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May 1999


June and I left on a two week combined pleasure, genealogy, and family visit trip. The primary reason for the trip was to visit her 89 year old father who lives alone in Wilkes-Barre, PA. We decided to go by way of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and see if we could contact David Hawthorne, the researcher for the George Held arm of the family. David lives about 50 miles south of the eastern access to the park. (I have been trying to contact David for a couple months without success.) The plan was to then go up the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shanondoah National Park (Skyline Drive) on our way to my sister's place in a suburb of Washington, DC. It had been a while since we have been at the Smokies and we have never seen the Blue Ridge Parkway or Shanondoah NP.

We toured the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, including Cade's Cove and walking to the top of Clingman's dome. We finished at Cherokee on the east side. On a last effort I tried David Hawthorne one last time before driving north. Much to my surprise he answered. It seems they just got back from a one month European trip just 2pm that morning. We proceeded to go visit David and Joan the next day. We left Sunday after going to church with them and headed north after a pleasant visit. David showed me the pin box that he presumes was a wedding gift to John David. It has the name Johann David on it with the date 1843 and a symbol that looks like a sewing machine and a pair of scissors.

June and I spend a couple days driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shanondoah National Park, before visiting my sister's family in Bartonsville, MD. The biggest problem was finding motels that accepted pets, because we had our 15 year old Maltese dog with us. On the way from Bartonsville to Wilkes-Barre, PA we tried to contact an aunt of June's in Red Lion, PA. Since that was unsuccessful, we decided to stop at Hershey, a place I had never been.

We visited June's father a couple days. We also visited her sister and cousin in New Jersey. June and her cousin shared genealogy notes on the Dreistadt and Hirthler families. We then went to Philadelphia on Saturday to visit our daughter. On early Sunday morning we left to attend a Sharp family picnic near Pittsburgh. The picnic was great. My brother-in-law had hired a bagpiper to celebrate the birthdays in May, especially his uncle Pete Sharp. While in the Pittsburgh area I took the opportunity to visit with Jean Rupert, the Frederick Held Family 1983 writer, in Elderton (Shelocta). During the visit Jean suggested I call Clair Held in N. Apollo, which she proceeded to do for us.

I had stopped at Clair Held's supermarket in N. Apollo last year and was given the impression by the manager that the Held's would not be interested in talking to us. Since we had to drive right past N. Apollo on the way to Oakmont, I suggested we stop that evening, since we intended to leave in the morning for St. Louis. Pearl, Clair's wife, was having a church dinner that evening, so that was out of the question. On the way back to Oakmont June and I decided to stay an extra day, so I stopped in N. Apollo to ask if we could come by the next day. That was fine. Pearl gave me a large notebook to copy whatever I wanted. After a good look we looked up a Staples (.05 a page/self service). I made copies of about 200 pages and returned the book the next day.

The visit was a great sharing of stories. One story was that the Held name used to be Hild, which I was able to dispel. Even back to the 1550 records our family name has always been spelled Held. I do have a German newspaper clipping that says there are other variations of the name, such as Helt, Heldt, Höldt, and Höld. Another Held family that connects to ours was spelled Höld. Clair also told a story of his great uncle George Held. I seems that George came home from the Civil War with a bullet wound in his heel. He was accused of shooting himself in the foot.  Another story is that the first non-jew killed at the Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich was a Held. I failed to see the plaque that Clair described on our visit there last year.

Before we left, Pearl and Clair asked if I had contacted Ruth Held, wife of the late Blair Held, a Hiram Held descendant. They indicated that Blair had been doing family research before he died. They also said that Ruth had previously refused to allow anyone to see the data Blair had gathered. Considering my fruitless attempts to get data on that family, I would try anything. She lives in the county high rise in Apollo, less than a mile away. They called Ruth and she agreed over the phone to let me see the book. We immediately left to get the book and went to Staples. I made copies of about 350 family sheets, comprised of the George, Jacob, Frederick, Louisa, and Hiram Held families.

All in all the trip was a genealogy research success. There were many improvements to the George, Jacob, and Louisa family data. Not too much for the Frederick family. But, the Hiram Held family was a pleasant surprise. Now I need to find a Hiram and Louisa descendant to take responsibility for maintaining those data. I will send copies of the George data to David Hawthorne, the Jacob data to April Thorson, and the Frederick data to Jean Rupert and Pearl Held. I will also send a copy of the Louisa (Held) Kunkle data to Jim Kunkle in Denver, the unofficial national Kunkle data repository.

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Copyright 1999 by Fred H. Held