Sunday, January 27, 2019

Searching Land Records for School District #3 in Baiting Hollow New York

Land records can share such interesting details of our ancestors’ lives. I became interested in land records after transcribing my paternal great grandmother’s letters (see Carrie’s Letters). Finding the land records that matched the land purchases Carrie Terry Warner talked about in her letters was exciting.

Carrie was a young teacher of 22 years who taught in Baiting Hollow, New York and while there would meet and marry my great grandfather, John Benjamin Warner, in 1885.
The following is an except from a letter Carrie wrote to her mother, Almeda Robinson Terry, on 30 October 1884:

“ With few exceptions I like my school very much, and I think I am generally liked by the pupils. I have not heard from the parents yet. The school is increasing slowly. I have twenty seven pupils now.”
“O! What a lot of work to get water here. We have no water at the school house and haven’t had since I have been here. There is a cistern there but no water in it.”

This led me to think about the school itself. Today I believe the school building stands where the Baiting Hollow Library is on Sound Avenue. I wondered what I could find out about the school? I had copies of several old maps that showed the location of the school:

1858 map of Baiting Hollow from the Suffolk County Historical Society

1873 Beers map of Baiting Hollow

  • In the 1858 map the school is located between the property of A. Corwin on the West and Daniel Warner on the East. Proceeding East is the property of Lewis Warner and Daniel Warner.
  • In the 1873 map the school No. 3 is located between the property of A. Warner on the West and Lewis Warner on the East. Proceeding East is the property of Goldsmith Warner and Daniel Warner.
After looking at the maps I started wondering about the land for the school? Was the land leased, donated or sold to someone for a school? Could my ancestors, who in 1873 lived on both sides of the school have donated or sold the land for the school? Would I ever be able to find the answer? I tried to find records for the “Baiting Hollow School” to no avail and thought I might never know the answer. School records that far back are definitely hard to find. Oh, well, maybe someday I will find the answer.

Fast forward a few years to December 2018. Over the Holidays I was in Riverhead and searching for land records at the Suffolk County Center for my great grandfather John B. Warner.  Land he purchased or sold would help tell the story of his life. While searching for John’s records I stumbled upon the following:

Liber 618 pages 446-448 

This Indenture, Made the Twenty-sixth day of September in the year One thousand nine hundred and Six between Allen M. Warner and Kate S. Warner his wife of the town of Riverhead, Co. of Suffolk and State of New York parts of the first part, and John B. Warner trustee of the third School Dist. Of the town of Riverhead part of the second part. Witnesseth, That the said party of the first part, in consideration of Three hundred dollars ($300.00) lawful money of the United States, paid by the said party of the second part, do hereby grant and release unto the said party of the second part, as trustee of said third school dist. Of the worn of Riverhead and to his successors in office forever for a school house site, All that tract or Parcel of land, situate in the town of Riverhead County of Suffolk and State of New York, being bounded as follows, Commencing at the North East corner of the present School House site and running N23° 30’ W two hundred ninety eight feet nine inches by the land of J.B. Warner then S 66°30’ W One hundred twenty five ft three inches by other land of the party of the first part, thence S 21°22’ E three hundred sixty one feet six inches by other land of the party of the first part thence N 75°25’ E sixty six feet eight inches by the present School House site to the point or place by beginning. Containing one acre by measurement, The party of the second part is to erect maintain and keep a fence around said property. Together with the appurtenances; and all the estate and rights of the said party of the first part in and to said premises. To Have and to Hold the above granted premises unto the said property unto the said party of the second part, his successors in office forever And the said Allen M. Warner and Kate S. Warner does covenant with the said party of the second part as follows; First,-That the parties of the first part are seized of the said premises in fee simple, and have good right to convey the same. Second.-That the party of the second part shall quietly enjoy the said premises. Third.- That the said premises are free of incumbrances. Fourth.- That the parties of the first part will execute or procure any further necessary assurance of the title of said premised. Fifth.- That the said Allen M. Warner and Kate S. Warner will forever warrant the title to said premises. In Witness Whereof, The said parties of the first part have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first written.
Allen M. Warner, LS. Kate S. Warner, LS.
In Presence of B. Frank Howell, Jr.
State of New York, County of Suffolk State of New York ss: On this 7 day of May in the year One thousand nine hundred and seven, before me, the subscriber, personally appeared Allen M. Warner and Kate S. Warner to me personally known to be the same person described in and who executed the foregoing instrument, and they acknowledged to me that they executed the same, B. Frank Howell, Jr. Notary Public Suffolk Co N.Y.
Recorded 9th May 1907 @ 9 A.M.
Wm. F. Flanagan, Clerk
  • I find no mention of this transaction in Carrie’s letters. Her father died just 10 days before this, she had 5 young sons and was about 6 months pregnant with her 6th child. There are very few letters from this very hectic time period.

Success! Another question answered. I did find the land transaction for School District #3 in Riverhead, commonly known as the Baiting Hollow School. Previously, I had searched under the wrong name for the school. This added some interesting facts to the story of my ancestors’ lives and their involvement in their community.

As always, one question answered leads to other questions…I wonder how the original school came to be at this site years before? How many years before the map above in 1858 did the school exist at this site?

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

I also stumbled upon some  additional School District #3 records from the early 1800s at the Riverhead Town Historian’s Office. Stay tuned to find out about those. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

"You Can’t Not Try These" Curt Witcher Presents

Saturday, January 12th at the San Diego Genealogical Society Annual Meeting the guest presenter for the day was Curt Witcher. 

Curt is the Allen County Public Library’s Senior Manager for Special Collections and the general curator for the Race and Fine Book Collection, managing The Genealogical Center and supervising the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection.  I found Curt to be a very knowledgeable, engaging and humorous presenter with many examples of information.  Curt discussed many sources of records you probably never thought to look for.  I wanted to capture some of the highlights of information that resonated with me that Curt shared and try some of the techniques out on my own research.

Curt presented 4 sessions:

Session 1 was entitled Doing Effective Genealogical Research in Libraries.  Curt reminded us that “ Successful genealogical research requires that one have meaningful strategies for finding, collecting, organizing, and evaluating data.  The soundness of one’s strategies and the consistent manner in which those strategies are applied will in very large part determine one’s research success.”
  • Curt discussed the 5 types of Libraries: Academic, Private, Public, State and Virtual.  These will contain information about our ancestors and/or what was happening during their lives that adds to their stories. 
  • A technique to try when ‘searching’ on a new site is to first type in “Humpty Dumpty” and “Smith”.  Using this simple technique will demonstrate how the search engine for that site works.  Remember that not all search engines work in the same manner.  This will allow you to figure out the best way to search for the particular information you are looking for.

  • I felt the following chart that Curt presented was of great value to help me know where the best place to start searching for a particular record would be:

I will definitely keep this chart for reference when I am doing additional research.
  • Curt also reminded us not to just search for Surnames but to also search for a geographic area, ethnicity, religion or an occupation.  We limit ourselves in our searching if we are only looking for a Surname.  This was a common theme throughout all his presentations and a valuable reminder.
I have ancestors that lived in Iowa, so, I started by searching the University of Iowa website and found the following:

Well, bummer about the ‘very little information’ but I didn’t let that deter me.  I found the following which I thought was VERY interesting since my first ancestors in Iowa were farmers and since I love maps:

Unfortunately, these maps were a little too late for me but as I went through the rabbit hole I also found photos of many of the early settlers.  Unfortunately, mine aren’t there, for now anyway, but imagine if this is the only place you could find a photo.

Session 2 was entitled Mining the Mother Lode: Using Periodical Literature for Genealogical Research.  In this presentation Curt was able to show examples of valuable information we are missing if we are not using PERSI (The PERiodical Source Index).  As Curt told us “PERSI is the largest subject index to genealogical, historical, and ethnic periodical publications published largely in North America and the British Isles.”  WOW!  Such an amazing index and I have never used it, I’m ashamed to say.  You can use http://search.findmy to get started.
  • Curt also gave us some hints about the ‘search’ on PERSI and said it’s better to use either the ‘who’ OR the ‘where’ but not a good idea to use them together.  You can add a keyword like ‘vital records’ to help narrow your search.  Curt reminded us that our ancestors may not be named but the richness of information may be in the sources cited for articles.  These will be a treasure trove of ideas for further searching.
When I went in to PERSI and searched ‘Iowa’ I had 30, 860 results.  WOW!  When I added the county ‘Plymouth’ to the search I found the following:

WOW!  This could be a wealth of information about my early settlers.  PERSI is definitely worth using!

Session 3 was entitled Using Government Documents for Genealogical Research.  Curt told us about the amazing records that can be found in government documents if we take the time to search.  He reminded us that the federal government is the largest publisher in the world and asked us why we aren’t using this source on a regular basis for research.  We also need to know how to search for documents.
  • The Superintendent of Documents Classification System assigns each document a SuDoc number that refers to the government department or agency that issued the document.  Curt informed us that records will not often be found within the Department of the federal government where you might think they would be, so, we need to look in several areas.  He listed the following as some of the most important department designations that might be most helpful for us: D- Department of Defense, T- Department of the Treasury, W- Department of War and Y- Congress.
  • Curt talked about the 3 main classification systems used for records:  SuDoc used by the federal government, letters used by the Library of Congress and the Dewey Decimal System numbers used by libraries.  A good reminder when researching different types of records.
  • Two Indices you can use when searching for federal records are CIS U.S. Serial Set Index at and Cumulative Subject Index to the Monthly Catalog of the United States Government Publications, 1900-1971 at .  When searching look Guides to Historical Documents.
I decided to try and put in Plymouth County where my ancestors lived and found the following sources of information I can investigate for information:

Session 4 was entitled More Than Surname Surfing: Best Practices for Using the Internet for Genealogists.  Curt reminded us that “The Internet can be most effectively utilized if one employs search strategies that complement sound historical research methodology and assist one in finding all the data. not just what which is conveniently available.” 
  • My biggest takeaway from this session, because I am not regularly using them, was to use websites for the various libraries:  local city or county public library, state library of the state, state archives, state historical societies, state genealogical societies and US GenWeb site.
  • has more than ten million genealogy links by location and surname.
I went to the Iowa State Historical Society and searched for ‘Remsen, Iowa’.  I found the following mention of a book for the church I know my ancestors attended.  I wonder if I can find my ancestors in this book?

I also found the following that might have information on my Hamman/Hammond line:

General reminders from Curt-
  • Only about 5% of the available information on our ancestors is currently on-line.
  • When you go to a Library, Archive, etc. remember “Asking questions is an ART as well as a procedure.”  He emphasized his point with The Wooden-Match-Stick-Test (explain what you can in less time then it would take a wooden match stick being held in your hand to burn down) where brevity and clarity are so important when interacting with librarians, archivists, etc.
  • Curt told us frequently “You can’t not use these!” additional places for records.  How true he is!  I will post this on my computer to remind me to look at these other sources of data besides the common frequently used on-line sites.
I haven’t done much searching on-line at library sites but am now anxious to start searching many of these sites.  After Curt told us the importance of PERSI I now have it Bookmarked as a favorite on my computer.  He opened up so many more possible sources of information that I had never thought to search!  Now I just need the time to search all the leads I found.  Let me know of a new place you decided to search and what you found.

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

(Problems with Open Live Writer.  Please excuse image clarity issues)

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

2018 A Year of Genealogical Research

It’s that time of year again.  I have found that taking a look back at the work I have done over the past year allows me to reflect on the work I have done and make some plans for the New Year.  Thank-you Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings for first giving us the idea to look back and then look to the future.

I use Legacy Family Tree software to maintain my family tree.  I have trees posted on My Heritage and on Ancestry but these are not my primary trees.  On my Legacy Software I go to Help then About Legacy then General to view my Family File Information.  Here is what mine looks like for 2018:


A review of the statistics in my Legacy tree that I am most interested in:


I continue to add individuals and new Surnames but the statistic I am most proud of this year is my continued increase in my citations!  The deeper I get in to my research the more important citations of where I found previous information becomes.  With the limited amount of time I have to do research, recording citations is not always easy.  Thank-you to my friend and fellow blogger Diane Gould Hall for the continued guidance and encouragement for doing this.

Some of my accomplishments this year:
  • General Society of Mayflower Descendants certificate for successfully proving I am a descendant of John & Priscilla Alden.  (See previous post)
  • I presented twice this year-in April I did the first presentation of Carrie’s Letters: Researching the People for the San Diego Genealogical Society.  In October I presented Carrie’s Letters: Bringing Ancestral Letters to Life for the Sacramento German Genealogy Society in October. 
  • I published 50 blog posts.  My most viewed blog post of 2018 was DNA Chromosome Mapping with a total views of 2,592.  An all time record!
  • Several cousins found me by searching for information of relatives and discovered posts about them on my Blog.  Thank-you for reaching out to me and for asking questions for me to research.  DNA testing has helped me find and connect with several other cousins.  I am always happy to find new cousins!   I enjoy sharing the information I have found with others and glad my cousins also enjoy the information about our ancestors.
  • Thank-you to Marie for hosting yet another great Warner Cousin’s Christmas Luncheon and to Sofia for joining us:
Warner cousins 2018
Hollie, Debby, Kallie, Suzanne & granddaughter Sofia, and Marie
Goals for next year:
  • I hope to finish editing Carrie’s Letters so they can be published for my cousins to read.
  • I am working on 2 new presentations (Researching Land Records using a case study and one on Wills and Probate Records) and hope to roll them out soon.
  • Complete another 50 blog posts.
  • Attend 2 National Genealogical Conferences.  So much to learn, so little time :)
I recently walked through a cemetery where my ancestors lived for over 200 years that I have walked through since I was a child.  Because of the some of the research I have done this past year I was able to identify many more relatives then I previously realized I was related to.  As I follow the trails of the lives my ancestors led I will continue to honor their history, cherish their lives, tell their stories and remember them. 

It truly is the ‘journey’ that is the reward!
Enjoy the journey,