Part of 1855 New York State Census Online By Mistake

The new Family Search website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is quite likely the most valuable free tool for genealogists anywhere in the world.

Recently while exploring some of the “1865″ New York State Census that are available as screenshots of the microfilmed pages, though not indexed yet, may be viewed on your web browser of choice and you may go page by page in a location that your family lived in.

I have been filling in many pieces of data in various family groups that I had previously recorded all of the federal census for and some of the other NY state census. So when I get time it is always a pleasure to go on to their website and start looking at various communities in the 1865 census.


One set of ancestors that had resided early in South Hannibal, Oswego County, NY and then at Lysander, Onondaga County were Hopkins and Phebe (GARDNER) HULET. I have gathered a lot of info on this family but realized I did not have 1865 data for them.

So going to and scrolling down near the bottom of the white section of their homepage, just above the green area, click on the text for “United States”. This will bring up a listing by states and a simple search box. So when you put in “1865 New York” it will immediately show you things that they have available online as scans of rolls of film. In this case you will see the following choices:
New York, Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865
New York, Eastern District Naturalization Petitions, 1865-1957
New York, State Census, 1865

Well the first two categories are a wondrous marvel in themselves, but at this time I chose the last one for the 1865 state census.

Now click on the link for “Browse through 57,158 images”, and you will see the list of counties of which films are available for.
Select “Oswego” County.

Now over the past few weeks I have been looking in Hannibal, Enumeration Districts 01 and 02, with no success in finding my ancestors Hopkins and Phebe. Then realizing that Hopkins died in 1869 and his wife Phebe died at her son, Herman’s home in Fulton, NY in 1875, I decided to take a look at the Town of Volney which is where part of the village of Fulton was located at that time. I knew that Herman had lived on the east side of the river, and he had at one time been the Sheriff of Oswego County.

So as I was scrolling through each double page of the census films it suddenly dawned on me that this layout did not look like the 1865 census pages that I had recently been viewing, so in looking at the header title of the screen shots, it showed that this film was actually the wrong film. It is the “1855″ census pages, not the 1865.


This is not exactly a bad thing, as none of the 1855 pages have been published yet on Family Search, but they no doubt would want to know about the error. So I sent Family Search an email about the wrong film showing and I am sure that at some time in the future they will put up the proper 1865 version.

So if you have any interest in people in the Village of Fulton for 1855, you better hurry and get what you can get as it is now. Chances are 1855 is not due to be published until some time in the future.

We are all so lucky to have these resources at our keyboards and fingertips and I can only encourage LDS to keep up the fabulous program of publishing such useful information as the actual scans of the census pages such as these. Thank you LDS.

You may search this UNYG blog site for other articles about the New York State Census.

5 Responses to “Part of 1855 New York State Census Online By Mistake”

  • Susan McKay:

    Meanwhile, the first (alphabetically by town name) half of Onondaga County is missing entirely….

  • nygenes1:

    Susan, You are almost correct. The first book of towns listed alphabetically are lacking, but by no means half of the county. As I recall the towns lacking are Camillus, Cicero, Clay and DeWitt. I welcome any corrections as I am winging it from memory. I believe I wrote about this some years ago. Dick Wright of the OHA once told me that he was in the County Clerk’s Office and one of the staff had been taking the book home at night in a brown cloth suitcase, to do research at home. Unfortunately it never returned. Maybe some day it will show up in someone’s attic. In the 1950′s and 1960′s there was a resurgence of interest in the U.S Civil War and perhaps that is why he was taking it home at night. A similar story about the war years of the Baldwinsville newspapers being missing was because a history buff reportedly had taken the bound volumes of newspapers to his office in the village to look for civil War information. In that case I was told that his office burned down. Too bad. Fortunately with modern technology, microfilm and digitization these type of records and documents should be preserved forever. Thank you for your comment. Dick Hillenbrand

  • LarryN:

    The Rochester NY public library has has had a partial 1855 county index available for download and reading at:, for several years. It’s being worked on to make it more complete. The actual books were digitized and exist in that form but they are not online yet.

  • Susan McKay:

    Also missing, at a minimum, are Fabius, Elbridge, Baldwinsville, Geddes, Lysander, and Jordan. There were quite a number of other small towns in the area at the time but the above are where “my” folks were hanging out and so are some I would sure like to have a gander at. Interesting: the missing book/info. Guess we can only hope someone brings it to light some day.

  • Linda Dabulewicz:

    I have been having a hard time with the 1855 and 1865 census for Lisle Broome County. They look as if rats ate them with all the edges gone and urine stains. Is there a way to digitally enhance these so they are clearer to read? Sometimes when deeds are difficult to read, I put them into my computer camera program and change the contrast to make them easier to see. Linda

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