Illinois Ancestors: Guide to N.Y. ancestors available online

Illinois Ancestors: Guide to N.Y. ancestors available online

Anyone with New York ancestors will be pleased to use the free guide to New York ancestors on the FamilySearch website at

In addition to the material pertaining to statewide records, one can click on a county (on the map of counties or the printed list) to access information on a specific county.

Be sure to note the heading, "Welcome to New York, the Empire State," and click on the link to New York Online Records. There are links to vital records (births, marriages, deaths), military records (Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, World War I, WWII), biographies, cemeteries, naturalization records, land records, newspapers, probate records, state census and tax records. (It should be noted that some sources are marked with "$," indicating that a subscription fee to is required. It is suggested that researchers make use of such databases at libraries having a subscription.)

Probate research

From the statement on the guide's homepage, "at least 29 counties have unique probate petitions with a list of heirs," click on the words "probate petitions" and be taken to a link showing a table with these 29 counties along with years covered, notes and the Family History Library's Catalog number.

"Since about 1830, a petition that lists names of heirs, date of death of the deceased, relationships to the deceased, and the heir's residences may be included. These packets can be found at the county courthouse. ... The probate petitions are most often found in 'Probate Packets' at the surrogate's court in each county, filed with other loose estate papers, such as inventories, accounts, etc. Because such 'loose papers' were filed with estates prior to 1830, some packets include records from the beginning of the Surrogate Court system in 1787 or even earlier."

Probate records during the New Netherland Period (before the 1680s) are identified, as well as during the New England Period — when many wills were recorded in deed books.

Knowing the state's varying probate laws as well as the entities having jurisdiction over probate records is essential for finding specific records.

Guide topics

From the guide's homepage, one can click on a variety of topics to be taken to pages with further information. Topics include vital records, census, emigration and immigration, cemeteries, Bible records, land and property, archives and libraries, church records, directories, ethnic groups, maps, military records, naturalization and citizenship, and more.

One never knows where that click of the mouse will lead! For example, a click on Orphans and Orphanages provides a link to Orphan Trains, as well as a related site not previously known by this writer: The Index of Children Who Rode the Orphan Trains to Kansas. This list includes the years 1880 to 1930 and identifies each child, the Kansas town settled, and the name of the sponsoring family.

The many articles in this guide provide valuable information for researchers, as well as tips about using genealogical collections at various New York archives. FamilySearch needs to be thanked for this helpful guide.

War of 1812 anniversary

June 18 marks the anniversary of the U.S. declaration of war against Great Britain, the War of 1812. The bicentennial of that war is being commemorated through June 18, 2015, and is being led by the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Archives and Records Administration, Fold3 and

The Bicentennial Project's goal is to raise $3.7 million to digitize the War of 1812 Pension Files: approximately 180,000 pension applications representing 7.2 million pages. The collection will be available free on Fold3's website at So far, more than 649,000 documents are online: 9 percent complete.

The information found in these files include veterans' name, age, place of residence, marriage date, organization and rank; service data and dates; widow's maiden name; widow's death date; and soldier's death date.

Funds are still being sought for this project. A $25 donation will digitize 50 images. To learn more or to donate, visit ThePensions.php. An attractive brochure can be found at

Genealogists know that pension files often contain information found nowhere else, including personal family documents, such as marriage certificates and even pages from family Bibles. Digitization will allow public access to such historical treasures. Why not help preserve the pensions?

Queries, genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (2):Internet, People

Comments embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments