Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wow! A Lot of new hints from Family Search

 I just received the following news release from FamilySearch. There's all kinds of new hints on their family trees as of today. As always, you still need to verify the connections with records, but with this many hints, you're bound to find a lead or two to some new records and some new relatives in there!

Salt Lake City, Utah (29 September 2016)--You might discover new ancestors on your family tree this week at
The nonprofit FamilySearch International, the largest genealogical organization in the world, released 141 million new hints in its online Family Tree today. The hints make use of the newest additions to FamilySearch’s massive collections of worldwide historical records made searchable online by volunteer indexers. These hints can lead to exciting new family history discoveries.
Two years ago,’s search engine began creating the hints by comparing data from the five billion names in its historical records online to the 1.2 billion customer-contributed ancestry names in the online Family Tree. “When we put the data together for comparison and find high-scoring matches to people in your family tree, that’s what we call a hint,” explained Robert Kehrer, FamilySearch senior product manager.
“In essence, the search engine is constantly working to make research discoveries for you without your having to do much more than login, validate what it found, and accept the hints,” added Kehrer.
The current addition enlarges the already published 1.5 billion hints from historical records in FamilySearch Family Tree. These hints can help in your research. Instead of searching for each ancestor separately, you receive the information in the form of a hint after FamilySearch has already searched the records for you.
These hints can identify a possible ancestor to add to your individual tree, or they can provide rich additional sources for an ancestor already in your tree. The details from one historical record may lead to the discovery of another, and the added details of each ancestor’s life can help weave together your family’s story.
Kehrer said he is confident of the hints’ accuracy because the historical records are being compared to all the rich information surrounding the ancestors in your family tree. In fact, the results have been verified at a 98.5 percent average accuracy. An exception can occur, for example, if your ancestor has a common name and not much differentiating information is attached to him or her. “If your ancestor is named John Smith and was born in New York in 1920 and there aren’t many people associated with that ancestor, the accuracy won’t be that high,” he said. newest hints in the historical records arsenal come from many countries, but particularly noteworthy are the 1851 and 1881 census records of England and Wales. “A large number of family history buffs have ancestors from the British Isles and records from this relatively recent time can be a good way to start or build a family tree,” Kehrer said.
How do you find your hints?
It’s easy. Sign in to your free account. If you don’t have an account, you can obtain a free account by going to The hints, designated by a blue icon, can be located in multiple places, including the main page, the ancestor’s person page, and an ancestor’s entry in the descendancy view of the tree. Click the blue hint icon. If you agree that the record is a match, you can quickly and easily attach the record to that ancestor’s profile in your tree.You may find new hints any time you add a new person to Family Tree or you change the details in an ancestor’s listing. FamilySearch adds historical records daily that are continually mapped to contributors’ ancestors in Family Tree. And just as with today’s announcement, periodically very large batches of new hints are added throughout the year—which means millions of fun, new family discoveries.
Find and share this release online here
About FamilySearch
FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 4,921 family history centers in 129 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Carnegie Public Library, Angola, Indiana

Carnegie Public Library, Angola, Indiana
Address: 322 South Wayne Street, Angola, Indiana
Phone: (260) 665-3362
Fountain in center of Library

Located in the small town of Angola in Steuben County, Indiana, the Carnegie Library is very easy to get to. In fact, it really is hardly a city in more than name with a population of less than 9,000 in 2010. Two blocks south of the center of town, there is a free parking lot located right at its door. Entering the library you are swept away by the modern, yet beautiful architecture. Half a flight up or a convenient elevator ride is the reference department. Half of the area is dedicated to local history. If you have relatives that spent time in Steuben County, you are likely to find them here.

9:00 am - 8:00 pm
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Photocopies cost 10 cents each and I was free to use the copier for any material I wanted to use. In fact, there were virtually no restrictions with this collection. The librarian was available at her desk in the corner of the room for any assistance you might wish and was very knowledgeable of the collection. There were many free handouts including maps of the area and standard genealogy forms.

For a library in a small rural community, there is an amazing collection here. Family files, cemetery and obituary records for numerous people. Although a good share of the community today seems to be of the resort type with a number of small lakes scattered all across it, people have taken the history of the people and families of this area seriously. It was originally a farming community and there is still evidence of this with many farms dotting the countryside amongst the seasonal cottages and more recent suburban housing developments.

The Collins homestead
Earlier yesterday morning, before we got to the library, we drove around exploring some of the countryside. Besides visiting once again the West Jamestown Cemetery, of which I’ve posted pictures here before, we looked for the farm property of Frances (Wooster) and Stillman Collins. Frances was the first cousin of my g-grandfather and her husband’s grandfather had been the first settler in the town of Jamestown. I took pictures of what I presumed to be the family homestead. Later in a history that I found in the library, I was able to confirm that it was the same house. What’s more from a 1970 plat book, I found that their daughter, Una Barry still owned the property then!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

This morning marked the start of the 2016 New York State Family History Conference. Will we see you there?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

Saturday Challenge: Time Travel

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings has given us another challenge this week: Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

1) If you could go back into the time machine and re-attend one family event that you were present at as a child, and would love to return to interview your relatives, what event would that be?

I don’t know what event I would go back to. Maybe just a Sunday afternoon visit with my grandparents or my mother and I going over and having lunch with them. I know from a letter I saw that my grandmother wrote to one of her sisters that Mom and I visited for lunch on occasion, but I have no recollection of it.

Alice Jennings Wooster (1893-1970), “Grandma”, was the only grandmother that I knew. Unfortunately, I barely remember Grandma. She passed a few days before I turned 5 years old. I have vague recollections of visiting their house and Mom sitting on the couch with her talking while I was trying to get Mom to play “Slap Jack” with me. Probably on later visits, I remember Mom going into the next room and visiting with her as she lay in bed and I had a vague understanding that she had broken her hip.

This is the person I would want to interview. I don’t think I would have any specific questions to ask her. Rather, I’d want her to just talk with me. Tell me the stories that she told her other grandchildren. And to tell about her adventures she had as a young woman. We know the facts that she went to nursing school at Long Island Hospital in Boston and then entered the service as an Army Nurse during World War I. There she met my grandfather. The details, the little stories and how she felt about what she was doing and about what was happening around her, though, has been lost to the ages.

She never talked much about her growing up in Ireland. Perhaps if I asked, though, she would tell stories about that to. If she were willing to talk, they would be a great thing to be able to record, and fill in more about her childhood than just the vague generalities that we know.

Overall, I would just like to have a chance to sit and talk with Grandma. As I was so young, I didn’t really get to know her or ever have a real conversation with her. In actuality, I would love to be able to travel back in time and talk with any one of my grandparents even just for an afternoon. Grandpa left us when I was just 10, so he too I really didn’t get to know, although I remember much more. My paternal grandparents were gone before I was born, so I have just the stories that I am fortunate enough to hear from older members of the family. Perhaps, in a way, hearing these stories is a way of going back in time and “meeting” these people. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Cayuga County Records Office

Cayuga County Records Office

Records Office from street
Address: 12 Court Street, Auburn, NY
Phone: (315) 253-1037

The County Records Office is tucked away on a small side street in the city of Auburn. This small non-descript building in what was once the Cayuga County Sheriff’s office, is tucked between the courthouse and Westminster Presbyterian Church. As it is downtown, parking is not free, however there are many choices nearby. On street parking is available and there is a parking lot on the other side of the street about half a block away. These are by paid by meter. On the Loop Road there is another lot that is beside the old Seward Mansion on South Street. Across the Loop Road is a municipal parking garage as well. Loop Road is a circular road that was created with urban renewal in the 1970s that circles across Genesee Street and North and South Streets near the center of downtown. If you park in one of the places on the Loop Road, you can either walk a block to Genesee Street and over to Court or cut through the parking lots of Westminster Church or the YMCA next door.
Section of The Loop Road

Hours are Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm with the exception of governmental holidays.

Photocopies and printouts from the probate files are 25 cents each; those from the microfilm of deed books are 65 cents each. I was able to browse and print the probate records myself, but the clerk did the printout of the deed records on the day that I was there.

The records office contains indexes to probate records. Once you find the box number you need, you can go to a little room off the main hallway where a computer has all the probate files arranged in files by box number. Within that are listed the individual names and another quick click will bring you to a digitized version of the persons’ probate packet. You can, like most Word and pdf files, then select either just certain pages you want to print or the entire file. Unfortunately, you are not able to get a digitized version for yourself.

The deeds are on microfilm and you must know the book and page number in order to find them. Family Search has some of the indexes available and the county historian, located next door also has the indexes available for you to look them up.

On a recent trip there I was able to quickly find some probate files of ancestors that I wanted to have copies of. There was one particular deed that I was interested in. Since childhood I had heard my father tell the story of how on April 1, 1923 when he was 4 years old, his parents had bought a farm and moved from their rented farm about a half-mile away. He remembered his excitement and arriving at the nearly empty house with his mother and running in circles around the large, square living room. The same living room that we were often sitting in as he told me the story. I was able to get a copy of the deed where my grandparents had bought that property on April 2, 1923- just a day off from his memory. 
The living room in later years

Friday, September 9, 2016

Ten Ways To Find Your Ancestor's Occupation

How do you find what your ancestor’s occupation was?

1-    Census Records
How often have you paid attention to the occupation line on a census record? For many of us we’re going to find keeping house, farmer, laborer and such repeatedly. However, even these can indicate something about our ancestors. The girl listed as keeping house has likely completed her schooling and will be marrying in the next few years. The laborer is somebody just starting out. Does it mention farm or an indication of another career he will be entering? Also, often in rural areas an occupation will be listed for somebody that works partly as a farmer and partly as something else. Don’t overlook this obvious source!
2-    City or Rural Directories
We often think of city directories as they list the person’s occupation and who they work for. You can discover not only the occupation, but also their associates this way. However, did you know that some areas produced rural directories at various times as well? Although often not every year like a city directory, these will list people in rural areas, both farmland and small communities, just like the city directories do.
3-    Wills and probate
Occasionally a will might list a person’s occupation. More often than not, though you have to read between the lines to determine what their occupation was. Look through the entire probate packet, paying special attention to inventories and any property that is disposed of. Did they have a lot of acres? That could be indicative of a farmer. What items are listed on an inventory? Can any of them be associated closely with a particular occupation or are there people owed or who owe the deceased money? Determine what these have groups have in common and you can discover indirect evidence of your ancestor’s occupation!
4-    Compiled genealogies and biographies
Many times in a genealogy or a biography about your ancestor, the occupation is a prominent part of their story. Don’t forget that many of the county and local histories published in the latter part of the 1800s contained many biographies of not only the leading citizens, but also anyone who was willing to subscribe to their publication!
5-    Directories of occupations
Sometimes you can find a list of people that followed a certain profession or in earlier times, there were often apprenticeship records.
6-    Obituaries     
An obituary is like a mini biography of the deceased person. This is a place where I find many people’s occupations that I hadn’t known about or was uncertain of before then.
7-    Cemeteries
Did they have something carved on their stone that might represent a given occupation? Occasionally a cemetery record might list an occupation of the person to differentiate people with the same name. I’ve never actually seen this, but I wouldn’t rule it out either.
8-    Draft registration cards
When registering for the draft in WWI and WWII the cards asked for your usual place of employment.
9-    Marriage records
Some, not all marriage records have a place to record the groom and bride’s occupations.
Beyond the obvious listings, look for advertisements that your ancestor might have placed for their business. Look at police articles. I once found one where my father complained of getting flat tires on his delivery truck due to kids throwing glass bottles into the road and shattering them. If I hadn’t already known he delivered fuel oil, I would have found that and an idea of one area of his territory from that article. If you can’t do a search on a name, scan all articles in a newspaper, as you never know what they might have been up to!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Crafts and Skills of Our Ancestors and Ourselves

How many people as they start diving into their ancestors’ lives wish they knew what a typical day was like? What did the people do on a day-to-day basis? What were their interests and how did they actually do certain things?

Often when visiting a living history museum such as Old Sturbridge Village, Williamsburg or Genesee Country Museum, you will see re-enactors going about their day. Men are doing farm or other vocational chores. There are demonstrations of blacksmithing, gunsmithing, wheelwrights and others. The women are gardening or in the homes cooking a meal. They are spinning and weaving cloth. All kinds of crafts are being demonstrated by people throughout the village in the way they would have been typically done during that time period. The jobs were usually done by either one gender or the other with little overlap, which is why men are typically found in some places and women in others despite the fact that today, either gender would be likely to be interested in and doing a particular skill.

Unfortunately, in today’s modern world, we often don’t have time for this slower pace of doing things. Caught in the hurried shuffle of life, we never learn these older skills that can now be done by machines, or if we do, we push them aside and forget about them as we go about our busy days.

It would be interesting for people who are able to do these skills to be able to present them to fellow genealogists so that we could learn more about their ancestors. I’m not sure how this would be done. Would it be a hands on demonstration at a meeting? A YouTube video? Maybe a booklet or lecture talking about that craft? I’m not really sure, I was just thinking that it would be interesting to find out more and have a chance to learn these for yourself if you wanted to.

I have learned some of the older skills, as I’m sure most of us have from time to time. I can cook from scratch and have done some cooking over an open fire while camping, so am confident I could put together at least a basic meal in that manner. I have been slowly teaching myself to can and can now do water bath canning and am eager to learn more about pressure canning when I get a chance. My gardening skills are somewhere in the intermediate level and would be better if only I had more room for a garden! In the needlework area, I do counted cross-stitch and a few embroidery stitches along with basic sewing and mending techniques. I would love to advance into making clothes and quilting, but need somebody to help with one-on-one instruction in that area. I’ve also done countless crafts over the years thanks to my talented mother.

Two skills that I would love to have, but have never been able to learn are crochet and knitting. My mother, although usually a great teacher, cannot teach me. Every time she has attempted over the years, she has gotten impatient that I don’t catch on immediately. How could I not be able to do this being her daughter? I need to have time and a patient teacher who is not related to me to teach me those skills.

I’d also love to learn more carpentry and basic repair type skills. Although I can do simple tasks in these departments, I cannot do anything very complicated.

What skills and crafts would you like to learn? Did your ancestors do them as well or would it be a completely new arena for you? Any of the skills that I have, have been ones that my ancestors would have definitely done. The household tasks, of course, and I know that many of my ancestors have done crafting over the years, especially Mom. As I descend from many, many farmers, the carpentry and repair skills are definitely there, not to mention that my maternal grandfather was a skilled carpenter! So, I am not looking far back to find others that have done the same type of thing. Learning these crafts and finding how things have changed over the years can be an exciting adventure!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

War of 1812 Records Fully Funded!

At the opening session of the Federation of Genealogy Societies (FGS) conference in Springfield, Illinois this morning there was a great announcement for the War of 1812 pension records.

See Judy Russell's column here:

They are fully funded!

CNYGS 2017 Meeting Schedule

Central New York Genealogical Society has announced their meeting schedule for 2017: