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Unfortunately, they may not exist. New York State did not require birth, death, or marriage records to be kept until about 1880 (with the exception of a brief time between 1847-1849; we do have these records indexed by name on our Online Records Database.) After 1880, birth and death records may be available from the local registrar of the municipality where the event occurred. Marriage records are available from the Town Clerk where the marriage license was issued. If the location of these events is unknown, check Reclaim the Records to access an index.
For vital events before 1880, you can work with newspapers, published histories, church records, census records, and other resources to help fill in your family tree. Keep in mind that events prior to 1850 in this region of New York are poorly documented, and many times it is impossible to prove relationships or important dates. Contact us with your questions, hopefully we can help!
Church records are notoriously difficult to track down, but when you can access them, they can be a genealogical goldmine. Generally, if the church is still active, there is a chance they still hold their old sacramental records (barring destruction through disaster, which is common). Genealogists can contact the church, but keep in mind that not all records are accessible, nor can church staff necessarily do look-ups.
Some church records have been donated to local repositories like the County Historian's Office. Many registers in our archives have been indexed by name, so check for your ancestor on our Online Records Database. More coming soon!
We often refer those seeking to list their property on the National and State Register of Historic Places to the Landmark Society of Western New York, located in Rochester. Personal residences, municipal or commercial buildings, or properties owned by not-for-profit organizations may be eligible if they meet significance and integrity requirements. If the property is eligible, staff will often do site visits and work with property owners to develop the involved nomination form. While researching and documenting the property history, please contact us to see what resources we have.
Listing on the National Register does not constrain the property owner's activities and alterations, unless the property is also a designated national landmark or included in a local historic district. The benefits of listing a property include access to federal 20% tax credits and New York State grants for municipal or not-for-profit properties.
It is difficult to determine the exact year a house was built, particularly before towns had zoning and required builders to get permits. Unless the house has intrinsic significance - for example owned by a prominent individual or displaying unique architecture - then extensive research is usually necessary. This may involve searching deeds, tax records, newspapers, old maps and atlases, and various other sources.
This office may have an old photograph of your home, but generally speaking, you are more apt to find biographical information in the records here, especially if the owners were prominent citizens and stayed in the area for a significant amount of time. Starting with a map to locate your property and a lot number is a great way to start, then you can proceed with in-depth research on the land and people who owned it. Contact us for assistance!
Naturalization records c. 1821-1954 are housed at the County Historian's Office. Researchers seeking proof of a women's citizenship or naturalization of a person who arrived in the U.S. as a minor child may find themselves stuck. Here's a quick overview:
Nearly all naturalization paperwork before 1922 was completed by immigrant men. While it was not illegal for a single (spinster) or widowed immigrant women to petition a court for citizenship, there were few incentives. In New York State before 1918, no woman could vote, few held property, and there were unappealing court fees associated with citizenship proceedings. Between 1855 and 1922, married alien women would have been very unlikely to have been granted citizenship individually from a husband.
Therefore, women became citizens automatically upon the naturalization of their immigrant husbands, or upon marriage to a native-born or naturalized man. Likewise, minor children born outside the U.S. would automatically become citizens when their father was naturalized. If this did not occur before a boy was of age, he could apply for himself. It would have been assumed that a foreign-born girl would achieve citizenship through marriage. Before 1906, immigrant wives and children's names were almost never recorded in the naturalization paperwork. After 1906, the required forms became more detailed.
In 1922, all women, married, single, or widowed, could complete naturalization paperwork independently.
To read more about this subject, check out the National Archives' page on women and naturalization.
The New York State Historic Marker program was first launched in 1927-1932 by the State Education Department to inform motorists about the rich cultural heritage of the state. There were a few more initiatives over the years sponsored by the state, but no funds were set aside to maintain or replace the signs. Therefore, old signs may be replicated and/or new signs mounted along roadsides or on a private residence, but New York State will not fund the project. Permission to erect the signs must be obtained from the property owners if on private land. If the sign is placed in a public right-of-way or along a road, then requests to install the sign must be approved by the governmental authority that maintains the highway. Don’t forget to check with zoning and be sure to report a theft to the local police - occasionally these signs do resurface.
Grant funds for new signs may be obtained through the William G. Pomeroy Foundation Historic Roadside Marker Program; some restrictions apply.
Most newspapers, particularly those after the 1870s, were printed on very poor quality paper with a high acid content and are very fragile, crumbling when unfolded. Additionally, the majority of local newspapers published have been digitized and are available online at www.fultonhistory.com and hard copies of most runs are already preserved in the County Historian's collections. Therefore, the clippings themselves may not be of much relevance to preserve. However, newspapers printed with rag linen, usually predating the 1860s, are generally in excellent shape and are definitely worth preserving. If they are free of mold, they are readily accepted for donation to the office. Furthermore, items like scrapbooks are often made up of clippings, and can illuminate a person's family and community. Items like this give a valuable snapshot into what was important in that person's life and at that time in history.
In short, we never discourage donations or archival material - we are grateful to anyone who considers our archives when they are cleaning out attics and estates. If you have anything that needs a new home, contact us! We will be happy to discuss your collection.
The Livingston County Historical Society is an organization founded in 1876, in part due to national interest in documenting local history for the United States' Centennial Anniversary. Its mission is to discover, preserve, and educate the community about our rich shared history. The organization continues today as a private institution and operates the Livingston County Museum, opened in 1895. The Historical Society and Museum serves as a repository mainly for artifacts related to Livingston County and their supporting archival documentation. View their website here.
The County Historian's Office is a department of Livingston County Government, and was established in 1933 with the appointment of the first County Historian, Judge Lockwood R. Doty. The mission of the Office is to collect, preserve, and interpret local history, providing access to this information to the public and presenting information through programming and exhibitions. The County Historian's Office's collections provide researchers with excellent primary source materials for scholarly and genealogical inquiry.