Sunday’s Obituary – Bonaventura Bianchi (1885 – 1906)

Posted by: Eileen A. Souza

Recently, I sent away for a bunch of obituaries from the Mount Carmel Library in Mount Carmel, Northumberland Co., Pennsylvania. Yesterday I received my copies and they contained a surprise.

When browsing their index, I found two obituaries listed—one for Ventura Bianchi and one for Vinton Bianchi, both published the same day by different newspapers—so I ordered both. The results are an excellent example of obtaining as many documents as possible for an event and the reliability of those documents.

For years I only had the obituary from the Mount Carmel Item. With this order, I received a duplicate of that obituary and an additional obituary from the Daily News. The following is a table I created to highlight the differences between the two obituaries.

Sundays Obituary- Bonaventura Bianch sm

My great-grandfather is Bonaventura Bianchi. He was born in Italy either in 1855, 1856, 1857, 1858 or 1859. July 1855 is listed in the 1900 US census entry, and his death certificate shows 12 June 1855. His tombstone has 1859 and my great-aunt Lucy said he was born in 1858. The age on his passenger list computes to a birth year of 1856. The two obituaries give different ages: Mount Carmel Item, 1855 and Daily News, 1857. Until I find a birth record in Italy, I have been using the birth date of 12 June 1855 that is on his death certificate. This information was provided by his eldest son, Peter.

His death certificate gives his date of death as 25 December 1906 at 5:30 PM. The Daily News gives 6:00 PM as the time of death and the Mount Carmel Item states the time of death was 5:50 PM.

His death certificate states that he is buried in St. Peter’s cemetery (aka Merriam Hill cemetery). I can personally attest to this since I visited his grave and took a photo of his tombstone at St. Peter’s. The Mount Carmel Item has him correctly buried in Merriam Hill but the Daily News has him buried in St. Mary’s cemetery, an entirely different location.

His name on the death certificate is Ventura Bianchi. I have seen his given name with the variants and/or nicknames of Bonaventura, Ventura, Vinton, Walley, Bonaventure and Victor. The Daily News obituary calls him Ventura, while the Mount Carmel Item calls him Vinton.

While the Mount Carmel Item does not name his children, the Daily News does—all twelve of them. They did get my great-aunt Lucy’s name wrong calling her Percy. They do both end in “y”. one thing struck me funny—neither paper named my great-grandmother, Maria. They just referred to her as his widow.

The final discrepancy is occupation. The Daily News called him a hotel keeper, while the Mount Carmel Item called him a miner. I have other documentation showing that he was a miner. In his death certificate, his son called him a rockman (aka miner). The Daily News also said that he belonged to four Italian and Tyrolean societies.

The most exciting part of finding this second obituary is the information on the societies and occupation because they give me more clues to research. The fact that he also joined Tyrolean societies may mean that like my grandfather, Candido Furlani, Bonaventura may also be from Trentino Alto-Adige in Italy. Now Trentino province in Italy, prior to the end of WWI, this area was the southern portion of the Tyrol and part of the Austrian-Hungary Empire. This information may help to narrow down my search. I would still have to find the town or village he came from to be able to search the church records. As to the hotel keeper occupation, it is possible that when he retired from mining, he went to work in a hotel. Something else to pursue.


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