Saturday, March 19, 2016

March and Central New York Genealogical Society

Attendees listening to Michael Keene's presentation
The Central New York Genealogical Society is still looking for a new editor. Joyce Cook has retired from this position after 10 years of hard work on TreeTalks. We still will be seeing a lot of her at meetings though as she has agreed to serve as Vice President. Congratulations to Joyce on your new endeavor and I hope it gives you enough time to get the book published you’ve been wanting to!
The meeting today had two separate sessions. The first featured Michael Keene  who was speaking on the history of orphan asylums. He has written many books on history in New York, mainly New York City and had them available at the meeting for sale.
He spoke briefly of Irish history of the famine era that brought many young people to America. This was the beginning of such phenomenon in New York City as the Bowery boys and other groups of children roaming the streets. This was a time of many orphans with no real place to live or supervision as they grew up. These children were essentially raising themselves.
This was the start of orphan asylums and the Orphan Train Movement. His book, Abandoned, tells about 18 orphanages established around New York State. Far from the total number orphanages formed in the state, but they are representative of the overall movement that happened during this time period. It was a time of dedicated people coming together to rescue children they didn’t even know.
Just three of the people highlighted in the book:
·      Philby Thomas founded an Indian Orphanage in Western NY.
·      Susan Fennimore Cooper- The Orphan House of Cooperstown
·      Elizabeth Scarlet Hamilton- NYC’s first private orphanage.
An Institute for destitute pregnant women was established as well to give women a safe place to stay and give birth. This idea was spread across the country to cities and small towns. In all, 55 missions were created; some survive to this very day.
The people who founded the asylums were all wealthy. They were members of some of the most prominent families of New York. They were people that could have easily ignored the poor, but instead they reached out and helped them.
Michael told other stories told of children across the state that have been found from newspapers and letters. One such mentioned was a young boy who was enrolled in the State School for Idiots in Syracuse. His problem? He was “deaf and dumb.” In other words he couldn’t hear or consequentially speak. This was typical of many of these asylums. Their only crimes, if you can call them that, were that they were poor or sick with illness or disease. 
Sue Greenhagen and Mary Ray Casper
The second session was an overview of lineage societies giving us an idea of the many different ones that exist and an idea of what is needed to join them and why people belong to one or more of these societies. This was conducted by a panel of four people who belong to several of these societies across Central New York: David Morton, Bob Gang, Sue Greenhagen and Mary Raye Casper. After the presentations, they were available to talk individually with interested people.
Societies come in three basic types:
·      Military,
·      Pioneer or First Family Societies
·      Common Trait (same ship, occupation)

A site that lists many, if not all of them is:  The list is quite extensive with somewhere around 500 lineage societies listed.


Anne Slatin said...

Very nice summary, Nancy.

Anne Slatin

Nancy Remling said...

Thanks Anne! Glad you enjoyed it.