Published: Sunday, April 7, 2002

Section: NEWS

Page: 1B

Historian C. Charles Ciesla remembers many happy days spent at Sans Souci Park, that long-gone wonderland in Hanover Township.

So the Wapwallopen resident wrote a 245-page book, lavishly illustrated, that tells the story of Sans Souci from its founding as little more than a leafy picnic grove more than a century ago, through its grand days of roller coaster, swimming pool and dance hall to its demolition in the early 1970s to free up the land for a high school campus.

Drawn mainly from newspaper articles and ads, and including black-and-white photos mostly from private collections, the book tells or shows you everything from the number of steps you climbed to get on the carousel to what the trolley cars on the Wilkes-Barre/Nanticoke line you rode to get there looked like.

Even if you don't remember the Pretzel, the Tumblebug, the Wild Mouse or the Bearcat, you'll smile at the photos of these very simple five-cent rides that thrilled so many thousands. And if you have warm recollections of the dances where so many couples met, you'll enjoy the stories of the bands - Joe Nardone's All-Stars and the Kryger Orchestra among them - that played on those long-ago summer evenings.

But the value of Ciesla's book goes beyond nostalgia. ``A History of Sans Souci Park'' has a lot to tell us about the pace of life when packing a picnic lunch and hopping the rattan-seated streetcar was a red-letter day.

The only drawback is that you'll probably have to wait a while to see the book. The first press run sold out quickly, Ciesla says, but a second - if and when it comes - will be announced.

In the meantime, just pretend you're standing in line at the old park's ticket booth. It's worth the wait.


Q. Linda Kleback of Florida is looking for descendants of John Dulay and Catherine Timko, residents of Dupont in 1920. ``I have not yet located the family in the 1900 and 1910 census. Was Dupont in existence then?''

A. Linda, you would have to look in the U.S. Census under Pittston Township for those years. That's because Dupont was created from the Smithville section of the township in 1917. Check the town histories section of the Luzerne County Genweb for information on the founding and development of Dupont and other area communities. Contact

Kleback at

Q. Joyce Wallace is researching the Briggs family of Nescopeck in the 19th century, including grandfather Bruce G. Briggs, born 1878.

A. Joyce, I'm sending you a 1947 Times Leader clipping about a Briggs family of Nescopeck Township and a 1998 obituary. I hope they give you some leads. Incidentally, there is a section of the township known as Briggsville.

Contact Wallace at

Local History Moment

Genealogists are always wondering how their ancestors lived their day-to-day lives. But some of those ancestors apparently wondered how we - their descendants - would live ours. About a century ago, a local writer who identified himself only as ``Blackman'' contributed to the Wilkes-Barre Record newspaper a lengthy prediction of life in this area in our time. Blackman correctly envisioned a big highway (similar to today's Cross-Valley Expressway) running through the West Side and into the Back Mountain. But more often than not he was dead wrong. He never foresaw the founding of our area's colleges and universities or the growth of suburbs. His worst howler, though, came in his prediction that Wilkes-Barre would have enormous railroad stations downtown. Poor Blackman came to grief for the same reason most prognosticators do: He simply took the major trends of his own time and extended them into the future, never allowing for the occasional wild card in the deck.

News Notes

Workshop: The Genealogical Research Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania will sponsor the workshop ``Color Your World: Using the GRSNP Color-Coded System to Research Family History.'' The workshop will be held 7 to 9 p.m. on April 17 in the Community Room of the Lackawanna Heritage Apartments, 211 Susquehanna Ave., Olyphant. It is free and open to the public. For more information, call (570) 383-7661.

Meeting: The Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society will meet at 7 p.m. April 26 in the second-floor meeting room of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, near Wyoming Valley Mall. Guest speaker Linda Reis, head of the CORE Services Section, Division of Archives and Manuscripts, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, will speak on the use of photographs and photography in family research. Meetings are open to the public.

Archives: ``Out on a Limb,'' the Times Leader's award-winning local genealogy column, appears every other Sunday.

It is also accessible at and on the Luzerne County Genweb. Back columns are archived on the Genweb.

Contact Tom Mooney, Times Leader, 15 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711. E-mail is


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