Family Genealogy Road Trip Travelogues

Genealogy Road Trip, Day 5

Our last day in Pennsylania, Shari and I decided to get up at 6 a.m. to try and hit a few last locations before we headed back home. After checking out of the hotel, our first stop was the burg of Chicora.

By the way, pronounce that with a soft “ch”, as in “Chicago.” According to this map, in the 1870s a J. Lecky was a property owner here. You can see his name just east of the town marked Millerstown, where the road takes a slight S-bend and crosses a stream.

Then-Millerstown is now called Chicora, but according to the obituary of John McGee, our great-great-grandfather, he died in a buggy accident on the very road on which we were travelling. We got there a little before 8 in the morning, and the sun was just barely coming out.

Chicora is one of hundreds of small burgs throughout PA that have seen their glory days in the rear-view mirror. Once oil and coal were the big money items around here. Most (but surprisingly not all) of the oil is gone, and the coal centers have moved elsewhere. But there’s still some activity. Here’s looking from the side of the old Hays store (see photo below).

This is PA 68 as it heads up the hill through the main part of town.

When our ancestors lived here, this store was the bright, sparkling newcomer to the skyline.

In order to find the old Lecky plot, we too East Slippery Rock Road out of town a few miles, and traced along the curves and bends in the road until we found this stream crossing. The yellow arrow sign helpfully points to roughly where his land was.

Up at the top of the hill, probably where the house was, is a decrepit mobile home. Really decrepit, such that I didn’t even take a photo. There is such a thing as beautiful decay in photography, but this wasn’t it. It being private property and all, and being a little suspicious of the kinds of folk who’d live in a trailer like that, we eschewed going out on foot into the woods looking for traces.

Somehow — and this is just an indication of how overloaded with information I was getting — I’d forgotten that just the night before we’d tracked down a cemetery we wanted to look at. I’d even hand-drawn a map of the plots. Fortunately, after a few back-and-forth trips along the roads for gas etc., Shari remembered. We first tried looking behind one of the churches on the main drag, and found nothing there but parking lots. But a nice lady out walking her dog pointed us back the way we’d come (and right next to the gas station).

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Chicora cemetery hugs a hillside, with wonderful views of the whole town below, and long wooden rail trestle crossing the valley just to the west.

As we pulled up, we met John Callahan, who helps maintain the cemetery and walks the grounds several times a day. His family had been in Chicora for centuries, and they had a large family plot over on the north end. Like so many people we met there, he was incredibly generous with his time and energy. He gave us some good information on where to find the Lackeys (Lecky is one of the alternative spellings), and right off we found this stone:

Try to follow this: My great-great grandmother on my father’s father’s side was Laura Lackey. Her father was William J., who is in the abandoned cemetery from a couple of days ago. His brother was James K. Lackey, who had married Elizabeth Wolfer. This is she.

We also found some of the Wolfers there. John Callahan told us the Lackeys were and old and important name in the town, and that their family plot had a pretty big stone.

Arrayed in front are William E. Lackey, my great-grandmother’s cousin, his wife Mary and son Harry.

While we were looking and taking notes, John had gone back home and came back to us with a book about local history. He’d remembered a photo in it of the Lackey Hotel, an establishment in town that William had owned for twenty years after retiring as a blacksmith. The building still stands, with some renovations.

The enclosed area above the porch used to be an open balcony, and the pillars used to be simply 4x4s. In the 1920s, the entire building was lifted up onto rollers and moved back twenty feet from the road.

The road plan of Chicora has changed surprisingly little since the map above. Here’s the Google version of today. Look for the “68” marker on the highway just southwest of the town. There’s a little cluster of roads just beneath it — that’s the cemetery.

By the way, no one knows where the name “Chicora” came from. There were two other Millersburgs in the state, and only one could remain, so the name change was a must; but despite a lot of research on the part of the people who’d assembled the book John showed us, no one has been able to figure it out. The best guess is a freighter in the port of Erie with that name, but that’s not very convincing to anyone.

Chicora, Butler County, Pennsylvania, United States of America

10 thoughts on “Genealogy Road Trip, Day 5”

  1. Notice a trend on those headstones? They include two middle initials. If memory serves Mary A. was Mary Anna (Ann) Frederick. Remember i was looking at the Frederick graves and taking notes. I wonder if William E.’s middle initial stands for Emminger? Harry B.F. is probably for Bippus Frederick and if you recall at the South cemetery their was a Bippus and a ton of Fredericks with variations of spelling as there were in the Chicora Hemphill Cemetery in Donegal Township. I know that one of them was actually named Bippus.

    BTW i found my “good” notes. The ones we REALLY coulda used on the trip. Atop the gunsafe of all places. Just sitting there. I must’ve placed them there at some point knowing that i would want to pack them. Anyway, somewhere in this overstuffed binder I’ve got a lot of stuff on the lackeys and i can provide a lot more detail on them. We know that William E. was a blacksmith/fireman/hotel owner, and i think it was his son who was Sylvester Lackey, a doctor. Sylvester has brothers, one of whom is called A.M. Lackey i think who i have a picture of. If memory serves the A stands for Abraham, but it could be Alfred. Someone sent a newspaper clipping of his life. I don’t think it was an obit, but more of a who’s who of someplace in Ohio. It mentions him being born and raised in Butler. I have a lot of stuff and will be posting it in a couple weeks. After finishing my last 9 days of work. Most of what i have is out there on a gedcom somewhere. But there’s more that i’ve learned since them.

    Right now i see the biggest problem is linking up all those Osenbaughs/Ausenbaughs/etc to our Mary Osenbaugh. In fact, the first time i learned about Mary the person who informed me called her Mary Osenberger. The other problem, the one that bugs me most is finding out when and where Jacob Leckey died. All we know is that he last lived in Clarion Co.

    And did you notice that James Lackeys first wife Eliz Wolford’s name is spelled Lecky. I have to check, but i’m thinking there was a reason they spelled it that way. I don’t recall seeing them spell it that way on purpose ever. I don’t think James even ever went by Leckey. He was always Lackey. I could be wrong. I will unpack and find out because i’m thinking that it was she that committed suicide and not Amelia Anderson.

    Also, on James’ second wife Susannah Kepple i’ve got stuff on her family and the Fredericks and the Andersons, the Slaters, the Fleegers. We’ve got all the peripheral stuff. But we don’t have Jacob Leckey nailed down or his wife and i wish this would be easy, but it will be somewhat easier given the new info we’ve gathered.

    Now i’m looking at Eliz Wolfords headstone and notice it says wife of James K. There was also a James A. Or else someone made a mistake in a census. I have to look at my gedcom to see what i have him listed as and what does the K stand for? Is it a related surname? The only related surname i can think of is Kepple. What are the dates on that headstone?

    And what about Wiliam J.? It could be the J is for Jacob, but it could be a clue as to the name of which of Abraham Osenbaughs sons Mary Leckey was the daughter of…There was a James in the 1840 census that was there neighbor who may have been Mary’s brother and a Susannah who was his neighbor who could’ve been their mother. Abraham begat Isaac (really) and several other sons whose names escape me right now. From one thing we read we learned most of them went to Ohio. I need some time to integrate all the new information with all the old. And take a second look at the stuff in the “good stuff” binder.

    Ok time to stop rambling. It’s early here and i’m thinking “out loud”.

  2. I think we might be related somehow. My genealogy dates back to a James Kirk Lackey from Butler, PA born in 1832. There was also a Bippus Virgil Lackey on the family tree. The story my father told me was that Bippus was not expected to live so the parents named him after the doctor’s surname. As it turns out, he did live. Anyway, I love your blog, Tom. Keep it up!

  3. Hey, T., thanks for writing. Take a look at the genealogy page my cousin and I have put together at which has what I’ve got on my James K. Lackey (also mentioned above), though I have a birth date of 1829 (death date 31 July 1887).

  4. Interesting! I’ll double-check the date. I’m going from memory at what I glanced at our family reunion last week. Incidentally, my father’s name is also James, who was named after his grandfather. Thanks for the info.

  5. Let us know what you come up with. If it turns out you’re our long-lost fourth or fifth cousin I’ll set you up with a password to the genealogy page, so you can see everything and add your material.

  6. I emailed you the family tree for James K. Lackey. I think it answers some of Shari’s questions above.

  7. Hello! I recently discovered that my G G Grandmother was born Eliza Lackey, circa 1813 in PA, and according to the census, both her mother and father were also born in PA. Eliza married Samuel Peter Cropper (Born 1807) in the 1830’s and lived in Philadelphia from then until she died in 1895. I was wondering if you had any info in your Lackey family tree that would connect my Eliza with your Lackeys? Any information would be greatly appreciated! Roberta Cropper Dell.

  8. Hi Roberta! The furthest we’ve been able to trace back is Jacob Lackey (sometimes recorded as Leckey or Lecky) born in PA circa 1805. It appears his parent were born in Ireland. That’s not to say there’s no relation to Eliza, however, since I have no records as yet about Jacob’s siblings, parents or extended family. Let’s stay in touch!

  9. Hello, T. Lackey ! I just now saw your posting from 2011. Sorry for the two year delay! Have you gotten any further in your search for Jacob Lackey? I have some educated guesses about my Eliza, but nothing concrete. I have a lot of Lackey info…not yet connected to Eliza…from Philadelphia newspapers, genealogical societies, and cemeteries, some of which may be of use to you. For instance, I can trace both the Lackeys and my Croppers to the records of one Philadelphia church from the early 19th century. I strongly suspect my Eliza Lackey and my Samuel Cropper attended this church in Southwark in Philly together from childhood. I also found records of one Joseph Lackey marrying one Sarah Lyndall and one Henry Lackey marrying one Margaret Lyndall at this same church in about 1800-1805? (I don’t have my notes in front of me…just relying on my ever aging memory!) Anyway, if you are interested in any more info on Philly Lackeys, my e-mail address is if you are interested. Please put the word “Lackey” in the banner, or my husband will delete it as junk mail. Thanks! Roberta Dell.

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