Sunday, March 28, 1999




Genealogists suffer when data vanishes Genealogists owe a debt of gratitude to the many volunteers who tirelessly compile records, help out libraries, create Web sites and clean up old burial groundsIt's a tragedy when somebody's efforts are frustrated by man or by circumstances beyond our control.

Listen to the story of Ryan Lindbuchler of Fairview Township.

In the late 1980s, while still in high school, Lindbuchler was already a Civil War enthusiast. So he decided to comb area cemeteries and make a master list of all men who had served in the war, along with their birth and death dates, the units in which they had served and any other information contained on their tombstones or grave markers, which were often government-issued.

Carrying notepad and pen, he walked through cemetery after cemetery, examining the stones and markers and writing down whatever he found. Two large, old cemeteries in Wilkes-Barre's North End- the Hollenback and City cemeteries- proved to be treasure troves.

"I would say in the Hollenback there's upwards of 60 Civil War vets buried there," Lindbuchler said. Some graves were pretty obvious, such as the big marker for Col. Edmund L. Dana, who commanded Wilkes-Barre's own 143rd Pennsylvania Infantry.

But some graves took a bit of exploration. The rear part of City Cemetery, now weedy and overgrown, is about 75 percent populated by Civil War soldiers, he said.

Not all the graves in the two cemeteries were for men from Northeastern Pennsylvania regiments, Lindbuchler discovered. He found a grave for a soldier from the famous 54th Massachusetts, a black regiment memorialized in the movie "Glory," as well as graves for men from many Midwestern regiments.

"While I was there, I saw a Confederate grave," he said. "Someone had come and put a flag on it."

The lists lengthened as he compiled data far in excess of what was written down in church or cemetery records. In time, Lindbuchler moved. Then one day, while he was doing his volunteer shift at the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society, someone inquired about his research. But when he went home to check his cemetery listings, they were nowhere to be found.

"I tore the house apart," he said. Nothing turned up. He even backtracked to his former home. Again, nothing.

The work of so many months, work that might have been useful to genealogists all over America, had vanished.

It's been a long time since Lindbuchler made his ill-fated list. Since that time he's served in the Navy, earned a history degree from King's College and joined the local Company K, 81st Pennsylvania Infantry Civil War re-creation group, rising to captain and commander.


Now he is determined to recompile all his cemetery data, and he expects to begin soon. He hopes his latest campaign will be aided by some of his colleagues from the re-creation group. Members are familiar with local cemeteries through their annual memorial ceremonies, and some of his friends have already begun to compile their own cemetery listings.

In true military tradition, Lindbuchler has come up with a strategy to make sure he won't be beaten twice. "This time, I'm going to put them on disc," he said. "And I'll give a copy to the Historical Society."

Searching: Eileen A. Kumpon of New York is seeking information on her father, Andrew POWELL (1911-1951) b. Dupont, d. Binghamton, N.Y. She is also seeking information on her grandfather, also named Andrew POWELL (originally PAVLO), b. Ruthenia, now a part of Ukraine (no town known), m. Annie ELKO (1892-1914), m. Anna KRIPTKA. All the relatives attended Greek Catholic Byzantine churches. Kumpon says local churches have been unable to help her. She says two of her father's brothers became priests, the Rev. George C. and Monsignor John K., both of whom died in 1996. Times Leader files mention only Monsignor John K. Powell, who was ordained in 1938 and served as pastor of churches in Pittsburgh and Scranton. One article lists the family name as PAVYLO.

Contact Kumpon by mail at 24 Earle Drive, Binghamton, N.Y. 13903-3610; by telephone at (607) 723-1725; or at her Internet address of

Tips: The benefits people in our area can get by joining the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society are obvious. But people living outside the area- no matter how far away- also can help themselves by joining. The society's quarterly newsletter (March, June, September and December) accepts queries and lists of names being researched, free to members and $3 for non-members.

Individual memberships are $15 a year. Write to the society at P.O. Box 1776, Shavertown, Pa. 18708-0776.

Do you find yourself mystified by such terms as "whitedamp" or "fire boss" as you are researching ancestors who worked as coal miners in Pennsylvania's anthracite regions? To get a good idea of the world of those miners and their families, read "The Kingdom of Coal," by Donald L. Miller and Richard E. Sharpless. This 1985 book recounts the development of the coal industry and coal communities from the 1870s to the post-Agnes flood era of the 1970s and 1980s.

One chapter in particular, "Working in the Black Hell," describes not only the conditions anthracite coal miners faced but also explains the many jobs involved in mining coal and defines terms that will come up again and again in your genealogical research. It's available in area libraries.

Wondering which out-of-town newspapers carry genealogy columns that will help you publicize your search for ancestors? Write to me. I have a national listing of newspaper genealogy columns. Let me know the state and town (or towns) you are interested in. But be warned that there are large areas that are not served by genealogy columns.

News Notes: If you missed my genealogy talk at Boscov's Department Store in February, just drop me a line with your mailing address included, and I'll send you the various handouts I distributed there. They include good area sources of information, addresses of publishers of genealogy books and other useful items. I expect to present another talk there in the fall.

The Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society has completed microfilming records of the Bethel United Methodist Church ("Brick Church") and the Avoca United Methodist Church. This ongoing project will eventually produce microfilmed copies of all church, cemetery and funeral home records from Luzerne County.

Remember, this column is now accessible through your computer at WWW.LEADER.NET. Then click on "Arts and Entertainment."

Have you solved some tough genealogical problems in your research? Do you have some tips you'd like to share with others? Would you like to report a success story? Drop me a line here at the paper. I'll get in touch with you and help you bring the benefits of your experience to others.

Tom Mooney, The Times Leader, 15 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 18711 Or