Posts Tagged ‘Syracuse University’

Bien Atlas of New York State 1895 –

Dear Readers, Let me call your attention to an Atlas of New York State that I feel is perhaps not as well known as the various County Atlases that we use so often.

“Atlas of the State of New York,” [by] Joseph R. BIEN, E.M., Civil and Topographical Engineer, from the Original Surveys and Various Local Surveys Revised and Corrected, based on the Triangulations of the U.S Coast and Geodetic Survey, U.S. Lake Survey, and the N.Y. State Survey. – Published by Julius Bien & Company, New York – 1895.

This a large folio heavy atlas. The maps are either single leaves or in some cases two leaves opened together to display a very large map. The lithographed maps have a pleasant beige color scheme and all land divisions and items of interest are very well defined.

Here are some of the features that I think are extremely useful. When you are working with deeds and land records, no matter if in olden days or modern, you will find references to the original land divisions and patents or tracts from the time that the land was first surveyed and divided. Those descriptions carry down even to today’s land records.

This atlas goes into great detail about these land divisions. In the colonial times the Crown of England granted rights to the Colonial Governors of New York to issue Letters Patent for a myriad set of reasons and circumstances. Individuals, or groups of individuals could apply to the governor for huge chunks of free land, or perhaps the lands were awarded for service in the French and Indian Wars, or merely as political favors. Whatever the case, these Patents were given a name and property borderline descriptions were defined.

Bien’s Atlas has a double page map of the whole state on folio page 3, that shows all of these Patents and Tracts outlined in red and in relation to each other. There is also a columnar list on the right hand side of the map that names and numbers these 226 parcels. In the north-east you will note where some of the colonial New York grants and patents extend over into what is now Vermont, and you will start to understand why the border wars known as The New Hampshire Grants occurred.

Then once you have seen the tract of interest and get an idea for where it lies, you can then go to the county map needed to study this area even closer. Pay particular attention to the little red numbers. Not every lot has a red number but if you count in between you will determine the correct lot number for your parcel. These are the Lot numbers for that particular land division, and they are the same today as they were when first divided. It is very important to be able to place your ancestors in a physical location!

Some of the counties have their own individual map sheet but most of them have two or more counties on one map. In either case they still display excellent information.

My first discovery of this lovely atlas was about twenty or so years ago at the Syracuse University Library (SU,) in the open stacks. The copy that SU owns has now been separated into individual leaves and they have been cleaned and encapsulated in mylar and are very handy to use or to make photocopies from. I used to travel there often to use it.

In the past few months the Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL,) has hung an individual framed sheet of the Onondaga County Map from this atlas, and after I pointed out some of my favorite features of this map, one of the librarians rummaged through the back room compact shelving and came up with the full book in all its glory! So I went right to the card catalog and guess what? They had it all along! Check the card catalog boys and girls. Incidentally, the framed individual plate that they hung on the wall is not out of this particular complete book, but an extra map that someone donated years ago.

Now along comes the Internet. I have written about the David Rumsey Collection before but lets go over it again. has a gigantic collection of gorgeous old maps from all places and eras that they have digitized and have made available for free access on the Internet, all in living color!

You will LOVE this site! It has some annoying features that my AADD syndrome does not particularly enjoy, but all of the waiting is definitely worth the cost. You will need a high speed connection, very high speed is better, and then be patient. These maps are extremely detailed and to be able to enlarge and pan the full maps takes a lot of bandwidth and processing. Their imaging process is through lumaimaging and the results are superb!

Once you have seen the section you need and are through oohing and aahhhing, then you can use your screen capture of choice to select all or parts of the maps to download or print from your own computer. Can it get any better?

I hate to mention any specific software because every time I do I get answers back from readers, “oh yeah, but THIS program is better.”
Yes, I know…

So I’ll tell you what I use anyway. First of all I presume everyone in the world uses WINDOWS. “What about MAC or LINUX?” I have absolutely NO idea! The program I use to capture screen images with, is a little freeware program that you can Google and find quite easily, it is called MWSnap. It runs in the background and when you call it up it goes in your toolbar. When you have an image, of any kind, that you want to capture, then you click on MWSnap, and either print/save the whole screen or you can mask and clip just the parts that you want.

Incidentally, this feature works on ALL kinds of documents, data, images, whatever is on your screen can be captured and saved the same way. If it is on your screen you can capture it. So if you have any proprietary software that won’t let you download or print from their operating screens… Well you get the idea.

Here is a link to the Bien’s Atlas:

Here is a link to describe the collection:

Now when you get a minute, or an hour, or a day, or the rest of your life, keep checking around to see what else they offer. Drool.

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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