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About My Research

Before you are off and running I thought I would explain some things about this family history effort of mine. I have always had an interest in general history, but I initially delved into genealogy after the passing of my paternal grandmother Dorothy “Gram” Hake Bales in July 1991. Her death was the catalyst that spurred me to start my intensive research into all branches of my family.

After her funeral I remember sitting in my grandparents’ home near New Castle, Pennsylvania, and looking through a scrapbook belonging to my cousin Jennifer Griffin. The scrapbook contained some family photos and some obituaries of the Bales and Hake families. It was like a light bulb clicked on over my head. I was hooked. I copied all the info by hand into a notebook and when I got back home to Maryland I formed a plan.

I designed and printed up a questionnaire (that many of you may have since received) and started mailing them out en masse. Back then, in the days before email and the internet, getting names and addresses of more and more family members was the goal. I worked hard on getting those names/addresses - and then asking the new contacts for more names/addresses - and so on and so on! That was a slow-moving process that required much patience and determination. Nothing happened overnight. I also pushed for family photos - which you will soon see has paid off dearly. I conducted research for about eighteen months and then put it aside.

Over the next fifteen years or so I occasionally worked my family history, but never got totally immersed in it like before. It was the death of paternal grandfather Ray “Pap” Bales Sr., the day after my birthday in November 2006, that kick-started my renewed effort. That turned out to be an intensive period of research and really took this project to the next level.

Over the next two months I made six separate day trips to western Pennsylvania to do research. The trips followed the same pattern: I would leave at 2:30am, arrive at Al’s Corner store in Koppel at 7:00am, and then proceed to my maternal grandmother Irene (LaPatka) DeMarc’s home in nearby Chewton for coffee. We would depart at 9:00am and spend the day together doing research, arrive back at her home at about 6:00pm, talk for hours, take a nap at about 11:00pm, and then I would leave for the trip back home at about 2:00am. I was told I was crazy for all the driving, but it really was fun and fulfilling.

During those visits my grandmother and I would spend the day walking local cemeteries, looking through microfiche of old newspapers at the New Castle library, visiting various relatives, taking photos of different locations, and talking and talking and talking about my our family history. My grandmother Irene knew everything. I mean everything - even about my dad’s side of the family! The information I gathered was incredible.

I look back at those visits as the highlight of this whole process. Like the day I showed up with an electric mitre saw, lumber, and tools and quickly built her a new porch before we were off that day. Or walking the hills of Clinton Cemetery (Hake’s and Doutt’s buried there) and seeing how determined my grandma was to find Betty Ault’s grave. It was freezing that day in January 2007 but she was a real trooper. We never located it, “But Grandma, I know where it is now. We were way off!” The weather was extremely bad that winter in western Pennsylvania and I reluctantly ended my visits in mid-January.

I continued to talk to my grandma (and other people) on the phone and gather information, but issues in my own life prevented any further visits for a while. Her death in July 2007 totally and completely crushed me, but I feel like the wealth of information I gathered from November 2006 to January 2007 was essential to this website.

My research is centered around my eight great-grandparents on the four main branches of my family: LoPatka-Brinczko, DeMarc-DeMatteo, Hake-Doutt, and Bales-Travis. You will see their links highlighted on the main pages. I have a decent write-up about each union and I use them as the starting point (going backwards and forwards in generations) when doing my research. I suggest you print out the lineage tree and use that as a guide when reading the individual pages.

I must give special thanks to several people for going above and beyond in helping me out, including my mother MaryAnn DeMarc Bales, my grandma Irene LaPatka DeMarc, my aunt Rose DeMarc Fratini, my uncle John Hake, my cousin Diana DiMarco Morgan, my uncle Ray Bales Jr., my uncle Walter Ridenbaugh Jr., and uncle Charles DeMarc Jr.

My mother MaryAnn: Always there to answer all the questions I had about the family history and our travels around the world. I had a question and I would pick up the phone and get immediate results. And I usually asked for details about some odd, obscure, or seemingly inconsequential thing! I appreciate you jogging your memory to remember all that minutiae.

My grandma Irene: Wow! You were there from the beginning for me and nobody - repeat NOBODY - helped me out like you did. You were the queen of family knowledge and all that stuff you saved proved valuable. We had a good run Grandma. I am going to see that all that info you provided me is going to live on. I miss you Grandma!

My aunt Rose: During the initial phase of my effort in 1991-92 you simply carried the day on the DeMarc side. It was people like you who took great interest in all those little details that made this all so rewarding. Your letters and in-depth answers to all those questions I sent you are a true treasure. I feel saddened that you are not around so I can personally share all that I have learned. Rose, I have never forgotten what you did for me.

My uncle John: The Hake side of the family has always been the weakest section of my research. Well your assistance has been tremendous (and especially during the summer of 2009) and helped me catch up the Hake section to the other branches of my family. All those questions you answered - including trying to figure out where the old Hake farm was - is greatly appreciated. Your stories about my dad, who had a fond place in his heart for you, also put a smile on my face. Thanks a bunch.

My cousin Diana: More than anything else your fascination and interest in our DeMarc family has inspired me through this whole process. Knowing that there are people who are eager for the knowledge I am gathering keeps me going. I can also talk straight with you like no one else. I mean, we really get into and try to figure stuff some delicate stuff out without pulling any punches. Our talks mean a lot to me.

My uncle Ray: I really enjoy my visits to see you and Sue. We have had some great times - while eating lots of food (no more burgers please!) - and I hope we have many, many more in the years to come. Your knowledge of the Bales and Hake families has really helped me polish off the rough draft biographies. I love your enthusiasm about jumping in the car and checking out the family history-related sites. Another valuable aspect of your assistance has been your vast knowledge of general New Castle area history. I want you to know our talks about such things as the Oak Street School, the limestone caves along the Neshannock, the Ray Street firehouse and their round television (Howdy Dowdy anyone??), and the Princeton Station train stop are treasured by me.

My uncle Walter: It’s been a pleasure reading all the emails you sent me about your parents and the Hake family in general. The information you provided has been great in helping me polish off many of the bios and it’s much appreciated. I look forward to continuing to wrack your brain for details!

My elusive uncle Charles: I had never met you but I wrote to you numerous times from 1991 until 2007. I’m sure it was like, “Will this guy ever quit?” Then you called me out of the blue. Actually meeting you and hanging out for two days in April 2009 was a thrill beyond belief for me. My maternal grandfather George DeMarc died long before I was born, but you have helped me learn about who he really was. I am so thankful we finally connected and hit it off. All the history and old photos you have provided has been simply amazing.

I would be remiss in not giving a special thanks to my father Jeff Bales Sr., my sisters Carol Ann Bales-Glasco and Alison Lynn Bales Delendeck, my cousin Laura Ann Hake, my cousin Terrie Jean Bales, my cousin Richie Venditti, my aunt Debbie Bales Wyle, and family historian Frances Doutt Smith. Thanks so much for helping me out.

I also want to thank Don DeMarc, Cindi DeMarc-Surratt, Rose “Honey” Venditti Harrison, Jeff Mathias, Josephine Venditti Flitcraft, Anthony Venditti, Mary Ann Fratini Smith, Angie Fratini Reece, Carla DiMarco Cooper, Mary Casillo Parisi, Pam Bales Riddle, Penny Bales Kline, Patty Bales McKee, Bobbi Renee Duff, Rachel Duff Tinsley, Dottie Bales Sawyer, Jim Wyle, Betsy Bales Hela, Robert Gary Bales Sr., Carol Gumley Bales, Patty Bales Negrini, Donna Deibert Crawley, DuAnne Deibert Ditzenberger, James “Jimmy” Bales, Concetta Russo Hake, Christopher Allen Hake, Leila Jayne Hake Jenkins, Robert Henry Hake, Catherine “Kay” LaPatka Migut, Josie “Jay” LaPatka Teck, Ronnie Teck, Jessica Teck LaRosa, Frank “Shorty” LaPatka, Shirley Migut Perry, Mary Kay Migut Alfera, Christy Hake Rodriquez, Shari DiMarco Miri, Mary Reiber Beck, Lynda Ridenbaugh Powers, Donna Ridenbaugh Land, Mary Kaye Gerhard Patterson, Judy Moses Germani, Connie LaPatka Barany, Joseph “Sonny” LaPatka, Cindy Dubois Cox, and Kathleen LaPatka Jury. I appreciate everybody’s interest and assistance.

Enjoy the fruits of my research and take care.

Jeff Jr.

updated Jul 2010