Out on a Limb
Here’s a truly inspiring genealogy story.
The March-April issue of the AARP magazine features an article in which prominent journalist Raymond M. Lane, of Washington, D.C., discusses the quest that led him to discovery of his biological father, and his roots in both Ireland and Wilkes-Barre, all previously unknown to him.
Lane’s great-grandfather, famine-era Irish immigrant Michael Morris, founded a milling business in Luzerne County, according to the Smith-Harvey “History of Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.” Morris’ son (Lane’s grandfather) was a lawyer in Wilkes-Barre and for a time was owner and editor of the Hazleton “Plain Speaker” newspaper.
In the AARP article, Lane says that his initial genealogical searches on popular websites did not produce what he wanted. So he turned to local researcher Ann Kosicki of the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, who helped him unearth his long-unknown ancestry.
What Lane’s experience demonstrates is that there is a good deal of local information available to the genealogist here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. You can tap into that information profitably from afar, provided that you know where it is.
The places to start, of course, are the genealogical society, the major libraries (such as the Osterhout) and the Luzerne County Historical Society.
Our area’s research facilities are heavy on local history and biography. The huge, multi-volume Smith-Harvey is just one source. If you search the libraries, you will find numerous other volumes from the 19th and early-20th centuries giving biographies and even genealogies of people who started businesses, practiced law or medicine, served in public office, farmed and followed numerous other technical and professional callings.
Numerous other sources, such as newspaper microfilms and historical maps, can fill out a search.
Are you too far away for a visit? Those libraries have websites offering research services, for modest fees. Websites for local libraries and organizations, incidentally, will offer far more targeted materials than national websites.
Yes, Lane’s story is inspiring. But it’s also educational, showing that we live in a great place for research into the misty days of our ancestors.
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News Notes: Here’s your chance for a guided tour of the research library of the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society. On April 23 from 4 to 8 p.m. the library will offer the public a chance to see the vast amount of material available there to help with family history research. The library is in the caretaker building of the Hanover Green Cemetery, Main Road, Hanover Township. The society’s 2013 schedule of meetings will begin next month.
Joanne Bogdanovicz will portray 19th-century Scranton Mayor Ezra Ripple when the Genealogical Research Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania opens its 2013 schedule of events this month. The presentation, open to the public, will be at 7 p.m. on April 17 at the society’s headquarters, 1100 Main St., Peckville. The group meets on the third Wednesday of the month, April through October. Reservations are suggested. Call (570) 383-7661.
Interested in brushing up on genealogical research and learning what’s good proof and what isn’t? The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania will offer the webinar “Building Solid Research Skills: The Genealogical Proof Standard” 7-8:30 p.m. on May 23. It’s free to the state organization’s members and is $10 for everyone else. To register go to www.genpa.org.
Make sure to reserve June 15-16 for Patch Town Days, the great annual event at Eckley Miners Village. The site is a living history museum of life in the coal region of the 19th century. For directions, admission and other information, go to www.eckleyminersvillagemuseum.com.
Tom Mooney is a Times Leader genealogy columnist. Reach him at email@example.com.