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FAMILY TIES: Tracing your ancestry
by Dan Burrows

Orange County Research Offices
          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 trip worthwhile. 

         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.

         The Middletown 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 - Date)
Building and Loan Agreements
Certificates of Incorporation (1837 - Date)
Census Records (1820 - 1925)
Convictions (1816 - Date) Justice & City Courts
County Court Convictions (Court of Record) (1797 - Date)
Court Actions (Supreme & County) (1703 - Date)
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 Divorce)
Executions (Income & Property) (1793 - Date)
Federal Tax Liens (1926 - Date) Good for 6 years from Assessment Date
Farm Names (1912 - Date)
Homestead Exemptions (1830 - Date)
Incompetent Proceedings
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)
Mechanic's Liens
Notaries Public (1958 - Date)
Naturalization Records (1827 - Date)
No Bills (1913 - Date)
Oaths (Town & County Officials & Employees  of County)
Pistol Permits
Public Welfare Liens (1964 - Date) (Injury Cases)
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. 


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