Fourth of July, Year 2000. We reflect upon our first year as a free nation, the years of war leading up to it, the men and women
who've given their lives since to preserve a state of peace hard fought for in Chemung County. Did you know that one of the most
important battles of the Revolution in our state took place in the wilderness by what is now the city of Elmira on August 29, 1779?
In a few hours time the troops and allies of Joseph Brant, the Butlers and Sir John Johnson, set up behind long breastworks, met defeat
and retreated under the overwhelming force of thousands of soldiers who took part in General Sullivan's campaign. Their morale invigorated,
the Patriots pressed on through a vast area that many of the soldiers came back to at the end of the war. Chemung County, formed from Tioga County in
1836, came to enjoy prosperity due to its rivers, canals, and water power, fertile valley soil, and regional railroad commerce. The majority of towns are
hilly and agricultural, first noted for the lumber floated down Chemung's waterways, later interests being wool growing and dairy farming.
In the 1850s Elmira became reknowned for leadership in women's education, provided at the Elmira Seminary and Elmira Female College.
During the Civil War, Elmira was a key mustering area for NY State soldiers - and "host" to thousands of Confederate prisoners of war at the northern equivalent
of the notorious Andersonville. Many of these prisoners, and veterans of all wars since, are buried in Woodlawn Cemetery at Elmira.
Chemung County's GenWeb presence is unique among NY State county sites in that it's represented by an independent larger site,
The Tri-Counties Genealogy & History Sites of Joyce M. Tice. Site owner and GenWeb
coordinator Joyce takes a regional approach to ancestral searching, melding historical and genealogical material for the abutting Chemung County NY
and Bradford and Tioga Counties, PA. The Tri-County site is encyclopedic, thanks to the assistance of many dedicated friends and volunteers
over four years time. There are multiple ways to access information on the site as articles or sections are cross-indexed - main entrance,
the Research Library (organized by tri-county and individual county), individual county pages, town pages, and topical indexes, all
pointing back to each other. New visitors should go directly to the Welcome Page (About this Site and How to Use It) for an interesting and detailed orientation to site organization.
Itemizing individual features and resources of the site would fill far more than a short review - items range from newspaper clippings to postcards,
from historical stories to legal documents - so I will point out two excellent and impressive site projects whose value to online genealogy go
beyond the three counties and New York State. One of these projects belongs to all three counties, one to Chemung.
Joyce's mission statement makes clear that she wants to educate new researchers to go beyond collecting ancestral names just to fill a tree,
thus missing out on the rewards that come from exploring social history, culture, and ancestral environment. One achievement fulfilling this
viewpoint is "A Century Ago - Reflections on 1900: An Online Turn of the Century Museum," created to take a look back from our
millennial time to the last millennium in the three counties. This large section is filled with family sketches and reunions, photographs of all kinds, school, sports and
business activity coverage, paper ephemera (Valentines and Christmas cards), memoirs, all contributed by volunteers and site visitors. No matter
where your family lived, you're going to love it. On a more sober note is the history of the Elmira Prison Camp, the North's equivalent of the
Confederate prison at Andersonville. This resource includes the listings of all burials in Woodlawn Cemetery from the camp, in alphabetical order, and
is a major contribution to online military history. The Elmira Prison Camp pages have had many visitors, serving researchers who may finally
find the resting place of their elusive soldier.
The Tri-Counties Genealogy & History Sites of Joyce M. Tice have a bit of everything, and
very, very much of some things. It's also home to the Sullivan-Rutland Genealogy Project, which focuses on families and their lives and lifeways
within these towns. Chemung County researchers should use all of the search engines, spend lots of time, and come back again and again for the
NY State GenWeb
Rootsweb Genealogical Data Cooperative
What's your favorite county?
Email: Holly Timm, NYGenWeb State Coordinator,
with your nomination for the next Featured County of the Month.
Be sure to tell me why you like it.