Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Importance of Planning

My husband commutes to Albany, New York, a couple of times a month for work. Last month I accompanied him on one trip, and we drove instead of flying. Neither of us have any known ancestors near Albany, but his paternal ancestors lived in the Hazleton, Pennsylvania, area. We are stopped there to do some research and visit the cemetery where his grandparents and several aunts and uncle are buried.

We’ve been to Hazleton before, but I was a neophyte about genealogy trip planning and did none. We found the cemetery but not their graves; found and photographed their house; and learned a bit about what the lives of anthracite coal miners were like.

The Saints Peter and Paul Lithuanian Roman Catholic Church Cemetery in
Hazleton, Pennsylvania

 This time I followed Heather Wilkinson Rojo's advice. Before we left I did the following:
  • Called the Saints Peter and Paul Lithuanian Catholic Church only to discover the church closed in 2009 and their records are now housed at Transfiguration Church.

Saints Peter and Paul Lithuanian Roman Catholic Church
in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, which closed its doors on
8 July 2009

  • Called Transfiguration Church and learned they do not allow the public to look at their records. They were, however, willing to provide information if you knew specific ancestors’ names and birth and death dates of the events. The church secretary very thoughtfully emailed me the plot locations the day before we left.
  • Made an appointment with the Hazleton Historical Society Museum, which is open only by appointment. The appointment needed to be made at least a week before the trip.  The society has some back issues of the local newspaper and old city directories. 
  • Learned the Luzerne County Historical Society's collection of Hazleton newspapers is not available to researchers because they are being digitized (yeah!) So I struck this stop off our list.
So how how was our trip? Much more fruitful than our 2009 trip when we arrived with a map no plan. We photographed the headstones of Adam and Cecelia Dagutis, my husband's grandparents; his first cousin, who was killed in a sledding accident at the age of 4; his uncle's grave; and his by-marriage uncle, father of the little boy mentioned previously. We also made some stops along the way to photograph and transcribe war honor roll memorials for Heather's Honor Roll Project.

My husband's paternal grandparents' headstones at the Saints Peter and
Paul Lithuanian Cemetery
The host for our private tour of the Hazleton Historical
Society and Museum. He said he was Tyrolean; Pete
was Lithuanian; and I was a disappointment because
I had no ancestors from Hazleton. Quite a character!

I certainly learned the importance of planning a trip as we would have been disappointed at every turn if we thought we could just drop in and start researching! Thank you, Heather!

The church secretary later sent me copies from their "death book" of the entries for my ancestors. There is just one wee problem. The church secretary thought they were in Lithuanian and my work colleague, who emigrated from Lithuania and can read and speak the language, doesn't recognize it but thinks it Latin. 

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on the planning involved and the good results, Schalene.


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