We visited there on our vacation in July, and it was an amazing trip. I have dreamed of traveling there for 22 years, ever since I went to the LDS Church to research my family genealogy so I could fill out my wedding book (being the youngest of all the grandchildren and getting married later in life, my grandmother was already dead, and I couldn't pepper her with questions).
This town is so out of the way in the Pennsylvania Wilds of north central Pennsylvania, but a wedding of a dear friend in Pittsburgh combined with having saved for fifteen years for a trip to Washington, D.C. and my desire to go to the place of my ancestors, made it the time for us to combine it all together in one plane ticket. SO worth it!
After being encouraged by the person cleaning our room at the Cross Fork Motel, I timidly walked into Jeff's Store and said, "I think we are distant cousins." I know now that Jeff and I are 2nd cousins, 1x removed. I had corresponded with his older sister, and the last time I heard from her was 2002. I found out that she died that year. She had graciously sent me pictures of my great grandparents and news about her little town of Cross Fork, PA. I pray she is resting in peace.
I cannot describe this experience in words. You can see the videos in Flickr. I filmed the land owned by my great grandparents and her parents before her (The Caldwells owned part of the farmland, but the deeds said other parcels were purchased from a variety of people).
What was so great about Jeff was that he had a TON of pictures! So fun! He also knew much of the history of the town, and his father, Harry L. Caldwell, had written these great books! What an intelligent man for a self-professed "country boy." I have found several newspaper articles written by him also.
Jeff only had Part II, but I emailed the newspaper in the area, and they sent me Part I. It was thrilling to read all about my Pennsylvania "roots."
The town of Cross Fork was a BOOM TOWN for the lumber industry in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Then, not long after my great grandparents died (leaving my grandmother an orphan at 11 years old), the town died when the lumber company pulled out. Harry tells the story well!
By the way, I write these post and schedule them once a week. So, I am writing this not long after returning from my trip, but it turns out that it will post on what would have been my grandmother's 117th birthday. This trip was for you, Wardie. Rest in Peace. I will tell your story.