Blogging Prompt ~ Week Five

Week #5: Talk about your genealogy adventures while on vacation. Doesn’t everyone plan a little genealogy visit during vacation? Take your readers along for the ride.

Thanks to We Tree ( for the inspiration!

This is from a journal I wrote in when I took my first vacation which involved genealogy. It covers 3 days, the genealogy part of the trip. It is a bit long, but you can read it in "Parts" if you wish, "Part 1, " "Part 2," and " Part 3." Enjoy!

Pennsylvania - October 2007

Journal-Part One

Sat. Oct 13th

We flew in to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Oct. 13th. It was an uneventful, nice flight. We rented a car and drove a couple hours north to the time-share we were staying at in Bushkill Falls. It was a tri level place, a little on the older side, 3 bedrooms and three bathrooms. Served our purpose just fine, even if it was a little large for just the two of us. Time-share exchanges are especially nice and great money savers, as our week there was only $160.00! Bushkill is a little resort town on the very eastern edge of Pa. We unpacked, found a place for some grub and pretty much called it a night.

Sunday Oct. 14th

We drove about 30-60 miles to several little towns I wanted to see, in and about where my grandfather and or family members were born and grew up. These towns are all in the Pocono mountains.

First we ventured to Hawley, Wayne County, Pa., a small town, 1,244 people in 1990, where we had breakfast at a small cafe and I took some pictures. I knew of this town from family members and a book I read that my grandfather’s niece wrote. The book is “Elaine” and the author is Marjorie (Watson) Bennett, she is my first cousin once removed. She wrote a fictional book with references to family members, names, towns, and the home where my grandfather lived. Another of my first cousins once removed, A. M., who lives 20 minutes from me in Pleasanton, gave me a transcription of sorts that explains the who, what, where and why’s of the book as she knew it. Marjorie was born in Hawley and grew up in Middletown, New York. She was born in 1926 and passed away just last year, in July 2006.

Next we headed on over to Rowland, Pike Co, Pa., population 1,527 in 2007. This was the main town I wanted to see. I was nervous, apprehensive, and excited all at once. I had seen pictures of the house my ggrandparents settled in after coming from Norway, but never in a million years expected to visually see it…… or did we find it? Did I really see it?

Well, in a blink of an eye, I think we drove through Rowland! We came down a hill and hit a dead end. You turned either right or left to go to other towns. But then, there on the left was what was the old Rowland P.O.! (Turns out the Post Office is no longer in use, it is actually in the store now). A store/restaurant next to it, first signs of Rowland! I went into the store and asked if they could tell me where the cemetery was. The people working there had only been there a short while, so didn’t have a clue. Apparently, coming to this area, we had driven through Rowland and never knew it, there weren’t any signs that say, “Rowland, pop ????”

Someone who was eating in there, heard the conversation and told me he knew the cemetery well, and gave me directions. He even asked who I was looking for, he thought he knew the whole place, which was small, but he didn’t know the Harding plots. I thanked him and on we went, the cemetery was just basically down the street and as A. M. had told me, a very obscure sign that points to the cemetery was hidden in the trees. We found it, turned up the road, which turned into a bumpy dirt road that took us through an open set of gates, and we were there. Well, I had no idea where to begin looking! B. drove slow across the front of the cemetery and I was scanning for names. We got to the end and had room to drive up the far side, so I asked him to go up a bit. All of a sudden there they were, my ggrandparents! Paul and Dagny (Dulin) Harding! I jumped out of the car, camera in hand and went to the site. I was overcome, just reading their names on the headstones. I spent some time “talking” to them and taking pictures.

I noticed the headstones around them and found a daughter and son in law buried there also. The daughter, Linda (Harding) Watson was buried next to her husband James P. Watson. On the other side of Linda was their daughter, Lois Watson who apparently only lived a little over 4 and a half years. I now will be seeking to find what she may have died from. What were the epidemics in 1931? Getting a copy of her death certificate would give me the answer however. Ordering this will be on my to do list! Linda and James had seven daughters, (can you imagine all girls?) and it looks like six of them made it to adulthood, as there was only one daughter buried next to their parents. I was busy taking pictures and taking notes, so happy to be a part of my family’s setting!

Journal - Part 2

Sunday Oct 14, 2007

I was anxious to find my g-grandparents home, so off we went, to hunt it down. As we left the cemetery, on the road leading out, there is a church, which I looked up quickly and realized that A. M. had been baptized there! Had to get my pictures of the church! I believe other family members must have been baptized there also, but as of now I don’t have much information regarding any of that.

We didn’t know where to begin looking for my grandfather’s house, so as we were driving down the road, back towards the store, there was a fishing store that had an older gentlemen working in it. B. suggested I try to talk with him as he may have been around awhile. I was out of the car and we were talking with this man in no time! He didn’t know the Harding place, but put a call in to his wife, and she knew exactly where it was and who the Harding’s were! Her uncle owns the property now. She said he was away and to go on over and look around, no problem, and with that she gave us directions, which again, was just down the way!

I can now relate to the book Marjorie Watson Bennett wrote entitled “Elaine”. I HAVE seen the house my family from Norway lived in when they settled in this country! It was just as in the pictures I had seen, but now I have my own pictures. The mountains, river, property and house all make sense to me as the story tells. It was beautiful and scenic. I can now see the children getting water from the river and bringing it to the house to use. I can picture “Elaine” sitting on “her” rock on the river. I have seen the towpath and can envision it as a path the donkeys used with carts to transport supplies. I can imagine the snow. I can see the store and church, feel the house with no electricity or warmth. I can envision the seasons, the travel, and the hardships of life that we are so accustom too. I can see the railroad tracks across the river at the base of the mountain, major business back in the day.

My g-grandfather, Paul Harding, had built I believe four cottages on his property that were rented out each summer. In 1955 the Lackawaxen River flooded and caused much damage, including taking out three of the cottages. Of course there were no cottages there now, but I could see where maybe they once stood. Paul had built a garage, where he did all his wood working. It was built on the side of the house, the property was just below the towpath, so that the roof actually was what you saw from the towpath. He made furniture in his garage, but skis are what he was known for making and selling. (I had an opportunity to actually see a few sets of skis he made at B.H.'s home in Sebastapol. B.H. is also one of my cousins once removed.) I was disappointed to see that the garage was gone on this property and in it’s place was a ready made shed, but I could envision how it must have been built.

Paul’s name before he came to this country was Paul Hardin Gustavsen. When he arrived in New York he simplified it to Paul Hardin, and somewhere along the road the “g” was added, making it Harding. Paul was a hard worker and felt there should be no down time or time for fun. Dagny was sickly, had many surgeries and passed away when my grandfather (George Clarence Milton Harding) was 14. My grandfather then went to live with an older sister and her family until adulthood.

A story passed down about Dagny; when my g-grandmother got off the ship in New York from Norway, she was told she should not be allowed to let anyone help her with her baggage etc, not to trust anyone. She therefore took charge of her own luggage and developed a hernia. She received surgery, and supposedly, there was a sponge left in her from the surgery, which caused her poor health from there on. I heard she had 14 surgeries after this. Most of the older children had to take care of the younger children as she was always ill. I am not so sure she had a sponge left in her, but that is the story.

I have also been told that Dagny came from a wealthy family in Norway. I want to learn why she chose to come to this country, where she had a tougher life. As I research my
g-grandparents in Norway, I will hopefully uncover where she came from and why she left.

Paul I know wasn’t happy in Norway and wanted to get away from a mixed family and start a new life in America. I believe that after he came here, he never wanted to refer to his “old home”, it was his past. He may never have spoken Norwegian after arriving here either.

We eventually left Rowland and drove through Lackawaxen and Milford (other towns in the book, and that I was familiar with one way or another) on our way back to the timeshare. In Milford I knew there was a library where I could do genealogical research. The one right in town was closed. We received directions to another library, out of the way, but B. got me there. Unfortunately, this library didn’t have the resources I was looking for, however I did find a book that shared information on Rowland with some pictures before the last big flood.

B. unfortunately wasn’t feeling up to par this day, but was a real trooper and took me everywhere I wanted to go, and never complained. I had a full day of genealogy and was in heaven. I was on an unbelievable high! Maybe my biggest genealogical day ever!

We drove back to Bushkill, found a place to eat and headed back to the timeshare. B. was out most of the evening as he wasn’t feeling well still, and I was on my high. I went through my notes I had brought with me and found that when we were in Hawley, I didn’t realize that I had family buried in a cemetery there that I had missed! So close and yet so far…………

Journal – Part 3

Monday Oct. 15, 2007

Upon awakening this next morning, I asked B. how he was feeling, he said he was better. We actually didn’t have any definite plans for this day. So we discussed what we wanted to do. When I told him that we were in Hawley and I missed some gravestones there of my family, he asked if I wanted to go back. You bet I did. My body was aching inside knowing I had missed this. After spending a full day of genealogy with me yesterday I was so beyond excited that he was willing to take me back and do some more!

As we drove the same road back towards Hawley, a nice country tree lined road, we noticed how much difference there had been in one day with the changing of the leaves. They were really just starting to change. The weather had stayed nice for so long that the changing of the colors was a little later than normal. But what a difference in one day, We envisioned what the complete change must be like.

We headed out from the timeshare and had breakfast at a little place just before you get to Hawley, called Wallenpauck Restaurant and Café. So far we haven’t been very impressed with any of the meals we have had, so we were hoping for better here. I had French toast, thinking that couldn’t be difficult to ruin, and it wasn’t the greatest either. Oh well food was not with us on this trip, so far anyway. B. said his meal was just so-so.

Now we were headed to Hawley, again. We went to the PO to try to find out where the cemetery was, and I found out there were at least three of them. I told the woman who was working there the dates I was looking for and we figured from there which one I probably needed to go to. It wasn’t far and we found it with no problem. This cemetery was rather large and I had no idea where to begin looking for these next headstones. There wasn’t anyone there who could look up a site for me either. Well, I had B. drive me around a bit, and again I was scanning the names of the headstones. Eventually I told him to just let me out as I needed walk it. I gave him the names I was looking for and he cruised in the car looking for them also. I walked about three or four rows, and suddenly, there they were!! I was so excited all over again! I wasn’t sure we were in the correct cemetery to begin with and to find them as easily as I did, again, was amazing to me. It was meant to be!

This part of my family was another of my grandfather’s sisters, Viola (Harding) Breithaupt. Viola was born in New York, were the Hardings were when they first came to this country. She was born in 1897, so she was a couple years older than Linda (Harding) Watson. There were 8 children in this family and my grandfather was born second to the youngest, in 1912. There were six daughters and two sons.

So, there I was amongst the Breithaupt headstones. I started with my pictures. To my disappointment, I found that you couldn’t read Viola’s death year. It had 19— and that was all, it was almost like the year was never completed. I was disappointed in this, and also in my pictures, as no matter where I stood I could only get pictures with shadows on the gravestones. There is a best time to take pix in a cemetery, but when you are on a schedule, I will take what I get.

So Viola and her husband, Jacob now have a place in my heart! They had a son, named Harding Breihaupt, who is lives in Reading, Pa. Another of my first cousins once removed! When Jacob and Viola had their son, Viola wanted to keep the Harding name in the family and therefore, he was named Harding Breithaupt! When my ggrandmother, Dagny passed away, the young children still at home went to live with other siblings. My grandfather, George Clarence Milton Harding, went to live with Viola and her family.

There were many other Breithaupt headstones. I took pictures of them all. I now need to figure out who is who. These are the names and dates of the other Breithaupts I found.

Jacob Breithaupt – 1838-1909
Christina Breithaupt – 1842-1926
Anna Breithaupt – 1882-1938
Godfried Breithaupt – 1874-1947

Viola’s (Harding) Breithaupt’s - 1887 –19??
Jacob Christian Breithaupt – 1885-1938

By Jabob C’s date; could Jacob be his father and Christina his mother? Anna, may be Jacob C’s sister. Godfried could have been a brother. There were several headstone’s in the area that just said Mother and Father, without names, could they be a part of this family? Ok, more research to figure this all out!

This cemetery was on a hill on the side of a main road, and as we left we saw deer wandering the grounds. It was so peaceful and serene with the sun on the hillside and the deer. As we left we realized we had passed this cemetery on the way to Rowland the day before. I remembered seeing it. There was a very old cemetery half a block or so prior to this one, and they were hard to miss. Drove right by it, and didn’t know I had family there. But we found them now!

Our next plan for the day was to go to Bushkill Falls. So off we were back to the resort area where we were staying. Bushkill Falls was a very nice attraction! You paid a fee to hike around the trails to see the Falls, and there were many hiking trails all around the falls. They had a museum of stuffed wildlife and a nice setting with different shops on the grounds. Bushkill Falls is called the Niagara of Pennsylvania. The falls were beautiful! We didn’t walk all the trails, as we got there later in the day and it was getting a bit nippy.

To end this day we again had to find somewhere to eat. There weren’t many places around Bushkill, but we found a little family style restaurant on the outskirts of Bushkill. We went in and were promptly seated, letting us know our server was on break and it would be a couple minutes we would have to wait. No problem we said. Well, our wait was eventful, as before we knew it the fire alarm went off. The firemen that arrived looked like babies, I felt so old! We were evacuated for a short time, they deemed all was good and back in we went. I ordered a hamburger, it was advertised as 100% Angus Beef, and I have to say that may have been one of the best meals I had on this trip. And guess what, as we were eating, the fire alarm went off again! Here comes the Fire Department… We didn’t have to evacuate the second time, and all was still good. Not sure if they had a short in the fire alarm system or they were trying to get out of working early that night.


  1. Isn't it amazing how seeing the towns and homes where our ancestors lived helps us to know them and feel close to them. It leaves us with a sense of wonder as to what thoughts they had about what life would be like for their children and their childrens' children and if they would be remembered.

  2. Oh how interesting, isn't it amazing how most people are HAPPY to help you when they find out you are looking for long lost relatives? Thank you for sharing your genealogy journals!

  3. Hi sblimes,

    It is amazing how close it makes you feel toyour ancestors! It is one of the most wonderful feelings I have ever had!

    Hi Taylorstales,

    It is so exciting when others share in your experience and are happy to help if they can. I am glad you enjoyed this section of my journal!


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