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Tips on Genealogy Research in Troy, NY

After several years of doing genealogy research in Troy, New York, you get to know what types of records are available, who has the records and where you can go to access them. The following compilation of Tips was put together to summarize what I have found in my research in Troy. I have also added some items available through the internet that have been very helpful. It is hoped that researchers interested in Troy records will find this outline useful.

Bill McGrath
Clifton Park , NY

1.   Troy Library, Hart Memorial Building 100 Second Street , Troy, New York 12180.
     
Tel: 518 274-7071, email: troyref@thetroylibrary.org, web site: www.thetroylibrary.org

This imposing white marble building was donated by Mary E. Hart in memory of her late husband, William Howard Hart. Opened on May 12, 1897, the building is in the American Renaissance style and was designed by the New York City architectural firm of J. Steward Barney and Henry Otis Chapman. Has a wonderful Tiffany stained glass window and impressive carved fireplace.

The Troy Genealogy Room on the first floor is a great place for your family research. Here are just some of the great resources at the Library:

City Directories: There is an extensive collection of City Directories.
Books are great for tracking down a family name. The earlier books do not list the wife's name but will show the names of widows.  In later years the city directories start reporting the first name of the wife.  Also, the early books will give an exact date of death.  The newer books for the 1970's on, stop reporting the date of death.  The individual is just deleted from the book. You will also find notations on individuals who relocate to another area or state, which will be identified.

The Troy books include West Troy (now Watervliet, a city in Albany County, NY), Lansingburgh (in Rensselaer County, NY - now part of the city of Troy), Cohoes (a city in Albany County, NY), Waterford (a village and a town in Saratoga County, NY) and Green Island (a village in Albany County, NY). There are also some directories for some of the neighboring cities and towns.

The following listing identifies the years the Troy directories cover and also identifies the much smaller collection of city directories for some of the surrounding cities, towns and communities near Troy.  As you can see, the town locations included in these directories change from year to year.

    Troy:  1829-1994 - Early years are heads of households only.  Later years show name of spouse. Some years show date of death. Most books include: Watervliet (West Troy), Green Island, Waterford and Cohoes.
    Troy-Rensselaer County: 1998
    Troy-Rensselaer: 1999, 2001-2003 - This covers the two cities of Rensselaer County, i. e., Troy and Rensselaer.
    Greater Troy & Vicinity Cross Reference:  1972-2003

    Albany: 1889 - Albany is, of course, a city in Albany County, NY, and is the capital of New York state.
    Albany-Rensselaer-Bath: 1898, 1899, 1901 - Bath, formal name Bath-on-the-Hudson, was a village in the town of North Greenbush, Rensselaer County, NY until it was absorbed into the city of Rensselaer in 1897.
    Albany-Rensselaer: 1902, 1904-1906, 1908, 1909, 1911, 1913-1915, 1917-1930, 1933-1961, 1964-1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988-1993

    Colonie, Bethlehem, Guilderland:  1958, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1965-1967,
    1969-1973, 1974, 1976 - All three of these are towns in Albany County, NY.

    Hoosick Falls, Mechanicville, Town of Hoosick, Rensselaer County, NY. - Mechanicville is a city in Saratoga County, NY. Schaghticoke is both a village and a town in Rensselaer County, NY.
    Cambridge, White Creek, Johnsonville, - Cambridge and White Creek are towns in Washington County, NY. Johnsonville is a hamlet in the town of Pittstown, Rensselaer County, NY.
    Schaghticoke, Valley Falls, Stillwater
    1940 - Stillwater is a town in Saratoga County, NY. Valley Falls is a village in the town of Pittstown, Rensselaer County, NY.

    Hoosick Falls, Town of Hoosick:  1912, 1919, 1926
    Hoosick Falls, Town of Hoosick, Cambridge, White Creek, Salem,
    Shushan
    :
    1929, 1931, 1934 - Salem is a town in Washington County, NY, and Shushan is a hamlet in that town.

    Hoosick Falls, Town of Hoosick, Cambridge, White Creek,
    Greenwich
    :   1937 - Greenwich is a town in Washington County, NY.

    Mechanicville, Stillwater, Greenwich, Schuylerville: 1930 - Schuylerville is a village in the town of Saratoga, in Saratoga County, NY.
    Mechanicville, Stillwater, Schaghticoke: 1936
    Mechanicville, Stillwater, Schaghticoke, Valley Falls, Ballston Spa,
    Hoosick Falls, Town of Hoosick: 1949
    Mechanicville, Stillwater, Latham, Newtonville:  1952 - Latham and Newtonville are hamlets in the town of Colonie, Albany County, NY.
    Mechanicville, Ballston Spa: 1920, 1926, 1928

    Bennington, Shaftsbury, & Arlington, Vermont, Hoosick Falls, Town of Hoosick 1949 -   Bennington, Shaftsbury and Arlington are towns in Bennington County, Vermont.

    Bennington & Shaftsbury, Vermont, Hoosick Falls, Town of Hoosick: 1952
    Bennington & Shaftsbury, Vermont, Hoosick Falls, Town of Hoosi
    Bennington, North Bennington & Shaftsbury, Vermont, Hoosick Falls, Town of Hoosick 1960, 1965 - North Bennington is a town in Bennington County, Vermont.
    Bennington, Shaftsbury & Arlington, Vermont: 1925, 1930

    Ballston Spa, Saratoga Springs: 1942, 1944, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1956, 1960, 1964 - Saratoga Springs is a town in Saratoga County, NY.
    Glens Falls, Hudson Falls, South Glens Falls, Fort Edward: 1932- 1942, 1944, 1946, 1948-1950, 1952, 1954, 1957, 1959, 1980 - Glens Falls is a village in Warren County, NY. Hudson Falls and Fort Edward are villages in Washington County, NY. South Glens Falls is a village in Saratoga County, NY.

Card Files: The genealogy room in the Troy Library has a 3 x 5 CARD FILE which at different times was compiled by library staff from the Troy daily newspapers. Card shows individuals name, date of event, date of newspaper, page number for referenced item and in some case the column number of the newspaper. Other libraries may have similar card files, so inquire when you are there.

Deaths:
1882-1899
1975-1979
1980-1984
1985-1987

Births:
1980-1984

Marriages:
1882-1899
1900
1975-1979

Weddings:
1985-1988

Newspaper Microfilm - Microfilm copies of the Troy newspapers are located on the second floor of the library.  These are great for the detailed information provided on the deceased and his family.  When looking at the microfilm for an obit, remember to look for three separate items. The formal obit which usually details occupation and work history, the small obit found on the bottom of the same paper and the write-up on the funeral which will be found in the paper published on the day of the funeral or a few days later.  The small obit, which is no longer printed in today's papers, may list the names of grandchildren whereas the formal obit may just say 6 grandchildren.  Some relatives are mentioned in one obit and not the other.  The funeral notice, in addition to giving the name of the organist and soloist, names of songs, etc., will have the names of the pall bearers and sometimes give their relationship to the deceased.

Other Microfilm Records - There is a large cabinet of microfilm records, census records, etc., in the first floor Genealogy Reference Room. The most important microfilm for researchers are the three rolls of microfilm on Troy Deaths and Burials.

The three rolls of film in the library are:

a.  Burial Records - March 1, 1833 - September 2, 1867
b.  Burial Records - August 14, 1867 - June 27, 1882
c.  Burial Records - June 8, 1882 - February 27, 1891.

If you are not in the Troy area and want to order the film on Troy Deaths
and Burials from Salt Lake City, the numbers required for ordering at your local Family History Center are:

a.  1434103
b.  1434104
c.  1434105

The handwriting, for the most part, is beautiful to read but it may help to have some idea of what you are looking for.  For example I was looking for my great grandmother Mary Carroll and her daughters Margaret and Catherine who were on Ida Street in the 1880 census and then disappear from all records.

The first record I found was "Wife of Mr. Carroll" on Ida Street who died on March 11, 1881 of smallpox.  The next record I found was "Child of Mr. Carroll" who died in the Troy Hospital on March 15, 1881 of smallpox.  Based on the age shown for the child, I knew it was Margaret.  I am still searching for Catherine and assume she also died of smallpox.  By the way, no one in my family ever knew of the existence of Margaret and Catherine and I only found out about them through the 1880 census records.

These Death and Burial records are an important reference for Troy researchers since many of the entries predate the 1880 New York State law requiring the reporting of deaths. Individuals who died outside of Troy are listed IF they were buried in Troy.

Some years of these records are now available on line.  Check out the Rensselaer County NY Genweb site, coordinated by Lin Van Buren, for these records as well as a fantastic amount of genealogy related information on Rensselaer County. Address is:   http://www.rootsweb.com/~nyrensse/

Church & Cemetery Records -The Troy Library Genealogy Room has the following records of St. Patrick's, St. Jean Baptiste and St. Mary's, St. Joseph’s, St. Lawrence’s and Holy Trinity Church compiled from church records by the American-Canadian Genealogical Society of Manchester, New Hampshire.

These church records are a treasure trove of information of interest to genealogists. There are 22,878 marriage records, 71,357 baptism records and 14,980 burial records just for these three Troy Catholic churches.


ST. PATRICK’S CHURCH: (Now Closed)

Marriages - September 1872 To July 2000.
Vol. I. - Marriages A To K.
Vol. II. - Marriages K To Z.

These 2 books have 3,917 marriages at St. Patrick's from September 26, 1872 to July 31, 2000.

Baptisms - September 1872 To April 2004
Vol I. - Baptisms A To K.
Vol II. - Baptisms K To Z.

These 2 books have 11,493 baptisms at St. Patrick's from September 1872 to April 2004.

Burials - July 1919 To April 2004

This book has 4,815 burials from St. Patrick's from July 1919 to April 2004. All burial records prior to 1919 were destroyed in the 1940 fire.

ST. JEAN BAPTISTE: French Church (Now Closed)

Marriages & Burials -
Book RP 050 - Marriages 1852 to 1970. Burials 1875 To 1970.

This book has 1,677 marriages at St. Jean's from August 15, 1852 to December 1970 and 2,705 burials from St. Jean's from October 27, 1875 to December 1970.

Baptisms: August 1851 to December 1970.
Book RP 051 - Baptisms August 1852 To December 1970.

This book has 5,961 baptisms at St. Jean's from August 15, 1852 to December 1970.

ST. MARY'S CHURCH : (Now Closed)

Marriages:
Vol. 1 - A To D
Vol. 2 - D To K
Vol. 3 - K To O
Vol. 4 - O To Z

These 4 books have 9,790 marriages at St. Mary's from August 1844 to December 2006.

Baptisms:
Vol. 1 - A To F
Vol. 2 - F To M
Vol. 3 - M To Z

These 3 books have 24,040 baptisms at St. Mary's from September 1844 to April 2007.

Burials: 1844 To 2007

This book has 5,591 burials from St. Mary's from August 1844 to April 2007.

ST. JOSEPH’S:

Marriages - This book has 5,420 marriages from April 1849 To November 2004.
Baptisms – December 1848 To June 2007
Vol I. - Baptisms A To K.
Vol II. - Baptisms K To Z.

These 2 books have 23,337 baptisms at St. Joseph’s.

ST. LAWRENCE'S CHURCH: German Church (Now Closed)

Marriages – This book has 1,370 marriages from October 1868 to November 1983.
Baptisms – This book has 4,552 baptisms from April 1868 to August 1986.
Burials – This book has 920 burials from May 1925 to March 1987.

HOLY TRINITY CHURCH - Polish Church: (Now Closed)

Marriages – This book has 704 marriages from November 1908 to June 1998.
Baptisms – This book has 1,974 baptisms from November 1908 to August 2002.
Burials – This book has 949 burials from November 1908 to November 1996.

Note 1: The American-Canadian Genealogical Society is currently working on a number of other Catholic Churches in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area.)

Note 2: The Troy Irish Genealogy Society has purchased a number of the church record books and donated them to the Troy Library Genealogy Room.

Other Reference Books – There are literally hundreds of other reference book available in the Genealogy Room at the library.  If in Troy, spend some time at the library looking at these various sources of information that may prove useful to you in your research.

 

2.  Rensselaer County Court House 80 Second Street , Troy, New York, 12180. (Corner of Congress & Second Streets – just North of the Troy Library)

If you are researching relatives who died in Rensselaer County, the Surrogates Court in the Court House is a great source.  They allow you to see the files in the basement on Rensselaer County Decedents.  Records are either on 4 x 6 cards or in bound books as follows:

Books:
1794-1873  One Book covers A to Z.
1874-1881  One Book covers A to Z.
1881-1916  One Book covers A to K - Other Book coves L to Z.

Index cards are in drawers by years :
1917-1928
1929-1945
1946-1959
1960-1969
1970-1979
1980-1989
1990-1999
2000-Present

Index cards are 4 x 6
Yellow cards - Testate (was a will)
Pink cards - Intestate (no will)
Green cards - Small Estate

Records on cards and in books have a Volume and page reference which directs you to copies of legal documents in bound books on the shelves.  Assistance is required if you want photocopies.

Wear old clothes when researching these bound books since the leather covers are in bad shape and you get covered with a red powder. You also have to pass through a metal detector to access the building.

 

3. Troy City Hall 1 Monument Square , Troy, New York, 12180 (On banks of the Hudson River).  
         Copies of birth and death records, if the event occurred in Troy, are available from:

Bureau of Vital Statistics
   1 Monument Square
   Troy, NY  12180
   Telephone 518 270-4587

Cost of birth and death records for genealogy purposes is $22.00.

Under New York State law a birth certificate cannot be issued until 75 years after the event UNLESS you are a direct line descendent. In the case of a death certificate, it cannot be issued until 50 years after the event UNLESS you are a direct line descendent.

4. Rensselaer County Clerk’s Office – 105 Third Street , Troy, New York, 12180
(Directly behind Troy Library and Court House) The County Clerk’s Office has a number of records of interest to genealogy researchers. Request to see the records in the basement and you will be granted access.

Immigration Records  - There are shelves and shelves of immigration books, many of which have a photograph of the individual. A number of these records have been rebound and the pages are covered in a plastic sleeve. Record series are:

Naturalization & Petition Certificates (1844-1949)

Declaration of Intents (1844-1949)

Marriage Records - There are several volumes of a marriage index which over the period 1908 to 1935. The index has a reference number which will help you find a complete record in the marriage book which has a tremendous amount of useful information. Also available, using the same reference number, are the original signed marriage permits.

Census Records– There are a number of volumes of census records.

 

5.  On-Line Genealogy Help. - A number of tools useful to genealogy researchers are available using the internet. Here are some to consider:

Mailing Lists. – Go to: www.rootsweb.com to see the wide assortment of mailings lists that are available through Rootsweb. At the present time, there are over 29,000 lists categorized in these groups:

a. Surname.
b. USA-States
c. International
d. Other

When you click on a state, you then get group categories:

a. General Interest
b. Counties, Boroughs & Districts

Join the lists for your surnames and the states and counties you are interested in. You never know what helpful response you will receive to the postings you make on these lists. (Note: Join a particular list and post a message offering something in return. I joined the Erie County list, sent a message offering to do lookups at the State Archives in Albany in exchange for a newspaper obit from a Buffalo Newspaper. The person who replied, sent me the Newspaper obit, went to the cemetery and copied dates from the headstone, and even called the funeral home for details.)

Finding a Date of Birth. – If you are looking for the data of birth of a living relative, check out the following site: www.birthdatabase.com

Volunteer Help Available. - Would you like someone to help you get a copy of an obituary from a newspaper in another state? Check out Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness at: www.raogk.org/ . This volunteer movement will do a research task in their local area as an act of kindness. The cost to you would be reimbursing the volunteer for expenses (video tape, copy fees, etc.). Another site for using finding obituary lookup volunteers is: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~obitl/  (Note: I found volunteers on this list in Syracuse, NY, Rhode Island, Florida and Oregon who tracked down newspaper obituaries for me.)

Visit Pat Connors website at:   www.connorsgenealogy.com. Pat has a tremendous amount of Troy, NY data posted.  On-line name searchable data bases for the 1880 and 1900 Troy census as well as immigration records for Irish immigrants to the Capital District Area.

Social Security Death Index - -  great resource for finding not only a date of death but also a date of birth. There are many on-line sites where you can use the Social Security Death Index free. One site I use is: www.genealogybank.com   In addition to the date of birth and date of death you will get the day of the week for each event.  Also shown is estimated date at death in years, months and days.

Scroll down to page headed "GENEALOGY RECORDS YOU CAN FIND IN NEWSPAPERS" CLICK ON "SEARCH SSDI" SHOWN UNDER "OTHER GENEALOGY RECORDS" . This will bring up a screen asking for your first name and email address.  Once you enter that information you will then get the records you are interested in.  This is a free site for SSDI records.

 
6 . Albany and Eastern New York Genealogy - You will find a lot of Rensselaer County data (births, deaths, etc.) on this website run by Cliff Lamere. Address is: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~clifflamere/

7. Using Search Engines. – The search engine I use the most in researching is: www.google.com Here is a suggestion you might not have thought of - When you find a date of death through the Social Security Death Index you also get a zip code, city and state of residence. I then use “google” to find a library in that area and send them an email asking for help in getting a copy of the obituary. This has worked many times and the library either sends the obit on-line or in the mail.

8. Rensselaer County Cemeteries. - Here is a great site that shows the names of 41 cemeteries in Rensselaer County and is linked to Mapquest which will give you a map to each cemetery. Address is: http://home.earthlink.net/~vozkev/cems_rns.htm (Note: I am familiar with St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Troy as that is where many of my relatives are buried. If you are visiting this cemetery you should:

1. Call St. Joseph's Rectory (518 274-6720) and ask for the plot records for your family name. They can tell you the grave location (Section, Row, etc.) and identify who is buried in the plot and when.  The dates will generally be interment dates and not the date of death.

2. There are no markers at St. Joseph's Cemetery showing Sections.  Stop at garage at right side after entry gate and look for Jason.  He can show you where to find the gravesite.

9.    New York State Newspaper Project. - The New York State Library in Albany has a fantastic microfilm collection of New York State newspapers. Go to: www.nysl.nysed.gov/nysnp/ where you can review the collection by County or City locality and then by the name of the newspaper. If you are in New York State, you can have your local library request the microfilm (five rolls at a time) without charge. You will need to provide the call number of the microfilm which is available on the above web site. (Note: In the past several weeks I have requested over twenty rolls of the Norwich, NY Sun – call number NY 73 Norwich 93-32043. The film is delivered to my local library within a week and I have been able to find many obituaries for my Dunn relatives. It is also possible to have your local library order microfilm from another state (for out of state newspapers) but there will be a charge for postage.

 

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