Thursday, October 6, 2011
Up and out the door early, we picked up our rental vehicle at 7:30, and were pleasantly surprised to be given a Chev HHR as a mid-size option. It was more like an SUV, and perfect for our trip up to Pottsville. I was glad to have brought along our GPS, although Dad was great at navigating with the map.
There was an Occupy Wall Street protest planned at Philadelphia's City Hall, so we left the area using an alternate route. We were on the freeway before long, and realized our left signal light wasn't working, so it was a little uncomfortable until we had it repaired in Pottsville.
We went straight to the Pottsville Historical Society, as it opened at 10:00, and we were warmly welcomed by “Doc Pete” and Tom, who volunteered to help us with our research. They had an amazing array of resources, and Tom helped us by searching through the microfilm for naturalizations. We found 3 of those, some military information, and a few other bits of information which we were not certain were related to our family.
One of the books contained an inscription for the old William Hay's marker in the “Old Cemetery” in Auburn. It was quite interesting, as he was referred to as the Old Scotchman, which made us think there may not have been many Scots in the area.
We were surprised not to find much else about the family, and where they were after 1840 is still a bit of a mystery. I called over to the Presbyterian Church, and Audrey was very pleased to see me – I dashed right over, and she helped me look through their old baptisms, etc., but we came up empty-handed. She said there was a time when the records were not kept all that well, but I have to wonder if they went to church there at all.
We thought of going to the County Archives, but realized there wasn't much else to find there, as the Historical Society had such a rich collection. We exchanged email addresses with Tom and Pete, and offered them a donation, which they very much appreciated. Doc Pete insisted we take some fossils and a chunk of coal from the area, and gave us two pilsner glasses with official certificates. I hope they will keep their eyes open for information about the Hay family in the years to come.
We left Pottsville at about 3:00, and headed for the old cemetery in Auburn. Doc Pete had given us precise directions, which were perfect, as we likely would not have found it without his assistance. We were thrilled to see the old gravestone from the road – it was the first stone we spotted, and it was in pretty good shape, considering how long it had been there. There were no other Hays in the cemetery, but we were happy to have tracked down old William.
Our trip home was smooth sailing, as we felt pleased to have found some new information, and the traffic wasn't too bad heading back into Philadelphia. We returned the car and went back to the room to change before finding a nice fresh-food place to eat a light dinner.