Ever have that frustrating feeling that you could unlock the deepest of your family mysteries if only you had a contact in a library, courthouse or historical society a couple of states away?
Out-of-area genealogists, rejoice. There are some good researchers right here in Luzerne County who will take on projects for you, ranging from extensive paid professional services to a quick volunteer lookup.
``I have clients all over the country,'' says Norman D. Nicol of Shavertown. ``I just got off the phone with a man from western Massachusetts.''
Nicol, a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, does paid research full-time. His expertise is Northeastern Pennsylvania, and he travels throughout the many counties in the area as far west and south as Harrisburg to serve his clients.
Nicol also handles research requests for New York City, England and Scotland.
There are a couple of ways to locate paid and volunteer researchers here:
Notices by researchers in the quarterly newsletter of the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society. For membership information, contact the society at P.O. Box 1776, Shavertown, PA 18708-0776.
References from the Luzerne County Historical Society: 49 S. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711; (570) 823-6244.
The Luzerne County Genweb, accessible through timesleader.com (click on Generations), contains a listing titled Luzerne County Volunteers.
They are people who offer their help for some specialized topics.
Scattered among the hundreds of messages in another Genweb section entitled Luzerne County Genealogy Forum will be a few notices from people offering to do local research. Some people place requests for researchers there.
When you are dealing with professional researchers, the cost will vary. Nicol's procedure is to talk with the client, decide on the dimensions of the project and settle on a fee. Then he and the client sign a standard contract.
Contact Norman D. Nicol at P.O. Box 1855, Shavertown, PA 18708; phone (570) 639-1339; e-mail email@example.com
Searching: Two people whose roots go very deep into Luzerne County history are trying to fill in gaps in the story of their families.
Dorothy H. Appell of Florida is looking for information on great-grandfather William Milnes, who owned coal and iron mines in Luzerne County in the 19th century. She would like to find out what connection he has with Milnesville, a section of Hazle Township.
Dorothy, some facts about Milnesville are available under Town Information on the Luzerne County Genweb. I've sent you a copy of the Milnesville entry. The Genweb, of course, may be accessed through timesleader.com, under Generations. Additionally, history books and pamphlets dealing with the Hazleton area or the city of Hazleton might well contain background on Milnesville and its relation to William Milnes. Don't forget the Hazleton Public Library, 55 N. Church St., Hazleton, PA 18201, phone (570) 454-2961.
Anyone who can help with data about her ancestor should contact Dorothy H. Appell at 10646 Berghley Court North, Jacksonville, FL 32257.
Don Williams is trying to establish a link between his great-grandmother, Sarah Maude Stewart, born 1881 in Kingston or Hanover Township, and descendants of local frontier hero Capt. Lazarus Stewart, who was killed in the Battle of Wyoming in Luzerne County on July 3, 1778.
Williams has traced the Stewart line forward to about 1830, after which there is a gap of about two decades.
Don, I've sent you an 1886 newspaper article titled ``The Family of Capt. Lazarus Stewart'' and the 1886 obituary for Lee Stewart, a descendant of Lazarus. Hope they help.
Both items were found in ``The Historical Record,'' an annual volume of historical miscellany published by the now-defunct Wilkes-Barre Record during the 1880s and 1890s. The compiler of these volumes, newspaper publisher Dr. Frederick C. Johnson, included occasional genealogies of prominent local families.
Don Williams is also looking for ancestors of Williams brothers Thomas, Samuel and Edward, who began the family's tradition of participating in the West Side Memorial Day Parade in 1891.
Contact Don Williams by phone at (215) 513-9870, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax at (215) 513-9875.
Tips: Looking for Pennsylvania genealogical resources on the Internet? If you're a member of the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, you found a listing of relevant sites in the summer newsletter. They range from county sites to courthouse addresses and newspaper and library links.
For membership information, contact the society at P.O. Box 1776, Shavertown, PA 18708-0776.
Local History Moment: Sarah K. Miner, a Luzerne County resident of the 19th century, was evidently not a person to waste time or words. In 1874 she filed a will that probably holds the local record for brevity: ``Emily Miner is my heir,'' followed by her signature.
News Notes: ``Ancestors,'' a 13-episode series about genealogy, will be broadcast locally on WVIA-TV, Channel 44, on Sundays starting July 2. The 30-minute shows will be presented in pairs, at 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. each Sunday. Programs in the series will offer tips on using many kinds of records and will offer real-life success stories. Some public TV stations are already running the shows.
Local researchers can get in some extra library time this summer. Several of the area's libraries, including the Osterhout Free Library in Wilkes-Barre, have changed policy and will be open on Saturdays. Check your hometown public library to see if it's part of this trend.
Apologies to those Times Leader readers two weeks ago who found the column cut off well before the end. A production glitch was to blame. The column was rerun in full in the Times Leader for Tuesday, June 6, on Page 11A.
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. Email is email@example.com