My family history for the most part was just a bunch of names and dates.  I knew nothing about these people but as I watched Genealogy Road Show, I loved how they told the story of the area and time which brought the ancestors to life.
     So I was hunting for a photo of the Petty homestead for the Lacoe Family Reunion.  I knew it was in Milwaukee, Pennsylvania so I started Googling.  First I learned Milwaukee is an unincorporated community and is part of Ransom.  Then I learned Ransom is too small for its own library so I moved on to the next town over where a bunch of my relatives lived – Newton.  But all I was finding was a library in West Newton.  As I scrolled down, at the bottom of the first page of results there was a link to the History and Directory of Newton and Ransom Townships, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, and since the book was out of copyright, it was available online in full.
     Not only did I find a photo of the farm, but I found a map of Ransom which showed where everyone lived.  And I recognized the names since the families intermarried. 
     I also learned more than just names and dates for my great great-great-grandfather.  Page 244:  “First house built about 1840 by Barney Dersheimer.  During the summer of 1908 Mr Petty [Milton W. Petty] tore down most of the old house and built the present home, containing ten large rooms. 90a, 2c, 3h, 2 hogs.”  Page 212:  “Mr. Petty is one of the largest truck and fruit growers in Ransom and Newton townships, and about the first to produce berries this side of the mountain. About 1880 he started with raspberries, and a few years later produced over four hundred bushels of strawberries in a season. He has a vineyard of about three hundred fine grape vines and over one hundred and fifty pear and plum trees.”
     So I got lucky.  But if my family had not been named in the book, I knew Peter Petty arrived after his son was born in 1859.  The land was very fertile and “climate is well adapted to the apple, pear, plum, cherry and grape.  While in some localities, peaches in the perfection of flavor are raised successfully.  The strawberry, blackberry and raspberry grow spontaneous, and when cultivated the yield is very abundant and of the highest quality of fruit.” And the sulky plow was making it possible for a man to easily plow a rocky field.  In 1912, when the book was written, Milwaukie [earlier spelling] had about 20 families “but counting every person living within Milwaukie School District the population is about 175. The inhabitants are thrifty and industrious, nearly all owning their homes….Unlike many other towns, Milwaukie is quite free from the spirit of gossiping, and as a rule, everyone attends to his own business…”  In 1859 the Methodist church was built. 
     By learning about the community, I also learn where to find the records.  Lackawanna County was not formed until 1878 meaning Peter Petty was living in Luzerne before that.  Before moving to Milwaukee, Pennsylvania, Peter Petty lived in Wilkes-Barr and Pittston and records show up citing Wyoming which is confusing because there is a Wyoming borough that is part of Pittston, a Wyoming County, and a Wyoming Valley.  Peter is in the geographical area called the Wyoming Valley.