Archive for the ‘default’ Category

One of the World’s Queerest Hobbies and Janet Wethy Foley

 (Image credit: Gastonia Daily Gazette –
 Gastonia, North Carolina –

Before the computer and internet days there was a lady born in Buffalo New York in 1887 named, Lutie WETHY.  As a single lady, she and her sister , Marjorie, [sometimes Margaret,] moved to Washington, DC., during World War I, to work for the U.S. Government, and they are found there still on the 1920 census. 

Lutie married Thomas J. FOLEY in 1925 and afterward most often used her likely middle name of “Janet” Wethy FOLEY.  Janet was the given name of her Scottish maternal grandmother, Janet DUNCAN, who had resided with the WETHY family for some years.

Janet Wethy FOLEY became a very active genealogical sleuth, tracking down old church records in attics and places that surely would have been lost forever if she and her husband had not rescued and transcribed the data.  Janet collected items of interest from old family bibles, cemetery records and graveyard visits and in 1934 started a magazine style publication named, “Early Settlers of Western New York,” which after issue No. five became, “Early Settlers of New York State.”


Vol. 4 of  serial set “Early Settlers of Western New York” contains the following:

“Akron is only our post office address.  We do not live there.  Our home is on Route # 5, the main highway across New York State from Albany to Buffalo, 25 miles east of Buffalo and 15 miles west of Batavia.
The Copper Tea Kettle”

Janet and Tom operated this property, “The Copper Kettle”. as a “Tourist Camp” meaning they had cabins for travelers and are so listed on the 1930 census.  The house in the postcard photo shown below is now gone and has been replaced by a brick home.  I talked to one local resident of Pembroke and they recalled that remains of the cabins could be seen just a few years ago.

As I was searching census records on these people I found Janet listed as “Lutie W. Foley” on the 1930 census in Pembroke, Genesee co., NY., and while reading the page was slightly annoyed by the backwards flourish script of the enumerator which took a few seconds to try to decipher, and then found myself grinning openly when I read that Lutie Wethy Foley was the 1930 census enumerator!


Janet was also a constant speaker and lecturer at many different social groups, historical societies, DAR meetings, village and town celebrations and there are many newspaper announcements that are easily located in various digitized newspaper websites online.

The following are just a few of the dozens of newspaper announcements that I read in preparing this article.

1898 -  personal announcement
“Mrs. [Janet] George M. DUNCAN and granddaughter, Lutie WETHY, of Buffalo, are the guests of friends in this city.” -

(Lockport Daily Journal, Thurs. 04 AUG 1898 –


1929 – obit excerpt (Janet’s mother.)

“Margaret. Widow of Frank E. WETHY, died July 8, 1929 in Hamburg.  Mother of; Mrs. [Lutie/Janet] Thomas J. FOLEY, Mrs. [Viola] Thomas W. DOUGAN, Mrs. [Gladys] John W. NEWTON, Mrs. [Marjorie/Margaret] Harry C. SHAFER, Frank H. WETHY and Mrs. [Catherine/Kathryn] Thomas H. WILLIAMS.  Services will be at her late residence 197 Union St., Hamburg, burial in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo.”  -

(Hamburg Erie Co. Independent [nd] –


1934 – Settlers of Western New York – Serial newspaper articles
[three column article]…  Our Aim:

“This column is being published to help American families to learn about their forefathers.  Is it helpful to you?  Have you looked in vain for your family name?
There is just one way that the editor can help you.  Tell him what you want.  Send a question.  No one can tell how far this paper will go, nor who will read it.  Someone may know the answer and solve your problem.
Searching family records requires time and money, but is so worth while.  Just now your own paper offers you a valuable service at no expense.  Take advantage while you may.
Address all communications, enclosing a stamped envelope for reply, to Mrs. T. J. FOLEY, care of this paper…”-

(Perry NY Record, 10 MAY 1934 –


1935 Society column

“Deo-on-go-wa Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution will be entertained tomorrow at the Children’s Home at 311 East Main street by Miss Martha FERRY …  Mrs. George W. BABCOCK, the Regent, will preside at the meeting and the address of the day will be given by Miss Janet Wethy FOLEY of Akron, editor of “Early Settlers of New York.”

Miss FOLEY has selected as her subject, “Early Settlers of Western New York.” -”

(Batavia NY Times 12 DEC 1935 -


From a 1937 full page newspaper story comes this gem:


“World’s Queerest Hobbies -

Americans lead in Collection of Oddities Gathered from All Parts of the Globe – One Man Likes Miniature Spoons. While Woman Prizes Elephant Covers… [several different types of 'queer hobbies', then:]

Did you ever hear of a ‘cemetery browser’?  Well, Janet Wethy FOLEY, of Akron, NY, is one.  Her hobby is spending a large part of her time tracking down unidentified tombstones.  In the course of her meanderings she finds some queer-reading epitaphs.  For instance, in Granville, NY, one of them reads:
‘In memory of Widow B___
Who met her death with no surprise, Jan 3, 1795.  Aged 65 years.
N.B – Her son Caleb, by a tender regard, has caused this stone to be erected here”.

Mrs FOLEY admitted another strange-sounding hobby; searching ancient birth and death certificates in old buildings, trunks and churches.  It is of course, a form of genealogical research, but it brings richer rewards, she insists, than using the usual method of research: library study.

Mrs. FOLEY is proud of the fact that she has been ‘ancestor hunting’ for twenty years.  She explains: ‘Looking for ancestral trees is one of the most fascinating hobbies that one ever enjoyed.  The hunt invites you with the promise that you will find many surprises, many famous folks that you did not know belonged to you.’

‘The sad truth is that most families either do not maintain thorough records of their forefathers or they keep none at all’.

Mrs. FOLEY is exceedingly adept at finding old maps of cemeteries and in deciphering them.  She has two interesting specimens.  One, more than 100 years old, was made of paper and pasted on an old piece of calico.  Through the years even the calico got frayed and wore out almost completely.

The lesson told of this map is obvious, Mrs. FOLEY says.  It proves that maps bearing the names of people who buy lots in cemeteries ought to be made on something far more durable than paper.”  [other queer hobbies...]

(Gastonia Daily Gazette, April 12, 1937 –


1939 – Newspaper Article excerpt
“October D.A.R. Meeting -

The October meeting ot the Enoch Crosby Chapter, D.A.R., was held Monday, Oct. 9…
Mrs Janet Wethy FOLEY of Akron, NY, who with her husband, Thos. J. FOLEY, compiles and edits the monthly magazine, “Early Settlers of New York State, Their ancestors and Descendants,” spoke briefly but earnestly on the invaluable advantage and incentive of displaying an ancestral chart where a child may see it constantly and become unconsciously influenced by this standard…”

 (Putnam County Republican, Carmel, NY – 14 OCT 1939 - 


1940 – Newspaper Article

“Traces History of Old Families -

A member of an old Western New York family whose hobby has become a life work was in Niagara Falls yesterday afternoon in conjunction with the meeting here of the National Society of New England Women.  Mrs. Janet Wethy FOLEY, of Akron, NY., who makes a business of searching old New York state church records and looking up ancestors for those who want to know something about their families, was on hand at the registration desk in the mezzanine of the Hotel Niagara to give information to interested members.

Mrs. FOLEY, who with her husband, Thomas J. FOLEY, has been engaged in this unusual occupation for the past six years, compiles a monthly magazine embodying the results of their researches.  These are distributed to libraries and to interested individuals.  It all started, Mrs. FOLEY explained, when she wanted to find something about her own ancestors and discovered that vital statistics were non-existent in this state before 1880.  That led to a search of church records and since then she and her husband have gone into such study professionally.

Many records which would otherwise be lost beyond all recall have been unearthed in the process.,  Mrs. FOLEY declared.  In her magazine, these names are printed as they are found in the baptismal, marriage and funeral records of the churches, many of which have been out of formal existence for many years.  Most valuable feature of their studies, she said, has been to inspire custodians of such records to improve and preserve these valuable files and to search out others.

‘We have found records under the eaves of old farmhouses, records of churches which have not had any congregations for many years,’ Mrs. FOLEY said.  ‘Some of these are crumbling to pieces but we have managed to piece them together and make some sense out of the faded writing.’

Asked why she had not added photography to her method of study, Mrs. FOLEY admitted that it was chiefly because neither she, nor her husband knew much about cameras.

‘Besides it is so hard to read many of the names that I don’t see how it would be much help,’ she said.  They will continue to copy the records in long hand.” 

(The Niagara Falls Gazette – 23 MAY 1940 -


1941 –Appointed First Genesee County Historian – January 31,

“The Board of Supervisors of Genesee County appointed the first County Historian, Mrs. Janet Wethy Foley.”

(Genesee County, New York 20th Century-In-Review and Family Histories)


1944 – Founding Member of the New York State Association of County Historians
“Form New State Historians Group

Albany, NY – Local historians are invited to join the recently formed New York State Association of County Historians, State Historian Albert R. COREY announced.  Membership is open to all county and city historians and to town and village historians upon recommendation of their respective county historians.

The officers are…[one of the elected members of the Executive Council] Mrs. Janet W. FOLEY, of Genesee county…

The objects of the association are to increase the efficiency and improve the status of its members; to encourage the collection of records of all kinds; to assist the State Historian in compiling an index of historical materials in the state; to aid in research and publication; to assist and cooperate with county and town clerks and all other local officers in the performance of their duties and in the care and safety of the public records; to cooperate with local schools, libraries and museums in their history and social studies programs; to assist in preserving historic sites; to cooperate with others in historical and commemorative exercises and to work closely with local historical societies…”

(Niagara Falls Gazette, Mon Oct 16, 1944 –



(Undated newspaper DAR photo clipping at Genesee County History Department -
Janet Wethy foley is third from right)

Her lineal connection to Isaac McWETHY is:
Lutie Janet WETHY (1887-1962) married 1925, Thomas James FOLEY (1894-1949)
Frank Eugene WETHY (1865-1926) married Margaret J. DUNCAN (1863-1929)
Martin Van Buren WETHY (1836-1913) married Sally Jane MORRIS (1838-1933)
Martin McWETHY (1808-1878) married Priscilla WARREN
Silas McWITHEY (1775-1845)
Isaac McWITHEY/McWETHEY of Granville, Washington Co., NY., married Polly MILLER.

Janet and Tom’s Marriage Record:
No: 2011
Groom:  Thomas J. FOLEY                                                             Bride: Lutie L. WETHY
34 Lyth Ave.                                                                                        34 Lyth Ave.
Occupation: Stockman                                                                     Occupation: Tea Room
White – age 31                                                                                     White – age 38
First marriage                                                                                      First marriage
Birthplace: Boston, Mass.                                                               Birthplace: Buffalo, NY
Father: Thomas, b. Boston, Mass.                                               Father: Frank, born Warsaw, NY
Mother: Mary CONLEY, b. Boston, Mass.                             Mother: Margaret DUNCAN, b. Buffalo, NY
(Note: No dates of birth shown.)
Date of license: June 18, 1925
Date of Marriage: June 20, 1925
Place of Marriage: Buffalo, NY., Official: Lucius E. Ford, minister
Witness: Marjorie J. SCHAEFER, Salamanca, NY.

(Data from Photocopy of Marriage Record from City of Buffalo, City Hall, Buffalo Vital Records.)


1949 – obit:
“Thomas J. FOLEY

East Pembroke, March 7, – Thomas J. FOLEY, 55, of East Pembroke, died at 11:10 o’clock Saturday morning (March 5, 1949) at St. Jerome’s Hospital in Batavia where he had been a patient for a month.
Mr. FOLEY was born on December 18, 1893 in Melrose, Mass., a son of  the late Mr. and Mrs. Thomas FOLEY.
He spent his life in genealogical research and had recently been associated with the Farrel, Birmingham Company in Buffalo.
Surviving is his wife, Mrs. Janet Wethy FOLEY, the County Historian.
Friends may call at the Bernhardt Funeral Home at Akron until noon tomorrow.  Funeral services will be at 2:00 o’clock tomorrow afternoon at the First Baptist Church of Akron.  The Rev. G. Charles Weaver, Thd,, pastor of the Methodist church at Batavia, assisted by the Rev Taylor Light of the Akron Baptist church and the Rev. Hugh Winton of the East Pembroke Baptist church, will officiate.  Interment will be in the Wethy family plot in Forest Lawn cemetery in Buffalo.”

(Batavia Daily News – 06 MAR 1949 – microfilm at Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY.)


1962 obit – Janet Wethy Foley

“Mrs. Thomas J. FOLEY, 74, of 100 Summit St., widow of Thomas J. FOLEY, died Monday evening (Jan 8, 1962) at Buffalo General Hospital after an illness of several months.

Mrs. FOLEY was born in Buffalo, the daughter of the late Frank E. and Margaret J. DUNCAN WETHY.  She was a member of the First Baptist Church.

Mrs. FOLEY was prominent in activities of the Holland Purchase Historical Society, of which she was past president.  She also was active in Deo-on-go-wa Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.  For several years she led DAR-sponsored programs for new citizens during naturalization court sessions.  She also conducted bus tours to points of historical interest.

Services will be at 2 pm Thursday at the First Baptist church, conducted by the Rev. Carl J. Spieker, associate pastor.  Interment will be in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo.  Friends may call at the H.E. Turner & Co., Inc. mortuary.”

(Batavia Daily News – 09 JAN  1962 – microfilm at Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY.)



Lutie Janet (WETHY) FOLEY – 1887 – 1962

Funerals -

“Friends of the Late Mrs. Thomas J. FOLEY of 100 Summit St., widow of Thomas J. FOLEY, may call at the H.E. Turner & Co., Inc. Mortuary until noon Thursday.

Services will be conducted by the Rev. Carl J. Spieker, associate pastor of the First Baptist Church, of which Mrs. FOLEY was a member at 2 pm Thursday at the church.  Interment will be in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Born in Buffalo, Mrs. FOLEY received her education at Miss Nardin’s academy, Public School 17 and Masten Park High School in that city.  She was a past Regent Daughter of the American Revolution, past president of the Holland Purchase Historical Society, former Genesee County Historian and a member of the Genesee Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, the YWCA and its newcomer Club, the Federation of Women’s Republican Clubs of New York State, the State Button Society and was active in other charitable organizations.

Surviving are four sisters, Mrs. Viola F. DOUGAN of Hamburg, Mrs. Gladys W. NEWTON and Mrs. Marjorie J. SCHAFER, both of Springbrook, and Mrs. Katharyn W. WILSON of Auburndale, Mass., a brother, Frank H. WETHY of Hamburg, and nieces and nephews.”

(Batavia Daily News – 09 JAN  1962 – microfilm at Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY.)


“The funeral of Mrs. Thomas J. FOLEY of 100 Summit St., was at 2 pm, Thursday at the First Baptist Church…

Floral tributes included those from the YWCA Newcomers Club, Deo-on-gowa Chapter, DAR, First Baptist Church, Philathea Class of the East Pembroke Baptist Church and the Holland Purchase Historical Society.

Relatives and friends attended from Hamburg, Springbrook, Auburndale, Mass, Rochester, Buffalo, East Pembroke and Batavia.”

(Batavia Daily News – 13 JAN  1962 – microfilm at Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY.)



Wethy Family Plot, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY., Section 26, Lot# 42.
Janet Wethy FOLEY and Thomas James FOLEY Gravestones – Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY.



Lutie Janet's Parents Gravestones – Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY.


So fellow readers of the Upstate New York Genealogy Blog, you may feel comfort in knowing that your queer hobby has grown slightly since the 1930′s.

This article is my tribute to a relatively unsung hero of genealogists everywhere that have ancestors from New York State.

Dick Hillenbrand
Upstate New York Genealogy

Various census used for this article:
1880 Federal census Buffalo, Erie Co., NY
1892 NYS census, Buffalo, Ward 24
1900 Federal census Buffalo, Erie Co., NY
1915 NYS census, Buffalo, Ward 17
1920 Federal census Washington, DC
1930 Federal census Pembroke, Genesee Co., NY

U.S. City Directories:
Buffalo and Washington, DC.

Editorial comment on “Early Settlers of New York State”

There are hundreds of articles in “Early Settlers of New York State” that will provide clues to your ancestors from areas all around New York State.  It appears as though Janet and Tom must have taken research trips all throughout the western parts of the state as well as the Mohawk Valley region and many parts up and down the Hudson River Valley.  Unfortunately the original source documents are not described as to location and condition, but you as a genealogical researcher ought to be able to track them down for your own citations.

Here are just a few of the hundreds of topics covered; West Bloomfield, Ontario county, Tombstones Oakfield, Obituary records by surname, personal newspaper items of long ago, Merchant records, Old bible records, marriage records.  Church records, Bottenkill/Greenwich, Washington Co., NY., Granville, Washington co., NY., Pittstown, Rensselaer County, Bethlehem, Albany co.  Church records, Bennington, VT., Baptist church records, Goodwill, Orange Co., Church records, Troy, NY., Yates county, Hudson, Columbia Co., Watertown, NY., Claverack, Columbia Co., and on and on…

Readers that might want to purchase “Early Settlers of New York State” will find the reprint of the two volume set available at the Genealogical Publishing Company  It is also offered as a CD-ROM version which is rather a nice feature to have at your fingertips, as it is all word searchable.  You will also find used copies from time to time on eBay, and  The original serial sets are rather scarce and hard to find.

Thanks go to the following for their kind assistance in research for this article:
Mary Kay  Wright, Western NY Genealogical Society volunteer at the Grosvenor Room of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.
Cynthia Van Ness, Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society .
Carol Heffley,  Daughters of the American Revolution member.
Staff at Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.
Staff at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY.
Judy Stile, Research Assistant, Genesee County Historian’s Office.
Tom Tryniski owner operator of

ps: If anyone has any idea as to where Janet and Tom’s original source records are located it would be great fun to investigate.

Join the HILLENBRAND Family Group With Your Y-DNA Test at FTDNA

Well I took the plunge and started a DNA Family Group at Family Tree DNA, and I welcome all of you HILLENBRANDs out there to join us.

Last weekend I read on that FTDNA is having a summer SALE and it is on until the end of the week, so I clicked on an order button on the DNA Testing Kits website and placed my order for a 67 marker Y-DNA test.

Then as no one had yet started a group with my surname I volunteered to become the administrator of the new group.

If you are a male HILLENBRAND anywhere you can also join the group for no additional cost other than the cost of your test kit, which is a bargain at the regular price and now a real good deal at the sale price.

If you are a female HILLENBRAND you will need to have a brother, father, uncle, cousin or nephew with the HILLENBRAND surname submit the DNA cheek swab sample at FTDNA.  I will report here on the Upstate New York Genealogy Blog from time to time as we have further developments.

This should be a lot of fun because in the past few years I have had contacts from other HILLENBRANDs all over the U.S. And though we have not found any direct connections, it seems most of them come generally from Southern Germany.  Perhaps now through DNA testing we will be able to discover if we have a genetic connection and approximately how far back we might have a common ancestor.

The process is very easy.  Just order your Y-DNA test kit and then do let me know when you join.  When it comes to Y-DNA  testing, a male can find out his father’s paternal line of the family. This is because only men have the Y-chromosome. The testing on this short chromosome is the Y STR test. This is helpful in discovering the past since this is passed down from father to son.

The STR is a segment of the DNA in the Y chromosome in the region that is considered Junk. The letters STR stand for short tandem repeats. The number of times a segment repeats itself is called the allele. This number is distinctive within a population which leads to surname lineage.

There are over 100 different markers in the Y-DNA chromosome, but the typical one tested is the 10-67 STR marker. This identifies the haplotype that the sample belongs to.

Here is the link again to order the DNA kit at the sale price:  DNA Testing Kits

DNA Evidence Proves that Having Children is Hereditary

Happy Valentine’s Day !

Rochester Library has new Digital Collections website.

The Monroe County Library System is a leading digital content producer.

A description in part from their new website is as follows:

Digital Collections consist of photographs, books, manuscripts, maps, directories, postcards, and other items that have been digitized for easy access and for the preservation of original print material held within selected local collections in Monroe County.

The thousands of items found here represent the rich history of the Rochester region. They are of interest to anyone researching local history and genealogy. Digitizing materials allows researchers to have access to items that are rare and fragile. Also, collections throughout the county can now be searched at one online location, thanks to the cooperation of many partner institutions.

You may read some of our previous coverage of this growing collection here:

The Rochester Library website may be found here:

Visit our main website at


How to obtain copies of Vital Records for Genealogical Purposes in Upstate New York.

The New York State Department of Health, Office of Vital Records, at the state capital in the City of Albany, NY, is the official repository for the original certificates that were issued for Births, Deaths and Marriages for almost all of Upstate New York locations, (other than the cities of Albany, Yonkers and Buffalo prior to 1914.) The filing of certificates was required by law commencing in 1881.

Albany is one of those locations in the state that can mean a City, a Town or a County. For purposes here, when mentioned, it shall mean the City of Albany unless described differently.

The information written here does NOT cover the major metropolitan New York City areas, for obvious reasons.

There are a great many certificates lacking in the earlier years, as individuals and doctors, just did not comply with the law. It will be observed that a more complete listing starts about the time of World War I.

When a vital record certificate was issued it first was recorded at the local level in the appropriate Village Clerk, Town Clerk or City Clerk’s journal books, before the actual document was forwarded to the Department of Health in Albany.

You may purchase a transcription of the partial information that is in the local journals from that particular village, town or city clerk. As it apparently is now you will receive a pre-printed form of the basic facts that a clerk excerpts out of the record books. The clerks do not allow patrons to see the books directly or to handle them personally. There are some cases where the clerk transcribed the document for a waiting patron and the person could actually read the item in the journal though it was upside down on the counter.

This might be good enough for your purposes, and the transaction usually takes place rather quickly, sometimes immediately in person, and sometimes about two weeks through the mail. It varies from office to office and clerk to clerk. Keep in mind this method will give you a clerk’s transcript of information from the incomplete journal entry.

A more thorough method is to obtain a photocopy of the original actual vital records document itself. This you may do from the Department of Health in Albany. Now here is some advice that will smooth this procedure out for you and will certainly speed it up.

First you should locate the item of interest on the microfiche index. The indexes are made from typewritten sheets by category and year and alpha grouped by surnames. Use care when searching as the state clerk typist that created the index did not always spell properly, or the handwriting might have been unclear on the document, or for what ever reason, if you do not find what you want immediately in the index; try it again using variant spellings. There are many entries of births wherein the child had not yet been named when the certificate was filed. In that situation it is usually just “male or female,” date, location, and certificate number.

These typewritten sheets were then filmed and converted into a microfiche index set. Several years ago the vital records office made the decision to put a duplicate set of fiche indexes only, at the New York State Archives to be allowed to be accessed by the public with certain restrictions. You must provide a photo ID to use them, no copying of the fiche is allowed, no reproduction in any manner is allowed, and no computer databases are allowed to be made from the index.

What you are allowed to do, is to locate the name and item of interest, and write down the village, town or city the event occurred in, the date of the event, and a certificate number. That number only has relevance to the collection of records in Albany at the Dept. of Health. If you were going to apply locally to the village, town or city clerk then the number would not have any meaning to them, only the name and date would. The location of the event may at times appear rather cryptic, as the indexer used their own method of abbreviation for villages, towns and cities in some cases. There is no key to these abbreviations that I am aware of, but using some common gazetteers and maps you should be able to figure it out.

Well thanks to the lobbying of many friends to genealogists everywhere, a few years ago the state put a duplicate set of microfiche indexes at the Rundel Library in Rochester, NY. This was soon followed by putting another set in New York City, and for the sake of convenience and good control, the National Archives Branch in Manhattan agreed to house them. What has followed since is that the microfiche index set is now available throughout the state in several prime localities and the regions are quite well spread out.

Our friend, Cliff Lamere, has been working on compiling specific details as to the whereabouts of these indexes and has made many telephone calls directly to the NYS Archives, the NYS Health Department, and the actual Libraries and facilities that now house the index collections. Cliff reported on one of the newsgroup mail lists recently that the people in charge at the state offices were not able to tell him where more than five of the sets were. I had heard of a couple of locations and told him, and he followed through as Cliff always does, and confirmed the complete list, or as we now believe is the complete list of eight locations.

The rules for public access to the vital records indexes are as follows; you are only allowed to look at the indexes for births that occurred seventy five or more years ago. Marriages and deaths must have occurred fifty years or more ago.

The Microfiche Indexes that are available now are as follows;
Births (1881-1933), Marriages (1881-1958), and Deaths (1880-1958).
In addition to the birth and marriage time restrictions, you must be able to show that all parties are known to be deceased in order to purchase a non-certified copy of the original document. In the case of marriages the bride and groom will both be indexed separately.

Complete sets of the vital records microfiche indexes that are available to the public are presently at the locations listed below. You will still need a photo ID and it would be prudent to listen carefully to the instructions.

1) The New York State Archives, Cultural Education Center, Albany, NY
12230. Location: 11th Floor, Madison Ave. at the Empire State Plaza.

2) The National Archives, Northeast Region Branch, 201 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014. (Note: Since September 11, 2001 there is now a very high level of security screening of all persons entering this facility. Be aware of this and do not take anything with you that might even slightly resemble a dangerous instrument.)

3) The Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County. Located in the Rundel Memorial Library Building at 115 South Avenue, Rochester, NY 14604.

4) The Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL) at the Galleries of Syracuse, 447 S. Salina Street, Syracuse, NY 13202-2494. Located on the fifth floor, Local History/Genealogy Department.

5) The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, 1 Lafayette Square. Buffalo, NY 14203.

6) The Steele Memorial Library, 101 East Church Street, Elmira, NY 14901.

7) The Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library, 229 Washington Street,
Watertown, NY 13601.

8) The Crandall Public Library, 251 Glen St, Glens Falls, NY 12801.
Important note: “Temporarily,” until about December 2008, (during renovations) these indexes are located at the Southern Adirondack Library System Headquarters, 22 Whitney Place, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Phone: (518-584-7300 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              518-584-7300      end_of_the_skype_highlighting x 226 Erica Burke). Viewing at this location is by appointment.)

The price for an excerpt out of a journal entry at the local level, or a photocopy of the original document at the state level is the same either way, $22.00.

To order a copy by mail or to have the state do the searching for you the address is,
New York State Department of Health
Vital Records Section
Genealogy Unit
P.O. Box 2602
Albany, NY 12220-2602

Before mailing to the Department of Health for a copy of the certificate you should be aware that the state suggests that there is about a five months backlog. It is noted that on several rootsweb newsgroups that the waiting period is now quite a lot longer than that.

Here is the official state website concerning vital records for Genealogical purposes. It would be a good thing for you to read carefully all of the pricing structure and rules and regulations. A pdf file of the application form is available for download at this website

There is one way to improve the turnaround in being able to obtain a photocopy of an original certificate. For some unknown reason the state has a little known “fast-track” (my term) method. If you hand carry the application, with the payment, and insert it into the drop box at the NYS Archives reference desk, then those applications take precedence and the wait is normally only from two to four weeks. Don’t ask why.

You are not allowed to mail your application to the Archives to have a staff person enter it into the drop box. They are not allowed to handle the money and do not want to be responsible “for security reasons,” as was reported directly to a recent inquirer.

There are professional genealogists and researchers that work in Albany every day and if you are not able to do any of this searching yourself, tell us about it, and we will try to find someone that would be willing to do the searches and expedite the process for you by entering the application and payment in the drop box..

Cliff Lamere’s website for Albany and Eastern New York Genealogy is very helpful. Thanks to Cliff for his thoughts and corrections also, regarding this Blog.

OK, for those of you that will ask about the New York City metro area anyway, please consider these suggestions. Read the detailed description by Roger D. Joslyn, FASG, in “Ancestry’s Red Book,” 3d ed. Read Estelle Guzik’s “Genealogical Research in New York,” and visit the website of the New York City Municipal Archives. To locate a researcher for NYC areas, go to the website of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) New York Metro Chapter .

One question that seems to always come up when discussing this matter is “Have the Mormons filmed these Indexes?” The answer is “NO”. They are not available anywhere other than as described above.

We really need your input on this subject. All questions and comments will be answered. Use the “comments” tab below.

If any locations have been missed where the fiche indexes are located, then we REALLY need your input. Errors, corrections or omissions, gratefully appreciated. Please do not send emails about this, only post them on the comments tab. We do want to hear your tales of woe, but more importantly, we surely want to hear about your successes!

There is no budget for marketing of this Blog. If you find the information helpful, please bookmark it, tell others, talk it up on mail lists, and visit our “UNYG Affiliates” tab on our main website at Upstate New York Genealogy .
Thank you so much.


Read the Update on this story here: “Update to How to Obtain Copies of Vital Records.”

Read the third message on this subject here:
“Update to the Update to How to Obtain Copies of Vital Records.”


What’s New On Ancestry?

Here are just a few of the items that have been added to Ancestry recently.

Historical Newspapers:

Lots of new additions. Check out the photo of the two newsboys sitting with a bag of newspapers of the “Oswego Palladium Times,” on the main banner header for “Historical Newspapers” under “What’s New on”

Historical Records:
U.S. Passport Applications, 1787-1925.
A very exciting addition, many with photographs of the person.
New Jersey State Census of 1895.
Historic Land Ownership and References Atlases, 1507-2000. Readers of this Blog will note that these are some of our favorite reference tools.
Historic American Building Survey Photos from the Library of Congress. There are thousands of courthouses, churches, apartment buildings and even family homes in this collection.
British Army Service Records.
Oklahoma Territorial Census, 1890 and 1907.
Ontario Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1869-1932.
Mecklenburg-Schwerin Census, 1890 and 1900.
Swedish Emigration Records, 1783-1953.

Coming Soon!
Vitals, Vitals and More Vitals.
Stars and Stripes, Pacific Theater, 1945-1963.
Major Newspaper Collection Update.
High School Yearbooks Collection Update.
Millions of General Land Office Records.
Southern Claims & Freedmen’s Bureau Records.

Dick Hillenbrand – Upstate New York Genealogy –

Adding some new features to website and Blog.

We have been experimenting with inserting some advertising into our website and Blog, as our regular readers might have noticed.

It is not easy. From time to time you may see some unusual occurrences until we get the bugs out, but when completed will provide some of our recommendations to enhance your library, and we will suggest some tools and gadgets to increase your research ability.

You will actually be able to click from this site and order anything at all from Amazon, and it won’t cost you a penny more!

Shop at!

Thank you.
Dick Hillenbrand – Upstate New York Genealogy –

Some Deaths of Onondaga County Pioneers in the Years 1869 and 1870.

Extracts from: “Second Annual Meeting of the Pioneer Association of Onondaga County,” published in “The Historical Magazine,” Vol. III, OCT 1870.
(Transcribed by Dick Hillenbrand, Upstate New York Genealogy,
(It is unknown by the transcriber if other editions or annual reports are available, this copy was downloaded from

…Pages 234 through 245,

Report of the meeting, letters from pioneers…

Pages 246, 247,

Necrology [from previous year, since last meeting.]

In Detroit, Mich., Col. Alexander H. REDFIELD, formerly of this County, died Nov. 20, 1869, aged 64 years.
Asa BINGHAM, died January 1870, aged 91 years.

Asa EASTWOOD, died February 25, 1870, aged 89 years. He was a resident of the County fifty-four years.
Mrs. Hannah BROUGHTON, died July 28, 1870, aged 78 years.
Enchil DENNIS, died August 1870, aged 79 years.

John PHILLIPS, died September 22, 1869, aged 72 years.

Mrs. Sarah MOREHOUSE, died in Lockport, Dec. 27, 1869, aged eighty years. She was the second female child born in this County.
Mrs. Nancy SHERWOOD, died Feb. 21, 1870, aged seventy-four years.
Mrs. Thomas SEELEY, died June 1870, aged seventy-seven years.
Mrs. Theodosia WILCOX, died 27th July, 18[7?]0, aged sixty-nine years.

Caleb BROWN, died 30th July 1870, aged sixty years.

Mrs. Frances CLARK, died 7th Sept. 1869, aged eighty-three years.

Morris CLAPP, died Oct. 16, 1869, aged 69 years. He was a resident of the County fifty-five years.
Ichabod SMITH, died Dec. 22, 1869, aged 100 years, 9 months, and 12 days. He was in the County sixty nine years. He felled the first tree and helped build the first log-house in the town. He was present at the meeting of this Association one year ago.

Reuben LOTHRIDGE, died Aug. 2, 1870, aged 69 years.

Samuel G. CLARK, died September 31, 1869, aged 70 years.
In Little Falls, Miss Sarah ALEXANDER died September 25, 1869, aged 78 years. She was a former resident of this County.
Miss Rebecca ADAMS, died Ocober 16, 1869, aged 79 years. Miss ADAMS was the daughter of John ADAMS, who formerly kept the Stage House Tavern at the Valley, and was one of the oldest citizens of that village. She was the sister of Richard ADAMS of this City.
Miss Rebecca HIGBEE, died November 26, 1869, aged 87 years.
Samuel G. WOODRUFF, died Dec. 15, 1869, aged 95 years. He was in the County 82 years.
Sterling LANSING, died Dec. 18, 1869, aged 77 years.
Horace HITCHINGS, died Jan. 8, 1870, aged 59 years.
At Onondaga Castle, Feb. 1, 1870, Jacob FARMER, better known as Jake, one of the principal Chiefs of the Onondaga Indians.
Mrs. Minerva GOODWIN, died March 7, 1870, aged 66 years.
Olive SAMPSON, died March 15, 1870, aged 78 years.
Cicero BARKER, died June 22, 1870, aged 76 years.
Giles CORNISH, aged 82 years, in County 68 years.
George LOOMIS, aged 82 years, in County 65 years.

Gerared SMITH, died August 18, 1870, aged 90 years. He came from Connecticut, and lived 75 years on the farm on which he died.

Miss Barbara PHILLIPS, died Oct. 11, 1869, aged 73 years.
[Houkiat(?)] GOODRICH, died March 31, 1870, aged 79 years.

Miss Lucy HATCH, died the 28th of June, 1870, aged 78 years.

Samuel WILSON, died July 30, 1870, aged 69 years.
Isaac VAN WORMER, died June 18, 1870, aged 88 years.
Mrs. VAN WORMER, died June 22, aged 78 years.
Daniel VAIL, died July 1870, aged 76 years.
William C. GARDNER, died Aug., 1870, aged 69 years.

D. D. NORTON, died Aug. 2, 1870, aged 72 years.
H. N. HOWE, died Aug. 26, 1870, aged 72 years, resided in this County all his life.

Mrs. McCARTHY, widow of Hon. Thomas McCARTHY, died the 12th of September, 1869, aged 72 years.
Gad. M. LAWRENCE, died the 12th of September, 1869, aged 72 years.
Mary HODGES, died October 18th, 1869, aged 73 years.
Roger BILLINGS, died October 21st, 1869, aged 74 years, resident of this County 30 or 40 years.
Jane McDOUGALL, died October 21st, 1869, aged 84 years.
Mrs. Harriet LEE, died October 27th, 1869, aged [?]5 years. She was the daughter of Maj. Asa DANFOTH, and grand-daughter of Gen. Asa DANFORTH, one of the first white settlers in this County.
Mrs. Tacy FARGO, died November 9th, 1869, aged 70 years.
George B. PARKER, died November 18th, 1869, aged 58 years.
Mrs. Amy PORTER, died December 17th, 1869, aged 67 years.
Mrs. Paschal D. THURBER, died January 19, 1870, aged 62 years.
A. B. F. ORMSBEE, died January 20, 1870, aged 65 years.
Dr. James C. STUART, died March 25, 1870, aged 65 years.
Gen. Wm. H. MOSELEY, died April 3, 1870, aged 74 years. He was a resident of the County fifty-two years.
Willitt HINMAN, died April 10, 1870, aged 66 years.
Adonijah ROOT, died April 14, 1870, aged 69 years.
In Burr Oak, Mich., Willett RAYNOR, died May 23, 1870, aged 71 years.
Mrs. Miles W. BENNETT, died June 30, 1870, aged 66 years.
E. F. WALLACE, died August 15, 1870, aged 78 years, in County forty-five years.
Mrs. Frances BOTTOM, died August 17th, 1870, aged 90 years.


Note: transcriber has no further information and suggests if anyone is interested, that they should download their own free copy from Google. There is a lot of early history associated with this article.

Dick Hillenbrand – Upstate New York Genealogy –

Forgotten Ellis Island

Did your ancestors come through Ellis Island?

If so, then a description of the medical process and hospital system that they likely had to endure, is presented in a new book and film by Lorie Conway titled “Forgotten Ellis Island.”

Thousands of families were separated and an enormous amount of them were sent back or deported because of various medical problems.

A website regarding her book, with maps and photos is located at

Read an excellent article about Ms. Conway and her Ellis Island project in the New York Times at

Dick Hillenbrand
Upstate New York Genealogy

Keep your Research Log on the Internet

We all have heard various instructors and lecturers tell us that we should keep a log of our genealogical research pursuits. When I started to get serious about genealogy I knew that this monster was going to be hard to reign in unless I started a “system.”

I had begun to accumulate reams and reams of single sheets of paper that could then be filed in folders and filing cabinets. That grew to about six four drawer office filing cabinets. Then I came up with the idea that I should only collect my daily notes, information on libraries and resources visited and used, and all family information, census extractions, lists of Things to Do, etc., in spiral bound notebooks. This automatically created a time line or log of my research advances, because the spiral pages did not get out of order or misfiled, and I could easily remember that about a year ago I worked on that, and then go back to that particular dated notebook and revisit the project that I had been working on.

Well my system seemed pretty good at the time about 30 years ago as I would go through each notebook and create a crude one word or so index to the pages, (which I had numbered,) for each. There are literally hundreds of these spiral notebooks that chronicle my quest, some of which are very helpful and some make me smile when I look at how much time I spent on “former ancestors.”

The fact is, I now have absolutely no idea where all of them are. We have moved several times in the past twenty years, and my original source notes are scattered hither and yon.

So here is an idea. Why not keep your research log on the Internet? It can not get misplaced, will be extremely easy to locate, instantly search able and will become a very important part of your research goals. Anyone can get a free blog website from many different places. I have been using Blogger, also known as BlogSpot through Google for some time now. I intend to move it all over to the domain that I own at eventually, but for now it can be linked to from the Upstate New York Genealogy website.

Blogging is very easy. There are templates that you fill in a little information on and then just start typing. You will usually have the ability to make it public if you wish, or just keep it private for yourself, or some sites have the ability to share it with other select family members.

Just recently I re instituted the ability to allow comments on my Blog posts. I had previously allowed this with no supervision and it was a horror story. My Blogs were getting all clobbered with SPAM and porn messages and links that would curdle your milk. So I took all comments off for a couple of years. Recently I looked at Blogger’s procedures to allow comments and found out that I could monitor all submitted comments and then approve them as written or reject them. That works just great!

So the idea for all of the above I must credit with reading one of our submitters comments. I had written about maps at Ancestry and received a comment from someone named Taneya with a tinyurl link address. I actually put off visiting the link until I got on a public access computer, just in case some of my old nemesis were spamming again.

Well boy was I surprised! This link was to a Blog written by an excellent researcher that literally documents her research activities just about exactly as I have described above, and I want to thank Taneya immensely for providing the link.

If you follow her example, (she has allowed the public to view it all,) then you will have a log of all of your activities as you travel along your road to genealogical success.

Dick Hillenbrand

Upstate New York Genealogy

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