Thursday, January 14, 2016

Yates County

Yates County Genealogical Society and History Center
107 Chapel St, Penn Yan, NY 14527

The first time I visited Penn Yan that I can remember is also the first time that I visited the History Center. It seems strange, having grown up in the midst of the Finger Lakes that I had never been there before, but I could not recall being there before that spring day when my husband and I drove down to a New York State Council of Genealogy Organizations (NYSCOGO) meeting. Rich had not been there before either, but by the time we had driven down between the lakes and were pulling into the village, he was exclaiming not only how beautiful it is, but his desire to retire to the area.

The Finger Lakes region really is that beautiful. The area surrounding Penn Yan is even more picturesque then some of the other areas because of a group that ha settled there during the last thirty or forty years. Families of Mennonites, a religious group known for their plainness and adherence to older ways, have bought many farms in this area. They are restoring these farms and maintaining them in such a way that you could almost imagine yourself back in the 1800s. Adding to the illusion is the fact that they don’t drive automobiles, but rather, rely on horse and buggy for most of their transportation.

This is actually from Lancaster, Pennsylvania but typical of what you might see in Yates

The History Center consists of different parts. Besides the research rooms, there is also a carriage museum and a Victorian home. The research center has extensive cemetery records for Yates county as well as deeds (1792 - 1949), mortgages (1862 - 1915), diaries, almanacs, certificates, personal correspondence, etc., newspapers on microfilm and other items pertaining to Yates County history.

Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Non-members are charged a $5.00 per hour fee for use of the Catharine Spencer Research Center; Student use is without a fee; photocopying is additional.

Because I was there for the meeting, I did not have time to properly explore this repository. Although I don’t have any personal research in the area, I look forward to getting back there and doing a thorough job of seeing what is in all of these records. Also, the next time I get there, I need to remember my camera to capture the unique beauty of the area.

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