Most of you know about findagrave.com, or should. It has been around for a few short years and millions of gravestone inscriptions have been and are being transcribed by thousands of volunteers just like you and me. FindAGrave also has many images posted to the transcriptions if the person that surveyed the cemetery took the time to actually take a photo and then upload it.
This is a fantastic website and it is one of my all time favourites. It has one thing that annoys me and that is that it seems to keep nagging th
e viewer to click on ads or ask you to “sponsor this listing” which I presume means to pay some money so that people will not have to see the nag. This is not a big deal as I certainly understand that someone has to pay for the bandwidth, hosting and technical operations of this site.
Move over FindAGrave, there is a new kid in town! Well actually it is a couple of years old but the first time I heard about it was last January or February when I was working down in Houston, Texas. Color me excited and could not wait to get home, and for the weather to break, to give me a chance to try out this new website.
BillionGraves.com is my new best friend and I keep going over and over in my mind as to the wondrous possibilities! This site works a little differently than the former, in that it emphasizes photographs of gravestones first, and get this, coupled with an exact GPS location of the stone even down to a few inches within that exact cemetery!
How in the world could this be done, you ask? Simple as pie, maybe even simpler. This is the 21st century and everyone has a smart phone, or should have within a couple of days if you are a genealogist. You know about apps, right? Mine is an iPhone, but they have an app for brand X phones also. Everything is free. Free to download and and install the app, free to open your own account, which you need to do, in my humble opinion. It is also free to use online for searching or managing the images that you upload.
Your smart phone has a built in GPS that will automatically be read by the app when you take the photograph. There is nothing extra that you have to do. Just line the gravestone up in the viewing window where you are pretty sure that the camera will capture all of the pertinent information, and “click”. Go to the next stone, rinse and repeat.
When you get home you can upload them singly and insert the vital names and dates, or just upload them all at once and go into your online account later and insert the transcriptions. So two days ago I took a test sample of about a dozen or so stones in a nearby cemetery to get started. The day was very bright and early in the morning I could not read the stones at all because most of the stones in this section faced exactly east or west and I had to come back after lunch to catch the stones when the sun was glaring down on an angle over the face of the engraving.
Yesterday I went back early and spent a couple of hours shooting over 100 stones in the same section and did not have to worry about the time of day because it was a cloudy day and the light was diffused all the time. The images were not sharp and super easy to read, but they were good enough to be able to read them when you enlarge them with your online computer. Don’t bother to try to read them on your smart phone, or at least not if you have poor eyesight like me.
So I uploaded the whole batch at once and decided to go back in early this morning and add the inscriptions. Lo and Behold! Someone had already added all of the information for me! This is where it now becomes even more amazing to me. Anyone can sign up to transcribe gravestones, and there must be many thousands of wonderful volunteers doing just that. I encourage you to get involved and help out, because even though there are a very few adds on this amazing website, they will not nag you to pay for “memorials”, or at least not that I have seen in any way shape or form.
There are some things that you will have to overcome with the actual stones themselves. Around this part of Upstate New York we have an annoying green crusty moss that grows on stones that are in the shade. If the stones are never cleaned through the years that moss seems to form a black crust that is impossible to clean with anything, yes I know, don’t ever clean the stones with any chemicals, blah, blah, blah. Nonsense. There that will raise the hackles of a great many perfectionists, but what the hey? This is my story, and I’m sticking to it.
OK, OK, calm down. I did not use any chemicals, at least not yet. \grin/ However what I found to be quite handy was my car window snow and ice scraper brush. The flat part of the ice scraper made short shrift of the green crusty moss, and the brush part cleaned out the grooves just enough so that the stones could be deciphered. It only took less than a minute on maybe a dozen or so stones and most that could be read even with the moss I did not bother to scrape or brush at all.
It only took about an hour to shoot these 100+ stones, even with the cleaning of a few. Are you getting the idea? Are you feeling it? Man, I can’t wait for warm weather and weekends. I do not have any relatives that I know of in the first test case cemetery I described above. It is the New Woodstock Cemetery in the southern part of the town of Cazenovia, New York, which is in Madison County. Take a look at the aerial view map on BillionGraves, and you will see that I just shot one small section of the eastern side and there are many more hundreds to go, which I will get to ASAP.
Please tell us about your use of BillionGraves or FindAGrave. Ask questions by leaving a comment and either I or another reader will be glad to help you out.
I was almost hesitant to post this on April 1st, but this is absolutely not a fools day joke!
Continuing from part 1…
Go to familysearch.org, scroll down to the bottom of the home page, click on ‘United States‘. Wait for the screen to load and click on ‘New York‘ in the left hand column. At present there are 31 fabulous collections of original microfilmed records that have been digitized. Scroll down to ‘New York, Probate Records, 1629-1871‘. Click on ‘Browse through 14,045,812 images‘ – select ‘Washington’ county.’
Now you must use the ‘Will index 1788-1896‘ to locate your subject person, in this case, John McLEAN of Jackson. You will have to poke around some to get to just what you need but if you guess right it won’t take long. Up on the top bar is the image counter ‘M’ is in the middle of the alphabet and there are 148 images so lets pick 74 and hit the ‘Go’ button. That takes us to the typewritten index page number 111 which seems to be ‘MA’ name. Here is where you must be patient. In the days before computers people that indexed names never seemed to follow any convention when they indexed those pesky Scottish names of Mc and Mac. In this case they put them at the end of M pages so on image 85, page 130, we find John McLEAN, Will Book B2, Page 285. I do have a very good shortcut to finding these wills in another website, but am hesitant to describe it here. If you want to know, send me an email and I will tell you how.
Now go back to the Wills page and click on ‘Wills 1830-1845 vol A2-B2′. What this means is that there are two Will books on one roll of microfilm. Book B2. Page 285 would be near the end of the film so go to Image #554 and there it starts. There are several pages to this Will and we will abstract just some of the pertinent points. We will presume that a county judge would have a pretty good idea as to how to write a will.
“In the Name of God Amen, I John McLEAN of the town of Jackson, county of Washington and State of New York, considering the uncertainty of this mortal life & being of sound mind and memory, do make and publish this my last Will in manner -form following, Viz. -
First – I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Mary McLEAN, one thousand dollars, or the yearly interest threof during her natural life, together with such of my house hold furniture as she may choose, to the amount of three hundred dollars, a one horse wagon, harness and horse for the same, one cow, the horse and cow to be kept for her, winter and summer, and to have the use and occupation of such front of my dwelling house, left to my son Henry R. McLEAN as she may choose for her necessary convenience, and to be found sufficient firewood for the same, and as much wool and flax, as she needs for her own use, and sufficient provisions for her [bouid?] during her natural life, and as long as she remains my widow, and at her decease the property bequeathed to her, be at her own disposition, except the one thousand dollars or the interest thereof, and privilege in the dwelling house.”
“… to my sister Jane McLEAN, five hundred dollars or the yearly interest thereof…”
“… to my grand child Jane, daughter of Aaron M. PERINE, and Caty his wife now deceased, one thousand dollars, at her arriving at lawful age, or at her marriage, is – should be the case…”
“… order and direct that the remainder of my estate both real and personal, (after paying my just debts) and an allowance of personal property, to be made to my son Henry R. McLEAN, be divided equally amongst my six children Viz Thomas King McLEAN, Isabella wife of David CAMPBELL, John McLEAN, Lewis McLEAN, William VanKirk McLEAN and Henry Rutgers McLEAN – except the share of my son John McLEAN I order and direct to be reduced fourteen hundred dollars on account of the expense of his education and study of his profession, and that there be deducted from the share of my son William VanKirk McLEAN, nine hundred dollars on account of his eduction and expense of studies of Physic.”
“To my son Thomas King McLEAN, I give and devise to him, his heirs and assigns, the farm on which he now lives and improves, containing about two hundred and thirty acres of lands.
To my daughter Isable wife of David CAMPBELL, I give and devise the farm on which they now live and occupy in Anaquaskoke Pattent, contains about four hundred acres of land, to them their heirs and assigns.
To my son Lewis McLEAN I give and devise the farm on the east side of the ponds on which I now live, containing the whole of the two lots which I now own on the east side of the ponds, formerly bought of Goldsbrow BANYAR, to him, to his heirs and assigns.
To my son, William VanKirk McLEAN, I give and devise that part of my land on the west side of the ponds, being the remaining part of the aforesaid two lots I purchased of Goldsbrow BANYAR, to him his heirs and assigns.
To my son John McLEAN I give and devise all my lands which I bought of the state in the town of Sullivan, County of Madison and State of New York, it being four lots of land for which I have certificates given to me by the proper state officers, for the purchase of the same, to him his heirs and assigns.
To my son Henry Rutgers McLEAN I give and devise the farm lately owned by Abraham DUNHAM, and formerly owned by Levi DOWNING, and which is now in the possession and occupation of his brother Lewis McLEAN, containing nearly two hundred acres of land. – And also all my right to the cotton factory and machinery belonging to the same, and the grist mills and implements belonging thereto, together with the sawmill at the same place, and together with all my right to the mill lot so called and a lot of land lately Bot, of John ROBERTSON joining said mail lot, and also a small lot of ground purchased from John TEFFT joining the mill lot, and lot bot, of said ROBERTSON, which two last mentioned lots in conveyed jointly to John McLEAN and Daniel ANTHONY, excepting any reservations that may be made for Lewis McLEAN for water privilege and ground for woolen machinery and fulling, the last described property except the farm on which Lewis McLEAN now lives is lying and being in the town of Greenwich in Washington county, and lately owned by Thomas McLEAN and others to him, his heirs and assigns, and further I give and bequeath to my said son Henry Rutgers McLEAN two good working horses such as he may choose of what I own, one yoke of oxen, four milch cows, one half of my young cattles, forty sheep, all my swine, and all my farming utensils of all descriptions and all my household furniture except such as his mother shall choose to take, and the said stock of beasts farming untentials and household furniture is not to be computed or considered as any part of his legacy in the divisions with my other heirs.
And in addition to what’s before devised to my son Lewis McLEAN, I give devise and bequeath to him all my cloth dressing untential together with the wool carding machines and implements thereto belonging, and wattering privilege of running the same at the place where they are in operation (other than in the cotton factory building) and to build sufficient buildings to work and carry the said woolen machinery on, or as far as my right extends at the said woolen machinery on, as further privilage of ground to build on will be necessary other than what I at present own he will have to agree for and purchase from Daniel ANTHONY to him his heirs and assigns.”
The will continues with many more details on his wishes for distribution of property. For those of you interested you should go and read and transcribe the rest of this document. For my use as a description of the sorts of items that you might find we have enough details.
John’s three sons, Thomas King, John and Henry R. as well as son-in-law David CAMPBELL were appointed executors. The will was written 21 JAN 1828 and proven 03 JUL 1837. Witnesses were William A. WILSON and William ERVIN. Alexander ROBERTSON was the Surrogate.
Interesting to note that Hon. John McLEAN had holdings in several different mills, such as a cotton mill, woolen mill, saw mill and a grist mill. As cotton would not have been grown in this part of the country, there must have been a brisk trade with southern markets in order to have raw cotton sent by ships to New York City and then by sloop up the Hudson River to Troy and overland to the mill.
Now this has not led to any discovery about my Abel HOWARD, however what does come to mind after this research effort is something that I have overlooked in the past. While recording some of this data on the Family Group Sheet of David CAMPBELL and his wife, Isabella (McLEAN) CAMPBELL, it dawned on me that David was also a mill operator, which will lead to further research on the mills of the Battenville, because Abel HOWARD named one of his sons, Archibald Campbell HOWARD. Was this in honor of the operator of the mill that he worked at?
I’ll let you know.
Within the past few years FamilySearch has made so many new collections available to the armchair genealogy researcher that it is just astounding! For those of you with Upstate New York ancestors (as well as anywhere else for that matter,) it has never been easier to look at images of original source documents that will allow you to find answers without having to rattle the bones of you deceased ancestors.
In the past few months I have been so busy going back and filling in all of that delicious data that is held in the 1855, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915 and 1925 New York State Census returns, which are all very nicely indexed on the LDS site. The 1865 NYS Census is there but it is not indexed (yet) however you may browse the communities where your ancestors lived and find them that way.
Lately I have been using Wills, Administrations, Guardianships and other official court records that are available online at FamilySearch. I have always recommended going to the county of record and obtaining photocopies of the “complete” file packet for any ancestor’s estate records as they will give you some of the best answers or clues to your hardest research problems. Actually I would still recommend this as not all of the estate files were filmed by LDS.
Abel HOWARD (c1770-1844) was my mother’s great great grandfather, born in Hebron, Connecticut and as an infant moved to Lyme, New Hampshire, ending up in the Cambridge, Greenwich and Jackson areas of Washington County, New York where he and his wife Hepsabeth (CURTIS) HOWARD (c1773-aft 1855) raised a large family of twelve children all of whom grew to adulthood and most had issue.
Abel HOWARD is buried in Battenville, a hamlet that is mostly in the town of Greenwich, but immediately across the river the cemetery is actually located in the town of Jackson. This old cemetery was the burying ground for local families and it at one time surrounded the church building of a Reformed Dutch Church that most likely was of the Presbyterian bent as many in the community were of Scotch descendancy. One thing that I need to do is to find the exact history of this church, its pastors and any possible church records that might exist. I have tried sporadically to work on this but have never nailed anything down on this project yet.
Abel HOWARD is found on the 1800 and 1810 federal census in Cambridge, Washington County, NY. He is listed in Jackson, Washington Co. in 1820, and Greenwich in the 1825 New York State census, he is also in Greenwich on the 1830 and 1840 census. All of these listings could have been in almost exactly the same place or within a mile or so from where he is buried. So for 40 years he is found on many census returns, however not once have we ever located him on any other type of document.
Abel HOWARD is not found on any deeds or land records of any type that we have ever found. I have gone so far as to extract five names on each side of him on each census listing and looked up the deeds or land records of all of those people in the hopes of finding Abel’s name shown in a survey description as a bordering property owner or occupant. No such luck.
Abel was never in any newspaper article that we have found, he never sued anyone, never was sued, and other than several family letters that we have that mention him or were written to him from the batch of kids that mostly went west, we have never found anything more about our Abel HOWARD.
As I have been at this for about 40 years and Miss Harriet Howard and her genealogist uncle Clarence HOWARD worked on him for about fifty years before I started, it is fair to say that we have beat many bushes with no positive results.
So here is my theory. Abel HOWARD left Lyme, New Hampshire as a young man and took the road up over the mountains out of Thetford, Vermont and came down into the Rutland, VT. area (which was really the only route that he could have taken at that time period,) and somehow or other worked his way down into Washington County, NY. This would be a fairly typical migration route.
My theory continues that he met Hepsabeth CURTIS somewhere along the way, probably in the Greenwich area, got married and started having kids. If he was not a farmer, then the only thing that would likely have sustained a large family such as his was to have a solid job in one of the many mills on the Battenkill River that came down through this area. Some mills are still in existence today in this community.
My lifelong research on the early “Families of the Old Cambridge District” led me to discover that the primary mills in the Battenville area were owned or operated by the McLEAN family and Daniel ANTHONY, the father of Susan B. ANTHONY (1820-1844.) Susan would have known my Abel HOWARD, seems to me.
This leads me to the reason for this blog post. By reading the will of Hon. John McLEAN of Jackson, it tells a lot about his immediate family and also breaks down some of the distribution of the mill property and equipment, that some day may lead me to some other type of business records somewhere that will help with our Abel HOWARD research. Surely Abel must have lived in a mill workers tenant house that the good Judge McLEAN owned, or so I would like to think.
So what follows is a demonstration of the types of things that you will find when you transcribe estate records and why it is so important to use them in your genealogy pursuit. Remember the McLEANs are not my kin, or not that I know of, but this sort of thing helps to build a better picture of the time period.
Folks, I have had to split this post into two parts as it is stopping my blog from working properly. I hope that it will start working well for everyone now. This post is continued in part 2.
The 1855 New York State Census is now available online at FamilySearch.org as of February 1st, 2013. This is my personal favorite census, and I am quite sure that it should be yours as well.
As most of you know, New York took a census normally every ten years and it generally fell on the five year increments. So you have the decennial federal census on the 10′s and the NYS on the 5′s, with some exceptions. This means that even though New York does not have those easy to use town records of our New England ancestors for earlier times, we do have the glorious NYS census.
Not all of the 1855 census survived, but the largest percentage of it did and we are very fortunate in that. Here is a list of county films that some or all of the 1855 census exist for. Taken from the LDS website catalog:
New York, State Census, 1855
There are some unique items that were asked as questions by the enumerator, called the “Marshall”.
Here is a list of items that the Marshall asked or recorded:
1 – Dwellings numbered in the order of visitation.
2 – Of what material built.
3 – Value.
4 – Families numbered in the order of their visitation.
5 – Name of every person whose usual place of abode on the first day of June was in this family.
6 – Age.
7 – Sex.
8 – Color – whether black or mulatto. (often left blank meaning white)
9 – Relation to the head of the family.
10 – In what county of this State, or in what other State or Foreign Country born.
11 – Married.
12 – Widowed.
13 – Years resident in this city or town. (Unique to all other census, great for migration studies)
14 – Profession, Trade, or Occupation.
15 – Native voter.
16 – Naturalized voter.
17 – Alien.
18 – Persons of color not taxed.
19 – Persons over 21 years who cannot read and write.
20 – Owners of land.
21 – Deaf, Dumb, Blind, Insane, or Idiotic.
Many of the nuclear families were still intact in 1855, as we had no major upheavals in statewide or nationwide events (such as a war,) to cause the families to split. There was no Social Security, and retirement living in group homes was not a normal thing like it is today. So most of the old folks are quite often found living with one of the younger generations. You will find many fathers, mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. living in the household.
When you carefully analyze the answers and you discover that your person was born in a certain county and resided in this location for an exact amount of years, it will help you to go back and look for property records in the previous location.
With the 1850 federal census you do see the name of every person in the household, but often you might make a wrong assumption as to the relationships.
Just a couple of hours ago when I first discovered this census online I immediately looked for my 3rd great grandfather, Stephen CHASE, born 1788 in Washington County and had been living since 1816 in Onondaga County the majority of the time in the town of Lysander. Now I have poured through the 1855 Lysander census microfilms page by page many times and even had gone to the Onondaga County Courthouse, County clerks Office archives, and had looked at the actual census books page by page in Lysander and had never found him in forty or more years.
Boom! In seconds I used the search box for Stephen CHASE in Onondaga county, and there he was in the Town of Van Buren! Well why I had never looked there before is beyond me. In this case, by looking at his neighbors I realize that he owned a retirement home, a framed house in the village of Baldwinsville. He said that he had lived in this town for only one year and even though I know that I had searched land records for him before I will now go back and see if I can find anything for him purchasing property in Van Buren about 1854. So this answers a 40 year old question in my own genealogy and I expect in the coming days I will find a great many answers.
Here is how you easily locate the 1855 NYS census on the LDS website.
Go to www.familysearch.org homepage and wait for it to fully load. Then scroll down to the bottom of the home page in the white area and click on the “United States” and wait for it to load. In the list of states on the left select “New York” and wait for it to load. The reason I say wait is because some of us are impatient and you might click off if you don’t see results right away.
At this time there are 31 enormous collections of New York microfilm images available. Scroll down and click on “New York, State Census, 1855″ – 594,539 images – 01 FEB 2013 (recently added or updated.)
When you find your ancestor in search, take time to record or copy and paste the screen shot of the search results as it even gives you an exact citation to use in your genealogy.
Here is an example of Stephen CHASE’s results:
name: Stephen Chase
event date: 1855
event place: E.D. 2, Van Buren, Onondaga, New York, United States
relationship to head of household: Head
estimated birth year: 1789
family number: 370
line number: 8
film number: 870758
digital folder number: 005207142
image number: 00872
Collection: Stephen Chase, “New York, State Census, 1855″
There are multiple was to use this online resource. The quickest and most obvious is to use the name search boxes. You can narrow things down a bit by searching with a known life event, such as; birth, marriage, residence or death. Or you can search with a relationship such as; spouse or parents.
If you do not locate your person with search, (could be a handwriting error or an indexing problem,) you can select “Browse through 84,493 images.” This will take you to the above reverenced county list and from there you can select the town to look in.
Thank you to all those wonderful LDS members and non-member volunteer indexers for making this most exciting tool available to all!
Thursday, September 20, 2012
I am writing this at the Rochester Genealogical Society (RGS) meeting in Rochester, NY where I came to hear a speaker from the New York State Archives who is presenting a program about some exciting news regarding the New York State Department of Health Vital Records Index.
I had an advance notice that there was a possible announcement coming from a lady who told me a couple of weeks ago that the state had a pilot program started to put copies of the Vital Records Index online.
This RGS meeting was announced by Dick Halsey on the NYMONROE rootsweb mailing list, that the speaker, Gail A. Fischer from the New York State Archives will talk on how they are collaborating with Archives.com to index and put online the vital records index that is available on microfiche. So naturally I just had to find out the straight scoop and off to Rochester we go.
Gail gave a full account of how the New York State Archives had partnered with Ancestry.com in 2009 with a three year contract to scan and digitize some parts of the collection of the state archives and to make it available for FREE to NYS residents. They have been doing that right along and it has been a success so the contract was recently renewed.
Some parts of the collection that are available now are; 1892, 1915 and 1925 state census, US federal census mortality schedules for New York 1850 – 1880. The 1880 census schedule of Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes and others that you will find when you log in to your free account.
Coming soon through the Ancestry partnership will be World War I Service Cards, NYS census for 1865, 1875, 1892 and 1905. There will also be Naturalization Proceedings and Probate Records.
Ms Fischer gave a lengthy accounting of many of the other types of collections of interest to genealogists at the NYS Archives.
To access your free account at Ancestry you need to log in through the State Archives website at: http://www.archives.nysed.gov/aindex.shtml – Click on “Research” on the left and then the Ancestry.com New York Guick Link. http://www.archives.nysed.gov/a/research/res_ancestry.shtml
This is what you will find:
Ancestry.com New York
Several New York repositories have formed a partnership with Ancestry.com to digitize family history records and make them available on line for free. The list of records available is located in the bottom left corner of the Ancestry.com New York web page. Descriptions of the records as well as the holding organizations are provided through the links and logos on the Ancestry.com New York web page.
How do I sign-up?
Free access to Ancestry.com New York is available to New York State residents. This access requires a free Ancestry.com New York account.
To begin, enter your zip code below, and you will be taken to the Ancestry.com New York search page.
New York State Zip Code:
So go ahead and make your first search and then you will be prompted to fill out your personal information in order to acquire your Free Ancestry New York account. After signing up this one time you will not be required to do this again. If you already are a paid Ancestry member you will not have to fill out the info, it will just take you to your search information.
So the exciting news about the Vital Records Index is that a similar arrangement will be made with another company also owned by Ancestry where the Birth, Death and Marriage Index will be accessed at Archives.com. The Free login details was not provided yet and it was not entirely clear to me if it would be free or subscription based, but be patient and we will find out real soon. When I hear more, I will be sure to tell everyone here on the Upstate New York Genealogy Blog.
The index itself will give you the name of the person, the type of event, the date and location, along with an identifying certificate number. After you know this you may then order copies of the records from the Department of Health in Albany, or you may go to the city, town or village clerk where the event occurred. The Albany method still has a backlog of months, but normally you will have results at the local level in a few days.
The Rochester Genealogical Society meetings are held at 7:00 p.m. at Asbury First Methodist Church, 1050 East Avenue. http://nyrgs.org/
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 – www.fultonhistory.com)
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] – www.fultonhistory.com)
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 – www.fultonhistory.com)
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 - www.fultonhistory.com)
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 – www.NewspaperArchive.com)
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 - www.fultonhistory.com)
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 - www.fultonhistory.com)
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 – www.fultonhistory.com)
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:
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
“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.
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 www.genealogical.com. 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, ABEBooks.com and Amazon.com. 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 www.FultonHistory.com
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.
The Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL) Local History/Genealogy Department is in need of a new microfilm reader printer, and they have the opportunity to secure a grant of $8,500 from the Central New York Community Foundation who very generously makes $8,500 available annually to a worthy local area organization or project.
How can you help?
Very easy, just VOTE for OCPL on the page shown here:
*** Special Note! The link above only takes you to the site. It is not the actual vote. After you sign in with your email address you then have to select “Onondaga County Public Library” from the list of candidates to place your VOTE! ***
Starting today September 1st, you may VOTE and each and every day in September you may vote again, once per day max.
There are many groups and agencies competing for the funds so if you really care about our beautiful Local History/Genealogy department I urge you to vote, and vote often!
You do not have to be a local resident to show your support and I would urge all you out of towners and out of staters to VOTE also, because with this new technology the staff will be able to make the highest quality scans and copies to send to you from your queries for research assistance from OCPL.
Here is the email that OCPL sent out:
30 Days Has September
At some time in the past few years, you have contacted the Local History and Genealogy Department at the Onondaga County Public Library asking for our assistance. Now its time for us to ask for YOUR assistance.
We are in the running for an $8500 grant to purchase a new microfilm scanner/reader/printer. If you’ve used our current microfilm equipment or been through the tedious process of asking us to send you a copy from microfilm – such as an obituary – you know how desperate we are for new technology.
This grant is offered from the Central New York Community Foundation and awarded through a voting process; the project receiving the most VOTES will win the $8500.
We need you to vote. You can vote every day in September. We are counting on you to help us out.
To vote go here: http://mygiving.cnycf.org/cny85
Vote today and each day you can in September and help us help you be better researchers. 30 days has September….
Onondaga County Public Library
447 So. Salina St.
Syracuse, NY 13202
ps: please forward this to your friends and fellow genealogists and genealogical societies.
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 familysearch.org 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.
Oct 14: Banquet with keynote speaker Barry J. Ewell, “Ah Ha! I’m a Genealogist and Lovin’ It.” He is a writer and researcher with extensive genealogical experience in Internet and field research, digital and software resources and mentoring genealogists. He lives in Utah and is the founder of MyGenShare.com.
Oct. 15: “Good as Gold” day-long conference with six program topics. Barry J. Ewell will present “Top 20 Lessons Genealogists Need to Know” offering five at each of his four workshops. Other presentations are: “Researching Rural Communities: Local Government Records and Other Sources” by Suzanne Etherington, Region 6 Advisory Officer, NYS Archives Government Records Services; “Often Overlooked: Genealogical Records in Colleges and Universities” by Edward L. Galvin, Director of Archives and Records Management of Syracuse University; “Onondaga County Public Library: One of the Best Kept Genealogical Secrets” by Holly Sammons, Head Librarian of the Local History and Genealogy Department at the Onondaga County Public Library, Syracuse, NY; and “Gadgets for the Traveling Genealogist” by Roger B. Williams, CNYGS member and active in their website development and County Indexing Project.
A vendor room with special resources for genealogists is an added feature.
Come early or stay after the conference to conduct research at local repositories. Central New York was the earliest major migration route for New Englanders. Later immigrants traveled west via the Erie Canal.
Detailed information may be found at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nycnygs and questions can be addressed though email: email@example.com.
Sounds like a fun filled day. Put it in your calendar and don’t miss the festivities and great speakers.
“Save these dates – Oct 14-15, 2011. Central New York Genealogical Society (CNYGS) 50th Year Celebration Banquet and Conference. Detailed information may be found on their website http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nycnygs and email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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 DNAkits.org 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