Well, it is onto week 2 of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestor’s Challenge. As soon as I heard the prompt for this week of challenge, I kind of knew what I wanted to talk about. It wasn’t necessarily an ancestor but the Challenge of Researching in a particular time and place.
For me that place is the State of New York, particularly northern New York. Even more specific it is the counties of Essex and Clinton in New York during the late 1700s and early 1800s.
I often tell people that if there is a branch of a family that gets lost, it is usually mine. Particularly when they leave Vermont, Massachusetts or New Hampshire to jump across Lake Champlain to New York.
My ultimate black hole in New York State is the town of Jay in Essex County, New York.
Jay, NY has claimed many families of mine. As not many of the Essex County Records are digitized on Family Search. I seriously have issues that not many deeds or probate records until 1850 or so not being in the books…….this is going to require a good old-fashioned boots on the ground research trip, starting in the county seat of Elizabethtown. My hope is to find the those illustrious deeds and probate records for my Beardsley, Knowlton and Preston families.
While over in Clinton County there is a bit more online it is always worth getting the original documents on your own so a definite trip to the County Seat in Plattsburgh is worth the trip. I will also be reaching out to the Special Collections at the Library at SUNY Plattsburgh because I remember reading a letter my Great Grandmother wrote to her cousin and I would love a copy of it. (the age of cellphones is now upon us.)
One wonderful asset in the Counties of Clinton and Essex are the town and county historians. Along with the Town Clerks. I have found that pen and paper are still required at times to reach out to these resources. I am also most successful when sending a return envelope with postage.
One of my favorite resources for this portion of New York is the NYS Historic Newspapers site. It is one of my primary sources when researching here. It is also where I found my 2X Great Grandmother, Dr. Sarah Larkin Beardsley’s obituary that had eluded me for years. (You could read about that HERE).
Another great resource for New York State comes to us from the New York G & B. It is the New York History Research Guide and Gazetteer. I had heard about it but when I attended the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh in July 2018 I was able to see it in person and review it. Before I left the session that day I had ordered it. If you research in NY it is a must have. It has opened me to collections I didn’t know I needed.
One thing after 30-plus years of on and off research I have learned is New York State requires boots on the ground and thankfully now that my husband has retired (at least for now), I can possibly breakdown those brickwalls.