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Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Two Day Trip

I’ve wanted to make a trip to my dad’s home town, Coalmont, Pennsylvania.  I had grandkids on spring break last week, so Beth and Caroline and I left on Friday and came home yesterday.   It’s a four plus hour drive, ending with some serious mountain road driving.  We went first to our overnight accommodation, a little bed and breakfast tucked up against a mountain, like most every building.

The redbuds are blooming.
We stopped first at the cemetery of my great-great grandparents, and some great uncles, brothers of my grandfather, George Marion.  George may be there too, he was brought back to Pennsylvania by his brother for burial.  I talked to the township secretary to get some understanding of what I would be looking for.  From memory he recited the grave locations to me.  All their records have been lost and he made a map of the cemetery by the remaining markers.  He recited all the standing Lytle markers and says he has not found George Marion Lytle, but believes he’s there.  Caroline spotted many small round markers flush in the ground, with one initial.  He could be one of them. 

John W. Lytle, my great-great grandfather, is next to his wife, Annie E. Crumm, the wisp of a grandmother remembered by my Aunt Laura. 

John W. has his Civil War rank and company on his stone, and the G.A.R. star by his stone, with slots for a flag.   He was wounded at Bull Run and wounded so severely at Antietam that he was discharged after months in hospital recovering, and never of sound health again, according to an account I read.  He lived many more years, however, a school teacher, and elected to a variety of county offices.

We went from the cemetery in Dudley along the ridge roads to Coalmont.  We pulled over several times to let the locals who knew every twist and turn of aptly names roads like 6 Mile Run go past.  It had rained heavily overnight and the river on one side ran high and water still flowed over the mountain rocks on the other. 

I had a map of Coalmont we intended to use when we arrived.  I had located the property on Evans Street my grandparents sold, I assume to buy the house Aunt Laura remembered, across from the school.  The map locates the school on the corner of Daugherty and Watson Streets.  We found a quintessential mountain town, squeezed between the river and the mountain as to north and south, uphill and downhill east and west.

Most fascinating, my late 19th century map was a city planner’s dream map.  All the vacant lots on that map remain vacant.  They don’t even exist.  I believe their existence would have involved excavating a mountain.  No matter.  A home is on the school’s lot.  The house where my dad and his brother Bill sat on a stoop may have been across the street, or anywhere.  It was interesting to circle the streets of a little bit of a town inserted on a mountain ridge.

I taught Caroline to play Roadside Cribbage.  Her very first score, even as I was explaining, was a white horse worth ten points, followed at once by a church doubling the score and another church, doubling again.  She wasn’t too sure of the outcome as we drove around little towns and churches that doubled her points doubled grandma’s points coming back down the street.  Loss of all my points to cemeteries poorly located on grandma’s side sealed her enthusiasm, and by the time we arrived home she was keeping score on a piece of paper and had beat me 38,702 to 20.  I believe that’s a family record.


  1. Good thing there was no money placed on that game.

  2. What a fascinating trip! The B&B looks cute....always prefer a B&B to a hotel.
    Jane x

  3. Tracking down ancestors is a great hobby. I enjoyed reading about your car trip games. Our's consisted of completing the alphabet by getting letters off of billboards and roadside signs. Your's was much more imaginative!

  4. A lovely memory lane post! Seeing headstones always make me pause.

  5. Wonderful post! So nice to meet your family! And your should take that child to Vegas! I see big things in her game-playing future!!!