Hunt for family plot pays off for N.J. man
Think you're a cemetery hound?
Listen to the adventures of Jack McGeever, a resident of Medford Lakes, N.J., and his quest to find the family plot here in Wyoming Valley. His success in locating a grave shows how persistence and ingenuity pay off, whether you're Sherlock Holmes or somebody's descendant.
McGeever began his genealogical research about two years ago, intrigued by a Mass card for ancestor Neil McGeever and a photo of a pillow-style tombstone for Neil and wife Mary.
Phone calls to relatives turned up obituaries and other information that the ancestors were buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, Hanover Township. But, says McGeever, no one connected with the cemetery was able to give him a precise location for such early burials.
So all he knew was that his ancestors had lived on Hazle Avenue in Wilkes-Barre, that their funerals were held from St. Leo's Church in Ashley and that they were buried in the biggest cemetery in Wyoming Valley.
Give up? Not Jack McGeever. On a Saturday in April he arrived at the cemetery, hauling the gear he would need for his search mission -- in a cemetery that has had nearly 60,000 burials.
"With a crude sketch of four horizontal rectangles bounded by the road system, a camera, and binoculars, I was determined to do as much searching as I could that afternoon," McGeever writes.
"Fifty minutes later I found the marker in the third horizontal ... at the top of the hill. My shouts of joy must have been heard in New Jersey."
Jack McGeever's success is proof of some of the basic tenets of genealogy. Never give up. Bring your family in on the search. And, perhaps most important, use your ingenuity.
Searching: Sandra Hart of Florida is researching some Wyoming Valley ancestors and could use help. Her ancestors are Jacob ENGLE (1813-1889, first wife Frances EVERETT (1813-1878), second wife known only as Caroline B. They had 11 children: Samuel S., Ellanora, Stephen J., George Washington, Arnetta, John H., Elizabeth, Stewart H., Martin F., Sarah J. and William Charles. Two of the sons, Samuel S. and William Charles, married women named COVERT, a well-known name on Wyoming Valley's West Side. George Washington's wife was a PETTEBONE, another famous name in area history. Write to Sandra Hart at 1391 Meadowbrook Road NE, Palm Bay, Fla. 329055027 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Books: I'm hearing good things about "Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States," by Christina K. Schaefer. It's a survey of naturalization records at national, state and county levels in America, along with records for Guam and Puerto Rico and American Indian records. Naturalization records vary, but at their best they can be good sources of information about our ancestors' backgrounds and origins. Check your bookstore. This book, published in 1997, is also available from Genealogical Publishing Co., 1001 N. Calvert, Baltimore, Md. 21202. It's $25 plus $3.50 shipping.
News Notes: Some Sunday during January or February, I will once again be offering a two-hour presentation on introductory genealogy at the Boscov's Campus of Courses in Wilkes-Barre. I give some tips on getting started and explain how to get your whole far-flung family involved through writing an annual family genealogy newsletter. Keep checking the paper. Boscov's will publish a list of courses over the next few weeks.
The Northeastern Pennsylvania Genealogical Society's "Genweb" Web site has received an honor, placing third in the national competition conducted annually by Dick Eastman. Winning top honors was "Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet," a nationally known site by genealogist and author Cyndi Howells. The Susquehanna County genealogy site came in second. You may access the Luzerne County Genweb at www.pagenweb.org/~luzerne.