Tag Archives: Genealogy

Remembering Ancestors:
Evolution of American Cemeteries


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DSCF0002We remember loved ones. We remember those about whom we care and who are now departed. We remember our ancestors for one, two, and maybe three generations if we are lucky enough to have known them. Beyond that memory becomes difficult, figures become blurred, and people are forgotten.

We do not simply dispose of the body when death occurs, we perform a ritual. Whether or not the ritual aids the one who has died is beyond the scope of this post; the ritual certainly is intended to aid the living to continue their journey in this life. Continue reading

New York Tenant Farmers: Little-Used Resources


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Wheat imageProfessional genealogist Jane E. Wilcox of Forget-Me-Not Ancestry in Kingston will present a talk on New York tenant farmers at the New York Public Library in New York City on Tuesday, May 20 at 5:30 p.m.

Wilcox’s presentation, “Looking for Your New York Tenant Farmer: Little-Used Resources,” will focus on the tenants of the major colonial manors and patents of the Hudson Valley between Westchester and Rensselaer and Albany counties. Wilcox will discuss the types of records that were created in New York’s manorial lease-holding land system and will explain how and where to find documents that recorded the lives of the tenants. Included with the talk will be a handout with genealogical resources. Continue reading

Mother’s Day Advice for Researchers


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AnnaGooleyNYHMother’s Day reminds me of a pretty bad week from last November. I was appearing back then on a nationally televised show in relation to one of my books, but that event was soon relegated to unimportance. At the time, my mom had been hospitalized for two weeks. She died in the early minutes of November 2—at the very same hour the show was running on Discovery ID. A few days later, her funeral was held—on my birthday. Those were just unfortunate coincidences, and they matter little. Death has a way of putting TV shows and birthdays in perspective.

Mom was a fan of my work, especially early on when the first few books sold well. She enjoyed selling books to local friends who stopped by to pick up copies, so I kept a small supply at her house solely for that purpose. It did seem to bring her lots of pleasure. Continue reading

Genealogy: BillionGraves Crowdsourcing App Announced


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Billion GravesMyHeritage, the popular online family history network, has partnered with BillionGraves to launch a global crowdsourcing initiative to help preserve the world’s cemeteries.

BillionGraves is a free iOS and Android application that lets users easily photograph and document gravestones and record their GPS locations. The gravestone photographs are then expected to be transcribed by volunteers on the BillionGraves website, resulting in searchable digital data. The app is expected to be available in 25 languages and support Gregorian, Hebrew and Julian dates. Continue reading

Jim Blackburn:
Turning Today’s Data Into Tomorrow’s History


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Genealogy Big DataBig Data is a controversial subject featured in the news almost daily, from the NSA spying programs to the rise of corporate data brokers. For better or worse this data exists, and the high value of information to both governments and private interests alike, make it look as though the practice is here to stay in one form or another. But, it is not the entry of data collection into the many aspects of our lives that I am exploring here; rather it is how this data can be mined in the future by historians. Continue reading

Green-Wood Launches Genealogy Research Service


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Green-Wood Cemetery (Shannon Houlihan Photo)You may be able to add a few more branches to your family tree thanks to “Green-ealogy” – a new genealogical research program launched by the Green-Wood Historic Fund and historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Staffed by five trained researchers, “Green-ealogy” provides unprecedented access to Green-Wood’s institutional records and historical collections of documents and photographs dating back to 1840. Launched on a trial basis almost a year ago, the initiative helps family members, genealogists, and others discover documents and images that have not seen the light of day for generations. Continue reading

Ancestry, NYC Launch New York Records Partnership


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Ancestry new York State City RecordsAncestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, has announced the availability of an index to more than 10 million New York City birth, marriage and death records, spanning 1866-1948, for free online at Ancestry.com/NewYork.

The new index, made possible through a relationship with the New York City Department Of Records/Municipal Archives, enables people exploring their family history to discover and learn more about their possible New York roots. Continue reading

Ulster County: The Life of Sarah (Hasbrouck) Osterhoudt


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The Osterhoudt houseIf Sarah (Hasbrouck) Osterhoudt was transported from the 18th century to her home today, she would recognize her actual stone dwelling and little else. Once the nucleus of a large and prosperous farm which remained in the Osterhoudt family for centuries, today the home sits on less than an acre and is crowded later development.

The Osterhoudt house, located on a dead-end street in Lake Katrine, NY, is one of the oldest in Ulster County. It’s about five miles from the Stockade District of Kingston where Sarah’s eldest brother Abraham Hasbrouck lived. A considerable amount of information is known about the home Osterhoudt, but little is known about the lives of the occupants themselves, most notably Sarah. Continue reading

The Trials and Tribulations of Abraham Hasbrouck


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Rachel WeepingI’ve been researching the Hasbrouck Family for close to twenty years. During that time, I’ve spent most of my time exploring and writing about Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck. His home, located in Newburgh, is famous for being the headquarters of General George Washington from 1782-1783 and today it’s a state historic site.

An often overlooked member of this family is Jonathan’s oldest brother, Abraham. During his long life, Abraham kept a diary and because of this journal, we know a lot about Jonathan and his family, as well as the events (and even notable weather) of his time. Continue reading

New Online Collections Related to New York History


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heathHere’s a quick look at some of the latest New York history resources to hit the web:

The University of Rochester has posted an online archive of over 6,000 AIDS information/activism posters. “The posters provide a visual history of the first three decades of the HIV/AIDS crisis from 1981 to the present. Depending on their audience, creators of the posters used stereotypes, scare tactics, provocative language, imagery, and even humor to educate the public about the disease.” The project was launched in 2011 and includes posters from 124 countries in 68 languages and dialects. It’s available online at http://aep.lib.rochester.edu/. Continue reading

John Donovan: Buried Twice in a Month


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John Donovan gravestoneIn a tragic story compounded further by a shocking turn of events, a North Country woman once buried her husband twice in less than thirty days. Admittedly, that seems impossible without some sort of extramarital shenanigans going on, but that wasn’t the case.  In fact, there were actually three burials in the story within that short span of time, capping a series of highly unlikely occurrences. To complicate matters even further, the woman actually had only one husband.

Before reading further, if you like solving puzzles, read that paragraph again and try playing detective. How could all that be true? At this point, everyone should be sufficiently confused and anxious for an explanation. And here it is. Continue reading

‘Genealogy Roadshow’ Coming to PBS


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6a00d8341c767353ef01901ee6f600970b-800wiFrom Presidential progeny to felonious forebears, family secrets are uncovered this fall across the U.S. in PBS’ surprise-filled new series Genealogy Roadshow.

Part detective story, part emotional journey, the show uncovers fascinating stories of diverse Americans in Austin, San Francisco, Nashville and Detroit. Each individual’s past links to a larger community history, revealing the rich cultural tapestry of America. Continue reading

New York State Library Offering Family History Programs


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NYS Cultural Education CenterThe New York State Library on Madison Avenue in Albany is a treasure trove of genealogy resources. This month, library staff will present two public programs for those tracing their family histories.

“Genealogy Online with HeritageQuest and Ancestry Library” will be held this Saturday, August 10, 2013 from 10:30am to noon at 7th floor computer classroom. Senior Librarian Stephanie Barrett will demonstrate the HeritageQuest and Ancestry online databases, both of which are accessible at the New York State Library. Participants will learn how to access census records, genealogy and history book, maps and other resources included in these databases. Seating is limited and registration is required. Continue reading

New Online Resources For New York History


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Apple ComputerHere’s a quick look at some of the latest New York History resources to hit the web:

  • The Syracuse University Archives has completed the processing of the George Fisk Comfort Family Collection, dating from 1822 to 1956, which contains a significant amount of material from George Fisk Comfort (1833-1910), the first dean of the (now defunct) College of Fine Arts at Syracuse University, and was involved in the establishment the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as what is now the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse. The collection also includes material associated with Silas Comfort, a Methodist minister and Anna Manning Comfort. Various items, such as letters and family photographs, were digitized and are available in the online finding aid. Continue reading

Plattsburgh’s Mary Johnson in Civil War


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Mary Hill Johnson 01The same “prove or disprove” mission I undertook to investigate Mary Johnson’s claims (to have passed as a man and fought in the Civil War) was attempted by Eleanor Vashon after interviewing Mary Johnson in 1924. Several parties were involved: a pension attorney; the Massachusetts adjutant general;  the Daughters of Veterans; the Convent of St. Rock, Quebec; the Canadian Red Cross; the Tewksbury Hospital; and acquaintances of Mary with whom she had shared the unusual story of her life.

The Red Cross managed to confirm that Thomas Hill indeed served in the Massachusetts 53rd, but found no record of a Saul Hill in the same outfit. They did find a Joseph Saul, and considering Mary’s age and her earlier jumbling of General Nelson Miles as Mills Nelson, the similarity was noted as a possible link. Continue reading

New York Genealogy Statewide Conference Planned


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logo1The Central New York Genealogical Society and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society are cosponsoring what they are calling “the first-ever statewide genealogical conference in New York.”

New York State poses numerous challenges for even the most experienced family history researcher.  The New York State Family History Conference is hoped to help break down research barriers and provide a forum that brings people together to share their research knowledge and problem-solving experiences and to collaborate on key research issues. Future conferences are expected to be scheduled at regular intervals. Continue reading

Washington County’s Mysterious Black Migration


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9781479771912_p0_v1_s260x420New York author L. Lloyd Stewart has recently published an extensively researched and documented book on African American history in New York State titled, The Mysterious Black Migration 1800-1820: The Van Vrankens and Other Families of African Descent in Washington County, New York.

The author will be at the Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) during May’s Troy Night Out, on May 31, 2013. Stewart will give a presentation at 6:30 pm and will be available to sign copies of his book afterward. Continue reading

Eliakim Briggs: Horse Power Inventor


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Briggs' 1834 horse treadmill BRIn the 1830s, hundreds of inventors around the world focused on attempts at automating farm equipment. Reducing the drudgery, difficulty, and danger of farm jobs were the primary goals, accompanied by the potential of providing great wealth for the successful inventor. Among the North Country men tinkering with technology was Eliakim Briggs of Fort Covington in northern Franklin County.

Functional, power-driven machinery was the desired result of his work, but while some tried to harness steam, Briggs turned right to the source for providing horsepower: the horse. Continue reading

Community Narratives: The Importance of Story-Telling


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Cheers historic Bar ShotWe are a story-telling species. Storytellers need an audience. Storytellers and the audience need a place to meet. The venue may vary, the technology may change, the message evolves, but somehow, in some way, we will tell stories. They define who we are as individuals and as members of something larger than ourselves, a family, a community, a county, a state, a country, or a religion.

How exactly would we celebrate Easter or Passover without a story to tell? Would we even celebrate them if there were no story?  With these thoughts in mind, I would like to turn to some examples of the importance of storytelling and community which I have noticed. Continue reading

Statewide Genealogical Conference Planned for Syracuse


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Central NY GeneaologyThe Central New York Genealogical Society and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society have organized and are jointly producing the first ever statewide genealogical conference in New York State.

Attendees will have an opportunity to advance their skills in researching New York State families and to build general skills. The two-day conference — scheduled for Friday and Saturday, September 20-21, 2013 – includes twenty lectures in two parallel tracks; a Thursday evening reception; two luncheons and a dinner banquet, speakers, and exhibits by vendors and societies. The conference takes place in the Holiday Inn and Conference Center, Liverpool, New York, just outside Syracuse. Continue reading