Subtitle: Where are my grandparents buried?
Subtitle: Don’t trust everything you read on the Web.
My husband and I have just returned from a 6-day trip to northeastern Pennsylvania, where my dad was born and raised. We attended a family reunion, visited my 90+ year-old aunt and some cousins (including cousins found through DNA matches), searched records at county courthouses and historical societies and tramped 14 cemeteries in search of family members. This story is about the cemetery/cemeteries where my grandparents, John Ray Posten & Jennie Amelia Richards, are buried.
Cemeteries? Yes, because online reports have placed John and Jennie’s final earthly resting place in three– yes, 3 — different cemeteries. I needed to see for myself. The first discrepancy was found several years ago. On a cemetery locator website, John and Jennie were listed as being buried in Pittston, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania. I didn’t think too much about it, except that my grandfather’s name was listed as John W. Posten – his name was John Ray Posten. I thought it might have been a typographical error or that the person didn’t know my grandfather’s middle name. I didn’t have a copy of my grandfather’s death certificate, so I requested it from the state of Pennsylvania. John Ray Posten’s death certificate doesn’t give the name of the cemetery but does list his burial location as Falls, Wyoming county.
Jennie’s death certificate and her obituary were already in my files. According to those records, she was buried in Roberts Cemetery, Falls, Wyoming county, Pennsylvania. I spoke to my aunt, who confirmed that John & Jennie are buried in Roberts Cemetery. I contacted the person who had posted on the Pittston cemetery online site, explaining the issue. He was very gracious, agreeing that a different John Posten was buried in Pittston and corrected the entry. There were no pictures of John and Jennie’s tombstone. I knew that there was a tombstone because my parents helped pay for one after Jennie died in 1964. John died in 1948, before I was born.
Several months ago, I was again searching for relatives using an online grave search website. This time, John and Jennie were listed as being buried in Settee Cemetery, Falls, Wyoming county, Pennsylvania. Still no gravestone picture. Well, at least, the town and county are consistent! I reviewed records and notes again. Had I recorded the information correctly? Yes, information on the documents pointed to Roberts Cemetery, Falls, Wyoming county, Pennsylvania. But, the mystery remained. And, with no gravestone picture, how could I be certain? Another consideration is that the name of Roberts Cemetery had changed to Settee Cemetery.
An annual family reunion of Jennie’s mother’s family (LaCoe) was another reason for this trip. I have wanted to go for several years but work and family schedules just didn’t seem to coincide with the reunion date. 2017 is finally the year that we will attend this reunion! And, I can find and photograph my grandparents’ grave!
The day after the reunion, we set out to find Roberts Cemetery. Iphone location finder led us to a small, unnamed cemetery near Falls, Wyoming county. No grave for John & Jennie there. Did we have the wrong cemetery? We stopped at a nearby business to ask. The man only knew of the cemetery that we had just visited. About a half mile down the road, an older woman was working in her flower bed. We stopped and asked her. Yes, she knew Roberts Cemetery and gave us directions.
Following her directions, we found another cemetery, also unnamed, which we almost passed by. There are two sections. One section consists of about a dozen gravestones for persons from the Fitch family. I remembered seeing information online that several Fitch graves had been moved from their original location to Roberts Cemetery. Cemetery found!! Roberts Cemetery is on the opposite of the Susquehanna River than the first cemetery. Roberts Cemetery is on Sand Plant Road not Old State Road. Both roads are off State Highway 92. Now, to find John & Jennie’s grave! (Photo from http://www.mapquest.com)
There are only about 200 graves in the Roberts Cemetery, so it did not take long to find John & Jennie’s grave. Mystery solved! I began crying as I related the story to my grandparents. John died before I was born and we had visited Pennsylvania irregularly during my childhood so I didn’t know Jennie (aka Grandma Posten) very well.
One more mystery still needs to be solved. Why are they also listed in ‘Settee Cemetery’? Recheck online sources. Apparently, Roberts Cemetery may also be known as Settee Cemetery and/or Swartout Cemetery. To-do list:
- Post pictures of John & Jennie’s gravestone to Roberts Cemetery website with notes about the reported discrepancies and actual directions/ location of Roberts Cemetery- DONE.
- Contact person responsible for Settee Cemetery and ask about the cemetery names – DONE. UPDATE: She was also gracious and removed John and Jennie’s names from the Settee Cemetery list.
This was a very emotional trip for many reasons. Actually locating and seeing my grandparents’ grave was a tearful reunion. I am proud that I was able to solve this particular mystery for myself and others. We learned more about what to do and not do during a genealogy-based vacation. Future blog posts will chronicle more of our experiences during this trip.
What helped: technology, specifically Iphone location finder and a small computer with my family tree. My husband’s patience and acting as official photographer. Advance planning, such as printing an alphabetical list of cemeteries to be visited with a list of people buried in each.
What didn’t help: IPhone location finder taking us to the wrong cemetery, although the location was the one in the online system. Online address for Roberts Cemetery was not correct. Conflicting information posted online.
What I learned: Don’t be afraid to ask for help and directions. I tend to be independent and will usually try to figure things out on my own. We met some awesome people, including cemetery managers, who were very helpful in locating graves. Don’t believe everything you see on the Web– check it out for yourself! Use water, a squirt bottle and a soft brush to clean dirt and moss from gravestones.