Tag Archives: Genealogy

Event Commemorating Ithaca African American Families Set


By on

0 Comments

On the Fifth of July, there will be a ceremony in the Ithaca City Cemetery to remember and rededicate the grave sites of two African American families. The Tompkins County Civil War Commission and the Sons of Union Veterans collaborated to clean the grave of Daniel Jackson, who was called “Faithful.”

Jackson was slave in Maryland before fleeing to Ithaca, where he joined others he had known from the South. He was a reliable worker in E. S. Esty’s tannery and at the end of the Civil War he returned to his birthplace to bring his elderly mother North to live with him. The two died in 1889 five days apart: he was 75 and she was thought to be 103. A stone has been placed to mark her resting place and the plot has been landscaped. Continue reading

Documenting the Birthplace of Mathew Brady


By on

0 Comments

What follows is a guest essay by Glenn L. Pearsall who recently confirmed the birthplace of Civil War photographer Mathew Brady in Warren County, NY. The essay originally appeared in the Warren County Historical Society newsletter.

On November 10, 2011 the Town of Johnsburg Historical Society commemorated the birthplace of famed Civil War photographer Mathew Brady. They had a cast iron historic marker made and placed at the entrance of the C. Ernest Noxon Community Center in Wevertown, Warren County, NY. Brady was born in Johnsburg Township about 4 miles south of Wevertown in 1822 or 1823. A story of that dedication ceremony was featured in the Glens Falls Post Star and then picked up by the Associated Press. From there the story was distributed nationally and online versions of the story appeared across the country including the Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News and the New York Times.

The research into documenting Brady birthplace in Johnsburg began in 2006 and reads like a detective story or an episode of the PBS show “History Detectives”.

Mathew (only one “t”) Brady was an internationally known figure and much of what we know of the Civil War and famous leaders of the 19th Century comes from his photographs. Mathew Brady’s photographs of the dead at the battle of Antietam, featured in his New York City Gallery on October 1862, brought home to America for the first time the true horror of the Civil War. His corps of photographers documented that war with tens of thousands of photographs. His February 9, 1864 picture of Abraham Lincoln was featured on the U.S. $5 bill since 1928 and when that bill was re-designed in March of 2008 a new picture of Lincoln was used, taken by Brady that same day in 1864. Although most famous for his Civil War work, Brady’s Gallery of Illustrious Americans featured luminaries from Andrew Jackson to Andrew Carnegie. Brady’s work helped record and preserve American history, and yet, until just recently, the birthplace of this famous American remained a mystery.

Mathew Brady’s personal letters indicate that he was born north of Lake George, NY of “poor Irish immigrant parents”. Most Brady biographies are silent as to his exact place of birth. Others list his birthplace as Lake George, or just Warren County, New York. Local folklore here in the southeastern Adirondacks has said for years that he was born in Johnsburg, NY, but there was no documentation to substantiate that claim.

In 2006 I began research for my first book Echoes in These Mountains: Historic Sites and Stories Disappearing in Johnsburg, An Adirondack Community (Pyramid Press, 2008, recipient of a “Letter of Commendation” from the 35 county Upstate History Alliance in 2009). In writing that book I took on the challenge to try to actually document the place of Brady’s birth.

The Federal Census in the early 1800s does not include the names of children. I began, therefore, with Mathew Brady’s father. It is commonly acknowledged that Mathew Brady died in New York City January 15, 1896. With his name and date and place of death it was easy to obtain a certified copy of Mathew Brady’s death certificate from the New York City Dept of Health (New York City Death Certificate #1746). That certificate lists his father as Andrew and mother as Julia. The death certificate notes his place of birth only as “U.S.”.

An inspection of the 1830 Federal Census of towns north of Lake George indicated that the only Andrew Brady listed was in the Census for the Town of Johnsburgh (then spelled with a “h”). That census lists Andrew Brady with 5 children; three boys and two girls. Two of those boys are listed in that 1830 census between the ages 5 to 10. Most sources list Mathew Brady as being born in 1822 or 1823 so he would have been 7 or 8 in 1830. The only reference to an exact date of birth is on www.NNDB.com which lists his date of birth as January 15, 1823, but there is no documentation listed for this and the exact date of January 15th may be confused with his date of death on January 15, 1896, 72 years later).

The next challenge was to determine exactly where he might have been born. In the early 1980s I had visited regularly with Lewis Waddell, then Town of Johnsburg Historian (now long since deceased). Lewis had told me about where the old foundation site was, but we never got around to visiting it together so I was not sure of its exact location. In the Johnsburg Historical Society files, however, I found a sketch that Lewis Waddell had made as to the location of the foundation. It was not to scale, however, so it took some exploring. Bushwhacking around the base of Gage Mountain my wife Carol and son Adam and I located the old road that went from the Glen to Wevertown (the road was later straightened and is now NYS RT 28). Referencing the other foundations along that old road that Waddell had sketched in, we located what I believe to be the foundation of the house where Mathew Brady was born in 1822 or 1823.

The actual site of Brady’s birthplace lies 4.1 miles south of Wevertown off of NYS Rt 28. The house foundation lies about 275 yards off the west side of the road (GPS N 63 degrees 36’00.6”x W 73 degrees 52’44.4”) on private property.

It has been written that Brady left the area at age 16 (in 1838 or 1839). Some sources indicate that his first stop was Saratoga Springs, N.Y. where he met famed portrait painter William Page. Brady became Page’s student and in 1839 the two of them travelled to Albany, N.Y. In 1844 they continued south to New York City where Brady’s instructions were supplemented under the tutelage of Samuel F. B. Morse (portrait painter and inventor of the single wire telegraph system). Morse was enthusiastic about the new art of capturing images through daguerreotype having met Louis Jacques Daguerre in Paris in 1839. Soon Brady was also excited about the new process and established his first photographic studio at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Street. In 1849 he established a studio in Washington D.C. so that he could photograph the famous men of his time there.

In 1896, depressed by the death of his wife Juliet (“Julia” Handy) 9 years earlier and suffering from alcoholism and loneliness, Mathew Brady died in the charity ward of the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Penniless at the time of his death, his funeral was paid for by veterans of the famous 7th New York Volunteer Infantry. He is buried in Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Photos: Above, Glenn Pearsall at the re-discovered Mathew Brady foundation in Johnsburg; middle, a hand drawn map by former Town of Johnsburg Historian Lewis Waddell showing the possible location of the Brady homestead (not to scale); below, the newly installed historic marker in nearby Wevertown, NY. (Photos courtesy Glenn Pearsall).

NY Public Library’s 1940 Census Tool Online


By on

1 Comment

There is a new online tool developed by the New York Public Library to help people find their New York City relatives in the 1940 census, which was released April 2.

NARA released the census online for the first time, but transcribing and indexing the data is a slow process,that could take as long as six to eight months.

The Library’s online tool connects people to 1940 New York City phonebooks, which they digitized for the first time, where you can look anyone up by last name to find their address. Once you have the address, just enter it into a search field and up pops the census enumeration district number. Clicking the number takes you to the National Archives’website, where you can find the correct section of the census.

It’s a great research tool, but it’s also meant to grow into something more. When you find an address, the tool pins it to both a 1940 map and a contemporary map, so you can see how the area has changed (buildings torn down, freeways put up, etc). You’re then invited to leave a note attached to the pin – memories, info about who lived there, what the neighborhood was like, questions – and so forth. As people use the site, we’ll build a cultural map of New York in 1940 that will assist both professional historians and laypeople alike. Users have already found New Yorkers including Mayor John Lindsay, Jackie Kennedy, and Jane Jacobs.

Check out the Library’s new tool right here.

Introduction to Schenectady Genealogy Resources


By on

0 Comments

The Schenectady County Historical Society will offer a workshop entitled “Introduction to Genealogy Resources in the Grems-Doolittle Library” on Saturday, April 28, 2012, from 2 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Historical Society, 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady.

Participants will explore the resources available for genealogical research in the Grems-Doolittle Library and learn to develop strategies for best utilizing the library’s collections in researching Schenectady-area ancestors from the 17th through the 20th century. The workshop will also include time to conduct research in the library.

Registration is required; limit of 16 participants per workshop. The cost is $5.00; free for Schenectady County Historical Society members.

For more information, or to register, contact Melissa Tacke, Librarian/Archivist at the Schenectady County Historical Society, by phone at 518-374-0263, option 3, or by email at librarian@schist.org. The Schenectady County Historical Society is wheelchair accessible, with off-street parking behind the building and overflow parking next door at the YWCA.

2012 Ellis Island Family Heritage Awardees Announced


By on

0 Comments

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation has announced the recipients of its annual Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards, which honor distinguished Americans who trace their ancestry through Ellis Island, and the B.C. Forbes Peopling of America Award recognizing individuals who themselves immigrated to America. The Awards will be presented on April 19th at a ceremony to be held in the historic Great Hall on Ellis Island. The 2012 honorees are:

Angela Lansbury – The B.C. Forbes Peopling of America Award – Entertainment

This London-born actress, who returns to Broadway this year in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, began her ascendancy up the ranks of American entertainment ladder shortly after her family evacuated to New York City in 1940, just days before the London blitz. Her first of over 50 films, Gaslight, won her an Oscar nomination. Since then, she has been a star of film, stage and television for seven decades, garnering her five Tonys, six Golden Globes, three Oscar nominations, and over 15 Emmy nominations. In 1994, Queen Elizabeth II appointed her Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to the dramatic arts. She is also a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2000. Lansbury became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1951.

Richard Meier – Ellis Island Family Heritage Award – The Arts/Architecture

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Richard Meier is a Pritzker Prize-winning architect who designed the Getty Center in Los Angeles. His distinct minimalist style of has garnered him 10 honorary degrees, numerous design awards as well as the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1997. He has taught at many universities including Princeton, Harvard and UCLA. With current projects underway in Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and his hometown, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the American Academy in Rome. His maternal grandfather – a leather tannery owner – Joseph Kaltenbacher, emigrated from Germany through Ellis Island in 1896.

Anthony “Tony” La Russa, Jr. – Ellis Island Family Heritage Award – Sports

Tony La Russa was born in Tampa, Florida, where his paternal grandparents had settled after arriving from Sicily thru Ellis Island in 1906. As an infielder, La Russa began his career with the Kansas City Athletics in 1963. Turning to managing in 1979, he became one of the longest tenured managers in the history of Major League Baseball. He spent 32 years at the helm of the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, and St. Louis Cardinals, where he topped the Cards’ managerial win list with 1,408 victories. He ranks third in all-time major league wins by a manager, holding six league championships and three World Series titles, most recently with the Cardinals in 2011. A staunch advocate for animal rescue, La Russa, his wife Elaine and their daughters founded ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation) in 1991, which aids homeless and abandoned animals and uses them to help people in need.

The ceremony will be hosted by journalist Meredith Vieira and will mark the 120th anniversary of the opening of Ellis Island on New Year’s Day 1892. Until it closed in 1954, Ellis would process 17 million immigrants. Forty percent of Americans today can trace their roots to an ancestor who was among them.

Throughout its 10 year history, the Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards have recognized more than 40 individuals, among them Dr. Madeleine Albright, Irving Berlin, Yogi Berra, Lee Iacocca, Jerry Seinfeld, Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, Mary Higgins Clark, General Colin Powell, Martin Scorsese, and Bruce Springsteen.

More information can be found online.

WWII NY National Guard Records Go Online


By on

0 Comments

When 28,969 New York National Guard Soldiers mobilized in the fall of 1940 as the United States prepared for war, clerks filled out six-by-four inch cards on each man.

Now, thanks to a team of 15 volunteers, those records–listing names, serial number, home, and unit, and later on annotated with hand written notes on whether or not the Soldier was killed or wounded– are available online from the New York State Military Museum.

“I’ll bet you that we are the only state that has such an item on the web,” said retired Army Col. John Kennedy, one of the volunteers who turned the index card information into digital data.

Kennedy, a World War II veteran himself, and the other volunteers spent a year keying the information on the cards into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. The digital information is now available on the museum’s website and can be downloaded and searched.

The museum put this information online so it can be used by people researching their family history or the history of World War II and New York’s role in it, said Jim Gandy, the assistant librarian and archivist at the museum.

“Not only can you research a specific individual but you can also research who enlisted from what town; where men in the New York National Guard were born, or how old the average age of the men was. We indexed most data points on the cards including: date, city, state and country of birth; ID number; hometown, unit; rank; as well as enlistment and separation dates”, Gandy explained.

In September 1940-a few months after France was overrun and defeated by the German Army and the British were fighting for survival in the air-the United States had an Army of 269,000 men. The German Army, meanwhile, had 2.5 million.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt convinced Congress to call up the 300,000 men in the National Guard for a year to double the size of the nation’s Army and prepare for any German threat.

On Oct. 15, 1940 the 28,969 members of the New York National Guard, including the entire 27th Division, reported to their armories to begin processing for a year of active duty. This is the data now available from the museum website.

For the 90-year old Kennedy, who keyed in the data on 6,500 Soldiers, the task brought back memories of his own World War II service. A Cohoes native, he joined the Army Reserve in 1940, transferred to the New York National Guard in 1941 and went to war in Europe in 1944 with the 8th Infantry Division.

He recognized the names of many of the 108 Soldiers on the list who cited Cohoes as their hometown because he had grown up with them, Kennedy said.

Kennedy, who now lives in Florida and served in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard until retiring in 1981, volunteered to help with Gandy’s project because he’s made the history of World War II and the role of New York’s units in it his hobby.

Bruce Scott, an Albany resident and another volunteer who keyed in the data, got involved in the project because he wanted to do something from his home that would be useful to others.

Scott, Kennedy and the other volunteers were critical, Gandy said. Without their work this kind of project would be impossible for the museum to carry out.

Eventually the Soldiers of the 27th Infantry Division who were called for training in the fall of 1940 went on to serve in the Pacific, securing Hawaii from a feared Japanese invasion in February 1942, invading Makin Atoll and the Island of Saipan, and eventually fighting on Okinawa. Other New York National Guard Soldiers called up in 1940 served in rear area security duty and fought in Europe.

The museum’s next web project is to create an index of which battles New York’s Civil War Regiments fought in, Gandy said. The data base will make it easier for historians to determine which regiments fought in which battles and the losses that were sustained in each fight. If anyone would like to volunteer, they may contact the museum at 518-581-5100, Gandy said.

The index card database can be found on the museum website.

Photo: A typical index card of a New York Army National Guardsman. Each card was 6 inches wide and 4 inches high.

Online Genealogy Standards Organization Formed


By on

0 Comments

The Family History Information Standards Organisation (FHISO) is a newly-formed international organization created to develop standards for the digital representation and sharing of family history and genealogical information. The standards are hoped to solve today’s interoperability issues independently of technology platforms, genealogy products or services. They are expected to provide opportunities for innovation and address robust user requirements such as search, capture and research administration.

In the fall of 2010, a group of technologists and users formed the “Build a BetterGEDCOM Project” to improve data exchange standards and to facilitate sharing between researchers. This grassroots effort has grown into an open forum for the exchange of ideas, and a substantial body of work has been produced. In order to realize the project goals, a more structured, organized environment was needed. It is hoped that FHISO will provide this environment.

The FHISO process is expected to identify practices and trends that require standardization and provide a transparent, collaborative environment that promotes innovation and consensus-building for the development of open standards. Following publication, the organization is expected to provide education and other support to encourage standards adoption and use. The FHISO standards will be publicly available at zero or minimal cost on a non-discriminatory basis according to an recently released FHISO statement. Anyone will be able to implement the standards for any purpose without royalty or license fees, the statement said.

FHISO membership is available to all who participate in the global family history and genealogical community. “The success of FHISO depends on the voluntary participation of its members representing all the global stakeholder groups,” the group said in its statement to the press. “In the standards-setting process, there is no substitute for the active involvement of vendors, developers, technologists, users and family history or genealogy organisations.”

FHISO can be found on the web, on twitter @fhisorg, on Facebook and Google+.

Hendrick Vrooman Family Being Celebrated


By on

0 Comments

The Schenectady County Historical Society (32 Washington Ave., Schenectady), will hold a celebrate the life and legacy of Hendrick Meese Vrooman, a Dutch settler who came to Schenectady in 1664 and was ultimately killed in the 1690 Massacre. Vrooman was the father of Adam and Jan Vrooman, who came with their father from Holland and many of whose descendants still live in the Schenectady and Schoharie County area.

A letter written by Vrooman in 1664, along with many other letters, were seized by the English from Dutch ships during the 17th-century Anglo–Dutch wars. These seized letters were recently discovered in the archives in Kew, England. In Vrooman’s letter, he comments on the changing rule in the colonies from Dutch to English, and describes his life in Schenectady: “It has been a good summer there. Very fine corn has grown there and the cultivation was good and the land still pleases me. At snechtendeel [Schenectady and the surrounding area] the land is more beautiful than I have ever seen in Holland.”

The Dutch national television station KRO will be filming this event for its program “Brieven Boven Water” (roughly translated as “Surfacing Letters”). The program attempts to make contact with living descendants of people who wrote the seized letters.

Descendants of Hendrick Meese Vrooman are especially encouraged to attend this event; the Grems-Doolittle Library staff and volunteers can help trace lineages back to the Vroomans. Please contact the Librarian for assistance.

The event will be held at the Historical Society on Thursday, February 9, at 2:00 p.m. The cost is $5.00 for the general public; Free for Schenectady County Historical Society members. For more information, please contact Melissa Tacke, Librarian, 518-374-0263, option 3, or by email at librarian@schist.org.

Illustration: Map of Schenectady in 1690, courtesy Brown and Wheeler Family History.

Quebec Family History Society Goes Online


By on

0 Comments

The Quebec Family History Society (QFHS) has announced the launch of its new website at www.qfhs.ca. The website features several new sections, such as Gary’s Genealogical Picks, research tips, surname interests, and a bulletin board.

QFHS members researching their ancestors in Quebec will benefit from the new Jacques Gagné Church Compilations in the members’ section. Long-time member Jacques Gagné has compiled historical information and the location of records for more than 1,000 English and French Protestant churches across the province, from 1759 to 1899.

The Quebec Family History Society is the largest English-language genealogical society in Quebec, Canada. Founded in 1977, it is a registered Canadian charity that helps people of all backgrounds research their family history. Its members, in addition to researching their Quebec roots, research historical records in all Canadian provinces and territories, the United States, the British Isles, and Western Europe. At the QFHS Heritage Centre and Library, members have free access to a collection of 6,000 books, manuscripts, and family histories, plus thousands of microfilms, microfiche, historical maps, and periodicals, and access to billions of online genealogical records.

The 1902 Park Avenue Tunnel Collision Online


By on

0 Comments

This Sunday marks the anniversary of a largely forgotten piece of New York history. On January 8, 1902, there was a train collision in the train tunnels of New York City. As a result of this disaster, laws were passed in NY which banned steam engines from entering Manhattan and forced the train companies to look into designing electric rails for their commuter trains. To accommodate electric rails, the old Grand Central Depot was torn down and the new and larger Grand Central Station was built, which changed the landscape of NYC forever.

Researcher Cathy Horn has been building an online memorial to the event which includes lists of those involved (including some short biographies), photos, documents, and newspaper clippings from the event.

State Library History Programs Planned


By on

0 Comments

The New York State library is offering two history related public programs in January. These programs are free and open to the public. Participants can register online, e-mail NYSLTRN@mail.nysed.gov, or call 518-474-2274. The organizers ask that participants contact them if any reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act is required at least three business days prior to the program date.

Walking Tour: Local History and Genealogy Resources
Date: Saturday, January 14
Time: 10:30am – 11:30am
Location: 7th floor, New York State Library – meet in front of the Genealogy/Local History Desk

The New York State Library is a treasure chest of resources for those tracing their family histories. This one hour tour highlights published genealogies, local histories, church records, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) records, United States and New York State Census records, newspapers on microfilm, city directories and more. Shawn Purcell, subject specialist for genealogy and local history at the New York State Library, will lead the tour. The tour is limited to 15 individuals and registration is required.

Historical Newspapers Online at the NYS Library
Date: Saturday, January 21
Time: 10:30-12:00
Location: 7th floor Computer Classroom

Senior Librarian, Stephanie Barrett will discuss online databases available at the New York State Library that contain full-text historical newspapers. She will demonstrate the effective use of America’s Historical Newspapers and the Historical Newspapers (New York Times) with an emphasis on newspapers published in New York State. She will also discuss Civil War: a Newspaper Perspective. Seating is limited and registration is required

New Book on Convicts in Colonial America


By on

0 Comments

Independent scholar Anthony Vaver’s blog Early American Crime has staked-out some substantial ground with what he calls “an exploration of the social and cultural history of crime and punishment in colonial America and the early United States.” Now Vaver has an outstanding volume to accompany his work on the web, Bound with an Iron Chain: The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America (Pickpocket Publishing, 2011).

Most people know that England shipped thousands of convicts to Australia, but few are aware that colonial America was the original destination for Britain’s unwanted criminals. In the 18th century, thousands of British convicts were separated from their families, chained together in the hold of a ship, and carried off to America, sometimes for the theft of a mere handkerchief.

What happened to these convicts once they arrived in America? Did they prosper in an environment of unlimited opportunity, or were they ostracized by the other colonists? Anthony Vaver, who has a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, tells the stories of the petty thieves and professional criminals who were punished by being sent across the ocean to work on plantations. In bringing to life this forgotten chapter in American history, he challenges the way we think about immigration to early America.

The book also includes an index and an appendix with helpful tips for researching individual convicts who were transported to America.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

NY Genealogical and Biographical Elects New Fellows


By on

0 Comments

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society announces the election of two leading New York genealogists as Fellows of the Genealogical and Biographical Society (FGBS), Suzanne McVetty and Meldon J. Wolfgang III.

The designation of Fellow of the Genealogical and Biographical Society, the oldest such designation in the genealogical field in the nation, is reserved for people who have contributed to New York genealogical research, writing, speaking, and advocacy at the highest level of proficiency. There are currently fourteen Fellows.

Suzanne McVetty, who became a Certified Genealogist in 1987, has been researching and writing family histories for over twenty-five years. She specializes in New York City and Long Island subjects. She also has experience searching for missing heirs in partnership with trusts and estates attorneys. She has written articles for leading genealogical publications, has written research guides for the New York Researcher and the Society’s website, and has spoken at many regional and national genealogical conferences. Her topics include Using Land Records in Genealogical Research, Using Probate Records in Genealogical Research; Bright Lights- Urban Research; and Vital Records: Building Blocks of Genealogical Research.

She has served as president of the Genealogical Speakers Guild, treasurer of the Association of Professional Genealogists, a volunteer at the National Archives Northeast Region, and for over twenty years was chairperson of the Nassau Genealogy Workshop. For 16 years she has served on the Education Committee of the NYG&B and regularly serves as an expert consultant at Society programs, including the biennial “Research in Albany” program.

Meldon J. Wolfgang III is a native of Albany, NY, and the founder-owner of Jonathan Sheppard Books. Mr. Wolfgang has been a genealogist since the 1960s and has a national reputation as a scholar and speaker on a wide range of genealogical topics. He has published articles on family history in national publications, and since 2005 he has written the genealogy column for New York Archives, the quarterly publication of the New York State Archives Partnership Trust. His wide-range of speaking topics includes Uncommon Research Tools; Deconstructing City Directories; Using Archival Collections in the 21st Century; Beyond the Basics for Using Newspapers in Genealogical Research; Prosopography, Cluster Studies, and Record Linkage Techniques; Tracing German Ancestors in Europe; Germans and German-Americans in 19th Century America; and Using Maps in Genealogical Research.

He served as Commissioner of Human Resources for the city of Albany, a member of the Albany Historic Sites Commission and a Trustee of the Albany County Historical Society. He also served as a trustee of the Albany Public Library, was president of the Upper Hudson Library System and was one of the original appointed trustees of the joint Albany City-County Archives.

Mr. Wolfgang received his undergraduate degree from McGill University in Montreal and completed further graduate study at Columbia University. He serves on the Education Committee of the NYG&B and on the Advisory Board of the New York Family History School.

Schenectady Reformed Church Archives Talk


By on

0 Comments

Dirk Mouw, winner of the New Netherland Institute’s (NNI) 2010 Annual Hendricks Award and featured speaker at NNI’s 24th Annual Meeting, will return to the northernmost part of New Netherland Sunday, November 13, 2011.

He will speak at the First Reformed Church of Schenectady’s weekly Forum, following the 10:00am worship service. The Forum is held in the Poling Chapel, 11:15am – noon. Mouw will speak about Archives of the First Reformed Church: Stories they Illuminate, Facts they Reveal, and Mysteries they Still Hold. Original 17th and 18th century church records, written by founders of Schenectady and the Church, will be shown.

After the Forum there will be a Brunch at the Stockade Inn – 12:15pm, $20/person, across the street from the church. An afternoon Workshop will follow at the Schenectady County Historical Society, 32 Washington Avenue – a block’s walk around the corner from the Inn. Dr. Mouw invites anyone having early colonial documents, especially any in Dutch, to bring them for a “Show, Translate & Tell” session. Documents in the historical society’s collection will also be part of the program.

Mouw is translator of the De Hooges Memorandum Book for the New Netherland Institute, and he is an authority on the history of the Dutch Reformed Church. Currently a Fellow of the Reformed Church Center, he received the 2002 Albert A Smith Fellowship for Research in Reformed Church History. He is the author of a short biography of Schenectady’s first minister, Petrus Tesschenmaecker, who was killed in the 1690 Schenectady Massacre. Mouw is co-editor with two Dutch historians of Transatlantic Pieties: Dutch Clergy in Colonial America, which includes his Tesschenmaecker biography and will be in print by early 2012.

Mouw’s writing that won the Hendricks Award, Moederkerk and Vaderland: Religion and Ethnic Identity in the Middle Colonies, 1690-1772, rejects the myth prevalent in histories of the Middle Colonies, that the inhabitants of what had been New Netherland and their descendents quickly abandoned their churches and cultural identity, melting into the society and ways of English or American rule. Records in the Archives of Schenectady Reformed shed light on the people of the northernmost part of New Netherland Colony, showing how they remained faithful to their heritage and churches despite the changing colonial linguistic, governmental and religious environment around them.

Mouw earned his doctorate at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, following a master’s degree in history at the University of Iowa and a bachelor of arts in history and philosophy from Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Mouw’s work involving Schenectady is of special interest this year as it is the 350th anniversary of Arendt van Curler’s 1661 founding of Schenectady. As Mouw rejects certain historical accounts, scholars, historians, archaeologists and artists in this area have been making discoveries that are leading to new interpretations of Schenectady’s history.

The Forum is open to the public. First Reformed Church of Schenectady, 8 North Church Street in the Historic Stockade, Schenectady, NY 12305 Two church parking lots, Stockade Inn parking lot, and street parking; one block from Bus Station.

NYG&B Expands Member Website


By on

0 Comments

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has announced that it has replaced its website with a new one that is hoped to be easier to use and includes expanded content for members.

All collections in the eLibrary may now be viewed in a browsable format, which allows the reader to easily scroll through documents and print multiple pages. Numerous unique records and digital publications have been added to the eLibrary.

For Example: The complete run of The New York Researcher and its predecessor publication The NYG&B Newsletter, which was first published in 1990. New guides to using newspapers, maps, and other resources have been created. Dozens of Research Aid articles have been brought up to date by the original authors. Individual guides to genealogical research in New York counties are in production; thirteen of a projected 62 guides are now online.

Additions to the eLibrary include:

* The family records contained in the American Bible Society Collection and an index to more than 8,000 names

* The complete set of over 500 NYG&B Member Biographies from the early 20th century

* 32 digitized books, including many volumes originally published as part of the series Collections of The NYG&B Society and several entries in the WPA’s Public Archives Inventory, Church Archives Inventory, and Guide to Vital Statistics series for New York City.

* Book two of the 1855 New York State Census for Manhattan’s Ward 17.

The cornerstone of the eLibrary is the full run of The NYG&B Record, which has been published quarterly since 1870 and forms the largest single collection of published material on families that lived in New York State. The collection is every-word searchable and is accompanied by a search engine based on an index to more than 1,000,000 names from the pages of The Record.

While access to the full digital resources of the website is available only to NYG&B members, there are several features available to both members and non-members:

* News You Can Use is updated frequently and references new resources and information pertinent to New York research.

* There are free guides on the following subjects: Getting Started on Your Family History; Finding New York Vital Records; Genealogical and Historical Societies in the New York Region; Heraldry; Heritage and Lineage Societies; and Hiring Professional Genealogical Researchers.

* The Genealogical Exchange allows anyone to submit a specific query about a genealogical question related to New York.

* Information about upcoming programs offered by the NYG&B and the New York Family History School is also available; tickets may be purchased through the website.

Ellis Island Museum Unveils New Galleries


By on

0 Comments

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation and the National Park Service have opened the first phase of the Peopling of America Center, a major expansion of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which will explore arrivals before the Ellis Island Era. This 10,000 square foot experience focuses on the history of immigration from the Colonial Era to the opening of Ellis Island in 1892.

Interpretative graphics and poignant audio stories tell first-hand accounts of the immigrant’s journey—from making the trip and arriving in the United States to their struggle and survival after they arrived and efforts to build communities and ultimately a nation.

“Until now, our exhibits have centered on the years when Ellis Island was open,” said Stephen A. Briganti, the Foundation’s President and CEO. “Of course the history of migration to America goes back to our nation’s beginnings right up to today, so there were many people whose stories weren’t told. The Peopling of America Center will fill an enormous gap in America’s understanding of its past, present, and future.”

Also recently unveiled was the American Flag of Faces, a large interactive video installation filled with a montage of images submitted by individuals of their families, their ancestors, or even themselves which illustrates the ever-changing American mosaic. A living exhibit, Flag of Faces accepts photo submissions and can also be viewed at www.FlagofFaces.org.

The Center’s second phase, which will open in Spring 2013, will present a series of interactive multi-media exhibits that focus on the immigration experience from the closing of Ellis Island in 1954 to the present day, including a dynamic radiant globe that illustrates migration patterns throughout human history. The Peopling of America Center was designed by ESI Design and fabricated by Hadley Exhibits, Inc.

Genealogy Day at Schenectady Co Historical


By on

0 Comments

The Schenectady County Historical Society (SCHS) will be hosting a Genealogy Day from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 29, 2011 at SCHS, 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady. Participants in Genealogy Day at the Schenectady County Historical Society will explore many possible ways to uncover your family history.

Genealogy Day will feature four speakers. The morning speakers, Phyllis Budka and Alan Horbal, will focus on their experiences in researching Polish and Polish-American genealogy. Genealogist Nancy Curran will discuss using New York State vital records in tracing your genealogy. Chris Hunter, Curator at the Schenectady Museum & Suits-Bueche Planetarium, will speak about the resources available for researching your GE ancestor.

The afternoon portion of Genealogy Day offers participants the opportunity to explore the resources available at the Grems-Doolittle Library. The Librarian and library volunteers will be on hand to field questions, assist researchers, help participants get started in their genealogy research, or brainstorm strategies to overcome “brick wall” genealogical research problems that appear too difficult to solve.

Pre-registration for Genealogy Day is suggested, due to limited seating. The cost of admission for the day is $5.00; admission is free for members of the Schenectady County Historical Society. Attendees are asked to bring their own bag lunch. Beverages and desserts will be provided by Grems-Doolittle Library volunteers.

Genealogy Day Schedule for Saturday, October 29

9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Pieces of Me
Speaker: Phyllis Budka

“To me it is a mystery why I must study history” – Those cheeky words form the opening line of Phyllis’ poem that appeared in “The Watchtower,” the Mont Pleasant High School student newspaper, over 50 years ago. Her recent research in family genealogy has awakened her interest in European history and she suddenly feels like a human archeological dig. Phyllis Rita Zych Budka was born in Schenectady and attended St. Adalbert’s School, McKinley Junior High and Mont Pleasant High School. She received a degree in Russian Language from the University of Rochester. In 1964, she married Alfred Budka, also a native Schenectadian. Phyllis earned a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Union College in 1982. Phyllis and Al owned a welding supplies firm at that time. In 1991, Phyllis became a GE employee and retired in 2008. She has three children and seven grandchildren.

10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Research in Southern Poland and Hints for You in Doing Research in Poland
Speaker: Alan Horbal

Alan Horbal will share his experience in doing genealogical research in Poland and present strategies and tips for learning about your ancestors from Poland. He has worked as a volunteer at the National Archives and Record Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts since 2001, where he instructs users on how to use government records in their research. He has also taught courses on genealogy research at Williams College.

11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Vital Records in New York State
Speaker: Nancy Johnsen Curran

This talk will concentrate on the valuable Department of Health vital records indexes at the NYS Archives in Albany. Nancy Johnsen Curran is an experienced genealogist who focuses on the capital region of New York State. Her research takes her to the NYS Library and Archives in Albany as well as to repositories such as courthouses, historical societies and cemeteries in the area. In the fall 2011 semester Curran will teach a course on genealogy research at Schenectady County Community College. Curran is a member of the board of trustees of the New Netherland Institute and has served on the board of the Schenectady County Historical Society.

12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Lunch Break – Please bring your own bag lunch; drinks and desserts will be provided.

12:45 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Using the GE Archives for Genealogy Research
Speaker: Chris Hunter

Learn about the variety of resources that are available for researching your GE ancestor, and about digital initiatives that will improve accessibility to valuable sources like the GE Schenectady Works News employee newsletters. Chris Hunter is Curator at the Schenectady Museum & Suits-Bueche Planetarium, and has overseen the Museum’s industrial history archive since 2000.

1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Q&A in the Library and Open Research Time with Library Volunteers

Explore the resources available in Schenectady County Historical Society’s Grems-Doolittle Library, including family files, photographs, family genealogies and lineages, church records, cemetery records, vital records indexes, wills, deeds, local and New York State histories, maps, collections of personal papers and organizational records, genealogy publications, and more. The librarian and library volunteers will be on hand to assist researchers and answer questions.

For more information about Genealogy Day, or to pre-register, contact Melissa Tacke, Librarian/Archivist at the Schenectady County Historical Society, by phone at 518-374-0263, option “3”, or by email at librarian@schist.org. The Schenectady County Historical Society is wheelchair accessible, with off-street parking behind the building and overflow parking next door at the YWCA.

1871 Canadian Census Now Online


By on

0 Comments

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter is reporting that Library and Archives Canada has placed the 1871 census online. 1871 marked the first regularly scheduled collection of national statistics. The information covers the four provinces that were part of the Dominion of Canada in 1871: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec.

The online database provides digitized images of original census returns featuring the name, age, country or province of birth, nationality, religion, and occupation of Canada’s residents at the time. The database is searchable by nominal information such as Name, Given Name (s) and Age, and/or geographical information such as Province, District Name, District Number, and Sub-district Number.

The 1871 Canadian Census is available free of charge at: www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/census-1871/index-e.html

You can learn more about the 1871 census at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/census-1871/001101-2000-e.html

NYGB Offers Cutting-Edge Genealogy Event


By on

0 Comments

On Saturday, September 24th, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society will present Dick Eastman, Ruth A. Carr, and David Kleiman in a full-day program designed to enhance your online genealogical searches. The program will take place in the South Court Auditorium of the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, NY.

Dick Eastman is the publisher of “Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter,” the daily genealogy technology newsletter with more than 60,000 readers worldwide. He will deliver two lectures: Genealogy Searches on Google: Extract the Most Genealogical Information Possible from Everyone’s Favorite Search Engine and The Latest Technology for Genealogists: An In-Depth Look at Today’s Technology.

Ruth A. Carr retired in 2008 as Chief of the Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy, New York Public Library where she worked for 20 years. She will present a talk on Other Places Your Ancestors Might Be Hiding: “Non-Genealogy” Databases and Internet Resources to Explore.

A genealogist and family historian for over 35 years, David Kleiman co-founded and chairs the New York Computers and Genealogy Special Interest Group and serves on the executive council of the Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc. and on the Education Committee of the NYG&B. He will deliver two lectures: Rediscovering the Globe: Maps Online, GIS, Google Earth and Technology & Design: Looking Good in Print and on the Screen.

The program begins at 9:30 a.m. at the NYPL’s South Court Auditorium and will end at 5:00 pm; there will be a break for lunch on-your-own. Registration for NYG&B members is $60, non-members is $90. Register online at www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org. For additional information, contact Lauren Maehrlein, Director of Education, at 212-755-8532, ext. 211, or by e-mailing education@nygbs.org.

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has been a primary resource for research on New York families since 1869. The NYG&B seeks to advance genealogical scholarship and enhance the capabilities of both new and experienced researchers of family history through a rich schedule of programs, workshops, and repository tours; through its quarterly scholarly journal The NYG&B Record and its quarterly review The New York Researcher; and through an E-Library of unique digital material on its website www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org.

Book: The Vandercook Family of Renssealer County


By on

0 Comments

A new book illuminates the life of Michael S. Vandercook, a prominent figure in the early history of Rensselaer County, New York. A Fine Commanding Presence: The Life and Legacy of Maj. Michael S. Vandercook (1774-1852) of Pittstown, Rensselaer County, New York by Vandercook’s great-great-great- grandson, Ronald D. Bachman features more than 400 pages, an in-depth bibliography and extensive genealogy and index.

A descendant of some of the earliest Dutch settlers in the Hudson Valley, Vandercook was born on the eve of the Revolution and lived to see the emergence of the regional divisions that led to the Civil War. He spent his entire life in Pittstown, where he was a merchant, farmer, militia officer, county sheriff, justice of the peace, and father of twelve children by three wives.


During his relatively long life, he crossed paths with such luminaries as Daniel Tompkins,
Henry Dearborn, Henry K. and Solomon Van Rensselaer, Joseph Bloomfield, Herman Knickerbocker, Eliphalet Nott. His second father-in-law was General Gilbert Eddy. On five occasions the Council of Appointment in Albany awarded Maj. Vandercook civil positions in addition to several military promotions. Governor Tompkins repeatedly picked him for special assignments in the militia, including inspector of a detached brigade deployed to the northern front immediately following the declaration of war in 1812. Later that same year, Maj. Vandercook was selected as one of New York’s 29 presidential electors.

He had a remarkable life but more than his share of tragedy. The final third of the book traces the descendancy of the twelve Vandercook children, all but one of whom left New York to seek their fortunes in the West. Many of them enjoyed success in journalism and politics.

The price, including shipping, is $22.50. To purchase the book, contact the author at ron.bachman2@verizon.net