Located in the southwest of New York, Chemung County borders Pennsylvania and is in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. Europeans first entered the area in 1779 during the Sullivan Expedition against the Iroquois League, and Euro-American settlement began in 1784. The Watkins and Flint Purchase of 1794 expanded land available for settlers. Originally part of Tioga County, Chemung County was formed on March 29, 1839. Today, Chemung’s county seat is the City of Elmira.
When searching for records in Chemung County, a great resource to visit is the Chemung County Historical Society, Chemung Valley Museum, and Mrs. Arthur W. Booth Library. The Booth Library contains the Chemung County Historical Society’s collection of books,manuscripts,church records (including membership records of the First Baptist Church of Elmira), photographs, maps, and architectural records. The newspaper collection begins in the 1810s (some digitized), and includes the Elmira Gazette, 1830–1832 (transcripts online at http://www.joycetice.com/clippings/elgz1830.htm), and the Elmira Republican, 1832–1834 (marriages and deaths were extracted and online at http://www.joycetice.com/clippings/el1832.htm). A list of holdings is available on the museum website, along with online research services and a list of local historians.
While in Chemung County, be sure to also check out the Steele Memorial Library: Chemung County Library District Genealogy Department. Their holdings include books and periodicals, city directories 1857–present, yearbooks, histories and genealogies, surname files, local history files; microfilm collection includes censuses (federal and New York State), local newspapers 1835–present, mortality schedules, religious records (Catholic church records for Chemung County, 1848–1910), cemetery records of Steuben County.Website includes online obituary index from local newspapers 1898–1960, yearbooks 1909–1938 (gaps), maps and atlases, and links to useful websites/resources.
Last year we published the New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer, which is filled with gazetteers, maps, and research guides to each of New York’s 62 counties. Since our last printing, there have been many updates and changes noted. See our website for the list of additions and corrections to Chemung County.