Sunday, December 28, 1997



California woman seeks help


   Pamela Bunn is on a transcontinental quest The San Diego woman is trying to compile information about her great-grandfather, Philip Warren Bunn, a resident of the Dallas area in the 19th century.

   Philip W. Bunn was born in Morris County, N.J., in 1826 and died in the Back Mountain area of Luzerne County in 1897. He was married to Berthania Mininger.

   The westward movement continued with son John Edison Bunn, who was born in Wilkes-Barre in 1868 and carried the family line to Chicago. Pamela Bunn was born in San Diego.

   Her family tree is pretty well worked out. It's additional biographical information about her great-grandfather she needs. He's still the big gray area.

   She knows her great-grandfather served in the Army during the Civil War, but his government paperwork has given her little new data. She has a Luzerne County death certificate and knows he is buried in the

Beaumont Cemetery.

   But how did he get here? What work did he do here? Pamela Bunn finds a large gap between his birth in New Jersey and his appearance in Luzerne County. Her searches by mail through other Luzerne County

records have yielded little. So from the other side of the continent, she has appealed to the genealogical community for help.

   She wants to know if anyone in the area has cemetery or church records containing his name. Because she believes he might have been a farmer, could there be old maps of the Back Mountain area showing who

owned what farmland? Has anyone worked out a family tree containing the name of Bunn?

   "There must be other things that are out there," she said.

   Contact Pamela Bunn at 12628 Sonora Road, San Diego, Calif. 92128-2936.

   Other people are looking for help also.

   Eileen R. Matthews is trying to find local descendants of George Oakum, one of her grandmother's brothers. George moved to Wilkes-Barre from Schuylkill County, possibly in the late 1880s. Contact her at 342 S. Lehigh Ave., Frackville, Pa.

   Dolores Swelgin seeks descendants of Bernetta May (Hall) Davenport and Florra Belle (Hall) Knapp. They were daughters of John and Elizabeth Ann (Mills) Hall, who lived on North Mill Street in the West Nanticoke section of Plymouth Township around 1915. Contact her at 415 Smith Pond Road, Shavertown, Pa. 18708-9742.

   A couple of out-of-area people have written to tell of good experiences doing research in Luzerne County.

   Jack McGeever of Medford Lakes, N.J., great-nephew of former Boston Store manager Joseph McGeever, says he has made several trips here and wants to be put in touch with the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society. Jack, I'm sending you the address.

   Dominic Sylvester of Skokie, Ill., a resident of Luzerne County until he left for Navy service in 1952, is pursing various family lines all over America and in Europe.

   "My wife and I have researched in county courthouses in all of the above-mentioned U.S. areas," he writes, "and we can say with authority that the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre ranks the best for its architecture, the courteousness and helpfulness of the employees."

   Kim Keys of Jim Thorpe wrote several weeks ago to say that she has managed to trace her family back five generations. "Tracing your family history may be a lot of work, but it is very rewarding," she said.

   Good job, Kim. For the benefit of you and all the other people outside The Times Leader's base circulation area, this genealogy column may now be accessed online.

   You can call it up on your computer at Then click on "Arts and Entertainment." Let me know how useful you find it and offer any suggestions you want.

   Preparing your New Year's resolutions?

   To pep up your genealogy pursuits in 1998, plunge into a few of these projects:

   Read at least one genealogy-related book or magazine a month. Check your library shelves or local bookstore for new releases. Respond to the ads in Everton's Genealogical Helper for book catalogues. Your reading doesn't have to be specifically about genealogy. It could be an historical work about upheaval in your ancestors' home country or about a war in which they served.

   Make a list of all your findings throughout the year, type them up and mail them to all the relatives. They'll be glad to get the data, and you might well jog their memories so that they will send you information they'd half-forgotten.

   Collect all the old photos from your family's past from those dusty boxes in the attic and organize them. Figure out who's in that sepia-toned group shot with the torn corner. If that picture of your parents next to a 1930s auto is damaged, have it restored and display it downstairs.

   Take a trip to a town or neighborhood where your ancestors lived. By walking the very route your grandfather would have taken every day to the factory or rail yard, you could very well inspire yourself.

   Visit or get in touch with a research site you haven't dealt with yet. Help is readily available. The Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, at Clarks Summit, offers an introductory video about its services.

   Do something to help preserve records for your town, church or club. Some of them will go back quite far. Find out where the old records are kept. Maybe you can help type or computerize them for genealogical use and turn them over to an historical or genealogy organization. Somewhere in America right now, someone wants to know about an ancestor mentioned in those records.

   Familiarize yourself with issues that affect genealogy and get a letter campaign going. Ask yourself why New York has designated local historians in nearly every library, while Pennsylvania doesn't. Does our

lack of historians have something to do with recent news reports that Pennsylvania lags many other states in funding for libraries?

   Join the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society. Its speakers and newsletters will help you. You will also support its ongoing project to microfilm area church and cemetery records, a truly vital service. An individual or family membership is just $15 a year. Write to the society at P.O. Box 1776, Shavertown, Pa. 18708-0776.


   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.

   Tom Mooney, The Times Leader, 15 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 18711