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Genealogists keep working all yearlong Tom Mooney Out on a Limb

Most of us are planning for or taking vacations this time of year. But from the looks of the mail, genealogists keep on the job year-round. Let’s see if we can help out these family historians.

1) Donna Conner, by e-mail, inquires about a Wilkes-Barre man “buried in a pauper grave.” She’s hoping for some sort of listing.

Donna, someone who died in Wilkes-Barre without next of kin or prior arrangements would likely be buried in the City Cemetery, which is on North River Street, near Hollenback Cemetery and General Hospital.

Check on a burial there by contacting the office of the Wilkes-Barre City Clerk at (570) 208-4117. That is the office where City Cemetery records are kept. The helpful folks there will look in their ledgers. But, of course, it would be good to have at least an approximate date of death. You can fax the office at (570) 208-4171.

You don’t say when the person died. As the 20th century moved on, the local newspapers were more likely to run notices of the deaths of people with no families, asking the public for help.

The City Cemetery was the original public cemetery for the city of Wilkes-Barre. According to Times Leader files, “City Cemetery was established by Wilkes-Barre City Council in 1870 as a place for transfer of the bodies which had been interred in the cemetery which formerly occupied the site of what is now Wilkes-Barre City Hall.”

2) George Cavanaugh of Duryea is tracing his great-grandparents, Thomas and Elizabeth Cavanaugh, who started their family in Toronto, Canada, and moved to Avoca. He’s most interested in learning Elizabeth’s maiden name. “A search of church records here and in Canada and Pennsylvania death records has revealed nothing,” he writes.

George, I’ve found them living in Avoca, according to a 1909 Duryea City Directory, but – as you say – there is no maiden name listed for Elizabeth. As far as church records go, have you utilized the Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Clarks Summit? There you’d likely find records of almost any church they could possibly have attended here and in Canada, and you won’t be dependent on someone else’s looking it up for you.

Have you looked for the Ontario (Canada) Genweb? If you haven’t, post a query there about your ancestors. Check out the listings of Canadian genealogical resources, too.

Also, the old Wilkes-Barre Record Almanac published annual lists of deaths in the Wilkes-Barre and Pittston areas during the first two decades of the 20th century. If you haven’t gone to the Osterhout Free Library or the Luzerne County Historical Society to see these volumes, you should because there you’ll have at least a chance of locating your ancestors.

Finally, I noticed another Thomas Cavanaugh living close to your great-grandparents. If he was their son (either your grandfather or your great-uncle), his obituary might list his mother’s maiden name. I’d try for his death date.

News Notes: The Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society now offers members a chance to receive its informative newsletter — The Heritage — by e-mail. The new format will enable readers to search issues by key words and print out individual articles. Contact the society at nepgsmail@gmail.com

• The society continues to move forward with its program of microfilming all cemetery records throughout Luzerne County. Just recently the historical Hanover Green Cemetery’s records were completed.

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