Monday, June 04, 2007

Pennsylvania resources

Researcher needs logistical help finding great-grandmother

Hello, my name is Shirley. I am tracing my family tree. I have done good so far but have hit a brick wall now. My great-grandmother went by the name of Anna and Annie Rock. I can find her in the 1930 census but nothing beyond that. The 1930 census shows that she was 69 yrs. but I cannot get a death record on her until I know when she died.

I tried calling all the cemeteries back in Aliquippa, PA but they have no record of her. Aliquippa, PA is where she lived, and it is Beaver county. I have look and looked for her and did everything I know. She came from Italy, around 1889 or 1892 but just finding when she passed away is very hard. Please can you help in any way. Many, many thanks.


WONDERFUL! You have learned a great deal about your great-grandmother so far. I am also sure that you have made appropriate searches of previously compiled research & how-to info at:

I assume you want her death record with the hope of determining her maiden name, and thereby tracing her ancestry? It has been my experience that few cemeteries have an office, and those that do are all too often busy with someone in the office when I happen to call. But do not worry, Ol’ Myrt here has come up with some additional ideas. I am sure that along the way, you will discover more resources on your own.

A check for cemetery records in Beaver County, Pennsylvania returns the following:

  • Beaver County, Pennsylvania, cemetery records Vol. 1-4 by David Hays, Elsa Hays and Vivian McLaughlin. Each volume has an index. "Volumes I and II were compiled and published under the direction of Vivian C. McLaughlin, director of the Resource and Research Center for Beaver County and Local History -- V. 4 prelim. p. Vol. 3 researched and compiled by David & Elsa Hays. Vol. 4 contains more records located by Vivian McLaughlin. Vol. 1-2 published from information located in the Carnegie Free Library, Beaver Falls, Pa." NOTE: This descrition comes from the FHLCatalog listing online at: This title is only available in book format at the Family History Library, which means the books do not circulate. An alternative would be to find this title through your public library interlibrary loan.

If Anna was a Lutheran, there are the Church records, 1877-1924 House of Prayer Lutheran Church, too early for your great-grandmother’s death to be recorded, but perhaps her baptism or marriage is listed. The detail on that microfilm (FHL 1671248 Item 2) states “Church officials Members Baptisms 1877-1924 Deaths 1893-1924 Communicants.” Maybe your great-grandmother is listed as a communicant? If not, look for baptisms of her children to see who the sponsors are. There will hopefully be someone on her side of the family who acted as sponsor or godparent, so work all the angles on those surnames. Normally accepted research guidelines would encourage you to note if you find a sponsoring couple with the last name Smith, consider that the husband might be a brother to the mother of the child being christened. That would lead you to look for your great-grandmother as Anne, Ann, Anna or Annie Smith. However, if she was 69 in 1930, that would mean she was born/christened or baptized circa 1861, too early for this particular church record collection; unless, of course, the church practiced adult baptisms.

If your great-grandmother was Presbyterian, then
A bicentennial history of Mt. Carmel Presbyterian Church, Aliquippa, Beaver Co., Pa : two hundred years of ministry and mission, 1793-1993 by Mark H. Welchley might interest you. The latter is in book format which means the book does not circulate. An alternative would be to find this title through your public library interlibrary loan. Typically such histories do not include transcriptions of christenings, marriages or burials.

If you don’t find much on your great-grandmother in the Beaver County vital records indexes, probate, wills or church records, consider that she may have remarried and so her name at her time of death was no longer

Review the FHL (Family History Library) Catalog for Beaver as part of Pennsylvania, by going to, clicking on the catalog, and choosing the “place” search button. There are numerous items in the following categories, which should be reviewed before you give up. While books, maps and CDs do not circulate outside the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, most microfilm and microfiche can be “ordered in” through your local FHC (Family History Center). If you need to locate a FHC near you see: The page is about the Family History Library, but scroll to the bottom of that page to find out more about Family History Centers, which are branches of the Family History Library.

Pennsylvania, Beaver - Archives and libraries - Inventories, registers, catalogs
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Biography
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Cemeteries
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Census - 1790
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Church history
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Church records
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Court records
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Directories
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Genealogy
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Genealogy - Handbooks, manuals, etc.
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Genealogy - Periodicals
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Guardianship
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - History
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - History - Indexes
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - History - Periodicals
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - History - Societies - Periodicals
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Land and property
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Land and property - Indexes
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Land and property - Maps
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Maps
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Maps - Indexes
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Military history - Biography
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Military history - Civil War, 1861-1865
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Military records
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Military records - Civil War, 1861-1865
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Naturalization and citizenship
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Newspapers - Indexes
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Obituaries
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Probate records
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Probate records - Indexes
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Schools
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Taxation
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Taxation - Indexes
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Vital records
· Pennsylvania, Beaver - Vital records - Indexes

Perhaps your grandmother didn’t die in her home state. However, if she owned property in Beaver County, it is possible that her estate went through probate at the local court with jurisdiction. Probate packets on microfilm are often more interesting than wills because wills do not always mention every heir that is considered during the probate process. The Family History Library does have a series of microfilm titled:

  • Probate records, 1803-1917; index to register's office, 1803-1965 by the Beaver County, Pennsylvania Register of Wills. The FHL Catalog entry explains “Microfilm of original records in Beaver County Courthouse, Beaver, Pennsylvania. Most volumes are also indexed individually. Will books, volumes F-U were microfilmed in Beaver, Pennsylvania, by the Beaver County Microfilm Department in 1973.”

This means that the index on film 1803-1965 will most likely have an entry if your great-grandmother did have a will or probate packet on file because she probably died before 1965. However, the films of actual probate records covers 1803-1917, so you would have to the contact the Beaver County Register of Wills office for a copy of the complete will and probate file.

Please do not commit a faux pas by calling the county without determining her date of death/will/probate from the index. Your great-grandmother’s files are a matter of public record, but have you driven by a local courthouse lately? Courthouses are swamped with the work concerning the current docket. Genealogists need to tread softly, and forget the big stick.

Clerks of the Court, just like librarians, are people, too.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

(c) 2007 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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