Last updated: February 19. 2013 8:08PM - 457 Views

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A successor of one of Wyoming Valley's earliest settler families is planning a genealogical visit to the area.

He's George Larson of Bend, Ore., who traces his lineage to the Bennet and Myers families, property owners on the West Side in the 18th century. The Bennets, in fact, owned the table on which after the disastrous 1778 Battle of Wyoming the local settlers signed the articles of surrender to the British. In particular, Larson is focusing on Philip Myers (1759-1835) and his descendants.

I am especially curious as to which of Philip's sons was the father of … Lawrence Myers, a very wealthy and prominent citizen of Luzerne County who lived from 1818 to 1905. Pinpointing his place in the family will fill in my knowledge of all the ‘Lawrences,' one in each generation of the Myers family, right down to the present day.

George, maybe you didn't win the Powerball, but you've certainly hit the genealogical jackpot. A local newspaper obituary for the Lawrence Myers you've mentioned says that he was the son of John Myers, who was in turn the son of Philip Myers, from colonial times. I'll send you a copy, along with some other relevant material I've found.

You might or might not be on target with the tintype you've sent me in the belief it might be Lawrence Myers, however. A faded photo of Lawrence that ran with his obituary is very difficult to link with the tintype. You're obviously a first-class researcher from a distance, because other things you told me have been borne out in local sources.

When you do get here, a trip you say you'd like to make sometime next year, be sure to visit the Luzerne County Historical Society, in Wilkes-Barre. Among other resources, it has a genealogy folder on the Myers family, which I'm sure will interest you.

The Myers family, like the Bennet family, has been very important to Wyoming Valley's progress down through the years. The Lawrence Myers who died in 1905 dealt extensively in real estate and coal lands and was a major stockholder in local banks, eventually becoming one of the wealthiest men in this section, said his obituary.

As for the table owned by your Bennet ancestors, George, I have some really good news for you. It is preserved in the collection of the Historical Society and ranks as a major artifact of the community's past. You'll get a chance to see it when you arrive next year.

•Resources: The massive History of Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County begun by Oscar J. Harvey and completed by Ernest G. Smith is now online. It's from the collection of the University of Pittsburgh and is available through www.archive.org.

Many more records vital to historians and genealogists are being digitized or placed online. However, some of the records most useful to genealogists are in danger of crumbling away. From 1896 to 1963 the Wilkes-Barre Record newspaper published an annual almanac listing information of all kinds plus a day-by-day summary of local news. Only a few copies of the complete set of almanacs are known to exist.

The Historical Record, another project by the newspaper, was an annual compendium of whatever local history the owner of the Record found interesting back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. As with the almanac, only a few copies are known to exist, and those available here in Wyoming Valley are in poor shape.

Tom Mooney is a Times Leader genealogy columnist. Reach him at tmooney2@ptd.net.

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