Want to Trace your Family History?
Here are books to help you with your genealogy

If you wanted to research any community or some of the early settlers of our county, these are some of the resources available for you to use.

Sarah Ann McCool, a Pottsville school teacher wrote the first history of Schuylkill County from 1874 to 1975. This was originally published in the Shenandoah Evening Herald newspaper. All county history books take their first pages from the McCool papers. This can be researched at the Historical Society of Schuylkill County and the Pottsville Library. A copy is also kept at the Smithsonian Institution at Washington.

If one of your ancestors served in the Civil War, you could use the book by Francis b. Wallace, "Memorial of the Patriotism of Schuylkill County in the American Slaveholders Rebellion." This lists the names of all county volunteers who served . . . lists names and dates of those who died in battle or by disease, and also lists patriotic citizens who contributed towards defense bonds. If you know what regiment your ancestor belonged to or what events your ancestor participated in, this book would help. Mr. Wallace was associate editor of the Miners' Journal. This book was published in 1910. Another book on the Civil War is "The First Defenders" by Heber S. Thompson who was also the president of the First Defenders Association. This book tells about the five companies of Pennsylvania volunteers in the Civil War. It lists the muster rolls of these companies and has 59 pictures of some of the First Defenders. It was published in 1865.

If your ancestor served in WWI, the book "Schuylkill County, Penna. in the World War" by E. L. Clifford is an excellent source of information. This lists all veterans and recounts stories of the battles in which the soldiers of our county participated. You will find your ancestor's name in this book and, by reading about his regiment, you can relive the battles in which he fought in WWI. Mr. Clifford, originally a Frackville resident, was on the staff of the Pottsville Morning Paper when he compiled this book in 1931.

When I wrote the story of my father, a WWI veteran, I found him listed with his regiment, all the battles they fought in, the commendations they received, and the day that he was wounded.

There are several biographical books that contain biographies of many early pioneers of our county. If you are researching your family name, I suggest you look at the "Index to Schuylkill County and its' Residents." I compiled this index in 1983, and it contains the surnames of all the family names listed in these books. These books are likely to be available at the Historical Society of Schuylkill County, the Pottsville Library, and the Penn State Schuylkill Campus Library.

The Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Schuylkill County, published by Samuel T. Wiley, contains almost 550 sketches of prominent citizens of the county. It was revised and edited by Henry Ruoff and published in 1893. Many excellent pictures are included in this book.

A History and Biographical by Adolf Schalck and D.C. Henning is a two-volume set with V.1 containing a history of the county and V.2 containing biographies of prominent county citizens. This was published in 1907 and contains many pictures of leading county residents.

A two-volume set by J.H. Beers published in 1916 has many biographies on family names and citizens in business and politics.

The Zerbey books are another good source of information on our county and its residents. These were written by high school students supervised by history, political science, and English teachers in 1933. These books were published by the Pottsville Evening Republican to celebrate the 75th birthday of J.H. Zerbey who would have celebrated his birthday on June 16, 1933, but who died April 18, 1933, and to celebrate the 50th year of the Pottsville paper. This is a five-volume set with the sixth volume the index.

If you research your family name in the index, it may direct you to information that was included in the Miner's Journal and Pottsville Republican newspapers. It may include an obituary, a wedding notice, birth notices, train and mine accidents, etc. You would then go back to the old newspaper and read the complete article. Many stories of your family can be found this way and sometimes surprising tales you were never aware of. I strongly suggest you go through the index of these Zerbey books.

If you want to know the members of your city council, early postmasters, or pioneer business people, you would research the Boyd's Directory of businesses of Schuylkill County. This is an annual, and the Historical Society and Pottsville Library have these back to the early 1800's.

When I did the first complete history of the Frackville Post Office . . . this is where I found a listing of all the people who served our town . . . and I also found out that our first postmaster was a postmistress, Lenora Frack Meredith.

These books will also give you the population and list the businesses in your community at that time.

There are many books that can be read if you want to learn more about the anthracite region. George Korson's books, "Minstrels of the Mine Patch," "Black Rock," and "Pa. Songs and Legends," are outstanding books about our area.

There are many books on the Molly Maguires if you want to learn more about them.

More recently, "The Kingdom of Coal," Saint Clair, The Reading railroad and several books on Centralia (who is our neighbor in Columbia County) have been published.

So you see . . . our county has some excellent resources, but it is up to you to use them.

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