Times Leader Arts & Entertainment

N.Y. resident plans to probe local roots

July 12, 1998

Times Leader Staff Writer

For Ellen Hooven, a July trip from her home in upstate New York to Wyoming Valley will blend nostalgia with genealogy.

Hooven, a former resident of the Rolling Mill Hill section of Wilkes-Barre, is researching her ancestors in her mother's line, and her visit will give her a chance to renew acquaintance with the sites of her own youth.

"I could probably spend at least a month there," said Hooven of her pending trip.

The trip will not be her first by any means. Hooven has relatives in the Valley and has been a more-or-less frequent visitor.

But now she is using her memories and her new-found interest in genealogy to reconstruct the lives of her ancestors. In her mother's maternal line they are great-grandparents Bridget Barrett and Michael Burke, and in her mother's paternal line great-grandparents Ellen Connolly and Michael Burns.

In the late 1980s, Hooven began helping husband Roger research his Canadian ancestors, and the couple enjoyed good success there. In a 1991 article in the Parry Sound (Canada) Beacon-Star, Hooven describes that quest as having started with a friend innocently asking "When did your grandparents come to the U.S.A.?"

Her article went on to describe three years of letters, phone calls and visits, with the couple gradually tracking down ancestors and compiling a picture of her husband's family's early days.

But her big breakthrough in the study of her own immediate family's history came just recently with the arrival of a computer in her Williamsville, N.Y., home, near Buffalo. She located the Website for the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society and began her research in earnest.

"When I found that, I was addicted," Hooven said. "I cooked for 37 years and decided to stop."

The computer opened up a new world.

"There are just so many names that are familiar," she said. "Little by little ... it's all coming back."

The search will likely take years, but Hooven is just excited to be involved in it -- this time with the aid of modern technology.

"It takes on a life of its own," she said. "I feel like Dick Tracy."

. . .

Tammy Lamb, president of the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, is working on the group's schedule of speakers and activities for the 1998-1999 season. The meetings, which are on the fourth Tuesday of the month at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, will resume in September.

You can get ready for the season now by joining up. An individual membership is $15 a year. Contact the society at P.O. Box 1776, Shavertown, Pa. 18708-0776.

In the meantime you can explore the society's Website at. A companion site, Luzerne County Genweb, is available at http://www.pagenweb.org/~luzerne/. Out-of-area people can learn of them through search engines.

. . .

You never know who you will run into when you do genealogy. A few months ago Nashville, Tenn., resident Mark Fraley wrote to me in care of this column to ask help in finding information about his great-great-grandmother, who had been a resident of the Heights section of Wilkes-Barre.

It didn't take long for me to see that Mark's great-great-grandmother was my own great-grandmother. Our correspondence led to a meeting here with Mark and his wife, Helen Tanner. I found that cousin Mark has done excellent genealogy and that he had illuminated a large area of my own family, clearing up many problems that had been plaguing me.

. . .

  • 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.

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