Friday, December 17, 2010

New York State Research

My husband and I are both genealogists with New England ancestors. So it is not uncommon to hear one of us blurt out, “Thank God for the Puritans!” Because it was the Puritans, and other early religious groups who wanted to know what everyone was doing, and documented it! We are thankful for all that information. But as we follow our ancestors as they cross the border into New York, a mere 30 minutes away, our research immediately became more difficult. 

Fortunately there are many resources becoming available to assist genealogists.  Since our ancestors landed in Tompkins County, NY, we use the Tompkins County Rootsweb site.  The women who manage this site do a great job organizing data, adding new content and linking to surrounding counties. Their searchable and constantly updated cemetery listings have been invaluable to us. I love the Past, Present, & Future option where you can quickly see what new content has been added. My husband and I have even donated databases to this site – he recently submitted a searchable database for the 1865 Census for Newfield, NY.  Now, if I could only get him to do the same for Ulysses…

The Ithaca Journal Obituary Index has also been helpful to us. The years included are: 1860-1876; 1900-1989; 1990-1999.

New York State performed its own census every ten years from 1825-1875, then in 1892, 1905, 1915 and 1925. Because of the loss of the 1890 Federal Census, my husband has found the 1892 Census located in the newly updated Family website a valuable resource.  Not all counties were included – those that are: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Clinton, Cortland, Delaware, Dutchess, Erie, Genesee, Kings, Monroe, Montgomery, Niagara, Orleans, Otsego, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Washington, Wayne, and Yates. Consequently, the two counties in which my relatives lived during that time are not included!

Old Fulton New York Postcards website is a goldmine of information. This site has millions (the number goes up almost every day!) of name searchable New York (Upstate and New York City) newspaper articles of obits, marriages, travel, and social news. It gives researchers a window into the day-to-day lives of their ancestors.  And that is what we, as genealogists, strive for – as Marcia Iannizzi Melnyk terms “filling in the dash.” Our ancestors are more than “date of birth – date of death,” and these resources help us to fill in the dash.

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