We didn’t stay at the train station hotel our entire trip. In fact, we were so very lucky to have some condo timeshare points donated to us by my sister! She has a condo through Wyndham and some leftover points she would not be using, as she had just given birth to our new nephew. Wyndham has a great place located in Stroudsburg, PA. They were amazing, huge, and beautiful. We had a two bedroom with a full kitchen, balcony, two bathrooms, a lovely view, and cable TV. All for just the two of us. At this point I really wished we could have found someone else to come with us to share these lovely amenities.
Our vacation home in the morning. Lovely.
Stroudsburg is a bit of a drive to Scranton, but not horrible. It is, however, a delightfully quaint town. I mean that in the least offensive way. I just wanted to walk all around the town and window shop, chuckling at the clever names of the stores. But we didn’t have time for that nonsense. There was researching to be done. I also was happy to be there because my great great grandfather, Bascom Taylor Lacey, spent his latter years in East Stroudsburg. Where he ended up at death is still kind of a mystery to me.
So after a full day at the library I decided the next day would be a half-cemetery/half-library day. The weather had cleared up a bit and I thought we should take advantage of a clearish fall day. The first stop we made was to Abington Hills. This is a cemetery outside of Scranton proper that I learned at the library, the day prior, was where my great grandparents (L. Carlyle and Cora Motzenbacher Smith) are buried. I was told by a woman at the library that it might be difficult to find people at some of these cemeteries because the man who owns Abington Hills also owns a cemetery in town called Washburn Street Cemetery. He has been known to be neglectful of the cemeteries to the point of incarceration. I wasn’t sure this was accurate information but I braced myself for a nasty trip. We were the only people in the cemetery. It really wasn’t horrible. There were parts that needed some work and it could have used regular lawn mowing. But most of the headstones were standing up. I was unable to find a place with records or maps, but luckily I just happened upon my relatives driving by! Now, this is when I realized how many Smiths and Jones there are in the world (or Scranton at least). Holy crackerjacks. Every three seconds or so my heart would do a little jump because I would see a last name I needed and then would sigh, “oh, nope.” This happened over and over, till I actually found them.
This is the headstone for William J. and Nellie (Jones) Smith, Louis Carlyle's parents. You may recognize their names as the ones on the birth certificate I posted earlier.
Here is the headstone for Louis Carlyle Smith and his wife Cora (Motzenbacher) Smith. They are my great grandparents who both died before I was born.
Cora and L. Carlyle sometime before 1960.
We headed out of Abington Hills and towards the city. Washburn Street Cemetery was our next stop. Keep in mind, this is the second cemetery owned by Mr. Neglecty Neglecterson we will have visited. That is a hard name to say.
As we drove into the cemetery it started to sprinkle a little bit, which really just encompassed the entire feel of the cemetery, which I would call “sad and abused”. This is a cemetery in the middle of town, an historic cemetery, where many of those who died in the Avondale Mine disaster (where over 100 people died in a mine shaft) are buried. This is not a cemetery that is no longer burying people and has been abandoned, but you would never know it!
As I mentioned in an earlier post about the Scranton Lace Company, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s family is also from Scranton, PA. In fact, some of her family and some of my family worked together at the Scranton Lace Company. When I came home from my trip I did a little more research about some of the places we visited on our PA trip. One of them was the Washburn Street Cemetery. And who is buried there? Hillary’s parents! And her mother JUST died! I am guessing Hillary Clinton was at the cemetery at some point recently and saw the state of where her parents are spending their afterlife. It was appalling. Some of the great things about said cemetery:
- Knee-deep grass in spots. Keep in mind, this is mid-October. The grass is not ever out of control this time of year.
- The man who was actually out mowing today was running into and over headstones. It sounded like he was actually trying to kill the lawnmower. Now, it was difficult to see the headstones, so I can hardly blame him, beacause…
- They’re knocked over all over the place! Very nice headstones ALL over the ground.
- And holes that were actually trying to sprain my ankle…which of course I couldn’t see because of the grass.
- The fence was a hot mess, which might explain how people are able to get in and knock down the headstones.
- My favorite part: The racing wheels someone is storing near the back of the cemetery. Really? Really??!?
Needless to say, I had a very hard time finding anyone in here. I was looking for my Motzenbacher family (who I know are buried here) and only found one, David. He’s a great great uncle.
A great great uncle of mine. Where is Sylvester? Who could ever find out in this hot mess of a cemetery?
Not what I was hoping for.
What I did find, and was very amused by, was this headstone.
A spot for visitors.
Enough about my rage over Washburn.
Our last stop would be Forest Hill in the Dunmore area of Scranton. This is kind of a fancy suburb with cute houses (I’m not sure if I should use “cute” to describe some of the mansions but…) and rolling hills, with areas of scenic wooded areas. The cemetery is one of those wooded areas. Dunmore Cemetery butts up to Forest Hill and is easy to confuse. We went looking for some of my Kinsleys and Laceys who I know to be buried there. We took one lap around the place and decided this was crazy. There was a phone number on the website for the cemetery and good old Andrew gave a call. Turns out the lady answering the phone was at the service building at the front of the cemetery and was so gracious and helpful. I loved her.
She pulled out the burial card for the plot and I learned a lot more than what I thought was there. In addition to being the burial place for Charles and Marion (Lacey) Kinsley it is also the burial place for Marion’s brother (Turman Lacey) and mother (Emmaretta Foster Lacey). All of this was paid for by Emmaretta’s husband, Bascom Taylor Lacey (AKA B.T. Lacey). Here’s the weird part. Bascom is not buried here and Emmaretta was not given a headstone. She died suddenly in her mid 40s. No headstone. Everyone else in the bunch has a headstone, not Emmaretta. So I asked if she’d EVER had a headstone. Nope! Never. And where on earth is Bascom? So after the lady gave us the information and instructions out to the plot we drove over. This is what we found:
See the dark parts of those headstones? That was all mud Andrew scraped off. This is the point in the trip where Andrew said, "Someone hates your family." All that mud behind them? Those are the other plots in my family completely covered in mud.
We decided after taking a few pictures that we would stop by the front office again to let the lady know what a mess it was. She said that they hire the guy from the other cemetery to do burials and it turns out they had a burial next to them recently and they never cleaned it up! Great. Cemetery success! Forest Hill was still by far the nicest of the cemeteries we visited in Scranton, with the best help.
Fall Break Part IV: We will visit the homes of my old relatives. At least…we’ll try. Maybe Andrew was right, someone hated our family.