Manchester New Hampshire Entrepreneur, Alma M. (Cavagnaro) Truesdale (1881-1973)

almas tea roomMaria “Alma” Cavagnaro was born July 18, 1881 in Boston Massachusetts of Italian parents, John/Luigi and Catterina (Magis) Cavagnaro. She died June 1973 in Manchester New Hampshire. Her father immigrated from Italy about 1874, and was at first a fruit dealer, then by 1900 was a candy maker in Boston.

Newspaper photograph of Alma Truesdale.

She married about 1913 to Edward Richardson Truesdale, son of  William A. & Mary Elizabeth (Freschl) Truesdale. Alma was an enterprising woman and went into business with Edward, dipping chocolates and making ribbon candy on the large marble table in the cellar of their home, according to Alma’s daughter-in-law, Hope Thomas Truesdale. Edward and Alma bought land in the northeast part of Manchester, where they built Alma’s Tea Room, located at the intersection of Routes 3 and 28, in 1923.

The charming tea room “became well-known throughout New England, [not only] for its delicious homemade food but also for the cleanliness and attractive atmosphere.   They were noted for [their] orange rolls, pecan rolls, homemade pies, and cakes. They hired many women during the depression years.

Alma’s Tea Room menu, cover. Courtesy of Robert Schonheyder, Sandvika, Norway

Alma sold the restaurant in the early or mid-1950s. She bought land on North Union St. soon after and built a charming brick home, where she lived.

Edward and Alma Truesdale had three children, Edwina (b c1914), Albert Edward, and Frederick Joseph (c1923).

Albert Truesdale, born 18 Jun 1916, married Hope Thomas.  Albert was an Engineering Technician at Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire and died in Manchester on 30 Aug 1998.  According to his obituary, kindly sent by Mrs. Hope Truesdale, Al was a veteran of World War II, taking part in the Italy and France-Germany campaigns, for which he received service stars.  He was also a member of the Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion and was a charter member of the WWII Memorial.  He was also a member of the Pawtuckaway Beekeepers Association.

Alma’s Tea Room parge 2 of the menu. Courtesy of Robert Schonheyder, Sandvika , Norway

A little bit of trivia about the Cavagnaro family….
Alma Truesdale’s niece, and her namesake, Alma Cavangaro [the daughter of her brother and his wife, Guiseppe/Joseph & Susan/Susie (Ganino) Cavagnaro of Boston]  was selected as the very first “Miss Lake Winnipesaukee” in August 1925.  Then age 21, and a summer resident at Lake Winnisquam, she participated in the event held at Irwin’s Winnepesaukee Gardens. [read more]


My thanks to Judith Berlowitz for providing the postcard of Alma’s Tea Room, and much of the information in her biography.


Alma’s Tea Room menu, page 2. Courtesy of Robert Schonheyder, Sandvika, Norway

*Brief Family Tree of Alma M. Cavagnaro*

Luigi/John Cavagnaro, b. Feb 1820 in Italy; m. abt 1867 to Catterina Magis. She was b. 1848 in Italy. They both immigrated to the United states about 1874 and became naturalized citizens. His occupation was a confectionary, and candy maker in Boston, Massachusetts, later in the 1900 census showing that he was a candy salesman.
1900 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Suffolk > Boston Ward 6 > District 1236 > Hanover Street
Cavagnaro, John [Luigi] Head W M Feb 1820 80 M marr 33 yrs Italy Italy Italy imm 1874 naturalized 26 yrs Salesman (Candy)
Cavagnaro, Catterina wife W F May 18, — 52 Married 33 yrs 6 ch 6 living Italy Italy Italy  imm 1874 26 yrs naturalized candymaker
Cavagnaro, Surgia dau W F Apr 28 18– 28 single Italy Italy Italy imm 1874
Cavagnaro, Federico son W M May 24, 18– 24 single MA Italy Italy [Federico Agostino, b. June 20 1885 Boston MA. Father, “Luigi” is a fruit dealer on his birth record.]
Cavagnaro Rose dau W F May 1878 22 single MA Italy Italy
Cavagnaro Alma dau W F May 18– 19 single MA Italy Italy

Alma’s Tea Room sketch from a placemat. Courtesy of Robert Schonheyder, Sandvika, Norway

Children of Luigi & Catterina (Magis) Cavagnaro:
1. James E. Cavagnaro, b. c1870 Genoa, Italy, d. 22 May 1913 Manchester NH
2. Luigia/Louisa, b. abt 1872 Italy
3. Giuseppo/Joseph Cavagnaro, b. 15 Feb 1874 Genoa, Italy, d. 17 Nov 1931 Middletown, NY; m. Sep 24 1899 to Susy Ganino. Their daughter Alma, won New Hampshire’s first Miss Winnipesaukee contest.
4. Surgia Cavagnaro, b. c1872 Italy, immigrated 1874
5. Rosa Maria Cavanaro, b. 6 Aug 1878 Boston MA
6. Federico Agostino Cavagnaro, b.21 January 1885 Boston MA
5. Rose Cavagnaro, b. May 1878 MA
6. Maria “Alma” Cavagnaro, b. 18 July 1881 in Boston MA, d. June 1973 Manchester NH
7. William Earnest John Cavagnaro, b. 19 July 1888 Boston MA
8. Ernesto Mario Paolo Cavagmaro, b. 7 June 1891 Boston MA

Editor’s Note: Additional photographs added in 2020, along with added several more children to the genealogy.

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