Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Continuation of the Previous Post

The experience my dad and I had from our previous trip into Pittsburgh was that we tried to do too much in too short an amount of time. Before this trip began I made the suggestion that we take an extra day to see what we could get accomplished. My dad agreed and we made the arrangements.

The first day, as I wrote about already, was incredible. It really was more than what either of us could have anticipated. Going into the second day, we still had a grave site to find, but we also wanted to track down some discrepancies we had uncovered in the official records pertaining to our family. However, we didn't know exactly what to expect as the day began.

We started out for the Richland Cemetery in McKeesport, just outside of Pittsburgh, knowing that the grave we were looking for was there (it was posted on the "Find A Grave" website), but just the headstone was shown. No reference points as to where it was located were given. Richland Cemetery certainly isn't the biggest, but it was big enough that if you don't know which section to begin in, you could find yourself being there for a couple hours. We wanted to make sure we had the time in case we needed it.

As we pulled up we noticed a gentleman walking amongst the headstones, armed with a camera and taking some notes. We thought perhaps he was a caretaker or a maintenance person, so we asked him if he would help us. "No, I don't work for the cemetery, I do work for the 'Find A Grave' site, but I know where you can get the information you're looking for" he said. He told us about the McKeesport Heritage Center that maintained several records pertaining to McKeesport and the immediate surrounding area.

"Are they even open on Saturday?" my dad asked, thinking there was no way they could be, but the man assured us they were. We looked up the address and found our way over there. What we found astonished the both of us. Not only did they have the information on the grave marker we were looking for, but they had several other official records of nearly everyone who ever called McKeesport home. My dad and I could have spent an entire day in that place and maybe not seen everything.

As we drove back to the cemetery, information in hand, we reflected on just how good God was on our journey. Without knowing what to expect, or even in having a sense in where to begin, we met some people who helped us piece together fragments of our family history. Complete strangers that contributed in numerous and profound ways in search of our roots.

It wasn't long after we arrived back at the cemetery that we found the grave site we were looking for. Dad got a picture with a couple reference points so others who may be looking for it will find it much easier than we did. Still we were in awe of everything that brought us to this point.

Soon though we went back toward the Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene to clear a couple remaining mysteries up, and we were on our way back home. There was one thing left to do though.

My father had been born in Greenville, PA, and I suggested we take a side trip there to just drive around and have a look. He liked that idea, and it wasn't really out of our way to do so. We drove in and around Greenville, and I saw my dad's face just light up as we found the house he lived in (the outside hadn't changed too much), and the house he was born into, and an old covered bridge where he used to play, and where he went to school. We drove by the bowling alley that we believe my grandfather had made the lettering for, and discovered that the lettering was still there on the outside of the building, nearly sixty years after the fact.

As my dad was recounting to me instances from his childhood, he talked about the people his dad worked for, and how one of them believed in my grandfather to the point that he hired him to help design and build houses. Before that my grandfather had been a factory worker, but he had a keen eye for detail and design, and this man apparently recognized it in him, and gave him an opportunity to show what he could do.

I couldn't help but think of all those people who believed in me and gave me a chance, none more than the man who right there in the car with me. The entire adventure into Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania was an incredible testament to the goodness of God. Who better to spend that time with than my heavenly Father, and my earthly father!

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