May 26, 2017

Road Trip to the Past - Day 5: “Boondogle in Donegal” or “Shy Graves”

The next morning saw us backtracking a bit to see if we could find some family graves in Donegal, PA. Our research showed some of our “persons of interest” buried in Miller’s Cemetery. But we couldn’t find that particular cemetery listed online. Experience taught us that cemeteries can change names like anything else. So we thought we would just take some shots in the dark. We started with the city cemetery near the center of town.


My father-in-law struck up a conversation with a man mowing his yard adjacent to the cemetery. Turns out he also mows the cemetery as well as a few others nearby. He didn’t know of Miller’s Cemetery. But gave us directions to an older cemetery down the road. While this was taking place, I searched Google Earth and spotted another cemetery up the road. We visited both of these with no luck. Lots of cool old tombstones though. Driving around, it became like a game of "slug bug" pointing out every cemetery we passed. But we couldn’t get distracted.

A bit discouraged, we took another side trip to see Fallingwaters, the famous Frank Lloyd Wright house. The forest canopy provided a cool retreat. You can tour the house for around $30. But we opted for the abbreviated outside grounds tour (we peeked in a few windows, though).

While we ate lunch there, we checked the weather and saw that a heavy storm was due to hit Pittsburgh later that day. Since we were planning to visit more outdoor sites, we decided to change our plans and visit a genealogical research center north of Pittsburgh and do downtown the following day.

As we left Fallingwaters and headed north, we stopped in Brownsville – the final resting place of a few more people. We found the cemetery here in desperate need of mowing. As we spread out to locate the headstones, we were playing chicken with the oncoming storm. The tall grass and surrounding trees swayed in the wind, hissing at us to leave as the sky grew dark. After finding only a few of our relatives, we finally retreated back to the car. The remaining "shy graves" would have to wait for another time.

We drove north, bypassing Pittsburgh while our windshield got spotted with raindrops. Beaver County was another prominent location in our genealogy’s geography. We found one of the county libraries but were quickly referred to another that kept newspaper archives. We drove down the road to Aliquippa where we found their impressive Carnegie library juxtaposed within an unimpressive neighborhood. Searching their microfilmed newspaper archives yielded a few nuggets of information to satisfy our wandering wet day.

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