Archive for March, 2008

Vietnam Wall Names Now Interactive Through Footnote

Still another reason we love Footnote so much. Footnote has partnered again with the National Archives and have created a totally free access to search The Vietnam Wall names and read or add details to the list of fallen heroes.

If you haven’t signed up yet follow this link: Start Your Free Trial With

The Vietnam Wall names search is totally free to everyone. No subscription required.

Note: update August 1, 2008. Footnote is approaching 60 million online digitized documents. Here is a link to see what types of things would be available for genealogists and historians. Footnote Index . Without a doubt, Footnote is the Best Genealogy Bargain on the Internet. (Dick Hillenbrand)

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New info added May 2008. Read about this story here also:

Lectures and Programs by Dick Hillenbrand

I recently updated the Programs and Lectures page on our main website for Upstate New York Genealogy at and decided to post here on the Blog site also. If anyone is interested in engaging a top rate speaker, I can recommend this man highly.

Richard “Dick” Hillenbrand of the Syracuse area has been an avid historical and genealogical researcher since the 1960’s. He served on the Board of Directors of the Onondaga Historical Association for twenty years and also has served on the Board of the Central New York Genealogical Society. He is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG).

He has lectured and given genealogical programs for several New York State based genealogical and historical societies, church groups, and community service clubs and has taught Basic Genealogical Research courses for the Adult Continuing Education system.

Dick has been using computers for genealogical purposes since 1979 and has a background in the use of computers for industrial automation systems.

The following are programs that Dick will be presenting in the year 2008:

New York State Archives of Albany, NY. Genealogy Seminar,

New York State United Teachers Retirees of Central New York.
March 2008: “Setting the Hook”. (Basic Genealogy Starter Lecture) (completed)

Central New York Genealogical Society (CNYGS)
May meeting: “Brick Wall Battering Rams”

Capital District Genealogical Society, (CDGS) Albany, NY.,
2008, Program: “Brick Wall Battering Rams”

(Other dates still available for group lectures.)

If your group would like a talk tailored to a specific subject or theme, please contact me and we will accommodate. One of the most popular talks is “Internet Genealogy”. (The latest up to the minute websites and tools are described in detail.)

Dick operates the popular website: Upstate New York Genealogy at and also has an award winning Blog site.

Dick Hillenbrand
Email: nygenes at gmail dot com.

Programs, Lectures, Conferences that Dick Hillenbrand has presented.

Onondaga Historical Association;
Several Presentations, 1960′s through the 1980′s.
Syracuse Area Bottle Collecting History, Bottlers & Breweries, Syracuse & Onondaga
County Tokens, Buttons & Badges. American Presidential Campaign Memorabilia.
Onondaga County Photographs and Photographers from the Collection of the Onondaga
Historical Association.

Central New York Genealogical Society;
Several presentations, 1980′s through the 1990′s.
Onondaga County Research, Resources at the Onondaga Historical Association, Joint
Q&A Panel Program, Basic Genealogy Research.

Madison County Historical Society;
1987, Program on Genealogical and Historical Research in Onondaga County and the
Onondaga Historical Association.

Central New York Antique Dealers Association;
1987, Historical and Genealogical Research in Onondaga County.

Continuing Education Series, Adult Education, West Genesee High School, Genealogy Classes;
1987 & 1988, Six Weeks Program of Basic Genealogical Research.

Marcellus Methodist Church, Genealogy Course;
1987, Six Weeks Program of Basic Genealogical Research.

Capital District Genealogical Society, Albany, NY.,
1987, Program on Methodist Church Records in New York State.
2006, Program on Internet Genealogy and our website,
2007, Program on Families of the Old Cambridge District.

Franklin Family History Conference – Franklin, MA
April 2007 – Two lectures: Genealogical Research in Upstate New York, and Genealogical Research at the New York State Library and Archives.

North Eastern New York Genealogical Society;
1987, Program on the Families of the Old Cambridge District, of South East Washington
County, New York.
2006, Program on the Families of the Old Cambridge District.

Heritage Hunters, Saratoga Springs.
2007 Program on Families of the Old Cambridge District.

Central New York PC Users Group;
1980’s & 1990’s, several published articles and programs on genealogy.

New York State Archives of Albany, NY. Genealogy Seminar,
2003, day long event, Syracuse, NY. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
(LDS,) Liverpool, NY. Program on Internet Genealogy.
2006, Program on Internet Genealogy and our website,

Onondaga County Public Library, Syracuse, NY.,
September, 2004, two programs on the events of the rescue and recovery efforts at the
World Trade Center Disaster, of September 11, 2001.

Orange County Genealogical Society, (OCGS) Genealogy Seminar, Goshen, NY.
2006, Program on Internet Genealogy and our website,

Various, Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, Local Historical Societies, Volunteer Fire Departments, Church groups, at least three dozen programs, 1990’s through 2005, various subjects.

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New York State United Teachers Retirees of Central New York

Dick Hillenbrand was the guest speaker at the luncheon in Camillus of the New York State United Teachers Retirees of Central New York (NYSUT.) The talk was titled “Setting the Hook” and by the looks and questions of some of the retired teachers that were leaning forward, it apparently went off fine.

If your civic group, historical society, or genealogy society is looking for a speaker there is a good chance that Dick has a date or two still open in his calendar.

To discuss same, contact him at: nygenes at gmail dot com.

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My trip to Ireland, 2001

“Wanna hear about my trip to Ireland?”

… (This is not your average tourist’s report.)

2001, the first week of September.

I was employed by a Crane and Rigging Company in Upstate New York, as a Safety Director. I designed and ran the safety program for about 100 employees, and did the field safety inspections. The company received a contract to oversee the shipping, rigging and installation of an eleven million dollar machine, that manufactured computer hard drives. The machine was made here in Rochester, New York and was being shipped to Londonderry, (Derry) Northern Ireland.

The company asked me if I wanted to take this project. “Sure!” I said, “Ireland or Northern Ireland?” “Northern.” “OK, sure, but just my luck I’ll probably get caught in a war.” (Be careful what you ask for…)

So they gave me a week to do the job. I flew to London, then over to Belfast, you can’t fly direct from the U.S. to Northern Ireland. Ireland is VERY GREEN when you break down out of the clouds to land. Then a $100 cab ride to Derry, a nice hotel, lots of pubs.

I arrived at the Seagate factory at the assigned time and met the crew from Scotland that would do the rigging. My one week project took a day and a half, so then guess what? Tourist time!

I went up through Ulster to the Giant’s Causeway, a really cool volcanic pipes stone column phenomena, that the Irish have built a marvelous yarn around a battle between a Scottish Giant and an Irish Giant, that is too long to tell here, but very Irish. Went to visit a couple of castles, went over into Ireland at Donegal to another castle. All great so far!

Derry is an ancient walled city, that has the downtown area built up all within and merging nicely with this ancient history. This is the very spot that the animosity between the Catholics and the Protestants first occurred back in the 17th century. It is also where Amelia Earhart landed when she made her first solo crossing.

They have a walking tour around the walled section and you get to see a mixture of the oldest history and then around to the high ground where the British Army troops fired down into the Catholic neighborhood in the 1970’s killing several so called unarmed civilians. The court case is still going on there every day, or it was when I was there.

After taking the walking tour I told the nice little guide girl that I wanted to see more, what would she suggest? “Oh, you must take the taxi tour! I’ll call you a cab.” Shortly came a small black car with a simple sign on the roof “DERRY TAXI.”

Kenny, bald and gold earring, says “Wherr de ye wanna goo?” I explained that I like history, wherever he suggested would be ok. “Yank are ye? Got family here?” “Nope, no Irish ancestors, not yet.”

He laughed. “First time I ever had a Yank in the cab that wasn’t looking for his kin.” So we went out across the river up into a more modern area and Kenny showed me several spots where the “Bastids attacked me boys!” ?? Huh ??

Turns out Kenny’s brother-in-law was the youngest boy killed on the Bloody Sunday shooting in January of 1972. Kenny turned left and found himself on a dead end street and had a look of panic! There was a mashing of gears, squealing of tires in reverse, and it was a scene out of a James Bond movie. I’m a little freaked and asked what was wrong? “Ahh, it wooden be safe fer me ta be up here aloone!” “The get me the Hell out of here!” I had no idea what so ever what the problem was, but was ready to go back home.

The sidewalks are painted Red, White and Blue in the Protestant neighborhoods, and Green, White and Orange in the Catholic neighborhoods, and they do not cross over into each other’s territory often. So we go back downtown by the wall and going through a Red, White and Blue neighborhood… THUNK! “What the…?”

“Did that guy hit your cab with his fist?” “Noo, it was a rock!” So Kenny goes up to the traffic light, turns right, tucked in down behind a brick building and gets out to see the damage.

Well they drive on the wrong side you know. So I get out the passenger side, with my video camera running to look also. Just then three thugs come barreling around the corner throwing rocks and bricks at us! Kenny panicked because he did not know I was getting out. “Get in the car!” Too late…

As I was aiming the video camera at these idiots, they raised their tee shirts up over their nose but kept coming, and a brick hit the roof of the cab and then split the top of my head wide open!

Kenny screams, “Get in the car !!!” I dove for the passenger seat, blood streaming down, and missed my footing, hit the door cowling with my left eye and slammed the door. For the next few seconds all you could see on the video tape was the back of the seat cushion and hear some very heavy breathing.

He said “They’ll KILL US!” We were a little blocked by traffic, they were still coming, so Kenny drove up on the sidewalk, down a one way street the wrong way, and after a couple of blocks we were in the clear. He apologized all up and down for taking me there.

I still had no idea why all this happened. What did I do wrong? Why were they attacking me? It turned out in the newspaper article the next morning about the Yank getting attacked in broad daylight, that the answer was that the Derry Taxi company was owned by former members of the IRA. Who knew? They were not attacking me, they were after Kenny!

No matter where I went from then on, in every pub, no matter which neighborhood. Almost as soon as I entered someone would say, “There’s the Yank that got attacked” and “Have a pint on me lad.” I never bought a drink.

Two days after I returned home, the worst civilian attack in American history occurred and I forgot about my black eye and my bloody mouse entirely.

Happy St. Patricks Day!

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A good Reason to have more Open Records

This posting is not about Upstate New York Genealogy in particular, but emphasizes why it is so important to have totally open records access. Our recent discussions about the New York State Vital Records has created quite a lot of interest in how to access Birth, Death and Marriage Records in NYS, and this announcement from our friend, Sharon Sergeant in Massachusetts details how some open records allowed herself and some other genealogists, historians and detectives to uncover an International fraud.

Genealogist Cracks Holocaust Hoax, Discovery Highlights Need for Open Records.

Sharon Sergeant will speak about how she cracked a hoax at the Massachusetts
Genealogical Council Seminar on April 26 at noon, at the LaCava Center,
Bentley College, Waltham, MA. Sergeant is the genealogist who uncovered the
twenty-year multinational fraud by Misha Defonseca, author of “Misha: A
Mémoire of the Holocaust Years” and “Surviving with Wolves”, an
international bestseller and the subject of a French feature film,

The European press was rocked when, on February 28, the beloved author
confessed that her story, translated into eighteen languages, was a fraud. The
author had claimed to be a Jewish “hidden child” who had lost her identity
in the Holocaust.

“The international scope of this case underscores the need for open records
available to the public for inspection. Without this right, researchers are
not able to protect the public from frauds of this type,” according to
Barbara Mathews, CG, President of the Massachusetts Genealogical Council.

Defonseca’s native Belgium closed vital records in 1955. When open records in
Massachusetts provided new information, they pointed a pathway to Belgian
records that were not sealed. When the combined records showed the fraud,
Belgian officials decided to release additional sealed documents.

“Once we began releasing the records we had found, the Belgian press took it
from there. Within days of receiving the correct name, date and place of birth
of the real Monique De Wael, journalists contacted several people who
remembered Monique well.” The author wasn’t Jewish and had spent her
childhood in Belgium, not wandering across Europe, witnessing the historic
tragedies of other people’s lives, as she had claimed.

“She had no choice but to confess,” says Sergeant. “There was a solid
trail of who she really was.” The documents included a baptismal record and
first grade registration with De Wael’s first husband’s sister, unearthed
through the efforts of Sergeant and her team.

“The genealogical methods used are the same techniques that can be used to
uncover other frauds or solve every day mysteries in anyone’s family
history,” Sergeant explains. “We were guided by a photo time line,
verified by photo detective Maureen Taylor of Norwood, Massachusetts and
California based forensic genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick. We worked with real
Jewish hidden children. The internet allowed us to work quickly with people on
the ground in Belgium and access the records in public libraries and

Among the many other speakers at the Conference who will be discussing
genealogical tools and methods are Joshua Taylor and Michael Leclerc from the
New England Historic and Genealogical Society; and Michael Brophy and Bernard
Couming from the Massachusetts Genealogical Council.

The Annual Conference is an all day event sponsored by The Massachusetts
Genealogical Council and is open to the public. The registration cost of $75
includes a continental breakfast and luncheon buffet. Registration forms for
the presentation are available at the Massachusetts Genealogical Council’s


Michael Brophy, Publicity Director
Massachusetts Genealogical Council
FAX (781) 878-0720

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Used Books Update – Old Saratoga Books


Used Books Update.

Back in January we blogged about sources of good used books and the value of them for genealogical and historical research. Here is the link to that Blog:

One of the comments that were entered was from Rachel Jagareski of Old Saratoga Books in Schuylerville, NY. So yesterday I had an opportunity to be up that way on business and stopped in and had a delightful chat with Rachel and met her husband Dan and daughter. This nice young couple is living their dream.

They have a lovely book store in an important historical old village, right at one of the most famous historical spots in New York State. This Hudson River Village was a primary gathering place for many events that occurred in the French and Indian, and the Revolutionary Wars. Burgoyne’s defeat there at Freeman’s Farm was a pivotal point in the American Revolutionary War.

Their shelves are very well arranged by subject category and they have a constantly evolving stock of the type of books that we all look for. Of course I found a couple that I just had to have, but please don’t tell my wife.

Rachel told me that she had just celebrated one year of blogging with her delightful Blog
Named Book Trout.

So if you are going to Albany or Saratoga or anywhere near the area, you will surely enjoy a visit to Old Saratoga Books.

They do encourage customers to contact them through the Internet and they will ship any where.

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Billions of People in Over 100 Databases On-line for only $50 per year!

On-line Access to over 100 Important Databases. Cost: $50.00 per year. (Fifty Bucks!) Curious? Want to know more? Read on. This is no joke!

I did not count these exactly, but there must be over 100 databases, many of which will be very valuable to genealogists. These databases are searcheable and viewable on-line, and there is even an over all Master Search by Subject utility that will search all of the databases at once. You may also Browse by Title.

I’m guessing that these combined databases must contain billions and billions of names of people. Carl Sagan like, but I do not think I am exaggerating too much.

This following list is only a SAMPLE of the listings available.

19th Century Masterfile - Nineteenth century (1802 to 1906) newspapers.

Academic Search Complete – A full text database, with over 5,500 full-text periodicals, including over 4,000 peer-reviewed journals.

Accessible Archives – Online databases of primary source material from 18th & 19th centuries, including coverage of the Colonial Period, The French & Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, African-American History, and the Industrial Revolution.

African American Experience – African American history and culture is broken into topics such as history, biography, literature, arts, culture, business, civil rights, politics, sports, education, science, and more.

African American Newspapers: The 19th Century – The database consists of six newspapers: The Freedom’s Journal, The Colored American, The North Star, Frederick Douglass Paper, The National Era, Provincial Freeman, and The Christian Recorder. Dates covered are 1827-1902.

America: History and Life – Historical coverage of the U.S. and Canada from prehistory to the present from over 2,000 journals from 1964 on. Includes fulltext linking to matching Oxford University Press and Project Muse journals.

America’s Newspapers: New York – Full text coverage of a wide range of New York State newspapers from Albany, Batavia, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Ithaca, Lewisboro, Long Island, New York City, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Saratoga, Suffolk county, Syracuse, Troy, Utica, Watertown, and Westchester county.

Biography and Genealogy Master Index - Citations for over 12 million entries for current and historical persons.

(That is only a PARTIAL LISTING, starting in the A’s and B’s. Just a smidgen!)

Here are a few more FABULOUS collections!

HeritageQuest Online – Contains the Periodical Source Index (PERSI), full text of the Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Legislation and Administration Relating to Participation in the Revolutionary War, full text of Registers of signatures of despositors in branches of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company 1865 – 1874, full text of ProQuest’s Genealogy and Local History Collection of 25,000+ family and local history books and the full text of the 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1860 -1880 and 1900-1920 census for the entire United States.

JSTOR – Arts and Sciences Collection - The Arts and Sciences collections I, II, III, and IV contain more than 240 titles in over forty disciplines.

Sanborn Maps - Digital Sanborn Maps, 1867-1970 provides access to large-scale maps (50 feet to an inch) of towns and cities in New York.

Yikes! Sanborn Maps of New York! Do you people have any idea how important this collection is?

The above listing is only a teeny, tiny part of the list of all that are available for your fifty dollar investment.

All of these fine databases, and many more are available to anyone that has a New York State Library Card with the letter “P” designation. How do you get one?

Join the “Friends of the New York State Library.” In addition to the deep satisfaction of preserving a world renowned public research library, you can obtain special discounts at local book stores.

For all you Genealogaholics, the category that you will want is either the Contributing Membership at $50.00 per year, or you can be real supportive and sign up for the Excelsior Membership for $100.00 or more.

How do you join?
Go to the Friends website at:

To see the full list of databases available with membership go to:

See you there!

Thanks to Cynthia Van Ness of the Buffalo Library and the Erie County rootsweb mail list for letting us know about this.

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Washington County, New York Historian’s Office Report

Upstate New York Genealogy recently received an email from Loretta Bates, Office Manager, of the Washington County, New York, Historian’s Office.
Part of which is as follows:

Did I mention to you that I have been putting info on our Washinton Co. official website? You might want to check it out, just Google Washington Co. NY and we’re the first one listed. I have so much more ready to enter… I’m trying to put on the oldest things I can find, so far it’s mostly the Goodspeed Index and some older church records.
Keep up the good work…. Loretta”

The following link will go directly to the Historian’s website:

At the present time this office is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Available for research in the Historian’s Office:
Published regional histories, plus histories of several towns in Washington County and nearby counties

Published and unpublished Washington County family histories

The Asa Fitch Papers on Washington County genealogy and history

The Gibson Collection of genealogical material

The Goodspeed Collection containing over 50 boxes of information collected by a local genealogist.
Aaron Goodspeed of Granville, Washington County, NY lived from 1862 to 1932. He made a hobby and a business of gathering genealogical data on local people of his area and Vermont. He collected newspaper articles, wrote hundreds of letters requesting information from families and spent a lifetime pursuing his love of genealogy. He was a “top notch” pharmacist owning a drug store which still stands today and houses a dry cleaning business. Much of Goodspeed’s collection is from the mid eighteen hundreds to the early nineteen hundreds, but some of his notes in his own handwriting might contain information relating to even earlier times. The following index has been prepared to advise researchers of the surnames in this collection. Some of the information found within is extensive, but in some cases it might contain a lone newspaper article.

Cemetery records for all 17 towns of Washington County

Washington County Poor House Records

The Morris-Rote-Rosen collection from his Granville Sentinel newspaper column on local history

The John Williams Papers

Over forty years of County Historian’s genealogical correspondence filed by family name

Church Records

United Church of Kingsbury and Queensbury during the Ministry of Rev. Ravaud K. Rodgers and Rev. E.E. Seeley

Register of marriages
; Coila, Cambridge, Salem
Celebrated by John Dunlop, Minister of the Gospel
Original documents copied from the photostat of the Coila Church records in the State Library.

Also available is an assortment of
Family Bibles Veterans Records (limited)
Maps Newspapers (Microfilm only and limited)
School Records Business Ledgers
Quaker Records Civil War letters pertaining to Wash. Co.

Mail to: Washington County Historian
Washington County Municipal Center, Bldg. A
383 Broadway Fort Edward, New York 12828

Thanks for letting us know Loretta.

The church records and the Goodspeed collection are excellent, and I can’t wait for the important Col./Dr. John Williams papers. He was such an important part of the early Washington County history and we are fortunate that his papers survived.

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National Archives and Ancestry (TGN) Propose Digitizing Project

Footnote and Ancestry are in the news recently regarding the digitizing that Footnote currently does, and the work that the parent company of Ancestry, The Generations Network (TGN), wants to do, at the National Archives (NARA).

NARA is asking for public comment regarding the non-exclusive contract that they intend to sign with TGN to embark on a digitization project at NARA of some parts of their collection.

Footnote and Ancestry are both very reputable companies and we all should be ever thankful to the Archivist who has such great forward thinking to bring this digitized content to the Internet. Online resources just keep getting better and better.

Thanks to Dick Eastman for this notice.

Please do go to the NARA info site and voice your opinion, it really does matter! The comments must be received by April 9th, 2008.
NARA Link:

You may sign up for a Free Trial at Footnote here:

You may sign up for a Free Trial at Ancestry here:

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Dear readers, do you know that there are a GREAT MANY more postings on this Blog than just what you see on this first page? If you find the information here of interest or amusing, or curious, or just want to read more of my rants, then you can go to the bottom of each page and click on the words “Older Post”. This Blog goes back to 2005.

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Vital Records Lookups, Update to the Update

This morning the Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL) sent a request that I post some additional information regarding their offer to do Free Lookups.

“OCPL will do limited lookups – a 5-year span on births, deaths and marriages. Questions are answered in order and often may take several days. Please be aware that many fiche are difficult to read, and while staff tries to be as accurate as possible any information stated is as it appears.

The index begins in 1880 and while NY State passed a law that year requiring the filing of these records, they still weren’t uniformly or consistently filed until well into the 1900′s. For more information about the index and what it covers:

Read the first article in this series by going to this link:  How to obtain copies of Vital Records for Genealogical Purposes in Upstate New York.

Read the second article in this series by going to this link:  New York State Vital Records Microfiche Indexes Update

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