Posts Tagged ‘Beacon’

Today most people go to the Internet when they start the search for their ancestors. Then they look in court houses, libraries, and archives. But to find some real gems about your family history, you need to go local.

I recently wandered into the Beacon Historical Society to see what they had. I wanted to be able to point visitors and callers to the Dutchess Genealogical Society to additional research material for the Beacon area.

What a treasure trove I found.

The Beacon area was known for its brick. The BHS has samples from many of the companies in the area. This one is from Brockway.

They have several old Sanborn maps. These maps were originally created to determine fire insurance liability.

Old fire insurance maps can provide lots of details about a house and neighborhood. The blue building is St. Luke's Church.

My house in 1912 - the kitchen addition is there and but it looks like the mud room wasn't. Yellow means it's wood and the "2" means it's two stories high. The old garage is not there either, but I saw it in a later edition. Now I know about when the garage was built.

In a small, portable file drawer I found some 3 x 5 index cards in alphabetical order. They were the membership cards for the Southern Dutchess Singers. I’d never heard of them but apparently they were quite well known and performed at many locales, including the Cadet Chapel at the U. S. Military Academy.

The Southern Dutchess Singers perform at the Cadet Chapel at USMA.

In addition to the singers they had Associate Members; Mr. and Mrs. T.T. Forman were among this group.

Associate members - Mr. and Mrs. T. T. Forman

The Southern Dutchess Singers were looking for Associate Members - the Formans were among those who joined.

I’ll be going back and checking out the rest of the Beacon Historical Society collection.

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* sort of

As many expected, there was a huge rush to check out the 1940 Census with the result that the NARA servers were overloaded. I did not get into their site. Sometimes I got as far as “preparing image”, but no further. They’re working on it and I’m sure it will get better as more sites load the records.

I did check out the New York Public Library’s Direct Me NYC 1940 which is great. They’ve linked the 1940 telephone book for all 5 boroughs to maps and the Census Enumeration District finder. Too bad the Colberts and the Whelans didn’t have telephones. I really thought they did. The older kids were working in both families. In the Colbert household there were two girls and Aunt Frances was 16 years old. Did she ask my grandfather and her brothers for a phone? My parents were dating at the time. I do remember the story that my mother told my father to come to Brooklyn to see her – it was a test because guys from Manhattan didn’t date girls from Brooklyn. He passed the test – he came to Brooklyn and found her house. Guess he didn’t call first!

I found the address for Dr. Harold Bonsole, my mother’s boss, so now I know where she worked.

My mother worked for Dr. Bonsole in 1940.

I had better luck at Ancestry. They are loading New York State and I checked out Dutchess County. I found my house. You can see the Klankas (line 50 – 54) living there with their son, married daughter and son-in-law. The daughter,  Helen Nelson lived in the house until 1995 when she died at the age of 98.

The Klankas and the Nelsons. Note no income listed for them.

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I recently searched land records in not one, but two counties: New York and Dutchess.

New York – 66 John Street

I went back to 66 John Street to get more information about the lot that Mary Coleman Colbert leased. She was quite the fighter. She did not give up on her right to the 15 year lease she had obtained in 1865. The plaintiff, Cornelia Austin, did not give up either and kept appealing decisions that did not go her way. The property was finally sold at auction in late 1877, with Mary’s case still open. The other tenants were apparently paid costs out of the sale. I don’t know what happened with Mary’s costs, but she seems to have been able to stay until the end.

The property where Mary Colbert lived was sold at auction in late 1877.

Her grandson, John Grossman, first child of Mary Colbert and George Grossman, was born in his Grandmother’s house  in September 1879.  Mary’s lease ended on April 1, 1880. A few months later, in June 1880, the family is living in Bronxville, Westchester County.

When they returned to the city they lived at 421 East 12oth Street. Not only was this right in back of their old place, it was the lot that had been leased by Charles Spear, one of the other tenants named in the lawsuit! Curious. Spear gave a description of his house in his testimony, so I’m going back to the Old Records Room to check  it out.

I was also able to find that Mary Coleman Colbert’s brother owned a house in Manhattan, also on East 121st Street, but  several blocks west. He bought it in 1885, but didn’t move there until 1900. Maybe he rented it out?

Lawrene Coleman and his wife Julia bought this house in 1885.

Dutchess – 22 Market Street, Poughkeepsie

In New York you usually look up the block and lot number – after all, New York is divided into a grid. In the Dutchess County Clerk Records Room you search using the grantor/grantee books and look for the name. I found what I was looking for quickly and then went straight to the liber to see the deeds. These libers are heavy, and I believe the ones on the bottom row are heavier!

I have to admit  the typed deeds are much easier to read, but it was interesting to read the handwritten property description in one deed. The property was transferred in 1835 in Amenia and was a farm. The description went on and on – a very long page with very small handwriting. Here’s how it starts:

…end of a stonewall  North of the road and north west of the house of Noah Brown thence south eighty three and one half east twelve chains and nine links to stake and stones thence north ten and one half and five chains and fifty links to stake in the wll thence south…

I gave up at that point.

I looked at another deed (typed). This one was from 1926 for property in the City of Beacon and had an interesting clause. I think it may have been carried over from a previous deed. What do you think?

…Occupants and servants at all times to freely pass and re-pass on foot, or with horses, cattle, beasts of burden, wagons, carts, sleighs, carriages, or other vehicles whatsoever to and fro, over said right of way as above bounded and described..

This did  have cars by 1926 and the horses and sleighs were almost a thing of the past. And just how long did people keep cattle in Beacon?

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