Monthly Archives: August 2016

Search tips for Onondaga County


At the time of European arrival to Onondaga County, the Onondaga people (their name means “People of the Hills”) had resided in the area for centuries. In fact, their land was both physically and spiritually central within the Iroquois Confederacy. During the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, European activity in what would become Onondaga County was limited to the creation of strategic forts and other military endeavors, including harsh Continental retaliation against the Onondaga’s alliance with the British.

Through New York State’s New Military Tract, which provided land for some Revolutionary War soldiers, people of European descent began settling the county in the 1780s and 1790s. Many of the first settlers were migrants from New England or parts of eastern New York.

Onondaga County 2

Onondaga County was finally established in 1794 from parts of Herkimer and Tioga County, with its county seat at Syracuse. Three new counties were then formed from Onondaga County: Cayuga, Cortland, and Oswego.

Like much of Upstate New York, Onondaga County was profoundly affected by the construction and opening of the Erie Canal and other transport routes across land and water.

For much of the 19th and at least part of the 20th century, a variety of industries flourished in the county: agriculture and other types of farming, tourism, and a variety of mills.

Manufacturing, agriculture, and the service industry are currently some of the main loci of the county’s economy. Since the middle of the 20th century, the county has also experienced rapid suburbanization centered on the city of Syracuse.

Places to visit in person

Onondaga County Clerk

Holdings include:

  • Directories, 1861-present
  • Judgments and liens, maps, mortgages and deeds 1794-present
  • naturalization records, 1802-present
  • New York state census for Onondaga County 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915, 1925
  • Marriage records: City of Syracuse 1908-1935
  • Marriage records for towns in Onondaga County 1880-1935 (later records with town/village clerks)

Onondaga County Office of Vital Statistics

Onondaga is one of the four “County Registration Districts” which have consolidated the administration of birth and death records. While civil birth and death records prior to 1880 may still be found with city, town or village clerks, later records may be found here. Holdings include:

  • Birth and death certificates for towns in Onondaga County 1883-present
  • Birth and death certificates for Syracuse 1873-present
  • Marriage records for the City of Syracuse 1873-1907

Central New York Genealogy Society

The Central New York Genealogy Society is a “must visit” for anyone researching Onondaga county. The New York State Family History Conference in September of this year is a great opportunity to speak with them in person. The CNYGS is co-hosting the event with the NYG&B.

This society currently publishes information on 33 New York counties. Since 1961, CNYGS has produced Tree Talks, a quarterly journal featuring abstracts of records, including census and church records. Special collection County Packets are also available, which include all of the Tree Talks information CNYGS has published on 49 counties.

Onondaga County 3

The website of the Central New York Genealogical Society is a goldmine of helpful information, abstracts, the Society’s Surname project, and several years’ worth of online name indexes for Tree Talks. Pay them a visit today!

For a list of many more archives and repositories to visit in Onondaga County, check out our New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer.

Online resources

The NYG&B Record has published many articles that pertain to Onondaga County research:

  1. Kellogg, Minnie L. “Cemetery Inscriptions from Pompey Hill, Onondaga County, NY.” Vol. 44, No. 1 (1913): 69-87.
  2. LaPiana, John C. “Descendants of Samuel Jerome of Pompey, Onondaga County, New York.”
    • vol 120 (1989) no.2 : 85-88, no. 3 153-155, no. 4: 202-205
  3. Sisco, Louis Dow. “Onondaga County Records.” (late 18th century)
    • vol 30 (1899) no. 4: 237-242
    • vol 31 (1900) no. 1: 36-38, no. 2: 79-82, no. 3: 170-174, no. 4: 242-247
    • vol 32 (1901) no. 1: 25-30, no. 2: 108-111, no. 3: 156-160, no. 4 204-206
    • vol 33 (1902) no. 1: 17-20, no. 2: 76-79, no. 3: 156-161, no. 4 242-246
    • vol. 34 (1903) no. 1: 44-47, no. 2: 93-97, no. 3: 206-210, no. 4 263-267
    • vol. 35 (1904) no. 1: 17-19
  4. Scisco, Louis Dow. “Federal Census, 1800: Onondaga County.” vol. 53 (1922) no. 3: 225-234, no. 4: 352-367
  5. Van Tine Family Bible Record, Onondaga County.” Vol. 140, No. 1 (2009): 35-36

Learn more about Onondaga County research

If you’re interested in learning more about researching your ancestors who lived in Onondaga County, please consider becoming a member of the NYG&B.

Members get:

  • Full access to our research aid articles
  • Access to the entire (searchable) archives of the NYG&B Record and The New York Researcher
  • Access to all of our digital collections
  • Many more benefits



The German Genealogy Group Crest

New Free NY Databases from the German Genealogy Group

Our friends at the German Genealogy Group made some fantastic updates to their free online databases this past month.

Over a quarter-million records were added to their already extensive collection (which includes all backgrounds, not just German), including marriage, crime, death and biographic records.  Read on to see what they added and how to access it.

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From our eLibrary: New York State WPA Archive Inventories and Abstracts

Many of the buildings, parks and roads that we use in our local communities today are there thanks to the Works Progress Administration, one of the most successful relief agencies from the New Deal.

But the WPA did more than just build infrastructure. Genealogists will be thrilled to see the results of the Historical Records Survey, which are still immensely valuable to genealogical and historical research.

The goal of this ambitious project was to discover, preserve and inventory all of the basic materials for researching the history of the United States. We have 29 publications related to counties and cities of New York State in our eLibrary.

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Searching for Records in Rensselaer County, NY

The area that is now Rensselaer County was originally home to Mohican Indians. In 1610, Dutch vessels plied the waters of what would become known as the Hudson River and surveyed the area; thirteen years later, a group of eighteen Walloon families became its first European settlers. Killian Van Rensselaer, a Dutch merchant who dealt in jewelry and diamonds, obtained a patent for the land in 1629, establishing the patroonship of Rensselaerwyck, along with a system of tenant farms administered by patrons that would endure into the 19th century. The land held by Rensselaer constituted one portion of the territory in the American Northeast controlled by the Dutch West India Company. By the time of the American Revolution, it had passed into British hands. The county of Rensselaer itself did not come into existence until 1791, when it was split from Albany County. Continue reading

Painting of Troy from Mount Ida

Two new online databases for Troy, New York

Our friends at the Troy Irish Genealogy Society have recently added two new digital databases to their already impressive collection.

Marriage Notices Appearing in Troy Newspapers 1797–1860

The first is an index to 6,177 marriage notices covering 12,354 names published in five different Troy, New York newspapers 1797–1860, originally created by the Troy Public Library staff (1938–1939).

Since these records pre-date the 1880 law requiring all marriages to be recorded, they are very valuable – finding evidence of these marriages elsewhere may be difficult or impossible.

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Guide to New York City’s Treasured Archives Released

NEW YORK, NY — The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) is pleased to announce the release of New York City Municipal Archives: An Authorized Guide for Family Historians.

The 245-page guide will make research at this vital facility far more approachable and will introduce researchers to many previously-unknown record collections housed there.

As one of the world’s largest repositories of city records, the holdings of the New York City Municipal Archives offer untold resources for those tracing the history of New Yok City and its families. But until now, it has remained difficult for anyone but the most experienced researcher to navigate more than the basics of this essential archive. This new guide, created with the assistance of the New York City Municipal Archives, will make it possible for genealogists, family historians or anyone researching New York City’s vast history to leverage the hundreds of key collections found there.

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