Posts Tagged ‘Onondaga County’

Your Favorite New York State Census is Now Online – 1855 NYS Census

Map of New York highlighting Onondaga County

Map of New York highlighting Onondaga County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 1855 New York State Census is now available online at 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
New York

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 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.)

Here is a link to go directly to the 1855 NYS census search page.

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: Census
event date: 1855
event place: E.D. 2, Van Buren, Onondaga, New York, United States
gender: Male
age: 66
relationship to head of household: Head
estimated birth year: 1789
family number: 370
line number: 8
page: 44
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!

They Are in the Census Just Keep Searching

You’ve heard it all before, can’t see the forest for the trees.  Well that is the situation in this example.

I have an ancestor, Abram HODGSON (1804-1877) who had lived in Fabius, then Lysander in Onondaga county, and finally very near by in Ira, Cayuga County, and is buried In the Ira Union Cemetery.

From his parent’s bible I had much about him, and even had been able to document through land records where he had sold land to his son Mahlon HODGSON and Mahlon HUDSON sold the land later which proved what we knew, that most of the kids changed the name to HUDSON.

I had found Abram on all the possible census excepting the 1840 census, and in my mind I always thought that I had at one time gone through the Ira 1840 census page by page on microfilm, but perhaps not.

Yesterday I was determined to locate him in 1840 and it was fairly easy by using advanced search and just searched on the spelling of the given name as “Abram” anywhere in New York State, and sure enough, found him.

Abram “HADGSON” in Ira, with the right number of other household members, just exactly where he should have been.  All these many years I had searched on HODGSON and HUDSON and given name as Abraham as a possibility, but was never able to find him in any printed census index, nor in any online census index.

So my point here is don’t ever give up.  Take a step back and look at alternate possibilities when you are not able to locate your ancestor on the census when you think you should.

In this case it was as simple as searching on given name only.  Another method is to record say five or ten families on each side of your family on the census that you are able to locate them on.  Then when you come to a year that you think they should be in a certain location but not found, then do a search for the neighbors from the adjacent census and see if you can locate them manually as being neighbors on your target census.

It only took me about 25 or 30 years to locate this 1840 listing when it should have been able to be found way back when.  Never give up.

Major Error in 1820 Census for Onondaga County

For all you people with Upstate New York ancestors this is an important announcement.  There apparently is a major error in the 1820 U.S Federal Census microfilm for the towns of Cicero, Lysander and Manlius.

The following press release was just received:

Press release:

“For Immediate Release

1820 US Federal Census Microfilm Errors Corrected for Onondaga County, NY.

The American Pomeroy Historic Genealogical Association (APHGA)
identified an error in the pagination sequence of the microfilmed copies of the 1820 US Federal Census.  These errors relate to the towns of Manlius, Cicero and Lysander in Onondaga County, New York, and were discovered while attempting to verify the location of the Spencer Pomeroy and Lucy Pomeroy households.

The APHGA’s research indicated that both of these Pomeroy families should have been living in Manlius, N.Y., but both the and Heritage Quest indices placed these households in neighboring Cicero.  By examining the total counts by page and town for both the Manlius and Cicero microfilm rolls on we were able to determine that these pages were filmed out of sequence.  When the pages were sorted out we were able to verify that only 3 pages of the 21 page Cicero microfilm roll were part of the original 1820 Cicero census!

The APHGA has created corrected indices of the 1820 US Federal Census for the towns of Cicero, Manlius and Lysander in Onondaga County for use with and Heritage Quest images.  These indices, along with other documentation explaining how this error was detected and how corrected results were substantiated are available free of charge on the APHGA website at .

The American Pomeroy Historic Genealogical Association was founded by Bill Pomeroy of Syracuse, NY, in order to provide an organization to facilitate American Pomeroy research.  We provide a platform for the collection, communication and collaboration of research regarding the descendants of Eltweed Pomeroy, and act as a clearinghouse for that research.  Bill’s dream is to publish an update of the Albert A. Pomeroy genealogy books, The History and Genealogy of the Pomeroy Family, Volumes I-III, published in 1912 and 1922.  The APHGA has also founded the Pomeroy Anvil Trail, a project to install monuments in the shape of the Pomeroy Anvil across the United States in places that were historic to the Pomeroy Family.

Please feel free to contact us by e-mail at or by phone at 1-800-767-3282 x2530.  For more information about the APHGA please visit our website at .”


That sounds like a very important discovery and we send kudos and thanks for the sharp eye of Nancy Maliwesky, Director, American Pomeroy Historic Genealogical Association and Bill Pomeroy who so tirelessly and benevolently makes this all possible.

If you have a POMEROY anywhere in your family history you will certainly find a treasure trove of information on their website.

Oh, and for what it is worth, the Federal Government in their infinite wisdom discarded all of those original manuscript census enumeration books after they were microfilmed.  Certainly no one would ever need to look at the original documents.

Dick Hillenbrand

German Immigrant Ancestors in Syracuse and Onondaga County

The above title is the name of an excellent website that we will discuss in this post.

You have read here before about the tremendous amount of information on Michelle Stone’s Onondaga County German Immigrants website.

After asking Michelle recently if she would like to have me write a Blog post about her website, she responded with the following email. Gee I wish everyone would do this, cuts down on my writing time. \grin/

Here is the Michelle Stone response:

Hi Dick,

Thanks so much for choosing my website, “German Immigrant Ancestors in Syracuse & Onondaga County, NY”

as a subject for your excellent blog.

This labor of love of mine has been online as a Rootsweb (now Freepages site for over seven years (ever since my son, then 10 years old, would sit on my lap and show me how to design webpages in HTML code!). I have been pouring information into it ever since, so that it has become my major ongoing act of genealogical kindness. I have intended it to be a beginning point and central depot for anyone doing research into their German roots in Onondaga County, and with the kind and generous help of so many contributers, I believe it has become that. But I know that many folks who are new to doing Onondaga County genealogy might not yet be aware of it. Thank-you for letting them know it is available.

Perhaps the most useful item on the website is my partial transcript of the 1897 book, /Geschichte der Deutschen in Syracuse und Onondaga County, Nebst Kurzen Biographien von Beamten und Hervorragenden Buergern./ Translated into English, this means “The History of the German People in Syracuse and Onondaga County, With Short Biographies of Officials and Prominent Citizens.” Anyone who had German-speaking ancestors living in Onondaga County prior to 1897–or anyone interested in the once-strong German heritage and influence in the history of Syracuse and Onondaga County–will find the stories, biographies, and photos collected there quite fascinating, and may even find an ancestor, family, or surname of interest mentioned. The book is chock-full of individual names, photos, and anecdotes, and can be viewed in the original German text at my own website, and now, happily, it is also available online in facsimile at this website:

But as far as I know, there is no other English translation that exists of this book besides the one I offer at my own website, along with an index to the book which I created:

I have uploaded only a partial transcript and translation as yet, but if anyone needs additional portions of the book transcribed or translated, I am glad to respond to requests as time permits.

Another useful tool at my website is the Timeline of Syracuse History 1654-1945:

This detailed timeline is helpful to any researcher, and includes not only events and dates specific to the German community, but also general information and events for Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York State, the U.S. and the world as well. It too has grown organically as a labor of love, originally begun as a way for me to flesh out the context of my own German immigrants’ lives in Onondaga County.

Another general (not just German-related) research tool there is my database of Syracusans arriving at Ellis Island, NY between the years 1892-1924. I collected this data by exploring the Ellis Island immigration online database with the help of Stephen P. Morse’s helpful search engines, to ferret out any arriving passengers referencing a destination or home address of Syracuse, New York. It is interesting to see who had the money and the inclination for overseas travel in those years.

I have many more nuggets of info and history hidden away at my site, so a use of the Search Engine is a must. A visitor will find postcards, research sources and research advice, surname queries, and various German-connected datasets including churches, cemeteries, naturalizations, social clubs, membership lists, newspaper clippings, and an extensive collection of helpful website links. In addition there are such items as these:

The Syracuse Turn Verein:

The Philip Eckel Monument:

The Syracuse Harugari (what was it?):

The story of St. Joseph’s German Cemetery (now the location of a Wegman’s store in Syracuse):

Anton V. Altmann: A Syracuse Bottler:

John Jacob Kreischer and Katherine Gilcher: an immigrant story (still under construction):

The Story of Michael Andersag, master painter and Civil War veteran:

By the way, a descendant of Michael Andersag’s family is still hoping some master paintings by Michael will turn up in some Onondaga County barns, basements or attics, so if you would ask your blog readers to check and see if they might have one of these treasures, his family and I would be very grateful!

Finally, from the top of my homepage, visitors can click on “My Other Genealogy” and find additional works beyond the scope of Germans in Onondaga County, including some employee lists of the Crouse-Hinds Company of Syracuse,

and various other genealogical projects. The story of my great-great-grandfather, Lewis Humphrey Roberts, was especially interesting for me to recover. I started out not knowing who he was, finding only an obituary in an old family Bible. Now sixteen years later, having done research on his trail in Watertown, New York, Boston, Massachusetts, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and in northern Wales, I have reclaimed the details of what turned out to be a surprisingly long and amazing life of the “Old Soldier” who ended up in Jefferson County, NY:

Because I live so far from New York State now, I am not able to do much personal research into the Syracuse Germans there at all regularly, except via the computer. I welcome data contributed by Onondaga county researchers and will gratefully accept and add anything of interest to my website that would be pertinent in helping others. I remain truly grateful for the help and contributions so many have already offered (including you) to help make the website as useful as it can be. It is definitely a collaborative project, still growing organically.

Michelle Stone

Visit our main website at

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