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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52 Ancestors: Do You Use Tax Records in Your Research?

Posted on April 13, 2018 in 52 Ancestors, 52Ancestors

Stack of books at the archives/library

In 2009, I had some research in tax records completed at the Pennsylvania State Archives by eminent genealogist, John T. Humphrey, CG (decd.). My ultimate goal was to identify the father of my 3rd great grandfather, Peter Strausser. I first found Peter, with his wife and family in the 1860 US census living in Coal Twp., Northumberland Co., Pennsylvania. I traced him to Norwegian Twp., Schuylkill Co., Pennsylvania where he appeared in the 1850 US census, with his wife and two daughters. John suggested that an examination of the tax records for these townships might shed more light on Peter’s origins.

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 suggested 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 of this township until 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 then 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 and both Peter and Levi paid taxes that year. From that point on Peter can be traced in Coal Twp. until his death in 1890.

I had never used tax records in my research until John Humphrey showed me how powerful they can be. To quote John from my report:

“In the absence of records that make statements of fact about relationships in families like probate and birth and baptismal records, the most effective way to establish relationships between generations within a family is to locate young men and women in records when they achieve their majority because young men and women generally come of age in the area where their parents were living.

Tax records are one of the most effective sets of records that help to achieve that end because among other things all segments of society were taxed. Thus information can be found in these records on people who were relatively poor as well as those who were wealthy.”

 

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 Taxes.

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52 Ancestors: Before Her Time – A Woman of the 21st Century

Posted on April 6, 2018 in 52 Ancestors, 52Ancestors
Dorothy Furlani with her brother, William Furlani, my father abt. 1941

Dorothy Furlani with her brother, William Furlani, my father abt. 1941

For this week’s theme, I just had to highlight one of my favorite aunts and the only maiden aunt I could find, Dorothy [Dot] A. Furlani, who was born on 15 October 1913 in Connersville, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Candido (Condy) Furlani and Anna Bianchi. One of three children, she had an older brother, William, my father, and a younger brother, Robert.

I found her college yearbooks online. She attended Penn State, living in State College, Centre County, Pennsylvania from 1932 until she graduated in 1935. A member of the Theta Phi Alpha sorority, she was active in basketball and track.

Dot first appeared in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania records, around 1940, with a listing in the city directory and the 1940 US census. She was employed as a sales clerk in a department store. By 1946, she was a steno-clerk with the State of Pennsylvania. She remained employed by the State until her retirement.

I have very fond memories of my Aunt Dot. She lived a full life, and although, she never married, I would never have called her a spinster–the image did not fit her.

Bob and Dot in Harrisburg in the 1950s

Bob and Dot in Harrisburg in the 1950s

She had a partner whom I called Uncle Bob. Bob and Dot remained together as a couple with separate residences until his death. I don’t remember Bob’s last name, but he drove a train (engineer), which I thought was cool. I also don’t remember her last two partners, except that the last one out-lived her.

Once, my sister and I stayed with her for a week. It was fantastic. Aunt Dot and Uncle Bob took us to our first country fair, where we saw live animals that we could touch (no petting zoos back then). Another excursion was to Hershey Park.

One day she took us to her office building. We had never been in a high rise building before and spent the day riding up and down the elevator. We had been in stores with an escalator, but this was our first time riding in an elevator. It doesn’t take much to make kids happy.

Dot was a serious smoker and drinker. During this trip, many visits to her friends’ homes gave us ample proof of this. Except for the smoking, she would have been very much at home in the 21st century. As I said, she loved life and broke the mores of the times, living the life she chose.

My aunt Dot died of lung cancer on 23 October 1982 in Middletown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, at the age of sixty-nine. She is buried in Saint Pater’s cemetery in Mount Carmel with her parents.

 

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 Maiden Aunt.

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52 Ancestors: So Many Homesteads

Posted on April 5, 2018 in 52 Ancestors, 52Ancestors

Thinking about this week’s theme, ‘The Old Homestead’, I realized that I have not found many of the old homesteads of my ancestors, and for the ones that I’ve found, I have very little information. Not enough to really focus on one homestead for this post. I decided, instead, to highlight each of the homesteads I have identified.

The first home is that of my paternal grandparents, Condy and Anna Bianchi Furlani. I just checked on Google Street View and this house is still there and looks the same as it did when I took this photo in 1997.

I have not been able to find a deed for my grandparents’ purchase of this home. They were married in 1911. I know they were not living here when my father was born in 1912. I have the deed from when the house was sold in 1974, to settle the estate of my grandmother, Anna Bianchi Furlani Profit, who died 21 March 1973.

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

I remember visiting her during the summer when I was a child. At that time, the back of the house faced the foothills of a small mountain across a road. There were huge snowball bushes along the side of the house, no shed and next to it an open field.

My sister and I used to climb up the foothills early in the morning to collect huckleberries for our breakfast. We also liked watching the “billy goats” that roamed the hills. Today, there are no hills or mountain—it has been mined to the ground and the road is now a four-lane highway. So sad…

The second and third homes are my unknowns from the box of photos inherited from my mother. I feel sure that these homes belonged to my maternal ancestors and relatives, but this is pure guesswork. My second great grandfather, Theobald Meisberger, over time, had purchased four lots in Coal Twp., Northumberland Co., PA; and he built four houses on them. On his death, they were inherited by his children and their spouses. Most of my other ancestors and relatives only rented. I do not know the owners or location of either of these two homes, only that they are most likely in the Ranshaw area of Coal Township.

Single family home decorated for July 4th

Single family home decorated for July 4th

Duplex home fronting on a street

Duplex home fronting on a street

You can read about my speculations on this first unknown home on the left in Wordless Wednesday – Celebrating the 4th of July?.

For my other unknown on the right, I can’t make out any of the faces in either photo. The photos do not enlarge well and tend to become pixelated. These two homes may or may not exist today.

I discovered that the home in Newbottle, Durham, England, of my great-grandparents, Edward and Mary (Devine) Noble, whom I managed to trace across the pond, no longer exists. You can read about where the home may have been in Another Brick in the Wall Smashed.

Another homestead I know about is the home of my grandfather, Candido (Condy) Furlani. It is in the village of Vigolo Vattaro, Trentino Province, Italy. When he lived there this village was part of the Tyrol under the Austrian empire and remained there until 1919 when this portion of the Tyrol was ceded to Italy via treaty. My grandfather considered himself a Tyrolean.

The plaza in Vigolo Vattaro ca. 1909 in Tyrol, Austria prior to the town becoming part of Italy in 1919

The plaza in Vigolo Vattaro ca. 1909 in Tyrol, Austria prior to the town becoming part of Italy in 1919

My grandfather emigrated from the village in 1906. He and his brothers lived in a hotel, since his father was the owner of the hotel named “Alla Stella”. I was unable to find this hotel via Google Maps, so it may no longer exist, or it may have morphed into another hotel or inn. The difficulty is that back in my grandfather’s time there were only two hotels and two inns. It now appears that the village has grown into a ski resort and there are many hotels and inns—all with different names.

Finally, there is the home where I grew up. I grew up in the town of Essington, which together with the adjacent town, Lester, make up Tinicum Township in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. After WWII, the township purchased the permanent housing used for military barracks during the war.

My parents rented a row home in 1946 in what was known as the project. During my elementary and high school years we lived first at 87 Center Avenue and then at 35 Center Avenue. I enjoyed my childhood here, especially since the township library was within a short walk from my house. The homes were all torn down around 1960 (can’t remember the exact year). We had to move. I missed the project because there was so much to do. There were lots of kids. There was a small hill with a field for playing hardball and softball, which in the winter provided sledding. Behind the administration building, there was a fountain surrounded by concrete. In the summer, the administration ran the fountain so we kids could play under the streams of water. We also used to roller skate here and hold roller derbies. I have very good memories of growing up here.

 

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 The Old Homestead.

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52 Ancestors: Out of Misfortune, Rises Hope

Posted on March 22, 2018 in 52 Ancestors, 52Ancestors

Misfortune is a tricky theme for me. The first thing I did was to look up synonyms for the word misfortune. Google’s dictionary provides the following synonyms: problem, difficulty, setback, trouble, adversity, a stroke of bad luck, a reversal (of fortune), misadventure, mishap, blow, failure, accident, disaster, catastrophe; sorrow, misery, woe, trial, tribulation, tragedy.

As I was going through my records, I realized that I did not know enough about specific events in my ancestors lives to write about their difficulties, accidents, disasters or other misfortunes. In general, I knew that all my ancestors were essentially poor, with the families supported by working in the anthracite coal mines. That alone had to be a hardship since most of the males had a low life expectancy due to miner’s asthma (aka black lung). I finally came across this clipping, and it struck a chord with me.

Obituary of Edward McGinn, “Locust Gap Man Dead,” (Northumberland Co., Pennsylvania) Mount Carmel Item, 21 December 1914, Vol. XXVII No. 43, p. 1, col. unknown

Obituary of Edward McGinn, “Locust Gap Man Dead,” (Northumberland Co., Pennsylvania) Mount Carmel Item, 21 December 1914, Vol. XXVII No. 43, p. 1, col. unknown

 

According to the 1900 US Federal census, Edward A. McGinn Sr. was born April 1860 in Pennsylvania. His death certificate states that he was born 14 April 1859 in Glen Carbon, Foster Township, Schuylkill Co., Pennsylvania. He is the son of Christopher McGinn and Ann Delaney McGinn, and the brother of Margaret McGinn, my great-grandmother. His cause of death was heart disease with dropsy. He was buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Locust Gap, Northumberland Co., Pennsylvania.

Based on the birth of their first child, and upon both the 1900 and 1910 US censuses, Edward McGinn and Ellen T. Hogan were most likely married in 1886. They had eleven children of which eight survived. Through census research, the children were named Christopher (Christie), John, Edward Jr., Irene, Leo, James, Margaret, and Aloysius. I have not found a Catherine. Accordingly, the obituary may have meant Margaret, Catherine may be Margaret’s middle name, or may just be in error.

As we examine Edward’s obituary, we see that he was ill for a year before he died. The mines did not pay sick leave, so the family had to have struggled to sustain themselves with their main breadwinner lying ill. It does mention that he belongs to A.O.H. (Ancient Order of Hibernians). Maybe they and other local organizations provided some aid to the family.

The obituary even declares that the family is having hard luck. Edward’s son John, who would have been about 23 years old, has a fractured right arm, I’ll bet he was right-handed, too. He is another family member who works in the coal mines and whose injury would preclude him working, further reducing the family’s income.

Finally, we see that one of the children is seriously ill. My records show that Edward and Ellen’s daughter, Margaret, dies three months after her father. Margaret’s death certificate gives her date of death as 24 March 1915 and her cause of death as heart failure with dropsy. She was nine years old.

Okay, the tears are flowing. But this family survived. Ellen lived into her eighties and died in 1949. I am sure she had more hardships to overcome in her long life. Overcoming misfortune demonstrates the resiliency of our ancestors and brings me hope for our futures.

 

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 Misfortune.

 

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52 Ancestors: Lucky or Unlucky in Love?

Posted on March 17, 2018 in 52 Ancestors, 52Ancestors

Was my ancestor lucky or unlucky in love? I am speaking about my maternal great-grand uncle, William Theodore Meisberger.

He was born, the son of Theobald C. Meisberger and Mary Catherine Strausser, on 12 November 1869 in Brady, Coal Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. In 1908, William was a prominent Northumberland county politician and a member of the Coal Township school board.

In 1908, Wm. T. Meisberger was sued for $10,000 for breach of promise. According to one article, a three-day honeymoon was disturbed when a Miss Rebecca Metz filed suit for breach of promise against her neighbor, William Meisberger, Miss Metz stated that he courted her over 20 years, that they were engaged and that he was the father of her son. Meanwhile, William had recently met and married a woman from Ashland, Schuylkill County, PA. William was apparently receiving guests in his home, congratulating him on his marriage, when he was arrested.

The first trial began in February of 1909 as there were several newspaper articles following this case. The articles ranged from the initial article I found published by the Richmond Times Dispatch on 10 August 1908 through the final settlement of the case, which was announced in the Mount Carmel Item on 23 March 1911. One of the 1910 articles presented William as a former Coal township school director. Another article stated that William was also a prominent physician, but the 1909 Boyd’s Shamokin city directory and his death certificate lists him as a laborer in the coal mines. The various articles listed the length of this courtship anywhere from 15 years to 28 years.

The final settlement was in favor of the plaintiff, Miss Metz. She was awarded $3,500 in 1911, which is the equivalent of $88,718.95 today. William was forced to sell all he owned in a Sheriff’s sale to insure she received her monies. This included a lot with house (which was the bulk of William’s estate) that William had inherited from his father in 1900. More on this will can be found in my post “52 Ancestors: The Lonely Will”.

The following deed that I acquired many years before I discovered why this sale occurred shows that this lot is sold by William at a Sheriff’s sale in 1910.

Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Books, Book 152, Page 727, Wm. T. Meisberger by William Taby Sheriff to John J. Roach, 10 May 1910; Recorder of Deeds, Northumberland County Courthouse, Sunbury, PA.

Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Books, Book 152, Page 727, Wm. T. Meisberger by William Taby Sheriff to John J. Roach, 10 May 1910; Recorder of Deeds, Northumberland County Courthouse, Sunbury, PA.

 

While the estate netted $3,300, there were two judgments against it totaling $2,500. In a strange twist of fate both parties to this suit suffered similarly. William lost everything in this suit, but Miss Metz essentially gained nothing since by the time she paid off the legal fees and judgements, she had nothing left.

Sadly, after the final settlement, William had only nineteen years of connubial bliss as he died at the age of 59 on 2 March 1929. He is buried in St. Edward’s Cemetery in Coal Township, Northumberland County, Pa.

So, was William lucky or unlucky in love?

 

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 Lucky.

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Society Saturday – Are You My Grandpa? Men of the Same Name

Posted on March 10, 2018 in Society Saturday

Logo of the Carroll County Genealogical SocietyThe Carroll County Genealogical Society’s upcoming meeting on Monday, March 19 at 7:00 PM* features Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG. Rebecca has been taking clients and lecturing since 2004. She has spoken for the National Genealogical Society Conference, Maryland State Archives, and for groups in Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Delaware. She is a board member of the Maryland Genealogical Society and volunteers at the Family History Center in Frederick, Maryland. Rebecca lives in Mt. Airy, Maryland, with three active teenagers and a very patient husband.

She will be presenting Are You My Grandpa? Men of the Same Name. Her presentation is for all of us who discover that their ancestor has a name in common with someone else in their community.  She discusses techniques for comparing the records of these people to separate our ancestors from other lines.  Examples are included throughout the lecture with a focus on Maryland 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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52 Ancestors: My Great-Grandmother, Maria Bunt Bianchi (1865 – 1944) – A Real Survivor

Posted on March 6, 2018 in 52 Ancestors, 52Ancestors
Undated photo of my great-grandmother, Maria Bunt Bianchi

Undated photo of my great-grandmother, Maria Bunt Bianchi

 

The suggested theme for this week is “strong woman.” What a great theme to kick off “Women’s History Month” throughout March 2018. What makes a woman strong? Is it her physical strength, her perseverance, her intelligence, her sense of humor, or her will?

As soon as I saw the theme, the name of my great-grandmother jumped to mind. Even though I never met her, I have always thought of her as a very tough, strong-willed woman to have handled all that life threw at her.

Maria Bunt (var. Bond, Bont, Bant, Bion, Bonn, Bundt, Pond) was born on 8 December 1865 in Bohemia, which in 1865 was part of the Austrian Empire. Her birth date was provided by her death certificate. Shortly after her birth, in June 1866, the Seven Weeks War broke out between Austria and Prussia, with most of the battles occurring on Bohemian soil. Austria lost but kept control of Bohemia. Maria grew up in turmoil amid the conflicts between Germany, France, Austria and Italy as they carved up Europe.

It is estimated that she entered marriage with Bonaventura Bianchi between 1880 and 1882. I don’t know how they met. In the 1900 US census, Bonaventura was enumerated as having been born in Austria but, in later censuses, Italy. Nor do I know when or where they wed. Their first son, Peter was born on 21 June 1882 in Prussia, (later Austria then Germany). Maria was 17.

According to a marriage record from St. Peter’s RC church in Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, PA, Teresa [Christina Teresa] was born in Luxembourg on 27 November 1883. According to his death certificate, Henry Richard Bianchi was born 7 March 1885 in Germany and according to his Civil Registration, Joseph Biancki [Bianchi] was born 9 December 1887 in Dudelingen (in English Dudelange), Luxembourg.

Sometime during November of 1888, the family immigrated to the United States, departing from Antwerp, Belgium on the SS Noordland and arriving in New York on 1 December 1888. Remember that little Joseph was only eleven months old during this voyage. He would celebrate his first birthday eight days after they arrived at Castle Garden. The ship’s manifest listed their current residence as Dudelingen. The family was housed on different decks. Bonaventura was in 3 H, Maria was on Aft U while all the children, aged infant through 6, were on Aft V. Caring for the children must have been very demanding.

Further research unfolded another hardship for Maria–she was four months pregnant. Five months after they arrived in New York, on 20 May 1889, Maria gave birth to Violet Josephine in New York. I do not know if they were still in Castle Garden or just chose to remain in New York City until the baby was born. Talk about hardships—crossing the Atlantic steerage while pregnant and nursing an infant.

After the new birth, the family traveled to Hazelton, Luzerne County, PA. They remained there several years. Attilio (aka Leon) was born 17 April 1891 in Hazelton. They were still in Hazleton when Mary was born 5 July 1892 but they were in Mount Carmel by 16 January 1894 for the birth of my grandmother, Anna Bianchi. Anna was followed by Lucy, who was born 26 February 1897 and by Charles, who was born 23 December 1898.

The child Joseph does not appear in the 1900 US census with the family so it is presumed he may have died prior to this date. This is supported by the 1900 census, which states that Maria had eleven children of which nine were still living. There was another unknown child who also died prior to this census. After the census, Helen was born on 28 October 1900, Margaret was born on 2 January 1902 and Mildred was born on 14 May 1904.

Then in 1906, her husband, Bonaventura died at the age of 51 on 25 December 1906 of coal Miner’s Asthma (more popularly known as Black Lung), leaving Maria a widow with eleven children to support by working in a grocery store and later as a janitress in the public school. She had to support herself and family through the Great Depression. She never remarried. In the 1940 US census, Mary still has one of her grand-daughters at home and she is still working at the age of 74.

In 1908, her daughter Mary Bianchi had a son possibly out of wedlock since Mary did not marry John Pieri until 1914. Victor F. Bianchi was born on 19 October 1908 and raised by Maria Bunt Bianchi. Maria’s youngest child, her daughter Mildred died of diphtheria on 11 December 1909.

In the 1910 US census, Maria owned their home, having received it through the probate of her husband. In the 1920 US census, she was a renter. A sheriff’s sale was held 24 May 1913 and title to her home passed to Emanuel Tasin.

Maria died on 1 April 1944 at the age of 77. She was buried with her husband in St. Peter’s cemetery in Mount Carmel on 5 April 1944.  Nearby are her sons, Peter, Henry, Leon, Charles, and her daughters, Mary, Helen, Theresa, Mildred, and Anna.

Maria’s obituary indicates she was a native of Bohemia and lived in the area [Mount Carmel] for more than half a century. She was survived by 8 children, 43 grandchildren (11 in the armed forces) and 15 great-grandchildren. Her death certificate listed her father as Lawrence Bunt of Bohemia, which is the only clue I have to a possible parent. No mother was mentioned.

 

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 Strong Woman.

 

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52 Ancestors: The Lonely Will

Posted on March 2, 2018 in 52 Ancestors, 52Ancestors

I am calling this will the lonely will since it the “only” will that I have been able to find in my entire family, prior to those of my parents. This is the will of Theobald Meisberger (1837 – 1900), my 2nd great-grandfather. His daughter, Mary Eve [Eva] Ann Gunther nee Meisberger (1861 – 1941), is my great-grandmother, and Eva’s daughter, Ilene [Lorraine] Noble nee Gunther (1897 – 1977), is my maternal grandmother.

What fascinates me most is that Theobald was a coal miner. Yes, I said coal miner. Yet he was able to bequeath all this to his family. Until my father’s generation all the males on both sides of the family were coal miners, some were even miners prior to arriving in America, yet he was the only one who managed to accrue several parcels of land and construct houses on them to bequeath to his progeny and their families. I think this is an amazing accomplishment and may also attest to a man with a strong “will”.

The will mentions wife Mary Catharine, deceased; son-in-law Andrew Gunther and wife Mary Eve Ann his daughter; son-in-law George Depner and wife Sarah Magdalena his daughter; son-in-law Dennis Burns and wife Johanna his daughter; William Theodore his son; David Theobald his son; John A. Meisberger his son; and Annie Margaret his daughter.

I have included an image of the will and my transcription. The slashes ( / ) represent the end of the line in the original transcription.

Will of Theobald Meisberger, Deceased
Coal Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania
Will Book 11, Pages 188-189
Recorded 25 June 1900
Register of Wills, Sunbury, Northumberland, Pennsylvania
Digital image, Ancestry, Pennsylvania Wills and Probate Records, Wills 1772 – 1907
(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 September 2015)

188 [stamped]

Will of Theobald Meisberger, Deceased

I, Theobald Meisberger, of Brady, Coal Township, in the County of Northumberland and / State of Pennsylvania, do make publish and declare this as my last Will and testament / hereby revoking all former wills by me at anytime heretofore made. _ _ _ _ _ / First: – I order and direct that my body be interred in the St. Edward’s Catholic Cemetery / in said township beside that of my beloved wife, Mary Catharine, now deceased, according / to the rites and ceremonies of the said Catholic Church and that my funeral be conducted / in a manner corresponding with my estate and condition in life. As to my worldly estate / I dispose of the same as follows, the debts and liabilities of my estate having first been paid / and discharged thereout. _ Second: – I give and bequeath and devise the sum of three / hundred dollars in money to my daughter Mary Eve Ann, intermarried with Andrew / Gunther, to be paid to her by my Executors hereinafter named within one year after my decease / Also, Fifty-two and one half feet by one hundred and forty-five feet of a piece or parcel of / ground Situate in Brady, Coal Township, County and State aforesaid, Known and designated / as the Easter end of said lot (being one half acre lot purchased from John B. Douty / as per deed bearing date September 13″ 1873) as recorded in Deed Book No. 66 Page 370 &c [etc.] / in and for Northumberland County on which is erected a house 30 x 28 feet with the appurtenances / This house extending from six to ten feet over the line allotted, I direct and order should / this house ever burn down or be torn down it is to be built within the limit of the / aforesaid allotted piece of ground and to be removed from the portion of ground hereinafter / allotted to my daughter Sarah Magdalena, intermarried with George Depner. _ _ _ / Third: – I give bequeath and devise unto my daughter Sarah Magdalena intermarried with / George Depner the sum of three hundred dollars in money to be paid to her by my Executor / hereinafter named within one year after my decease, and also the following described real / estate viz: fifty-two and one half feet by-one hundred and forty five feet adjoining / the aforesaid piece of ground allotted to Mrs Gunther on the west there being erected / thereon a house 30 by 28 feet with the appurtenances, to her, her heirs and assigns forever. / Fourth: – I give bequeath and devise to my daughter Johanna intermarried with / Dennis Burns the Western portion of said lot or piece of ground forty-five feet by / one hundred and forty-five feet on which is erected a single house twenty-two feet by / forty-six feet with the appurtenances; Also I give and bequeath to her my said daughter / Johanna all my household furniture of which I shall be possessed at the time / of my death, to hold the same to her, her heirs and assigns forever. _ Fifth: – I give bequeath / and devise unto my son William Theodore his heirs and assigns forever the Northern /
half part of lot number six in block number one hundred and Eighty-eight fronting / on Shamokin Street on the west and on Franklin Street on the East on which are / erected two double houses the Northern half of each house to belong thereto _ / Sixth: – I give bequeath and devise unto my son David Theobald his heirs and assigns / forever, the other or southern half part of said lot number six in block number one / hundred and Eighty-eight in the Borough of Shamokin together with the northern half / part of sad two double houses thereon to belong thereto. _ Seventh: – I give and bequeath / unto my son John A. Meisberger the sum of Eight hundred dollars to be paid to him / by my Executors hereinafter named within one year after my death. _ Eighth: – I give / and bequeath unto my daughter Annie Margaret, intermarried with John Madara the / sum of Five hundred dollars in money to be paid to her by my Executors hereinafter named / within one year after my death. _ Ninth: – All the rest and residue of my Estate, real / personal and mixed of which I shall die seized and possessed, or to which I shall be / entitled at my decease I give bequeath and devise to be equally divided to and amongst / my aforesaid children share and share alike. _ Tenth: – I do hereby appoint and /

189 [stamped]

request that my daughter Johanna shall be and act as guardian of the estate / of my minor son David Theobald during his minority and that she ^ shall have full / authority and control over his person and estate until he arrives at his majority / age. _ And lastly I do nominate and appoint my daughter Johanna Burns / and Dennis Burns her husband to be Executors of this my last Will and testament. / In Witness whereof I, Theobald Meisberger the testator, have to this my last Will / and testament written on one Sheet of paper, set my hand and seal this thirtieth / day of December one thousand eight hundred and ninety nine. /
Theobald Meisberger [clerk signed] {seal} /
Signed, sealed published and declared by the above named Theobald Meisberger / as and for his last Will and testament in the presence of us who have hereunto / subscribed our names at his request as Witnesses thereto in the presence of /the said Testator and of each other. /

State of Pennsylvania                 }
County of Northumberland      } SS. Be it Remembered. That on this 25″ day of /
} June A. D. 1900, before me The Register for the Probate / of Wills and granting of the Letters of Administration in and for said County, person / -ally appeared W. B. Bowman and John Meenahan the subscribing witnesses / to the foregoing instrument of writing purporting to be the last Will and / Testament of Theobald Meisberger late of the Township of Coal, County and / State aforesaid, deceased, who being duly sworn according to law do declare and / say that they were personally present at the Execution of the same and saw and / heard the Testator therein named, sign, seal, publish, pronounce and declare the same / as and for his last Will and Testament, and that at the time of doing he was / of sound, disposing mind, memory and understanding to the best of their Knowledge / and belief /
Sworn and subscribed to before me         }     W. B. Bowman [clerk signed] /
Frederick Haas                                             }     John Meenahan [clerk signed] /
Register                                                          }

Be it Remembered, That on this 25″ day of June A.D. 1900, before me / was proved approved and insinuated in due and Common form of law / the last Will and Testament of Theobald Meisberger, late of the Township / of Coal, County and State aforesaid, deceased, who died on the 13″ day of June / A, D. 1900. And that Letters Testamentary with a copy of the Will annexed / were granted unto Johanna Burns and Dennis Burns therein named
Witness my hand
Frederick Haas [his signature]
Register

 

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 Where There’s a Will.

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