My great grandfather, Samuel Myers, was an enigma. I had been able to locate him in the 1900 US census living in East Cocalico Twp., Lancaster County, PA with his wife and two sons, one of whom was my grandfather. The record stated that he and his wife had been married 16 years and that he was 48 years old. He and his parents had been born in PA. By 1910, he was dead and my great grandmother (Samuel’s wife) and my grandfather were living with my 2nd great grandmother, still in Lancaster County.
I had several options at this point. My first thought was to check census records, beginning with the 1860 census, hoping to find Samuel with his family. I discovered that Myers was a common surname in Lancaster County and that there were several families with sons named Samuel who were born in the early 1850’s. So much for that thought.
Next I checked the Lancaster County usgenweb site, but was unable to locate anything that would further my research goals. I checked familysearch.org and ran the list for Lancaster County, PA hoping to find vital records for either his birth, marriage, or death. On a research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City I was finally able to make some progress. In the stacks, I found a book of compiled records of the ministerial service of Benjamin G. Welder, a local pastor. The records included a reference to the funeral service for Samuel Myers. The particular citation mentioned his birth date and location of his birth, his date of death and place of burial (town), the cause of death, and his immediate survivors. Now I was on to something!
I located the film for Lancaster County deaths 1894-1907 held by the Clerk of the Orphan’s Court. I quickly found Samuel’s death record. Unfortunately, I was not able to glean any additional information. I moved on to the birth registrations from Lancaster County which were kept for a brief period from 1852-1855 by the Register of Wills. I was not able to locate Samuel’s birth, even though I was fairly certain he had been born in this time frame. I also checked marriage license dockets kept by the Clerk of the Orphan’s Court for the period 1885-1906, realizing that the 1900 census indicated that Samuel and his wife were probably married in 1884. Again, no luck. I searched several other records at the Family History Library without avail.
Finally on a research trip to the Lancaster County (PA) Historical Society I hit paydirt. I was talking with the librarian about my frustrations in attempting to find Samuel’s family when he mentioned that the society had recently finished filming a New Holland, PA newspaper from the late 1800’s. He suggested that I take a look at it. I located Samuel’s obituary, which not only mentioned his immediate family, but named his parents and his siblings, and the cemetery where he was interred. I also located an article about his marriage to my great grandmother. Armed with that information, I have since visited the cemetery where he was buried and was also able to locate the tombstones of his parents and two siblings who preceded him in death.
I am currently working on extending his family back another generation. I am running into a few brick walls, but hope to make some progress on my next trip to PA.