roughly translating the Aeneid so that I could read it the original. This. Was. Not. A. Literary. Translation. In college, I took two years of German. Moving to my parents…

My mother’s German-Irish ancestors brought both Gaelic and German into their new life in Pennsylvania. All their children were either born in England or Pennsylvania with English as a native language.

My father’s ancestors brought Italian, Bohemian and German into their new life, also in Pennsylvania. Based on the records I have found, my grandmother, Anna Bianchi, grew up speaking Italian in her home. Anna’s mother, Mary Bunt Bianchi, was born in Bohemia. Various census records state that she spoke Bohemian, German and Italian as her native language. Anna’s father, Bonaventura Bianchi, spoke Italian. He may have spoken other languages but died before the census asked those questions. Anna married Candido Furlani, who also spoke Italian as he was Tyrolean (coming from S. Tyrol in 1907 before it became Trentino Province in Italy).

Anna grew up in Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. Mt. Carmel was a ‘melting pot’ during this time, with immigrants arriving from Eastern and Western Europe and the Mediterranean. Education was not mandatory when Anna was young, so she never learned to read or write in any language. Whenever she wanted to write to us, or whenever she wanted to read something we had sent her, she got her younger sister to write the letters or read the letters to her.

My grandmother once told me so many of the neighbors spoke different languages that she had to learn their languages, so she could speak with them. In addition to English and Italian, she also spoke Bohemian, Czech, Polish, Ukrainian, and some Russian.

Around 1971 my grandmother had a stroke. She came to live with us as the stroke left her with a form of dementia. She was living back on her teens and forgot how to speak English or any other language except Italian. My husband at the time, who spoke Spanish and some Italian, acted as our interpreter. We all managed quite well, but she got progressively worse and needed full time residential care. She died in 1973.

 

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 Another Language.

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Society Saturday – Caring for Family Papers and Personal Archives

Posted on May 12, 2018 in Society Saturday

Logo of the Carroll County Genealogical SocietyThe Carroll County Genealogical Society’s upcoming meeting on Monday, May 21 at 7:00 PM* features Andrea Briggs. Ms. Briggs is the Archivist & Special Collections Librarian at McDaniel College. She received her Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh and is a proud alumna of McDaniel College. Andrea is thrilled to be able to give back to the community that taught her to love history by preserving it and making it accessible to researchers.

She will be presenting Caring for Family Papers and Personal Archives. This program will cover basic archival preservation techniques and strategies to best care for materials at home, such as scrapbooks, photographs, newspapers, bibles, etc.

Meetings of the Carroll County Genealogical Society (CCGS) are usually held the third Monday of each month, March through May and September through November, at 7:00 p.m. in the Dixon Room, Westminster Library at 50 East Main Street, Westminster.

*Refreshments are available at 7:00 p.m. and the meetings are free and open to the public.

Please come to our meeting and bring a friend. You will meet other folks interested in family research and enjoy delightful talks that may help you in your research. I look forward to seeing new faces!

You can also come early and take advantage of our large collection of books and other materials housed at the Westminster Branch of the CCPL. On Thursday afternoons, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., one or more society volunteers will be on hand to assist researchers. Of course, this collection is available to all anytime the library is open.

The CCGS Genealogy Section at the Westminster Branch Library. Photo by Eileen Souza

The CCGS Genealogy Section at the Westminster Branch Library. Photo by Eileen Souza

 

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52 Ancestors: A Mother’s Day Remembrance

Posted on May 10, 2018 in 52 Ancestors, 52Ancestors

This photo has a story.

My mother, Marguerite Noble Furlani, was born 21 May 1918 in Ranshaw, Coal Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. She died of emphysema 25 May 1985 (4 days after her 67th birthday) in Prospect Park, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. In 1985, Mother’s Day fell on the 12th of May.

While cleaning out her belongings I found a black and white photo that I had never seen. I asked my Dad, William C. Furlani, about it. He told me my mother was 23 when this was taken. Since they were married in 26 July 1941 and she would have been 23 on her birthday of 21 May 21 1941, I suspect this may have been a birthday photo.

I asked my Dad about the color of her dress and secretly took the photo to an expert in coloring photos. He hand-colored this photo beautifully. I had it framed and gave it to my Dad for Christmas 1985. He opened it and cried. This is the first time I ever saw my Dad cry. When my Dad died in 1989, I took the photo, in its frame home with me, and it has the place of honor in my living room.

I think my Mom, who was known as Mickey, would be very pleased if I would honor her for her most cherished activity—10 pin bowling. I found 143 articles in the Chester/Delaware County Times about my mother. They all featured her bowling wins.

 

The Bowling Team late 1960s or early 1970s. Mom is 3rd from the left

The Bowling Team late 1960s or early 1970s. Mom is 3rd from the left

 

She was about 38 years old the first time she went bowling in 1956. She joined a team in a league. That year she entered the Chester City tournament and won! Over her entire bowling career, her average was never under 200. She probably could have gone pro but, in those days, women stayed at home with their families. She bowled until she could no longer perform due to the illness that would eventually kill her.

One of my favorite memories is when the left-handed bowler Earl Anthony visited our area. Somehow or another, he and my mother met and he was so impressed with her skills that he gave her some pointers to improve her game. I remember her telling me that he laid in the alley and had her practice rolling the ball down the alley without hitting him.

My mother was an active woman. She knew everyone in town. We lived in Essington, Tinicum Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. I loved to go with her as she ran errands and visited folks around town. I remember that her friends called her gas-a** Mickey because she was always on the move.

She taught me everything I know about cooking. I made shoo fly pie, pot pie or bot boi (a Pennsylvania Dutch soup using flat noodles) and potato bread with the best of them thanks to her Pennsylvania German heritage.

Most of all, I remember her taking care of me through my many illnesses and broken bones. I broke my left arm (I’m left-handed) three times as a child. The first time I was four and fell down the back steps into a pile of bricks wearing my Mom’s high heels. The second break occurred when I was in second grade and fell out of a tree. The third time, I was racing in a roller derby, fell and someone skated over my arm (by accident). By this time, my Mom knew the routine; so, she made a makeshift splint using a rolled newspaper, told me to sit down and eat my supper, then we went to the emergency room.

I lost her too early to COPD at the age of sixty-seven. Mom, you will always be with me in my heart and in my memories.

Happy Mother Day, Mom!

 

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 Mother’s Day.  #52Ancestors

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52 Ancestors: Closer to Home

Posted on May 6, 2018 in 52 Ancestors, 52Ancestors

If you return me
To my home port
I will kiss you
Mother earth
Take me back now, take me back now
To the port. Of my birth

“I’m Your Captain/Closer to Home” written by Mark Farner and performed by Grand Funk Railroad 1970

I struggled with this week’s theme of “Close Up”. I received several good suggestions from my Facebook friends, but the story would not come. Until…

How does a boy from Mount Carmel Township meet a girl from Coal Township? The answer is big bands.

First a little geographical background. The village of Atlas in Mt. Carmel Township was my father’s home. My mother grew up in Ranshaw, Coal Twp., and her mother was raised in Johnson City (formerly Brady and now Ranshaw) in Coal Township. All my father’s family, once they arrived in the US, settled in Mt. Carmel Township, while all my mother’s family settled in Coal Township. Atlas and Ranshaw, as shown on the 1874 map below, are 5.1 miles apart.

Unlike many immigrant family lines that migrated west and south, my family stayed close up to each other until the coal mines began closing up during and after WWII. My maternal grandparents moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania around 1940 for better employment.

In this 1981 map, we see that the area looks pretty much the same as we saw in 1874. The circled area is in the southeast corner of Northumberland County, nestled in the heart of the anthracite coal region. In fact, Mt. Carmel is less than ten miles from Ashland, which is in Schuylkill County.

We now come full circle to those big bands. My parents were in their teens and early twenties during the swing era of big bands. My mother told me stories about dancing to the Dorsey Brothers, Glenn Miller, Ozzie Nelson and Gene Krupa, when the appeared locally in live concerts. These concerts occurred regularly and drew attendance from all around the region. It was at one of these dances that my mother and father met. She told me she was attracted to him because he was one of the better dancers and she was very picky about who she danced with. They moved closer to home when they married in 1941.

 

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 Close Up.

 

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52 Ancestors: My Introduction to Cemetery Research

Posted on April 26, 2018 in 52 Ancestors, 52Ancestors
St. Peter Cemetery (aka Merriam), Mount Carmel, Northumberland Co., PA.

St. Peter Cemetery (aka Merriam), Mount Carmel, Northumberland Co., PA.

 

When I began researching my family in the late 1990s, anyone who might have had any knowledge of our family was deceased. I was the eldest left (except for my mother’s youngest sister, but she had no information. I knew the given and surnames of my parents with their birth dates, and the names of my grandparents and their children. I knew my Dad’s family came from the Mount Carmel area and my Mom’s family came from an area called Ranshaw in Coal Township near the city of Shamokin, all in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. That was it.

I immediately subscribed to Ancestry, which at that time did not have many indexes. After my lost summer browsing through the 1930 US census, I had a list of those in the Northumberland county areas of Mount Carmel and Coal Township who may be related to me. I quickly realized that that I needed more information to determine if they were in my lines or not.

I decided to take a road trip to Mount Carmel and see what I could learn. I particularly wanted to visit the Roman Catholic cemeteries in the area to try to get birth and death dates, at a minimum. This was my introduction to cemetery research.

The first cemetery I visited was St. Peter’s cemetery (aka Merriam Hill) in Mount Carmel. St. Peter’s was where I was baptized. It was the Tyrolean church. Mount Carmel was and still is an ethnic melting pot. Each group of immigrants had their own church. The city was also known as the “City of Churches”, although some of the churches are currently closed. St. Peter’s cemetery is set on the side of the mountain right outside the city proper. It is a beautiful setting and the view is spectacular.

The cemetery is well-maintained. I had seen it for the first time in 1973, when our family traveled to Mount Carmel on the death of my paternal grandmother. My grandmother’s parents are buried there and their tombstone, which you see as soon as you enter the cemetery is the one in this photo. I have written about the graves I found in my Tombstone Tuesday posts.

The next cemetery I found was St. Mary’s Cemetery, where I found several of my mother’s Noble line and a few of my paternal relatives. This cemetery is situated in a grouping of several cemeteries. When I visited, I remember asking where I might find Nobles and was directed to the ‘Irish’ cemetery. Although, I did walk through this cemetery, I may have missed some of the graves, thinking they were in one of the other cemeteries. As I found out later, this cemetery housed the grave of my 2nd great-grandfather, Edward Noble, who was my immigrant Irish ancestor. For this story and a photo of the tombstone, please see “Tombstone Tuesday – Edward Noble (1827 – 1872)”.

St. Mary’s cemetery houses one famous (or maybe infamous) internment, Patrick Hester, convicted murderer. He was one of the 19 Molly Maguires condemned to death by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during the years 1877 and 1878 and portrayed in the 1970s movie starring Sean Connery. Why this interests me is that his daughter Helen [Ellen] Hester was a witness at the marriage of my great-grandparents, Thomas and Margaret (McGinn) Noble.

These were the only two cemeteries visited in this first trip. I later discovered the following Northumberland cemeteries: St. Edward’s in Coal Township, Shamokin Cemetery in Shamokin and St. Joseph’s in Locust Gap. All of them contain a great many of my maternal ancestors. There is so much to be found in our cemeteries.

 

All photos are courtesy of Eileen Furlani Souza.

 

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 Cemetery.

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52 Ancestors: Weathering the Storms of 1979

Posted on April 17, 2018 in 52 Ancestors, 52Ancestors
Buried in the snow near Fargo, N. Dakota 1979. Photo courtesy of Eileen Souza

Buried in the snow near Fargo, N. Dakota 1979. Photo courtesy of Eileen Souza

Why did my car end up buried in the snow? Read on to find out.

I had always wanted to see a solar eclipse at totality, live and in person, but the Mid-Atlantic weather conditions tended to make this unlikely. After some persuasion, I talked several friends from work into making a trip with me to Winnipeg, Canada, listed as the nearest place to us that guaranteed visible totality on February 26, 1979. The temperatures in Winnipeg were hovering around 0° F. and would drop significantly during totality.

The next month was a flurry of activity stocking up on gear and supplies. We hit the Army/Navy stores and outlets to acquire Arctic-rated clothing, snowshoes, sleeping bags, boots, etc. I rented a small U-Haul trailer to hold camp stoves, tent, camera equipment, dried foods and other emergency supplies.

In Maryland, we were having a bad winter. On February 18 and 19 in 1979 an epic winter storm took the Mid-Atlantic by surprise. It became known as the President’s Day Storm of 1979. Much of the country suffered heavy winter storms that year. Historically, the 1979 blizzard on January 13-14 was Chicago’s second-worst storm. During that winter, 89.7 inches of snow blanketed the city.

A little less than a week after the President’s Day storm in Maryland, on February 24, we set out on our great expedition.  Our route took us through Chicago. Chicago was still recovering from its blizzard. Their snow remained until the 6th of March. We had seen in the news the problem Chicago was having clearing their streets because there was no place to put the huge volumes of snow. Driving through Chicago was like driving through a tunnel with walls 15 to 20 feet high of plowed snow. Although the route we took through Chicago was at least two lanes, maybe four, the view was comparable to this image

Our remaining drive to Winnipeg was uneventful. It was the 26th of February 1979, and the four of us were standing in a field (or should I say ‘on a field’ since we were wearing snowshoes) in Winnipeg, Ontario, Canada. We were outfitted in full Arctic gear, setting up our camera equipment, in anticipation of the sun being blocked out by the moon.

As soon as the eclipse was over, we packed up the car and trailer for our return trip, since we had to be back at work. But fate had other designs.  Immediately after we turned left at Fargo, North Dakota to continue east, we ran into a severe ice storm that blew my car off the highway and plopped it down on three feet of snow in the middle of a field.

We were congratulating ourselves on the wisdom of hauling all the emergency supplies when a huge tractor trailer pulled up on the side of the highway. The driver offered to help. We had a mountain climbing rope that he used to attempt to pull us out, but it immediately snapped in two. We ended up riding back in his truck to the nearest town to spend the night until the car could be towed, getting back to work a day late, delighted that we weathered all these storms. What a great adventure!!!

 

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. These prompts take care of the guesswork of “who should I write about.” This week’s theme is Storms.

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Society Saturday – History, Records and Context: Researching the Locations Your Ancestors Lived

Posted on April 14, 2018 in Society Saturday

Logo of the Carroll County Genealogical SocietyThe Carroll County Genealogical Society’s upcoming meeting on Monday, April 16 at 7:00 PM* features Angela Packer McGhie, CG. Ms. McGhie is a board-certified genealogist who loves to study and teach genealogy. She coordinates courses at genealogy institutes and speaks at national and regional conferences. Angela has served as the administrator of the ProGen Study Program for six years and is now on the board of directors.

She will be presenting History, Records and Context: Researching the Locations Your Ancestors Lived. Learning about the places where our ancestors lived helps us put them in social and historical context, as well as locate relevant records. Each time we trace our ancestor to a new location we need to take time to learn about the history, geography, customs, and records.

Meetings of the Carroll County Genealogical Society (CCGS) are usually held the third Monday of each month, March through May and September through November, at 7:00 p.m. in the Dixon Room, Westminster Library at 50 East Main Street, Westminster.

*Refreshments are available at 7:00 p.m. and the meetings are free and open to the public.

Please come to our meeting and bring a friend. You will meet other folks interested in family research and enjoy delightful talks that may help you in your own research. I look forward to seeing new faces!

You can also come early and take advantage of our large collection of books and other materials housed at the Westminster Branch of the CCPL. On Thursday afternoons, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., one or more society volunteers will be on hand to assist researchers. Of course, this collection is available to all anytime the library is open.

The CCGS Genealogy Section at the Westminster Branch Library. Photo by Eileen Souza

The CCGS Genealogy Section at the Westminster Branch Library. Photo by Eileen Souza

 

 

 

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