City Historian Edwin Ford of Kingston, N.Y.

Ever wonder what a city historian does? City of Kingston, N.Y.  historian Ed Ford joined me on The Forget-Me-Not Hour last week to tell us. New York state has mandated that each town and city have a historian. Some of them are paid and some are not. The guidelines for historians, interestingly, do no include genealogy. The historian’s job is to focus on the overall history of the municipality and not the individual families. The historians document the buildings, commerce and other functions of a town. Each historian will tackle … Read More

Yad Vashem, IAJGS, the Holocaust, Jewish Genealogy and Gary Mokotoff

Jewish genealogist, lecturer and author Gary Mokotoff joined me on the radio show last week. He was attending the IAJGS–International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies–conference in Washington, D.C. and shared the latest on Yad Vashem’s efforts to identify two million remaining unidentified victims of the Holocaust. Gary recently returned from Jerusalem, where he had been invited by Yad Vashem to participate in a conference of Eastern European archivists to discuss how to identify the remaining victims. Each year a new set of birth records is made available to the public … Read More

Obama Genealogy and Megan Smolenyak

Did you know Megan Smolenyak was the instigator of President Obama’s recent visit to Ireland in May? She started it all by delving into his family history, looking for the most recent immigrant to the U.S. in his family tree on his mother’s side. President Obama’s ancestry has deep American roots–going back into the 1600s and 1700s. Megan found that the president’s most recent ancestor immigrated to the U.S.  in the early 1850s. He was Falmouth Kearney from Ohio and Indiana once he got here. With this knowledge, the presidential … Read More

Thomas MacEntee and Genealogy Blogging

Thomas MacEntee from Geneabloggers joined me on my radio show this week, and he had some great advice about genealogy blogging. Anyone can set up a blog. WordPress (which I use) is a great format to use. Just do a google search for WordPress. You can choose one of their templates for your blog and start right in. Decide on a topic. You can share stories of your family, of your research methods, of records that you’ve used. Then connect with Thomas and his Geneabloggers and you’re connected to more … Read More

Tenants and Landlord in Philipsburgh Manor, Colonial New York

Tenants in colonial New York were very discontent. They rioted against their landlords a number of times, protesting their rents and the terms of their tenancy. The most well-known of these uprisings occurred in 1766 against the Philipse family,  in Philipsburgh Manor in what is now Westchester County and Putnam County. A number of tenants refused to pay their rent to the family and instead began leasing the land from the original owners of the land, the Wappinger Native Americans. The Wappingers were attempting to reclaim the land after the … Read More

Sojourner Truth and slave ancestry in New York

Did you know Sojourner Truth was born in Ulster County, NY? I didn’t until I moved here. She was born ca. 1797 and lived with a Dutch family in her early years, speaking Dutch as her native language. We can find her parents, her brother and her in the inventory of her owner’s estate, listed as Isabella. She was sold a few times, each time to another owner in Ulster County. The year before slaves were freed in New York state, she walked away from her master because he reneged … Read More

The American Revolution as a Civil War

Did you know the American Revolution was really more like a civil war? About 1/3 of the American population were rebels (we now call them patriots), about 1/3 were loyalists (those who supported the king) and about 1/3 were undecided, uncommitted or Quakers. Families were sometimes split as to which side they supported. Sometimes families went from one side to the other, depending on which way the winds were blowing in their location. It may have been more expedient, or life-saving, or economical, to switch allegiance from time to time. … Read More

City Directories and Early Census Records

City directories and early census records go hand-in-hand for genealogy research. To verify whether the person in an early census record is your ancestor, track him in the city directories for as many years as you can go. After tracking for a number of years, it often is very obvious which person is your man in the city directories. You know what street he lived on and what his occupation was. Now go to the census records. Note your ancestor’s neighbors-both above and below–for 5-6 people. Then look for these … Read More

New York City Directories help in early 1800s New York research

I just returned from a 3-day genealogy research trip to New York City, and New York city directories are one of the main sources for data that I used for New York City ancestry research in the early 1800s. From city directories I learn occupations and residences, as well as sometimes a middle initial. These are all clues that I use to help me identify an individual. Then I look for others with the same surname who were living at the same residence or in the same neighborhood.  Often they … Read More

Genetics and Genealogy on The Forget-Me-Not Hour tomorrow

Great show lined up for tomorrow on WHVW 950 AM radio. Join us at 10:00 a.m. in Poughkeepsie. Lisa Wilcox, administrator of 3 family DNA projects, joins me to talk about how genetic testing can aid traditional paper genealogy. A fascinating look at what genetic testing can tell us about ourselves and our ancestors–including shaking up the family trees of some folks who think they have the perfect paper pedigree only to find out through genetic testing that they are not who they think they are genetically. The show will … Read More

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