Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Graveyard Wander in Pennsylvania

During my recent trip to visit my sister and brother-in-law in Pennsylvania, we traveled to several graveyards to perform genealogical research. We visited the Washburn Street Cemetery in Scranton, Mount Carmel Cemetery in Dunmore and in the Fleetville Baptist Cemetery in Fleetville. 

Welsh text grave of Evan Lewis, died 1894
Washburn Street Cemetery is an old cemetery with a rich history of the Hyde Park section of Scranton and includes the graves of many of Scranton's Welsh coal miners and settlers. Here can also be found about 60 of the graves of the 110 victims of the Avondale Mine Disaster

The cemetery is partially in good repair in the newer sections, but many of the oldest graves are badly overgrown, tumbled over by time or vandals or almost entirely burried through settling. Finding anything in this cemetery can be a real challenge. 

The sections with the oldest graves can be found closest to Fillmore Ave or along the cemetery frontage at Washburn Street. There are hills, uneven ground, high grass and lots of obstacles, but the old stones are fascinating. Among the old graves, many graves written in Welsh can be found.

I was glad to see two people working in the graveyard doing upkeep, one on a tractor and one with a weed trimmer. Both were friendly and offered assistance.

Part of the "Old Section" of Washburn Street Cemetery.

Headstone for Savino Macchia, died 1920
Mount Carmel Cemetery in Dunmore dates to the mid to late 1800's and has burials that continue to this day. The areas of the cemetery from about 1930 onward are well ordered and records are on file at Mount Carmel catholic Church of Dunmore that can help you find the exact location of a plot of anyone burried from about 1940 to present. Many of the graves, even those dating into the 1940's are entirely carved in Italian, as this area was rich with Italian culture.

The older graves, however, have no records that remain. The oldest section of the graveyard sits to the far right of the cemetery. Some stones are worn smooth, some are gone, some have only iron crosses or a small stone that contains only initials of the deceased. 

One concrete cross has small stones pressed into it to spell the word MOTHER, but no names or dates are given. Unfortunately, all of the graves for which we searched either had no burial marker, the stone has been worn smooth, or the iron cross engraved with a name can no longer be read. 

Part of the "Old Section" of Mount Caramel. Most graves date from before 1910 in this section.
The Fleetville Baptist Cemetery was a lovely graveyard on the side of a steep hill. The entire yard was in good repair, most stones were upright and the cemetery seemed well cared for. With my sister's crazy luck, she found the grave we were looking for in just minutes.

Among the graves, I did get to find some lovely bits of nature.

Grass Pinks (Dianthus armeria)

Wood Strawberries (Fragaria vesca)

British Soldier Lichen (Cladonia cristatella)

Little Wood-Satyr (Megisto cymela)
Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis)

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