I would like to spend a little time this article talking about other places
to do genealogical research in Orange County. I have spoken frequently
about the research room of the Orange County Genealogical Society at 101
Main Street in Goshen. There are several other places nearby that
also have great resources.
One of my favorite nearby places to visit is the
Newburgh Free Library on Grand Street in Newburgh.
They have an excellent "Local History Room" and it is certainly not limited
to Newburgh. It has resources that reach far beyond Orange County.
I recall the time I spent a week in Maine researching my wife's Thompson
ancestors and came home empty handed. Two weeks later I found a book
on the Thompson Family of Maine sitting on the shelves of the Newburgh
Library. My wife's great grandmother had actually furnished quite
a bit of family information to the author and I had the line traced from
the early 1600's in Maine to 1907 in Massachusetts and only had to go to
Newburgh to do it. Unfortunately, the Newburgh Library does not allow
photocopying of their rare collection so I had to do a lot of note taking
that day. I have since found the same book in other libraries and
copied all the pages I needed.
If you plan to visit the Newburgh Library Local History room, plan to go
on a Monday through Thursday morning when part time librarian Rita Forrester
is on duty to show you around the local history room. The room is
accessible other times but your help will be limited.
The Minisink Valley Historical Society
located on the second floor of the Port Jervis Library has an excellent
local history and genealogical collection. Peter Osborn is
the knowledgeable director and volunteer Miral Haubner knows the collection
inside and out. The main focus in the research room is the Tri- State
area but much useful information is available on a countywide basis.
I was able to trace my wife's Jennings ancestors from Sussex and Bergen
Counties, New Jersey by only traveling 10 miles. The research room
is open on Thursday afternoons and again Thursday evenings. You may
call 856- 2375 for more information on hours.
Cornwall Public Library,
Main Branch, by Harold Campbell (OCGS)
They have microfilms of the Cornwall Local
(published under variations of that name) in the main library from the
earliest editions about 1880, if I recall correctly, to date. They
have a good microfilm reader-printer on the main floor also. In addition
Janet Dempsey and Colleen Fulton ( the Cornwall Town and Village
Historians, respectively) have indexed every issue from the earliest
date. I understand they have indexed from day 1 to 1948 so far!
These 3x5 index cards are in the basement and can be accessed by speaking
to the reference librarian who will direct you to them The Cornwall
Local coverage went beyond the town borders and included items from Highland
Mills, Central Valley and New Windsor for example, especially in
the years before WW II Of course, these microfilms are also
available at the Newburgh Free Library That library has a large collection
of microfilms of Orange Co. newspapers though not indexed. (their
microfilm reader/printers are poor). The index at Cornwall,
however, is a real gold-mine for eastern Orange Co researchers
The Rushmore Memorial Library
on the East side of Route 32 in Highland Mills (just South (practically
next to) the Post Office). This little library is the headquarters
of the Woodbury Historical Society
with an active and enthusiastic membership. Leslie Rose is
the Woodbury Town Historian and also the person to contact to access the
collections. They are usually open on Thursday evenings from say
7 to 9. (call ahead) I believe there is a phone number on the
list of Town Historians put out by the County Historian. They
have several cabinets filled with files of family research done by
that remarkable researcher, Emma Jones McWhorter, plus additional data
on those families and other local families added by researchers from
around the country. They have a substantial collection
on local history and the people of Woodbury Town from pre-revolutionary
time to the present day. If you are researching the Town of Woodbury
(or that part of the Town of Monroe that was carved out to become Woodbury)
this library is not to be missed!
The Port Jervis Library
has a small local research room itself, but the card index to the "Gazette"
genealogical information is a gold mine of Orange County data making the
The Goshen Library
houses the Elizabeth Sharts room which has a nice collection of local interest.
The hours are limited and you might want to call a verify hours.
In the main part of the library there is a microfilm collection of early
Goshen newspapers which is always available.
Thrall Library in Middletown has developed
a collection of local materials, but hours of availability are also limited.
Appointments are available to use the local history room by calling the
library. Available in the main part of the library is an excellent
microfilm collection of old Orange County newspapers. These may be
used at any time.
and Wallkill Precinct Historical Society
on East Avenue in Middletown has a small research room in the upstairs
of the Van Duzer House. Many local family bibles and other helpful
items make this a nice place to research on a Wednesday afternoon when
they are open from 1 - 4 PM.
The Town of Minisink
is developing a research facility near their Town Hall and one can contact
Town Historian Carol Van Buren for more information.
Most town libraries in Orange County have something of genealogical value
but those listed above have the best collections. It never hurts
to give a local library a call and ask if they have any materials that
can help your research.
The Orange County Surrogate's Court
in Goshen houses all the wills and other probate papers since the system
began in 1787. Prior to that, local wills were either filed in New
York City, Albany, and sometimes Kingston.
The Orange County Clerk's Office
in Goshen houses the early deeds and mortgages from 1703 through present.
The following list gives many examples of what records can be found there.
Some records, however, have been transferred to other storage facilities
and must be requested for research.
Assignment of Mortgages
Assumed Business Certificates (1899 - Date)
Assignment for Benefit of Creditors (1932
Building and Loan Agreements
Certificates of Incorporation (1837 - Date)
Census Records (1820 - 1925)
Convictions (1816 - Date) Justice & City
County Court Convictions (Court of Record)
(1797 - Date)
Court Actions (Supreme & County) (1703
Chattel Mortgages (Prior to 1964 filed with
Town or City - After 1964 Filed with Uniform Commercial Code)
Coroners Decisions (Sealed) (1810 - Date)
Consolidated Lien Docket (1952 - Date)
Court and Trust Fund Book (1910 - Date)
Deeds (1703 - Date) Note: Grantee and Grantor
Indexes also available on Microfilm at OCGS.
X. Divorce Records (Sealed except Decree of
Executions (Income & Property) (1793 -
Federal Tax Liens (1926 - Date) Good for 6
years from Assessment Date
Farm Names (1912 - Date)
Homestead Exemptions (1830 - Date)
Indictments (An Accusation by Grand Jury)
(1755 - Date)
Judgments (1848 - Date) Good for 10 years
on personal property and 20 years on real property (money)
Lis Pendens (1823 - Date)
Limited Partnerships (1869 - Date)
Marriage Records (1908 - 1935) Earlier than
1908 with State Librarian. After 1935 filed with Town or City Clerks when
license was first obtained.
Mortgages (1703 - Date) Note: Mortgagee and
Mortgagor Indexes also on Microfilm at OCGS
Maps (Any number, cemetery, subdivisions,
Atlas 1875 & 1909, patent maps, 1967 tax maps)
Notaries Public (1958 - Date)
Naturalization Records (1827 - Date)
No Bills (1913 - Date)
Oaths (Town & County Officials & Employees
Public Welfare Liens (1964 - Date) (Injury
Religious Corporations (1784 - Date)
Separation Agreements (Sealed) (1966 - Date)
Sheriff's Certificate of Sale (1820 - Date)
Transfer Tax (1890 - Date)
U.S. Service Discharges (1921 - Date)
Wage Assignments (1924 - Date)
There were several county and state border
changes prior to 1798 in the Orange County area and the following libraries
are therefore important places for local research. These are facilities
with excellent genealogical collections: The
Elting Library in New Paltz, NY, the
Library of the Huguenot Society in New Paltz,
NY, the Ulster County Genealogical Society
in Hurley, NY, the Adriance Library
in Poughkeepsie, the New City Library
(Rockland County) in New City, NY, the
Sussex County Historical Society in Newton,
NJ, and the Sussex County Library
in Branchville, NJ.
Finally and at the risk of being repetitive, the research room of the Orange County Genealogical Society is by far your best source of Orange County information.