Tuesday’s Tip: Local Servers Aren’t Always Computers

Chances are that you, family historian, live within reach of a local genealogical server, an organization that is dedicated to preserving your sanity, as you preserve your family’s stories.  These genealogical societies can host educational events, house regional history archives, and provide encouraging words during even the most discouraging of times.

My local server, The Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, includes an amazing team of photographers who have rigged up a splendid system of cameras, lights and reflectors.  These digitizing fiends capture a myriad of local documents, from baptismal records to century-old newspapers, AND, as I discovered, members’ family treasures.

I recently acquired a set of deeds for my husband’s childhood home in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.  The series begins in 1883, with a wonderful document from the Diamond Coal Land Company conveying title to a parcel in Square #6 of the Diamond Addition.   Measuring 16¾ inches by 27¼ inches, the yellowed paper proved impossible to scan and challenging to clearly photograph at home.  After explaining my predicament to these local genealogists, the guys offered to make digital copies for me! While the cameras worked their magic, I read the Hazleton (PA) Sentinel’s  1884 account of the coal trade on an in-house computer, another product of their preservationist zeal.

Local genealogical societies are wonderful groups to support, with your membership fees and your company.  We all have so much to gain from the camaraderie and sharing.

The Diamond Coal Land Company was a piece of the Ario and Calvin Pardee coal conglomerate, which also owned the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company and many anthracite collieries in the area.

The Diamond Coal Land Company was a piece of the Ario and Calvin Pardee coal conglomerate, which also owned the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company and many anthracite collieries in the area.

Tuesday’s Tip: Location, Location, Location

Local Societies Have the Location      

 Most family historians, I would dare say, do not live close to the towns, farms and churches of our ancestors.  Fortunately, somebody else does.  Their location is prime real estate for your genealogical searching.  Try this: in your search engine type the name of the county and state in which your ancestor lived, then + “genealogy” .  From my experience your query will return a list for at least one historical or genealogical society in the county or the region of your foreparents.  These local societies often have resources available that the big data banks don’t carry.

For instance, Ira and Serena Sayles, my 3rd grandparents, lived for years in various towns of Allegany County, New York.  I have been compiling data about their lives for my Project 150: My ancestors in the Civil War.  The Allegany County Historical Society has transcribed an index and scanned the images for the 1865 New York census, an absolutely stunning document which is available elsewhere for other counties but not Allegany.  I contacted the web master to relay my thanks, and was able to extend my contact to the individual specializing in Whitesville, Ira and Serena’s family home in 1865.  In another query I discovered the Cornerstone Genealogy Society of Greene County, Pennsylvania, and was able to order an 1865 county map that will come in handy as I study the Minor family in the Civil War.

I wish I had a magic carpet that could whisk me to the physical locations of these libraries, where I would grab a coffee and chat with fellow enthusiasts.  Until that acquisition, a long distance membership and the internet will just have to do. And when all is said and done, that makes for a pretty remarkable ride.