Times Leader Arts & Entertainment

Passing on family stories worth effort

April 5, 1998

Times Leader Staff Writer

George D. Peltz of the Mountaintop area is a genealogist on a mission.

He believes strongly that adults have an obligation to pass on all family information to their children -- a simple act that, unfortunately, most people just don't bother to do.

"I think that every mother and father should sit down and tell their children everything they know about their families as far back as they can go," he says. "Then they should start a genealogical chart and history of the families."

Peltz knows first-hand the frustration of spending many hours tracking down information that could easily have been passed down from generation to generation.

"I never knew my great-grandfather served in the Civil War," he said. "I knew my grandfather's brother, and I thought he was my uncle."

Perhaps because of those difficulties, Peltz has relied on aggressiveness and quick decisions in his quest to pull together all the family information he can find.

Searching a Weatherly cemetery for data on possible American-Indian relations, he spotted the tombstone of a Civil War soldier named Charles Henry Peltz. He copied the information from the stone and sent it to the National Archives, receiving pension records that showed the man's second child was George D. Peltz's own grandfather.

Learning that great-grandfather Charles had been born in Honesdale, Peltz obtained an old Honesdale telephone book and looked for Peltzes in it. A letter to the one Peltz he found brought him into contact with a relative who supplied a family tree and much more information, including photocopies of pictures.

Since then, with the help of relatives, he has put together a family history stretching back to the birth of his sixth-great-grandfather in 1674 and that man's son's arrival in America in 1732.

"I never knew I had so many relatives," Peltz says. "God only knows what is in all the others down the line."

These days Peltz is caught up in two knotty problems that just a little bit of information passed down from ancestors would have solved. He is trying to find out about the wife and children from the second marriage (post-1905) of great-uncle George Thomas Peltz, who lived on Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre in the early years of the 20th century. Later they lived at 708 Montgomery St., but Peltz is not sure if that was the Montgomery Avenue in West Pittston.

"After he remarried it seems like he got lost," Peltz says. "Nobody knows what happened."

He is also looking for descendants of a Helen Smith, mentioned in an article about a 1913 family reunion. He wonders if great-uncle George might have married a Smith.

A genealogical chart and family history "is a great thing to leave for your great- and great-great-grandchildren," Peltz says. "I sure hope mine will enjoy reading about their family and what it did to help this great country of ours grow."

Anyone with information about George Thomas Peltz's second marriage or about Helen Smith may contact Peltz at 1099 Alberdeen Road, Mountaintop, Pa. 18707-9057.

  • The Philadelphia office of the National Archives is offering seminars on a variety of genealogical topics, archives representative Lillian Mann tells us. Upcoming sessions are:

  • Military Records, Wednesday

  • Growing Your Family Medical Tree, April 15

  • How to Trace Your African-American Genealogy through the National Archives, April 22.

    All sessions are held on Wednesdays from noon to 1 p.m. Admission is $5. Advance registration and payment are required, and space is limited. Contact the National Archives and Records Administration -- Mid-Atlantic Region, 900 Market St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19107-4292. Phone (215) 597-3000.

  • If your ancestors emigrated from Ober-Endingen or Unter-Endingen in Switzerland, the old hometowns would like to hear from you.

    Peter Keller of Switzerland writes that the two villages near the German border are planning a celebration of their 1200th anniversary in June, and they would like to get in touch with American descendants of former residents. Keller, who is a member of the celebration committee, says the anniversary will be a wonderful opportunity to renew contact among families.

    The most common names of emigrants from the towns are Bachli, Blum, Hediger, Hug (Haug), Keller, Meier (Meyer), Mathis, Schmid, Spuler, Steigmeier, Weibel, Werder, Bollag, Bloch, Braunschweig, Dreifuss (Dreyfuss), Guggenheim, Kohn (Cohn, Cohen), Moos, Picard (Pikard), Pollak (Pollack), Wyler, Hauenstein (Howenstein), Kunz and Senn.

    Festivities are planned for June 18-28.

    Peter Keller may be reached at http://www.endingen.ch.

  • News Notes:

  • Wondering what the Wyoming Valley of your ancestors looked like? Or maybe you're just interested in a good historical read.

    If so, stop by the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society on South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre and check out the attractive and scholarly publications it offers for sale. You can buy a fascinating photo book on the history of the city's architecture, with pictures of dozens of buildings from days past, or learn the history of the area's African-American community in Emerson Moss' book.

    Also available is a truly amazing aerial drawing of Wilkes-Barre from 1889, showing in detail nearly every business, coal mine, public building and house in the city at that time. Studied closely, it is as close to time travel as you'll ever get.

  • Genealogists know all too well the disappointment of finding no information or inaccurate information in a census record. The upcoming census for 2000 is likely to have many problems, according to a federal report.

    Difficulties with addresses, a possible shortage of workers and the new sampling system could create "a failed census in 2000," despite an estimated expenditure of $4 billion, the General Accounting Office is quoted as saying in an Associated Press wire story.

    Sampling is a policy of estimating people who might not be reachable directly. It is being tried out in parts of three states as practice for 2000.

  • 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.

    © 1998 The Times Leader