Posts Tagged ‘FamilySearch’

New York, State Health Department, Genealogical Research Death Index Starting to Come Online

Early this morning I logged onto to look at something on the 1855 NYS Census, when I noticed that there were now 33 collections, instead of the normal 32, in the New York State collection of actual scans of microfilmed records and data bases.

Glancing down through the list I discovered the newest title, having just become available as of December 19th,
 ”New York, State Health Department, Genealogical Research Death Index, 1957-1963″ -  Yippee!  It has started!

We have been hearing rumors that the NYS Health Department, Vital Records, Death Index was expected to be made available online in the future.  I have written about this in a previous blog post  and you will see three major articles that I have written about the NYS Vital Records at the top right hand side of my blog here at

1963 is the current 50 year limit that we must wait to look at the death record index.  So perhaps this is precursor to wonderful things to come.  Perhaps the 1957 to 1963 chunk is just a trial at LDS or just the first release of all of the remaining death record index listings back to about 1880.  Let’s hope so anyway.

After quickly looking for some immediate ancestors or family members that might have died during this short period of time, I could not find any, so I did a search on my surname HILLENBRAND and came up with one that I knew a little bit about. having worked on this line for some many years.  This is not my immediate family but is a second group that also lived in Syracuse and Onondaga County.

Here is a sample of what you can expect to find:

William L Hillenbrand, “New York, State Health Department, Genealogical Research Death Index, 1957-1963″
Name:     William L Hillenbrand
Event Type:     Death
Event Date:     28 Oct 1962
Event Place:     Syracuse, Onondaga, New York
Gender:     Male
Age:     85
Birth Year (Estimated):     1877
Death Year:     1962
File Number:     75441


NYS Death Index Sample


Note that you will find a date and place of death, age and an estimated year of birth.  More importantly you will find the all important “File Number”.  This is what you will need when you apply for a copy of the actual death certificate from the Dept. of Health in Albany.  If you apply to a local jurisdiction, city or town clerk’s office, the File Number might not be of any help because I am told that it was assigned in Albany, but it will speed things up for you at state level.

As stated previously the NYS Vital Records Division of the NYS Health Department started a collection of official notifications of Births, Deaths and Marriages commencing in 1880.  As also reported, many of these are lacking in the early years for what ever reason, but generally speaking from about World War I onward there is a good chance that you will find a record on your Upstate New York Genealogy research in this huge microfiche collection.

You may look at the full collection on microfiche at several libraries and locations throughout the state.  See previous posts for a listing.  The above referenced digital collection is the very first time that I know of that any part of this massive VR Index has been put online and I give major kudos to all parties involved that made this happen.

Here is how you can search this online collection.
Go to click on: [Search].
Scroll down to the bottome of the screen and click on: [United States]
Scroll down on the left to: [New York].
Then scroll down to third up from the bottom,
New York, State Health Department, Genealogical Research Death Index, 1957-1963

Note that this is a compiled data base taken from the microfiche and not copies of the actual fiche.

This fabulous news comes on the same day that sad news comes from my friend, F. Richard Barr who  just forwarded a blog post written by The Legal Genealogist, about the Closing of the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) until three years after the person’s demise.  This act was passed by Congress in the current Budget Bill and is expected to be signed into law by President O’Bama.  You can bet that there are people attempting to have this law extended to ALL of the SSDI at some time in the future.  Stay vigilant fellow genealogists.  We can not allow this to happen!

Enjoy the new online Vital Records Death Index.
Dick Hillenbrand
Upstate New York Genealogy

Using Estate Records Online For Genealogy Purposes Hon. John McLEAN of Jackson, NY part 1

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.

Battenville 1853 Washington County, NY Wall Map section

Battenville 1853 Washington County, NY Wall Map section

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.

Battenville NY 1901 Topo Map

Battenville NY 1901 Topo Map

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.


Subscribe via RSS
Follow Me On Twitter
Donations Greatly Appreciated:
Pay on WePay
MyHeritage Top 100 Websites
Top genealogy site awards