General Patton Picked up a Souvenir in Berlin 1945: Finally it is in the National Archives

In 1945 General George S. Patton was on leave to visit family in California and he presented the Huntington Library with a set of documents that might have been the most important set of documents ever signed by the most evil man in the world, Adolph Hitler.

These documents were known as the Nuremberg Laws and were the actual documents that stripped all Jewish people of their rights as German citizens and opened the door for Hitler’s Holocaust atrocities.

Patton had been given orders to turn all such important documents over so they could be used in prosecution against the Nazi perpetrators, but for whatever reason Patton, perhaps the consummate souvenir hunter, decided to give them to the Huntington for safe keeping, perhaps to hold until he could return and decide later as to what to do with them.

Unfortunately General Patton was killed in an accident later that year, and the Huntington has had these for 60+ years.

Just recently the Nuremberg laws official proclamation was turned over to the U.S National Archives and Records Administration by the Huntington.

The video tells the story.

Thanks go to Dear Myrtle for the heads up.

State of Michigan Has Decided to Keep the State Library Open

If you have ever wonderd if your signing of online petitions has any impact, we suggest that it does.

Last September we told you that the State of Michigan was in a budget crisis and was planning on closing the state library.  We told you how to Save the Library of Michigan.

Well todays news is reported in the Lansing State Journal that the library is not only alive and well, but that the legislators have also voted to keep all of the non-Michigan books and research media available to genealogists as well.

Recently they had contemplated downsizing the state’s obligation to house some 44,000 volumes of books and 97,000 volumes of microfilm that did not relate to Michigan.

Well the activity created with the petition and increased awareness of this situation must have had some positive impact because the state has agreed to keep all of their collection intact and available.

Read the full story here: Library of Michigan.

Thanks to all who participated.

Rochester NY City Directories Online to 1930 and to 1940 Coming Soon

Those of you Upstate New York Genealogy researchers that are working on Rochester, New York , Monroe County and the western part of New York State in general, are very fortunate.

The Monroe County Library System has been hard at work making much of their large genealogy / local history collection available online.  A discussion on one of the recent message boards caught my eye and decided we better review this site again.  See our previous posts about the Rochester Library.

There are many information pages and categories but if you go directly to this link regarding the Rochester City Directories at:  – You will find that the decades are arranged very easily to select from.  You will need a pdf reader to view the files but they are the exact scanned directory pages arranged in alpha groups.

There are other local and county type business directories available on that page that represent various years from the 1860′s to the 1930′s.

As we have noted in our New York State Vital Records Index articles you should know that the Rochester Library is one of the repositories for a set of the microfiche indexes.  You will have to go there to use them.

You will no doubt find many other items of interest by going to the main website and just start clicking on all of the drop down boxes.  A fabulous resource indeed.

Brickwall Break Through Fourth of July Weekend – Happy 4th of July!

While feeling quite patriotic for the holidays I decided to revisit one of my Revolutionary War patriot ancestors, Private Aaron HULET (1755-1835) who was a pensioner and is buried in Shaftsbury, Bennington County Vermont.

His second wife, my ancestor, was Cynthia (HOPKINS) HULET (1775-1860) and I have worked on them both for many years. Cynthia had at least two sisters, Bethia (HOPKINS) REYNOLDS and (presumed) ‘Sylvia’ (HOPKINS) PARKER, that I had previously noted were from an unknown place when they both signed an affidavit attesting to their sister Cynthia’s having been the widow of Aaron HULET.

Through the years I have left queries on many message boards and mail lists for these two sisters all to no avail.

So I decided to revisit the Revolutionary War pension file of Aaron HULET that is online at Got to tell you it pays to go back over your research and notes from time to time.

The document that the two sisters signed was written by an attorney and they both signed with their “X” and it very clearly states that I am a jerk. Well so to speak, because the one sister’s name was absolutely NOT ‘Sylvia’ as previously had read it from a quite dark microfilm image, and is very clearly “Lydia” PARKER in the online digitized scan of the document.

Not only that, and I don’t know how I ever missed this, it stated that at the time they signed the affidavit 1838, that they were both living in the Town of Jackson, Washington county, NY. Well that is embarrassing to say the least, as I am the self-appointed expert on the Families of the Old Cambridge District, which includes the now towns of Cambridge, Jackson and White Creek.

I did know that Aaron and Cynthia had been married in Foster, Providence county, Rhode Island on 28 MAR 1793, from published vital records of Foster, and the bible record in the pension file. The two sisters had attested to witnessing the marriage while living at their father, Joseph HOPKINS, in Foster in the spring of 1793.

Well needless to say this was exciting and I have been at the computer all through the holiday weekend. Did someone say there were fireworks?

So now I am putting together family records from various online secondary sources and entering all of these details into my computer database which will then provide a platform from which to go forth and do primary evidence research at Washington county, NY, Bennington county, Vermont, and Providence county Rhode Island.

I am hoping to find estate records, land records, possibly church records, as well as looking at all of the New York State censuses and Federal censuses that might shed some light on these families. I have already a fairly good picture of some of the descendants of both sisters.

I expect to find quite a lot of supporting details in various online resources in the mean time and will be looking at the USGenweb sites,,, Google Books, old maps online and dozens of other resources.

I just am amazed at how quickly one can put these family groups together now with online sources. Just remember all that is online is not necessarily proof and it all needs original records research to back it up.

The following is a transcript of the actual document that provided all of these choice clues.

State of New York
Washington County
Town of Jackson } SS.

Bethia REYNOLDS & Lydia PARKER of the Town of Jackson afore’md being duly sworn make oath and say that they are personally acquainted with Cynthia HULET, widow & relict of Aaron HULET deceased, of the Town of Shaftsbury in the County of Bennington & State of Vermont. They are sisters to the said Cynthia HULET, their maiden names were HOPKINS. In the year one thousand and seven hundred and ninety three they the said Bethiah REYNOLDS and Lydia PARKER together with their sister Cynthia HULET lived with their father Joseph HOPKINS in the town of Foster in the State of Rhode Island (the county is not now recollected) their residence was fifteen or sixteen miles from Providence in said State as they now recollect & verily believe – Some time in the spring of the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety three they the said Bethiah & Lydia were present at their fathers Joseph HOPKINS house in said town of Foster and saw their sister Cynthia married to Aron HULET aforesaid – The marriage ceremony was solemnized by one Esqr SIMMONS a justice of the peace who resided in that vicinity and they now recollect and verily believe true – these deponents are not positive what month or what day of the month the marriage took place but believe it was in the month of March, are positive that it took place in the spring of the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety three. They the said deponents have been acquainted with their said sister ever since she was married as aforesaid to the said Aaron Hulet whose widow she now is, these deponents have been informed & verily believe that the said Aaron HULET died in the month of May one thousand eight hundred and thirty five & their said sister Cynthia has remained his widow until this time & has not been married to any other person – and further these deponents saith not.

Subscribed & sworn this seventh} her
day of September 1838 before } Lydia X PARKER
me - mark
Anderson SIMPSON Justice of the }
peace } her

(next digital image) (verso?)

[affidavits of witnesses to the signatories of above, see pension file for full document]

Fun stuff.

Happy Birthday America! Thank a Troop Today

234 years ago today, the Continental Congress voted to approve the break with British Control. Then on the 4th of July the 56 Signers and the founders of this great country subjected their property, their liberty and even their life to the possibility of being taken away, once they signed the Declaration of Independence.

Do you ever think of how totally brave of an act that was? Would you have been able to do it?

Then countless thousands of freedom loving men took up arms against what was considered at the time to by tyrannical rule, and those troops were likewise committing all they held dear to fight for freedom and the ability to raise their families in a country ruled by democracy.

The times have changed, Great Britain is now our staunchest ally, but we still have totally dedicated men and women that are risking their lives every day to allow us to live our life in freedom and democracy.

Please go out of your way this holiday weekend, and any time for that matter, to Thank a Troop Today!

Real Estate and Personal Estate Values on Census Returns

Have you ever wondered what the Estate valuations meant in the various census returns where they were reported?

The 1850 federal census asked the value of real estate.
1860 census value of real estate and value of personal estate.
1870 census asked value of real estate and personal property.

You could actually use these numbers to put your family in economic perspective within the community in which they lived.  All you would have to do is enter the town or area into a database and then sort by the value to find out where your ancestors stood in the pecking order of their neighbors.

I did this one time on the 1825 New York State census for White Creek, Washington County, NY and it was quite surprising.  Unfortunately this was about 30 years ago and the data was on an old Apple II computer in Works format, which I have since lost track of.

It was quite interesting though to see just where my family fit on the economic ladder.  As I recall it was down near the grass roots rung of the ladder, but that seems to be the norm for most of us.

Here is an excerpt from one of my Revolutionary War Patriot ancestors, Aaron HULET (1755-1835), of Shaftsbury, Bennington County, Vermont, taken directly from his Federal Rev war pension file.  This was from his 1818 application where he had to show need for the 12 bucks.  Spelling as actual:

“The following is a schedule of all real and personal estate, to wit:
1 gun which has been thro the French war & the war of the revolution supposed 200 years old.
1 cow,
1 oxe,
2 sheep,
3 hoes,
1 scythe & 2 snaths,
1 pitchfork,
1 wash tub,
1 small churn,
fire shovel,
2 qt. bottles,
1 pint bottle,
1 stone jug holds 2 qts.,
1 water pail,
1 milk pail,
1 small pail,
3 hogs purchased with pension money,
some few articles of other old and unsailable household furniture,
as 5 old chairs,
pounding panel,
1 table near 40 years of age,
1 old chisl,
a few articles of crockery viz 3 white bowls,
12 home made earthen bowls,
3 milk pans,
6 white plates,
6 knives,
6 forks,
7 pewter and 2 iron spoons,
6 tea cups,
6 saucers,
6 pewter tea spoons,
1 fire shovel,
1 5 qt. pail kittle,
1 dish kittle,
1 tea kittle,
1 broken spider,
1 broken pot, leg out and cracked up to the top,
4 pint tin casons,
1 3 pint tin cason,
1 broom,
1 scive.”

Note his most prized possession was a 200 year old gun and there was no “Real Estate”.  I’ll just bet that each and every one of you have more stuff than this man owned.  “1 broken pot, leg out and cracked up to the top, “ indeed!

When I think about how much junk/stuff that I have as compared with my ancestor’s official inventory I am almost overwhelmed.  I own enough clothes that if I were to make a change of clothes every day and go out in the yard and roll down hill every day, I am sure I would be six feet under long before the clothes wore out.

Our ancestors got by quite nicely with their meager holdings.  They lived and prospered with very little so that all of their spoiled brat descendants could live the life of luxury.  I don’t know about you but I am down-sizing.

Did Your Ancestors Work or Travel on the Erie Canal?

The Erie Canal played so many important parts in opening up America that it is hard to count them all.

First of all, the Nay-Sayers said that it could not be done.  Fortunately there were strong proponents that were able to win out in the rough and ready political climate of the early years of New York State and we have all benefited greatly.

The Erie Canal took the path of least resistance right across the central part of New York State and through a series of so called feeder canals or natural watershed, and using a highly engineered system of locks to raise or lower the boats this largest canal in the U.S was able to connect Albany to Buffalo.

This natural path across the state follows what I like to call in my talks about Upstate New York Genealogy migration patterns as following the western corridor, or the natural route to follow the setting sun.

Primarily the canal was for transporting large quantities of bulk freight, slow maybe but at a very cheap rate in comparison to any other method.  You may have in mind the images of people riding on packet boats, and they did of course, but these were almost always very wealthy people.

I have heard it said that to ride on the Erie from Albany to Buffalo would cost an average working man’s salary for a month.  Most of our ancestors walked across the state usually with an ox team pulling a sledge in the winter or a cart in better seasons.

There are always exceptions and some of you may have proof of ancestors transporting their homestead property by way of the canal, but they would be in the majority.  Many of these people only had a bowl and spoon and a few hand tools and a change of clothing.

It is said by historians that the Erie Canal was dug by New England farmers that worked for what was considered very high wages paid by the state and they primarily worked in the off farming season.  For those of you that have heard that “The Irish dug the Erie Canal” you would be referring to the 1850′s period of the canal widening, which of course attracted many of the recent famine immigrants to good jobs.

erie canal map

I want to call your attention to an excellent website that is all about the Erie Canalway and part of the  National Heritage Corridor of New York.

One excellent resource on this site is some very detailed maps that you may download for free, such as:

Erie Canalway Eastern Region – Albany up to Whitehall, NY and westward to Oneida Lake area.

Erie Canalway Central Region- Utica to Rochester

Erie Canalway Western Region – Jordan to Buffalo

Download these excellent maps at the official website of the Erie Canalway National Corridor website at:

You will find many items of interest on this website, things to do, get involved, plan your visit, and much more.

How to Get the Most Out of the Upstate New York Genealogy Blog: It’s all Free You Know!

Been doing a little housekeeping with the blog here the past couple of days and decided to write this “How To” blog post about how to get the most out of the UNYG Blog.

Some of you know that I have been doing genealogy research for a great many years, like since the 1960′s.  When the internet came along it was a natural way to share things that I discovered with others and in one way or other I have been publishing on the internet before there was a Wild Wild Web (www).

So when I finally decided on a blog I used Google’s Blogger blog format for several years.  Then I had a professional website developer desgin and build my primary website that you see at and about a year or so ago I migrated all of the older blogger articles over to this new site which was just an extension of the main website so it is easier to locate as this blog is just the same as the main site with the blog extension, so:

All well and good, but what I did not consider was that all of the old links in the earlier blogger version still went to the old spots.  well today we are starting to fix that.

One thing that you will see different today is that there is a new box over on the right that contains the direct links to our most popular blog post articles regarding New York State Vital Records.  this was released in a series of three articles, the last two being updates.  Rather than me re-writing everything, just please remember to read all three of the articles.  The Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL) in Syracuse has very generously volunteered to do free vital records index lookups for you by mail, phone or email.  Make sure to read the articles first for details.

Going down on the right hand side there are ways to subscribe to these blog posts.

Next is a listing of our “Most Recent Posts”.

Then there is a “Search Box” to search for words or phrases in this blog.

Then a way to group previous articles by “Categories”.

And finally, a way to see the “Most Recent Comments”.

Please, we encourage all readers to leave comments.  It gives us ideas and direction for future posts.  We do take requests, and you must admit, The Price is Right!

Genealogical Researcher Needed in Upstate New York

Part Time Genealogy Researchers – North Syracuse, NY

Genealogy Researchers needed to conduct online family genealogy research. Qualified candidates must be proficient in MS Office and experience researching family genealogy online. Ideally looking for someone with history degree/background or extensive researching experience specific to genealogy. Experience in conducting phone surveys a plus. Part time, long term temporary position. $8.00 per hour. This is NOT a telecommuting position.

To apply for this opportunity, please email your resumé to

To readers of the UNYG blog, I know these people and this project and you will have a very exciting time if you are selected for this job.

Dick Hillenbrand

Report of Palatines to America Conference Fishkill, New York

Thursday June 17 through Saturday June 19, 2010.

Holiday Inn Conference Center at Fishkill, New York

This is the 300th year anniversary 1710 – 2010 of the arrival of the group of some 3,000 people that have been collectively called Palatines that had left the war torn and poor crops area of what is now Germany dubbed the Palatinate.

This band of families had first been accepted in to England by the young Queen Anne and then sent to America with the prospect of paying their passage by service the Royal Navy in collecting pitch and spars.  The Palatines were abandoned by England and they were not paid their subsistence money so had to fend for themselves.

The first few years were very rough on the new settlers and some were helped by the local Native Americans and they learned the methods of survival.  The descendants of this hardy group of people are today spread out all across America and other places.

Over 120 members have registered for the 2010 PALAM Conference.
A local bus tour was arranged and led by Barbara de Mare and the first bus filled with early registration and they put on a second bus to handle all the happy convention goers.

A convention like this is only accomplished by a whole lot of hard work by many.  Some of those to thank were;
Joe Lieby Chairman
Nancy Timmerman Cioch
Martha Foland
Sylvia Van Houten
Grace Saatman
leslie Huber
Sarah Timmerman Israel
and Katherine Seerden.

An extremely talented group of speakers were presented;
Alice Clark on the Palatine DNA Project
Richard Haberstroh on German Vital Records and Locating Towns of Our Ancestors
Leslie Albrecht Huber on 300 Years of German immigration
Joseph Lieby, Ed.D on Kleindeutschland, Researching your Ancestors in Manhattan’s little Germany
Philip Otterness, Ph.D on a Pictorial History of the 1709 Migrants and the Story Behind the Book, the Research and Writing of “Becoming German”
Elsie Scharph Saar on Reading German Church Records
Meldon J. Wolfgang III on Researching German on the Internet and Understanding and Using Archival Collections.

Though it is impossible to attend all of the lectures as some run concurrently, the take away syllabus and the discussions with other conference attendees was well worth the cost of admission.

A good time was had by all and we look forward to meeting again next year possibly in the Pittsburgh area.  Details will be forthcoming as this is finalized.

Personally, this conference in Fishkill is right in the heart of where my German family of Keeler’s lived so I was able to tour some of the old family areas and take photos, visit cemeteries and in general received double bang for my buck.

I arrived home to an email from Wilford Whitaker which answers a question that we have had on our KEELER-WOOLSEY connection and we now have another researcher helping out with information on this family that went to Vermont and Canada.  That might not mean much to you, but it is breathtaking to me after toiling on these people for so many years.

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