Genweb site a treasure trove

April 25, 1999

Times Leader Genealogy Columnist

Editor's note: Leadernet is working on an archive of Tom Mooney's genealogy columns, dating back to their inception in 1997. Check back soon for this feature.

'Out on Limb' earns

national recognition

"Out on a Limb" took first place in the 1999 "Excellence in Writing" competition sponsored by the Council of Genealogy Columnists, a national organization of genealogy writers. This was the 10th year the award for genealogy columns was given.

Looking for the name of a minister who was active in Wyoming Valley back in the 1870s?

Puzzled by town names you can't find on a map?

Researching the old Wilkes-Barre Home for Friendless Children?

A good place to start -- particularly if you are living outside the area -- is the Luzerne County Genweb. This Web site is rapidly becoming a major source of research material for people studying ancestors who lived in Luzerne County.

In charge of the Genweb site is Tammy Lamb, former president of the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society.

"I can't take all the credit," says Lamb, who is also in charge of Northampton County's Genweb. "I have a lot of volunteers. I have people who walk cemeteries and do the stones. I have people who spend hours with census records."

Call up the Genweb at and you'll find a table of contents that is getting bigger all the time. Intriguing topics abound: Jewish Genealogical Research, the Molly Maguires, Pennsylvania 1895 Maps. There are also World War II casualty lists, town histories and biographies of prominent people.

"We have a complete list of ministers from 1835 to 1935 for Luzerne County," said Lamb. "That was huge -- so huge we had to break it down into 10 parts."

You'll also find a few things you'd never expect. "Place Name Interpretations" is a list of old-time variants on names of Luzerne County communities. So if an ancestor's hometown doesn't appear on a modern map, it could be that he was using one of the strange old spellings or pronunciations on the list.

Lamb has even set up a search engine function. Type in a name and you'll get a list of pages on which it appears.

"We have a lot of information," she said.

The Genweb movement began in 1996 in Kentucky. Now, counties and groups of counties all over America have their own sites, maintained by genealogical organizations and volunteers.

Lamb and her volunteers are constantly adding new material.

"Our biggest, newest project was the mines," said Lamb. "We just got through doing the 1911 mine accidents for Luzerne and Lackawanna counties."

But a Genweb site's value goes beyond simple data. It's also a place where genealogists researching in a specific town or county can post queries and get answers -- a very valuable service for people outside the area. They can also send in any material they think others might find useful

"It's not just the information that's there, it's the trading of information, free, open, accessible," said Pat Krivak, society president.

Lamb agrees. "It's an easy way for people to share information, and that's what genealogy is all about."

Searching: Is your name MACAULAY, or is that name found in your family tree? If so, Ronald Taylor of North Carolina would like to hear from you. Taylor represents Clan MacAulay U.S.A., for descendants of members of the original Scottish Clan Macaulay, which disbanded in 1767.

Other spellings of the name are Aulay, MacAlley, MacAulay, MacAuley, MacAully, MacPhedran and MacPhedron. Names of "sept" or associated clans, whose members are also eligible to join, are Lennox, MacAll, MacCall, MacKail, MacKell, Paterson and Patterson.

Contact Ronald Taylor by postal mail at Clan MacAulay U.S.A., Inc., 208 Lawrence Road, Cary N.C. 27511; by telephone at (724) 346-1826; at his Web site; or by e-mail at

  • Jack E. Hughes of Alabama is trying to locate relatives who live or did live in Northeast Pennsylvania. Grandfather Thomas Henry HUGHES b. 1869 Rock Lake, Wayne County, baptized St. Juliana's Church. He was the only child of Charles HUGHES b. Ireland about 1830 and Catherine KELLY b. 1851 Rock Lake.

    Jack Hughes says he has found no trace of the family here after 1870, but he has visited St. Juliana's Cemetery and thinks there is a good chance the members of the Hughes family buried there are his relatives.

    Contact Jack Hughes by postal mail at Wolf Bay Point, 9110 Bay Point Drive, Elberta, Ala. 36530-6560; by telephone at (334) 987-1644; or by e-mail at

    Questions: Derik J. Peltz of the Mountaintop area wants to know whatever happened to the Pittston Gazette. The original Pittston Gazette went out of business in 1965, having published for 115 years, according to Times Leader files. It started as a weekly, became a daily in 1882, and went back to being a weekly in 1961. A more recent weekly known as the Pittston Gazette published from 1990 to 1997.

    Derik, if it's files of the old newspaper you're looking for, you will be able to find some of them on microfilm. The Wyoming Historical and Geological Society has scattered files from the paper's inception in 1850 to 1903, and complete ones from 1903 to 1921. A quick check of some local public libraries failed to turn up any more files.

  • Sharon McClung of Texas wants to know how to access obituaries from The Times Leader. As I mentioned in a recent column, The Times Leader has files on microfilm going back to its first issue in 1908 and for its various ancestor papers, including the Wilkes-Barre Record, going back to the 1790s. But no, the back obits are not online, and there is no database or central index for them. Sharon, I'm sending you a copy of the April 11 column that explains the paper's obituary holdings and research policy in detail.

    News Notes: "Out on a Limb" now has its own link on Leadernet, the Web site of The Times Leader. Call up Leadernet at and click on "Genealogy." There you will find not only the most recent column but all past ones as well.

  • Katherine McAvoy of the Plymouth Historical Society says patronage is up since I profiled the organization and its holdings several months ago. "Many of the visitors and just about every request from out of the area mention having read about us in your column or on the Internet," she writes. That's good to hear. There are many fine libraries and historical societies in the area, and from time to time I'll be visiting them and writing about them.

  • 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.

    © 1999 The Times Leader