NCGS library notes

New Additions to our NCGS Library

This past week we’ve added some new books to our shelves that were donated to us.  Here is a list:

1. Maryland Records Vol.1 and Vol. 2 by Brumbaugh

2. Some of the First Settlers, First Reformed Church of Easton, Penna. by Kieffer

3. History and Genealogy of the Families of Old Fairfield [Connecticut] Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (Parts 1 & 2) by Jacobus

4. Early Connecticut Probate Records, Hartford District Vol. 1 – 3 by Manwaring

5. Inheritance in Ontario by MacNamara

6. The Pilgrim Church Register, Plymouth Congregational Church, Lockport, NY

Come look at these books in our NCGS Library!  Our library is located on the 2nd floor of the Niagara County Historical Society located at 215 Niagara St., Lockport, NY  14094.  We are open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 1 – 4:45pm or you can reach us by e mail at: comments@niagaragenealogy.org

If you are unable to easily visit our library to research in our holdings, remember that your membership to the Niagara County Genealogical Society entitles you to one FREE 30-minute Look-up in our Library’s holdings.  More information about our Society, membership and other benefits can be found at: http://niagaragenealogy.org/membership.html.  (Psst: You can apply for a membership and renew online on our website!)

Contributor: Jeanette Sheliga is Board Chairman and Vice-President of the Niagara County Genealogical Society, Organizer of the North Tonawanda Library Genealogy Club, a member of APG (Assn of Professional Genealogists) and the National Genealogical Society

NCGS library notes

Spotlight on our Vertical Files – Zimmerman

Throughout the years, our librarians and volunteers have clipped and copied loads of news articles and filed them by surname in our library.  Files like these may also include pedigree charts, family group sheets, pictures, and more if members have donated them.

This folder also included a copy of an old family photo and a copy of a death certificate from 1895!

If you have family group sheets, pictures, pedigree charts, newspaper clippings, funeral cards, etc. that you would like to donate to our Vertical Files, please contact us!  Our library is located on the 2nd floor of the Niagara County Historical Society located at 215 Niagara St., Lockport, NY  14094.  We are open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 1 – 4:45pm or you can reach us by e mail at: comments@niagaragenealogy.org

Contributor: Jeanette Sheliga is Board Chairman and Vice-President of the Niagara County Genealogical Society, Organizer of the North Tonawanda Library Genealogy Club, a member of APG (Assn of Professional Genealogists) and the National Genealogical Society

NCGS library notes

New Additions to our NCGS Library

This past weekend we added some books to our NCGS library shelves.  We visited the Historical Society of the Tonawanda’s and made a few purchases for our library shelves:

1. City of North Tonawanda Centennial Celebration 1897-1997

2. Centennial Magazine 1865-1965, North Tonawanda, NY

3. The Rand Family Left a Lasting Imprint on North Tonawanda — and the World!

4. Civil War Veterans of the Tonawandas by Stuart R. Brown (updated 2005)

The website for the Historical Society of the Tonawandas can be found here: https://www.tonawandashistory.org/index.html 

Come look at these books in our NCGS Library!  Our library is located on the 2nd floor of the Niagara County Historical Society located at 215 Niagara St., Lockport, NY  14094.  We are open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 1–4:45pm or you can reach us by e mail at: comments@niagaragenealogy.org

If you are unable to easily visit our library to research in our holdings, remember that your membership to the Niagara County Genealogical Society entitles you to one FREE 30-minute Look-up in our Library’s holdings.  More information about our Society, membership and other benefits can be found at: http://niagaragenealogy.org/membership.html.  (Psst: You can apply for a membership and renew online from our website!)

Contributor: Jeanette Sheliga is Vice-President of the Niagara County Genealogical Society, Organizer of the North Tonawanda Library Genealogy Club, a member of APG (Assn of Professional Genealogists) and the National Genealogical Society

Our Community

Town of Pendleton Historian: Carissa Smith

This past Saturday, the new Historian for the Town of Pendleton stopped into our Library.  Her name is Carissa Smith and you can contact her at: CSmith@pendletonny.us. Carissa, very kindly, agreed to let me send her a couple of questions so we could all get to know her better!  Here are her responses:

1.  Please tell us a little bit about yourself:

My mother’s paternal side came to the Southern Niagara/Northern Erie area around two hundred years ago from Germany. Here I am (many generations later) raising my son in the town I had grown up in.


2.  What made you interested in becoming a Town Historian?

It was on my bucket list. No joke!  From early childhood, I was as curious as a cat. When I would hear a story from an elder, it was followed by a plethora of questions. There’s a romance to local history especially sleepy little Pendleton. It deserves an audience and to ignite passion in others is the aim. Yes, one can relate to it (as history has a tendency to repeat itself). The key figures/situations change but the theme(s) remain the same.



3.  Can you tell us a brief history/overview of the Town of Pendleton (when did it become incorporated, average population, churches, cemeteries, etc.)?

Pendleton is the founder’s mother’s maiden name. Sylvester Pendleton Clark was originally from Rhode Island. He was a war of 1812 veteran with an adventurous spirit. A natural leader, he became the self appointed governor of Grand Island but his victory was short lived. His community of squatters, along with Clark, were forcibly removed from Grand Island via Sheriff Cronk and his militia. It’s true it wasn’t owned but that meant little. Just about everyone fled to Canada but Clark and another family made their way down here to Niagara County. 

After several years of gathering land and building structures, the village of Pendleton was made official in 1827. There was three parishes erected within a short time of each other – Saint Paul’s Evangelical, Good Shepherd Roman Catholic and the First Methodist Episcopal Church (all 1850s). 

We have several cemeteries – some obvious and some not so obvious. A couple are on private property so its best to ask for permission (naturally). On Bear Ridge, there’s four but only two accessible to the public (Bear Ridge Ridgeville-Foote and Saint Paul’s Evangelical Protestant Reformed Bear Ridge #2 ). The King and Clark cemeteries are on private property (access with permission/ respect). There’s more but I don’t want to bore you!



4.  What genealogical resources should we look for if we had ancestors that lived in the Pendleton area?

Oh, that’s a loaded question. Many of the elderly residents are a good start (if they were interested early on). They can point you to people that knew descendants of the founding families. We have a tendency to downplay oral tradition but it can be quite valuable (for instance, with Richard III’s remains and their legendary whereabouts ). The Niagara County Genealogical Society is another fine place to dissect family history. It has a collection of helpful individuals. A short dash from here is the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village. Don’t let the quaint exterior fool you – it houses a delightful archive (complete with microfiche).  

Of course, websites like Ancestry.com, Fulton History, the National Archives and other databases can surprise you with its contents. Before you set out, try to organize your thoughts in a journal. If you’re at a dead end, don’t let the disappointment set in. Take a break, regroup and focus. Last but not least, send me a message. I will do my best to assist you (worst case scenario, I’ll be a student along with you!) We have only to gain.



5.  Do you have a favorite ancestor in your tree that you would like to share a story about with us?

My great 2x grandfather, Henry G. Smith, was from England. He arrived in Fort Erie, Canada to work as an apprentice to his grandparents at their butcher shop. Quite the ambitious man, he climbed the corporate ladder (he was the secretary for Cleveland Steel – his brother Thomas was Vice President). He went from living in a rough part of London to being a well made man in America. There’s a short write up about him in Elroy McKendree Avery’s “A history of Cleveland and its environs; the heart of new Connecticut”. He’s buried in the town of Pomfret (by Fredonia). A day trip was in order one weekend and I had my picture taken next to his stone. It was a full circle moment.



6.  Anything else that you would like to share…

Preservation is up to us therefore it should be addressed as a whole, not a part. The best way to ensure that future generations cherish our local history is to get them involved now and get their creative gears firing. What have you always wanted to know? What would you like to see? There’ll always be a storyteller, a gate keeper but it is done out of a sense of obligation (not woefully but beautifully). Our past is a teacher, for better or for worse, and it is vital for our growth. It is open to all. If you’re new to Pendleton, your story is just another thread in our vivid tapestry. Welcome to the family!

Thank you so much to Carissa for letting us get to know her and the Town of Pendleton a little better!!

Contributor: Jeanette Sheliga is Vice-President of the Niagara County Genealogical Society, Organizer of the North Tonawanda Library Genealogy Club, a member of APG (Assn of Professional Genealogists) and the National Genealogical Society.

NCGS library notes

Niagara Wheatfield Yearbooks

This past month we received a donations of yearbooks from Niagara Wheatfield Senior High School and Edward Town Middle School.

It was fun looking through these particular yearbooks as they were for the years that my parents (Jan Johnson and Jeff Sheliga) and aunt (Linda Johnson) went to Niagara Wheatfield.

Of course the fun quickly ended when I found my 6th grade yearbook picture!!

Jeanette Sheliga, 6th Grade… 

Did nobody tell me to comb my hair?  Who picked out those glasses?  LOL

If you’d like to look through our yearbook collection, please visit our NCGS Library.  Our library is located on the 2nd floor of the Niagara County Historical Society located at 215 Niagara St., Lockport, NY  14094 and we are open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 1 – 4:45pm. 

If you do not live close to our library, you can become a member of our Society and take advantage of our Look-up Program.  The Look-up services is available to members only.  Members are entitled to one FREE 30-minute Look-up in the Library’s holdings.  After the free Look-up, additional are available for a nominal fee.  Look-ups for the membership year need to be requested by December 14th.  You can apply for membership right from our website at: http://niagaragenealogy.org/membership.html.

Contributor: Jeanette Sheliga of Lockport NY is Vice-President of the Niagara County Genealogical Society, Organizer of the North Tonawanda Library Genealogy Club and a member of APG (Assn of Professional Genealogists)

NCGS library notes

Niagara County Genealogical Society is now a FamilySearch Affiliate Library!

On Saturday, November 23rd, we shared our happy news that we (NCGS) have become an affiliate library for FamilySearch!

When using our NCGS computer in our library, you will have access to an additional 400,000,000+ images on FamilySearch than you do not have access to from home (unless you are already member of their church).

When you are researching in the FamilySearch Catalog, you may come across a collection that is locked by the key above the camera:

If you click on the locked camera, you will see a screen similar to this:

Now if you visit our NCGS library, use our computer, and look at that same collection, you will see the key is no longer there:

And if you then click into the camera, you will then be able to see the images and zoom in to look at them closely:

Come visit us!  Our library is located on the 2nd floor of the Niagara County Historical Society located at 215 Niagara St., Lockport, NY  14094.  We are open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 1 – 4:45pm. 

NCGS library notes

A Call for Funeral Cards!

One of my favorite resources in our Niagara County Genealogical Society Library is our Vertical File Collection.  We have file cabinets filled with folders organized by surname.


During my lecture last week on Death Records, I asked the audience to please share copies of funeral cards that they might have in their collections of people that are connected to Niagara County.  We’ve already had some members stop in to share their funeral cards and newspaper clippings with us!

You can e mail scans of the funeral cards to: comments@niagaragenealogy.org or stop in during our library hours Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 1-4:45pm and one of our librarians can make copies of the funeral cards on our copy machine. 

We appreciate the help to preserve our Niagara County ancestors!

NCGS in the News

High school yearbooks for research

Genealogist Carol DiPirro-Stipkovits found a photo of her uncle, Albert Rossow, in a 1946 North Tonawanda High School yearbook with some commentary that gave her a peek into his life as a young man.

Originally published in Niagara Gazette & Lockport Journal — 09/08/2019 http://www.niagara-gazette.com

Albert Rossow’s 1946 yearbook caption reads, “The US Marines have lost a husky fellow who was with them for two-and-a-half years. Having been on duty on a seagoing ship, this ex-Marine now looks forward to attending college and becoming a veterinarian.”

Paging through school yearbooks can make for laughable moments when we see awkward photos of ourselves but for genealogists, yearbooks can also be an important research tool as my Uncle Al’s caption proves.

When you consider that most research records begin with a birth certificate then hop to marriage, and voting, the childhood years are often lost to time. Researching in yearbooks can give us a peek into these important formative years First and foremost, yearbooks are able to put our ancestors in a time and place. Beyond that, they offer a variety of details we can’t get from traditional resources. Student profiles may include clubs or organizations they belonged to and may even provide insight into what they might have been like in terms of personality. If an ancestor is missing from a particular school’s yearbook around wartime, checking the military yearbooks or annuals might pick up their trail.

If you have an ancestor with a local business, yearbooks can be an unexpected resource. As they are rarely indexed, take your time perusing them to find useful pieces of information. I suggest looking at each name in the class pictures. These are the people they interacted with, forged bonds with and sometimes even married. You may even find a famous classmate!

The Niagara County Genealogy Society library at 215 Niagara St., in Lockport has many. Thousands of yearbooks are available online as well. Many yearbook sites have been created to help facilitate class reunions, but they can help genealogists too. One such site is Classmates.com and while they offer subscription services, you can look through all of their online yearbooks for free. Sign up for a free account then click the “Browse Yearbooks” button along the bottom of the page.

Other free sites are Access-Genealogy.com which is completely free to search and view. By searching “yearbook”, you can peruse the 225 plus results or add other keywords to narrow it down. (ex. New York, college) Archive.org is a favorite for so many genealogical searches and completely free. Just type “yearbook” in the search bar to pull up over 20,000 results. A private, but free, website is the National Yearbook Project at Yearbook. GenealogyVillage.com. A list of US states runs down the left side, which, when clicked, will take you to that state’s page, listing school yearbooks available online by county.

As far as paid sites, my favorite is Ancestry.com which has a collection of 51,000 yearbooks scanned, indexed and searchable online. Searching is free but you will need a membership to peruse the results. Family History Centers and local libraries often have free access on-site. Additionally, Ancestry will offer free access weekends throughout the year so keep a research list on hand to make the most of them.

Yearbooks are one of those “home” sources which many people don’t think of as a family history resource yet they provide us with a fascinating perspective on our ancestors’ lives and serve as important documents of social history.

If you have yearbooks to donate, contact me at noellasdaughter@gmail.com

Carol DiPirro-Stipkovits is the President of the Niagara County Genealogical Society, a guest lecturer and a member of the National Genealogical Society.

NCGS library notes

The Descendants of William Leete

Compiled by Edward L. Leete – 1884, second edition 1934

One of the Family History books we have in our NCGS Library is The Descendants of William Leete.

I did an Ancestry.com search for the Leete surname in Niagara County in their US Federal Census Collection and there were over 100,000 results of Niagara County Leetes.  I did a similar search in Find A Grave and found 13 results of Leetes buried in Niagara County.

If you have Leete’s in your family tree, come visit our NCGS Library.  You can look at our Descendants of William Leete book along with our many other family histories that we have.  Our library is located on the 2nd floor of the Niagara County Historical Society located at 215 Niagara St., Lockport, NY  14094 and we are open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 1 – 4:45pm. 

Contributor: Jeanette Sheliga of Lockport NY is Vice-President of the Niagara County Genealogical Society, Organizer of the North Tonawanda Library Genealogy Club and a member of APG (Assn of Professional Genealogists)

NCGS Adventures

New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (NYG&B) https://www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org/

I spent some time hanging out in the NYG&B booth at the FGS 2019 conference.  NYG&B is celebrating their 150th anniversary this year having been formed in 1869 and has almost 5000 members. NYG&B publishes many materials including the revised edition (2017) of the New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer which is a 868 page, two-volume set.

In 2018, NYG&B became the new home of Kinship Books as the co-founders and owners donated the assets of their business to NYG&B.  Kinship Books has been publishing New York books for over 50 years from Rhinebeck, NY.  Their books include transcribing religious records, account books, store ledgers, census records, and more… focusing heavily on the areas surrounding the Hudson River.  You can view the book collection and order online at: https://kinshipny.com/.


NYG&B also has online record collections open to their members that are currently being housed at FindMyPast.com.  Right now, NYG&B members are given access to FindMyPast.com in order to view the records and, as a bonus, all North American record collections as well as the ability to build a family tree at no additional charge.  

News to me (though it was announced in their Spring 2019 New York Researcher publication), is that NYG&B has been working hard on creating their own records platform to be housed on their own website (https://www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org/) and moving away from keeping their holdings at FindMyPast.  They hope that the new records platform will be ready to launch by the end of 2019.


Some of the benefits that the new platform will feature are a reorganization of their collections making them easy to search and browse, the ability to automatically process new digital collections, and for members to be able to download full periodicals such as The Record (not one page at a time).


NYG&B members will still have access to FindMyPast until their year membership is up and then after that, it will most likely be going away.  Therefore, don’t wait too long to take advantage of the FindMyPast collections while you have the opportunity if you are a NYG&B member!


Sue Miller, the Director of Programs for NYG&B that I was talking to today, hopes that many of us from Niagara County and Western New York attend their New York Genealogy Seminar on October 12th, 2019 in Syracuse, NY.

You can learn more and register for the seminar here at: https://www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org/events/new-york-genealogy-seminar-syracuse-ny.


Road trip!!

Contributor: Jeanette Sheliga of Lockport NY is Vice-President of the Niagara County Genealogical Society, Organizer of the North Tonawanda Library Genealogy Club and a member of APG (Assn of Professional Genealogists)