Monday, November 8, 2010
I looked for the tombstone of Neil and Nancy Brown for at least five years...probably more. They all start blurring together after awhile. Tombstones I'm trying to find, that is. Not ancestors. I'm pretty good at keeping them straight. Now ask me in 30 or 40 more years and it may be another story!
I had frequently written to Saint Gabriel's Roman Catholic Church in Hazleton for information since I began doing genealogy back in 2000. They were always extremely helpful in getting me copies of baptism and marriage records and I always ensured that I enclosed a donation to the church when requesting information! After all, Saint Gabriel's is my family's church. My ancestors have been parishioners since it opened and I was the last person in my family baptized there...until my littlest was born, but that's another story.
I know I had asked about Neil and Nancy (nee McCoy) Brown's tombstones before, but never got any information back. That's most likely my fault because when I would send in a request for information I made sure that I asked for several things so I wasn't constantly inundating them. It may have gotten over-looked. My worst fear was that there were no records.
Each year I try to make pilgrimage home to Pennsylvania with the kids. Time for Grandma and Papa to see the boys. Time for me to see them and two of my three sisters. I certainly can't pass up that time to do some research too! I just try not to overwhelm my little guys with traipsing around cemeteries. They don't appreciate it...yet!
So with a bit of perseverance, this summer was THE summer. Saint Gabriel's website finally had an email address! Score! I could start spamming, er, requesting information from them with greater ease and speed! I had a lovely conversation in several emails with the sweet lady that is the secretary for the parish. She not only found my ancestors' grave, but gave me directions and hooked me up with the caretaker to take me straight to it!
It was the genealogical highlight of my trip! I finally had a birth and death year for both Neil and Nancy! Strangely enough I had walked passed their tombstone before and never noticed it. It's sunken almost completely into the ground. It's only a matter of time before it's completely gone.
A bonus to my research...the wonderful lady helping me also helped me find his son's tombstone...and I never asked for it! His son's tombstone only had "The Neil Brown Family" written on it. I prefer tombstones that give me a bit more, but you know, I was actually happy to know who was there! I already knew when Neil Jr and his wife Bridget died but now I know where to lay flowers on those annual pilgrimages!