Sunday, September 16, 2001

By Tom Mooney

W hen the 1930 U.S. Census becomes available to the public next year, genealogists will be able to find out if their ancestors had the latest in home technology - a radio.

That's not the only interesting fact the 1930 Census will be able to tell a genealogist.

The Census Bureau updates its questions every 10 years to give the most modern picture of the American public and how it lives. Several ethnic groups were added to the list of choices for 1930, including Mexican, Filipino, Hindu (actually a religious group) and Korean, according to the bureau's Web site.

Other changes from the previous census include more place of origin specifics, such as distinguishing between Canadian-English and Canadian-French as well as Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. With the Great Depression under way, enumerators compiled a separate unemployment census, including the recently laid-off wage earners. More war choices were available for veterans to check off.

Census officials say the data will be available to the public in April, which is the required 72 years after which it was taken. The 1920 census is the latest one available now.

Incidentally, it was in the 1930 census that Luzerne County and many of its communities hit their all-time population highs.

To learn more about the U.S. Census, go to its Web site at http://www.census.gov.

Update: Thanks to the efforts of Luzerne County Genweb Webmaster Tammy Lamb and Times Leader Librarian Renee Burns, it will now be possible for Wyoming Valley genealogy researchers all over America to gain access to all back columns in the ``Out on a Limb'' series published in the Times Leader since 1997. The latest column will also be available on the Genweb within a day after it runs in the Sunday edition of the Times Leader.

Here is how things will work. To access all the back columns (which started in late 1997), simply go to the Genweb and scroll down the table of contents to ``Genealogy Columns Archived.'' There you will find them arranged from earliest to latest. As it is, they run only to April 2000. But within a week or so they will all be there, right up to the most current ones.

To access the latest column - and remember, it runs only every other Sunday - go to the Genweb around mid-day or later on Monday. There might be an occasional instance when it will not be available until Tuesday.

The Luzerne County Genweb is part of a national network of county-based genealogy sites. Through it, you can access other Genweb sites all over America to place queries and get local information.

Genweb's address is http://www.pagenweb.org/~luzerne/

Mail Bag: More and more forgotten cemeteries of Wyoming Valley are turning up. Writes Alis Purcell of New York City in regard to a recent query about an abandoned Larksville burial ground, ``Another cemetery in Larksville that's no longer is use is the `old cemetery' that was part of St. Casimir's Church. ... St. Casimir's was the first Lithuanian Roman Catholic Church in America. The `new cemetery,' where the rest of my family is buried, is in Muhlenberg. The church is now in Lyndwood, Hanover Township,'' she says.'

Incidentally, a 1989 Times Leader article says that a history of the parish, titled ``The Triumph of a Cross,'' was written by Stanley John Rodgoski.

My belief is that a good project for a local researcher would be tracking down all the old abandoned, moved or defunct cemeteries of Luzerne County since the 18th century - including private family cemeteries. Such a book and set of township maps would be a boon to genealogists. Are any senior high school or college students in the area looking for a thesis project?

Another good project for a local researcher would be compiling a list of now-defunct clubs and organizations from the area, many of which are now just mysterious references in obituaries. In the 19th century, many self-help groups, often church-oriented, arose to assist the new immigrants adjust to American life. Other groups were purely social clubs. Some national ones can be traced on the Internet. But others were small or local. Who today, for instance, remembers the once-popular ``Jolly Ten'' or knows what the ``Hancock Circle'' was?

2) ``Read your column today (Sept. 2) about the NRA (National Recovery Administration). You turned it into a great history lesson for all.'' Sharon.

Glad to help, Sharon. My purpose in researching and publicizing readers' queries, though, is less to teach history (fascinating though it may be) than to show genealogists how to find some useful and often-overlooked sources that contain the answers they need.

3) Mark Bosse is looking for descendants of former Wilkes-Barre residents Edward and Olga Pliscott Hogrebe, who died in 1985 and 1986 respectively. Mark, the Wilkes-Barre City Directory does list this couple. Contact Bosse at Mbosse8648@aol.com.

4) Ken Thomas of Colorado is trying to track down the location of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Farm, mentioned in the 1902 obituary for great-great-grandfather Joseph Cooper. Ken, I'd recommend you take a look at The History of the Lehigh Valley Railroad (1977), by Robert F. Archer. It might offer some help. Contact Thomas at TheAlchemist@charter.net.

Searching: Grant Kreinberg of California is seeking information about Isiah Jones, born in Ulster County, N.Y., about 1855, married Ottilie Kreinberg in 1886 in Scranton and might have lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1889. Contact Kreinberg at grantk@castles.com.

Local History Moment: If you had hailed a cab back around the turn of the century and asked to be taken to the Lee Park Hotel, the driver might have booted you right out. Angered by charges from nearby clergy that he allowed gamblers, drunkards and ruffians to frequent his establishment, hotelier Joseph Rogers informed all area cabbies that he would not tolerate them dropping ``immoral characters'' off at his place. How the cab men were supposed to distinguish the immoral from the merely thirsty or fun-loving was never spelled out in Rogers' newspaper notices. The hotel, on Lee Park Avenue, had grown up to serve the Lee Driving Park race track nearby and was known for its ``sporting'' clientele. It burned down many years ago.

News Notes: Take a trip back in time and visit the last day of the Swetland Homestead Harvest Festival today. The old-time craft demonstrations and guided tour of the pioneer home will offer a glimpse into the lives of our 19th-century ancestors. Adding to the festivities will be a colorful Civil War encampment by the 81st Pennsylvania Infantry re-enactors and traditional music by the Donegal Weavers. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for kids. The home is at 885 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming, just north of and across the street from the Midway Shopping Center. It is a project of the Luzerne County Historical Society.

Don't miss the next meeting of the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society. It's set for 7 p.m. on Sept. 25 in the second-floor meeting room of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, just behind Wyoming Valley Mall. The speaker will be Linda Shopes, an expert on oral history from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. Shopes is a contributing editor of the Journal of American History and book review editor of Oral History Review. You don't have to be a member to attend. Stop by, meet some of your fellow local genealogists and exchange ideas and questions.

There's still time to sign up for either one of my Getting Started in Genealogy programs at Boscov's Department Store in Wilkes-Barre. The two self-contained sessions are 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 1, and 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6. They're free, but contact Boscov's at 832-4141 to register. They're for beginners as well as people who have been doing family history for a while. Just bring a notepad and plenty of questions. They are held in the fourth-floor auditorium (look for the genealogy sign). You can park in the store's parkade and walk right in. I expect to offer two more early next year.

Jessie Teitelbaum, executive director of the Luzerne County Historical Society, is scheduled to speak at Wednesday's meeting of the Genealogical Research Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The meeting is set for 7 to 9 p.m. at 210 W. Grant St., Olyphant. The public is invited. Contact the society by phone at (570) 383-7661 or by e-mail at genealogy@usnetway.com.

The Osterhout Free Library is continuing its extensive schedule of introduction to computers and the Internet. The series of classes, held at the library's Gates Computer Lab at various days and times, range from an introduction to computers to use of Windows 98 and Microsoft Word. If you're a genealogist who's always wanted to crack the Internet, this series is just the ticket. The main library's Information Services Desk has the latest schedules of classes, with registration dates. Warning: The classes fill up very fast - sometimes in just six or eight hours after registration opens. So get there early in the morning on the first registration day. No advance registrations are permitted.

Remember, this column is now accessible through your computer at www.timesleader.com and also on the Luzerne County Genweb.

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 tmooney@leader.net