Sunday, May 20, 2001

At last the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society has a home.

Recently, society officials signed paperwork to take over a Kingston Township building donated by United Water Co. It is at 156 N. Main St., in the Shavertown section, close to Route 309, and will eventually house the society's growing collection of local research materials.

The road hasn't been easy.

``We've been waiting and waiting,'' said Dorothy Knafla, publicity director for the society. ``You'd be surprised at all the permits you have to get - all the hidden costs.''

The building is readily accessible, just behind Cooks Pharmacy.

A lot of hard (and expensive) work still lies ahead. First off, utilities must be hooked up. Then, the society will look for some volunteers to help get the building in shape - as well as donations to cover the cost of renovation. Of course, additional volunteers will be necessary to staff it.

The group is looking toward an opening date sometime this summer.

In other Genealogical Society news:

This month the society is beginning a series of genealogy programs at senior citizen centers throughout Luzerne County. The series will continue this week through August. Programs are free and open to all ages. You do not have to be a member of any center to attend. However, pre-registration is necessary. Workshop kits will be provided.

Here are the programs scheduled for the next week. All programs will run from 11 a.m. to noon:

Shickshinny (Monday)

Plains Township (Tuesday)

Wyoming County (Wednesday)

Falls, Exeter Township (Thursday)

Lee Park, Hanover Township (Friday)

Watch your Times Leader or the bulletin board at your nearest senior center for later dates and times.

Society officials are looking at the possibility of abolishing the November, December and January meetings, when weather is sometimes a problem, and holding meetings instead in June, July and August, when the group normally takes a break. They will try summer meetings this year and see how popular they prove.

Queries: ``I am interested in the 7 May 1935 mine accident (South Wilkes-Barre Colliery, Glen Alden Coal Co., #3). My grandfather may have been killed in that accident.'' Joseph Brill, Binghamton, N.Y.

Joseph, Wilkes-Barre's newspapers covered the event heavily. Seven men died when a huge rock fell down the shaft. None of them was named Brill or any of the variant spellings you gave. However, mining was a very dangerous occupation and many mine workers were killed in individual accidents. So your ancestor still might have died on the job about that time. Do you know what church he attended? Often you can get a death date by going that route.

``Was your newspaper in print between 1916 and 1927? I am searching the birth and death records of three children that died in my husband's family during these years.'' Betty Jackubowski.

Yes, Betty, Wilkes-Barre had three newspapers during those years - the Record (morning) and the Times Leader and the Evening News (evenings) - and they are all readily accessible on microfilm in the Times Leader's library. Public hours for viewing the microfilms are 10 a.m. to noon, Wednesday through Friday. Call the librarian at (570) 829-7220 to set up a viewing time.

``I now live in Florida but would make a trip up to Wilkes-Barre if it were possible for me to go through the Curran Collection. Is this possible?'' James Gugenheim.

James, the Curran Collection of area church data is stored at the Luzerne County Historical Society and is available for research purposes. It is not part of the society's active collection, but is stored in boxes on the second floor of the Bishop Library building. To reserve dates and times, write to the society at 49 S. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701 or call (570) 823-6244 afternoons Tuesday-Friday or anytime Saturday.

``I can't understand how or why Albert and Albert's Corners were named for the Albert family since they apparently did not live there.'' Ruth Steffey, a descendant of the Alberts.

Ruth, our research materials are not absolutely clear on the subject, so I understand your uncertainty. The Luzerne County Genweb has a history of Wright Township, containing the information that a William G. Albert was the first postmaster in that community, even before Fairview Township was split off from it in 1889. By the 1890s, copies of the Wilkes-Barre Record Almanac indicate that the post office for present-day Wright Township was located in a section known as ``Albert.'' So perhaps the name had more to do with the man who handled early postal duties at the town's crossroads than with any land-owning family in that vicinity. That's a possibility worth pursuing.

``Are there any mining company worker lists anywhere? My father worked in ... a mine and I wondered if I might find the company name and the period of time he was employed there.'' Emily Bennett, Iowa City, Iowa.

That's a tough one, Emily, but we might be able to make a beginning. If your father lived in the immediate Wilkes-Barre area, his name (and possibly the name of his employer) might be in old copies of the City Directory. Also, knowing his home address could narrow the range of mines considerably. Anything more you could send me about him is a potential opening wedge.

Local History Moment: Ever wish you could go back a century or so and buy up a lot of good stuff at those low, low old-time prices? If time travel is ever perfected, take a trip back 100 years and check out the dining room of Wilkes-Barre's Hotel Hart, then one of the city's top places to eat.

If you'd stopped by on Nov. 1, 1901, you could have started with a consomme, dived into baked fish with butter sauce and a side of relish (unless you preferred the prime rib of beef or stewed terrapin), filled out your main course with broiled potatoes and creamed onions - or maybe some stewed tomatoes - plowed straight ahead with a salad and topped off the repast with your choice of cream pies and hickory nut ice cream, along with plenty of coffee or tea. And what did the feast cost? Just 50 cents.

The Hotel Hart, on East Market Street at North Pennsylvania Avenue, was demolished in 1974, part of the city's post-flood redevelopment program. A Luzerne County office building now occupies the site.

News Notes: The Luzerne County Historical Society will continue its series of talks at 7 p.m. May 30 when John Orlandini speaks on ``Native Americans in the Wyoming Valley.'' Orlandini's presentation will be at St. Stephen's Church, 35 S. Franklin St., right next to the society's library.

Stop by that same library this week and take advantage of the society's book sale. Some of its most popular hard-cover local history volumes are included.

I recently spent an enjoyable day at Lake-Lehman High School, talking with senior history classes about everyday life in this area in the 1950s. Visiting with younger people and telling them about ``the old days'' might just spark a teenager's interest in local history and genealogy. Give it a try.

Remember, this column is now accessible through your computer at

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