Posts Tagged ‘Onondaga’

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!

Revolutionary Soldiers Resident or Dying in Onondaga County, N.Y.

We have discussed Google Books before on this website.

One of my new found relatives was discussing some Revolutionary War ancestors that she had in Onondaga County and so I looked them up in my own copy of Rev. William Beauchamp’s, “Revolutionary Soldiers Resident or Dying in Onondaga County, N.Y.” - 1913 – Onondaga Historical Association, Syracuse, NY

I had paid over $100 for this gem several years ago. So I went on Google Books, did a search, and sure enough they had a copy digitized online and available as a free download.

There is a certain thing to be aware of in Google’s scanning and digitizing process. While the digital version is online at Google, you can use the full search box method of finding anything you want. Once you download it to your own computer, you are able to view it in all it’s glory with Adobe Reader because the files are pure pdf files. Unfortunately the pdf search tool does not work once it is on your own storage medium.

I’m not sure why that is but must have something to do with the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software that Google uses. Well anyway you can have your own copy to browse at will and you can’t beat the price.

While you are there do some searching and you will be amazed at what is online and free.

Click this link to go to our previous Blog about Google Books – Librivox

To read our previous Blog about Revolutionary War Soldiers in Onondaga County go here: Revolutionary War Soldiers

For  Google Books go HERE:

Visit our main website at

Upstate New York Church Record Books at Cornell University

Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, has been actively engaged in microfilming copies of church record books of churches throughout what was described as “Western New York.”

Some of these microfilms are woefully disappointing to one who expects to find carefully laid out columns of births, baptisms, marriages and deaths.

It would appear as though the records were written for the scribe’s own edification, and the format, style and penmanship is extremely erratic. My feeling is that the recorders of these books would have kept these notes for local consumption, for in the days of quill pens, who would have ever imagined that future hoards of humans with cell phones, GPS gadgets, laptop and handheld computers, scanners and digital cameras, would have ever a reason to want to delve into these records for clues about the local citizenry?

Well that being said, these books are still some of the very best primary sources of data on individuals that were recorded in contemporary documents, and that have a higher than usual degree of reliability. Though nothing is sacred, these records must still be analyzed and used with care, as there will be misteakes in every form of record ever made by mankind.

So what might we hope to find in these church record books? First off they are generally concerned with the business aspect of operating a church. Subscriptions, pew rentals, payment of pastors, fixing the roof, supporting the widow, and items of such ilk, generally are prominent. Hopefully, somewhere scattered in the chaff might be a few kernels of wheat that would indicate a baptism, marriage or burial record, or perhaps receiving of an individual by letter, (which will be extremely helpful in putting people in a place in time and might also indicate from whence they came,) and sometimes just having a listing of the members of a certain church might be very helpful for further study.

Many of these early churches in the wild, wild west, were lineally connected to a not too distant past colonial New England town where the local government was the church. The theocratic government of the New England towns might still be in the veins of the now satellite appendages. So you might also discover some legal news in these church record books. Some of these churches held trials for such things as blasphemy, non payment of debts, adultery or fornication, and things that we today would reserve for civil courts. Our ancestors were snapshots of ourselves. They had trials and tribulations, and some of these records are not for the feint of heart.

We need to discover all of the clues that we can from such primary records, and this fantastic collection at Cornell University in the “Study Center for Religious Life in Western New York,” that is held in the Kroch Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts Department should be studied and transcribed.

The listing of the church records available is at;
Sixteen counties are represented, some more extensively than others. They are Cayuga, Cortland, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Onondaga, Ontario, Oswego, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tompkins, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates.

These films may be viewed at the Cornell library and they are also available for longer term study at your local library through Inter-Library-Loan (ILL.)

If you are going to go there I would suggest calling ahead to verify that the film is in. I made the trek to Ithaca a couple of days ago and the film that I needed was out on ILL. The day was not a total loss though. The Kroch Library has a fabulous exhibit of General LaFayette and his association with General Washington.

Just about the sweetest antiquity I have ever seen is a manuscript letter written in almost flawless English, by LaFayette’s six year old daughter to Washington in 1798. She was sad that her Papa was leaving but glad Washington will get to have him for a while.

I was just a couple of nose lengths away from the original document. You can’t do THAT on the Internet!

Dick Hillenbrand
Upstate New York Genealogy

HILLENBRAND, Markelsheim, Bad Mergentheim, Wurttemberg, Germany, – Germans of Syracuse and Onondaga County – Karen’s Power Tools –

Do you have German ancestors in Upstate, NY? My Dad’s father came from Markelsheim, Wurttemberg in Southern Germany about 20 miles South of Wurzburg and about 60 miles North East of Stuttgart, on the Taube River. He immigrated in 1885 alone, however there were three other men on the same ship Rhatia that were also recorded as being from Wurttemburg when the ship’s manifest was logged in at Castle Garden at the tip of Battery Park in Manhattan. I would like to think that he got to see the Statue of Liberty being constructed because that was about the time that the head of the statue would have been being raised up.

I was lucky enough when first starting out in the research of his family that I was able to locate the Catholic Church record books on microfilm at the LDS Library, and was able to take his family back several generations in the same little town. Gramp was the only son of an only son, so there is not much chance of having any “close” HILLENBRAND family relations in this country other than his descendants. It is odd but for about 15 to 20 years now I have been monitoring and posting messages about Markelsheim on various websites, message boards, mailing lists, etc., and I have NEVER found anyone else working on any families from Markelsheim. That tiny little winemaking town is now sort of absorbed by the much larger county center of Bad Mergentheim.

I have quite a bit of data on my grandfather’s family, but of course would always like more. So if anyone sees this and knows ANYTHING at all about Markelshiem or Bad Mergentheim in the State of Baden-Wurttemberg, please let me know.

If you had German ancestors that ever came to the Syracuse or Onondaga County areas of New York then the very best website to go to is Michelle Stones’ excellent gathering place for items that relate to that particular German community. Many of the settlers of that part of NYS were there because of good farming lands and also there was plenty of employment around the Salt industry that Syracuse was famous for. This means that you will find many of these people in the outlying areas that surround the Salt works and many of them were employed in businesses like coopering and basket making and other jobs relating to the manufacture of Salt and the transportation of same. Michelle Stones’ site is .

More Computer Stuff…

Karen Kenworthy was a writer for the now defunct Windows Magazine at Winmag dot com, but she still is giving us some excellent utilities for free at . There are several very useful tools under the category of Karen’s Power Tools, that will save your bacon if you are a Windows user.

She offers many tools, but some that seem very helpful to genealogists are:

Replicator – (Automatically copy and backup files),

Cookie Viewer – (View and delete cookies),

Directory Printer – (Print names and info of all or selected files and folders on your computer),

Time Sync – (Sync your computer clock with any of the ultra-precise Internet time servers),

and many more.

You will first have to download and run her Visual Basic Module, (the language her programs were written in) before you download, install and launch any of the Power Tools, but it is real easy.

Karen also has a free newsletter that you can subscribe to and keep up to date with her fine collection of utilities.

Want to know what your IP Address is? Just go to and it will show you without having to do anything! is a company that offers website hosting and they are featuring our new website currently in their brag list. A well deserved brag if I say so myself. The other cool thing that you can do at this site is a quick check on a domain name to see if it is registered or if it is available. Check it out.

The website for Upstate New York Genealogy (UNYG) is: .

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