St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

Search for cemetery records in Saint Clair Cemetery, PA at by entering a surname and clicking search:

Restrict search to


Friday, August 31, 2007

It's Raining Kin

The forecast looks promising. Promising for those of us who have been
parched with thirst over the summer. The days where we could quench
our thirst have been few and far between. Is this a weather forecast
or a taste of genealogical research?

When I was younger and my dad's first cousins were still walking and
laughing among us, they took me to see my grandparents' graves. First
on our list was to find the graves. So, we stopped at the little white
house at the front of the cemetery, stepped inside and asked for
assistance. Old ledgers were pulled, dusted off, and I noticed my
paternal grandmother had bought four plots. These plots were adjacent
to the plots of her parents. Then a bolt of lightning went off in my
head. My eyes beheld a curious sight. A stranger's name burned up off
the pages. When asked about it, the red faced cemetery lady hemmed and
hawed, and could give me no explanation as to why someone I had never
heard of before was buried next to my grandmother. But my cousin
could. You see, he told me that there was a cousin of my grandmother
who had died and had nowhere to go. So, she allowed his burial in one
of her plots. Now I had to determine just who was this Austin M.
Brendel who died in 1935.

Census records uncovered his name was Austin McClain Brendel and he
was the son of my grandmother's aunt, Henrietta McClain Brendel. I
placed some queries and started my period of waiting for the droplets
of information to find me. A couple of years later, someone responded
that he thought Austin was his great uncle. We communicated, and I had
a flood of information pouring in.

It turns out Austin was working for the railroads in the mid to late
1920s. It appears he, with a lot of other unfortunate souls. lost most
everything during the crash of '29. He, like a lot of other
unfortunate souls, never recovered. He returned to Pittsburgh, his
wife divorced him and he died. Were it not for my grandmother, his
first cousin, we would not know of him nor of his fate. Thanks,
Isabel, for giving Austin and me rest. I also found his
great-granddaughter who tells me he was considered to be somewhat of a
lady's man in his time, thus the problems with his wife. We've even
uncovered the name of a daughter whose mother is not clear. Did he
have a daughter of which we were unaware? Did he remarry? Did he have
a child on the proverbial wrong side of the sheets? Time will tell.

I turn to the next cloud on the horizon. We hadn't found out whatever
happened to Henrietta. When did she die? Where was she buried? My
great-grandmother's obituary provided some clues. It looks like
Henrietta was living in Erie in 1919. Ok. My cousin contacted some
genealogical type folks up there and we waited, not unlike waiting for
some precipitation this summer. Yes, it was a long and dry wait.

Just this week, they were able to provide us with her last known
address in 1919. The next step will be to contact the state vitals
department, ship them some cash and give them a five year window in
which to search for her. The clues of Henrietta and her kin are
trickling in. Maybe one day, we'll have a storm of info. Until then,
I'll take whatever drops my way.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Back to Basics

Ring, Ring. Ah, the sound heard early in the morning that insists I
get moving. Ring, Ring. The sound that means my kids have to get up
and going. Ring, Ring. The sound that means getting back to school
and reviewing the basics. Ring, Ring.

It's also a good time to review the information I have collected in my
genealogy files. It's time to see if I can try once more to locate
some missing kin. Yet again, I am trying to find the grown, hopefully
breathing, children of a family member with whom all contact was lost
some 40 years ago. You know how it is. People don't stay put. The
military or jobs take people away. You get married, have kids, go to
soccer games, fall into bed exhausted at night. Our routine. And
sometimes the far away family gets forgotten. This is especially true
when a divorce occurs. Such is the case in my family.

My father left home, courtesy of World War II, and never moved back to
Pittsburgh. He settled in the south after he married his Charleston
sweetheart. I should add they met while he was in the Army and he was
in Charleston for his job. Ah, another story for another day.

Back to basics. His older brother, Bud, divorced his wife, left
Pittsburgh and moved to Seattle. The grandmother, who also relocated
to Seattle, kept in touch with his two boys. Upon her death, all
contact was lost. I knew the names of the boys and the approximate
years they were born. I even have pictures of them taken in the early
1950s. From time to time, when family members gathered, they wondered
whatever happened to them.

From time to time, when I was in Pittsburgh on business, I would try to
find these missing boys. The voice on the other end of the phone line
always said, "Not me." So I moved on to other lines. Years have
passed. Earlier this month, one of my geni friends asked me to try and
find these boys again.

This time, I did find one of them. To my dismay, it was an easy find.
You see, I found his obituary dated in 2005. I've lost him and I never
knew him. His obituary did provide me the names of his grown children.
Now I am on a mad hunt to locate them. I contacted the funeral home
and asked if I could be put in touch with them. The voice said, "No."
I asked the funeral home to send my info to the children, along with a
website address of my "family" cemetery in Pittsburgh. My goal was to
show them I was legit and I who I really am. After reviewing my info
and website, the funeral home has agreed to send my info to the
daughter, Cindy MILLER. Now I wait to hear from her.

I may wait a long time. Who knows what her father thought of his
father? Who knows what, if any, relationship they had? Who knows if
her father even knew of my presence in this world? Who knows if she
even cares? I hope to know and I hope to meet her.

It's time for going back to the basics. The basics of knowing your
roots- both living and dead.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Jewels in the Vault

I was on a mission. Pass through the guards, dig through the vault,
and find those jewels. I knew they had to be there- somewhere in the
vaults of the Fayette County Justice Center. I was joined on this
mission by a friend who has a much stronger interest in these jewels
than I do. They are her jewels, after all.

The jewels in this case are the old land deeds from the 1830s that we
uncovered in the vault. Fayette County has done a nice job in helping
to preserve these fragile, old documents. Each page has painstakingly
been placed in a protective sleeve. I only hope they are acid free and
they treated the pages as well. Otherwise, time may alter these
valuable documents. There are index books, both direct and indirect.
The Direct Index provides the transfer of land from grantor to grantee,
while the index lists the name of the grantee first. This is wonderful
for researchers as it allows you to look for potential purchase or sell
of land.

Once we located the names of interest in the Direct Index book, we
noted the deed book letter and page number. Glad we've worked out
lately as lifting those huge red books took some muscle!

From these documents, we discovered James Waldrop, one of the men we
were researching, had received his land from Cain Simpson. Cain
Simpson? Hmmm. So, it's off to the probate records to check on
marriage records and wills. No will was located for Cain Simpson but
we did find evidence of a marriage between a Waldrop and a Simpson. In
particular, a female Simpson. To be more exact, the land was given to
the male Waldrop. Ha- find the marriage record. Yes, they there are.
Married shortly after the land transfer. The logical conclusion is
the land was Cain's daughter's dowry.

Diamonds in the rough. What we uncovered still has to be polished up
and looked at closely. We noticed Cain Simpson paid taxes on land in
Putnam Co, GA, while living in Fayette Co. Guess who else came here
from the Putnam Co. area? Bingo. The Waldrop Family. After leaving
the vaults that day, we were able to find a marriage record in Jasper
Co, which neighbors Putnam Co. James and Mary Waldrop's daughter,
Bellana, married Elcanor Cain Simpson 20 Mar 1817. I think that
particular facet shines brightly now.

On our next excursion deep into the vault, I suspect we will uncover
some rubies. We plan to document the evidence on Elcanor Cain Simpson.
In addition, we hope to uncover more land deeds or marriage records.
Until that time, I'll keep polishing the diamonds we found to see if
they, too, can shine bright with information for us.

Enjoy your time searching for those family jewels. They're there- and
at this location, it's even air conditioned!!