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The Erie Society for Genealogical Research
P.O. Box 1403
Erie, PA  16512-1403
The Erie Society for Genealogical Research
Researching and Preserving Family History in Erie County, Pennsylvania

ESGR Speaker April 13, 2021: Linda Waha

"Discoveries in the Attic" -- Speaker Linda Waha offers tips on how to sort out those family boxes in the closets, attic or basement. Many of us are downsizing, and can use some advice on sorting out the good stuff, and preserving and organizing interesting finds for your genealogy research -- and for future generations of your family. Please see Members Area for the Zoom link.

Annual Meeting and Election Results

ESGR Members: The ballots have been counted, and the election results were reported at our annual meeting, Tuesday, March 9. The results: Jodi Schersten elected to a second term as President; Patricia Mickel elected Vice President; Bill Klauk reelected Treasurer; Alice Henneberry reelected Secretary. Directors elected: Maureen Buckel, Nancy Schaaf, Linda Waha, and Kathy Mastantuono. Thanks to all of our board members! 

Please Note: This Website Will Be Moving

ESGR Members: This website is under construction and may be taken down temporarily. Our domain email addresses (i.e. research@genealogyerie.org, info@genealogyerie.org, surnames@genealogyerie.org, keystonekuzzins@, and so on) may also be interrupted. Please follow us on our Facebook page for updates. And please be sure to renew your ESGR membership, with a check, by postal mail. Thank you!  

Please Check Your Spam Folder

ESGR Members, the software we use to send you emails about upcoming events and Zoom links for speakers is malfunctioning a bit. Some members are finding the notices in their spam folders. We're working on this. Please check your Spam folder. Thank you!

May 11, 2021: Erie County in World War 1

ESGR Board Member Mary Jane Koenig joins us with other speakers to give a presentation on the forthcoming book, Answering The Call: Erie County, Pennsylvania in World War One."  Produced by the Erie County World War 1 Centennial Committee, the book is organized into five sections: At War; The Homefront; Sketches; Bios of the 200 Men From Erie County Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice; A List of 2300+ Men and Women From Erie County Who Served.

June 8, 2021: Preparing for the 1950 US Census

At the June ESGR meeting, Speaker Thomas MacAntee will talk about the types of information and resources to expect when the 1950 U.S. Census data is released on April 1, 2022. The Census report is released 72 years after it was taken. Zoom link will be posted in Members Area.

Sept 14, 2021: Researching Funeral Home Records

At the September ESGR meeting, Speaker Ari Wilkins will speak on the valuable genealogical information often available in the information that funeral homes collect. Funeral home records often contain extensive information on the family's genealogy, church affiliations, business activities and other topics valuable to family history researchers. Wilkins, a graduate of Louisiana State University, has been researching family history for more than 20 years. She works at the Dallas Public Library and teaches genealogy classes there. She specializes in African American research, and has spoken at the National Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, Roots Tech, the American Library Association and many local societies.

Feb. 23: Finding Your Female Ancestors (Zoom)

ESGR Computer SIG Leader Sue Mueller discussed special challenges in finding your female ancestors; how and where to search; using indirect proof; women and the law; military; immigration and naturalization. The handout is available now in the Members Area, under Minutes and Handouts/2021.

A Pause While Sheltering in Place

Please note, this addendum (April 2021): We now have access to our phone messages, though we are not yet able to meet in person. We are accepting research requests again. Please send them to research@genealogyerie.org. We are transitioning to a new website in June. Thank you. ESGR

March, 2020

To our Members, Researchers and Friends:

 During the pandemic, our office at the Hagen History Center, the Erie Public Library and many public offices in Erie are closed or restricting visits now. In addition, we do not currently have access to the ESGR phone line. We would like to ask that research requests be postponed until the statewide shutdown is lifted. If you need to reach ESGR with a research request, please do so via email (research@genealogyerie.org).  We will be in touch once we can update our availability status.

Meanwhile, I find myself thinking of our ancestors and the various epidemics they endured. Here is a list of major outbreaks in U.S. history, including locations and the reported number of deaths. This information came from a website called Infoplease.

1793
     Philadelphia: More than 4,000 residents died from yellow fever.

1832
     July–Aug., New York City: More than 3,000 people killed in a cholera
epidemic.
     Oct., New Orleans: Cholera took the lives of 4,340 people.

1848
     New York City: More than 5,000 deaths caused by cholera.

1853
     New Orleans: Yellow fever killed 7,790.

1867
     New Orleans: 3,093 perished from yellow fever.

1878
     Southern states: Over 13,000 people died from yellow fever in lower
Mississippi Valley.

1916
     Nationwide: Over 7,000 deaths occurred and 27,363 cases were
reported of polio (infantile paralysis) in America's worst polio
epidemic.

1918
     March–Nov., Nationwide: Spanish influenza killed over
500,000 people in the worst single U.S. epidemic.

1949
     Nationwide: 2,720 deaths occurred from polio, and 42,173 cases were
reported.

1952
     Nationwide: Polio killed 3,300; 57,628 cases reported.

1957
     Nationwide: An Asian flu outbreak killed 70,000 before it was
completely eradicated.

1981–Dec. 2005:
     Total estimated U.S. AIDS cases: 988,376; total estimated AIDS
deaths: 550,394 (Centers for Disease Control).

1993
     Milwaukee, Wis.: A Milwaukee water treatment plant became
contaminated with cryptosporidium and killed more than 100; 403,000
cases reported.

2009
     in April, H1N1, also known as Swine Flu, broke out and quickly
spread to more than 70 countries. The Centers for Disease Control
reported that between April and October, 22 million Americans had
contracted the virus, 98,000 required hospitalization, and about 3,900
people died from H1N1-related causes.

2010
     California: An outbreak of whopping cough causes the death of ten
infants; 9,477 cases reported.

2012
     Nationwide: A meningitis outbreak traced back to contaminated
steroid medication shipped to 23 states killed 36; 500 cases reported.

What strikes me is that while people died, people also lived. And
survived. and we are here because of them.

I encourage everyone to be diligent, careful but also to take the time
to continue your research. Find the stories of life and victory over
adversity. They sustain us in times like these.  You might want to
journal next couple weeks to pass on the experience to the next
generation. Facebook only goes so far in chronicling these events, and
your point of view is unique to you. And so worth recording. Imagine if
you could talk to your ancestor in the 1800s about the crisis of their
day and how they handled it. What a treat that would be. For your
descendants, your story will give a sense of pride, perhaps a good laugh
and hope for the future. Give the gift.

Jodi Schersten
 

DNA Helped Solve a 200-year-old Mystery

At the ESGR Member meeting on February 9, 2021, Speaker Paul Francis gave a presentation on how he and several newfound DNA cousins used a combination of archival research, family oral history, a comparison of family tree research and meticulous analysis of their DNA results to solve a 200-year-old mystery about his ancestors. His presentation is posted in the Members Area under "Minutes and Handouts/2021 ESGR Handouts."

Finding Military Records (2021 Zoom session)

On Tuesday, January 26, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., ESGR Computer SIG Leader Sue Mueller gave a presentation on using Military Records in your genealogy research. Why, what and where to find Service Records, Pension and Land Grant and other records; Extended strategies; what you need to know about records that were lost or destroyed. Handouts have been posted in the Members Area here, under Minutes and Handouts/2021 ESGR Handouts.

Genealogist Laura Cubbage-Draper Dec. 2020 Meeting

Genealogist Laura Cubbage-Draper spoke at our ESGR December 8 meeting.
Speaker's handout is in Minutes and Handouts/2020 ESGR Speaker Handouts.
Her topic: "Genealogical Timelines for Organization, Analysis and Problem Solving." The meeting was held via Zoom Said Cubbage: "In researching our family, we gather extensive amounts of records and information to be compiled. Timelines are a tool that allows us to organize our data, and to visually identify patterns, gaps, themes, and relationships. This program will provide examples of genealogical timelines (migration patterns, research gaps, specific record type, historical perspective, etc.) using Microsoft Word and Excel."

Immigration Records for Genealogy: Nov. 2020

Our ESGR Computer Research SIG meeting met on ZOOM November 24, 2020 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Topic: "Immigration Records for Genealogy." ESGR Computer SIG Leader Sue Mueller discussed how to figure out who came when; finding your immigrant ancestor's origin; searching passenger lists; destinations—why and where; naturalization records.   **Please note: There is no Genealogy SIG meeting in December.

Denys Allen Spoke Nov. 10, 2020 via Zoom

Denys Allen of PAancestors.com spoke at our November 10 meeting. Allen gave a presentation on how to use the online catalogs for the five largest archives in Pennsylvania. Her handout has been posted here in the Members Area. The meeting was held on Zoom. Allen, founder of PAancestors.com, hosts a popular genealogy podcast and runs a Facebook page (Pennsylvania Ancestors), a valuable resource for researching Pennsylvania family history.

Elissa Powell on Pennsylvania Records, Oct. 2020

Speaker Elissa Powell, Board Certified Genealogist and Western PA researcher,  was not able to join us at the Hagen History Center in Erie at ESGR's October 8th monthly meeting. But she did not leave us without a speaker. ESGR President Jodi Schersten was able to set up a live audio connection and collect questions from the members present for Powell to answer about her topic, "Primer to Pennsylvania Records."  Powell will be rescheduled to speak at an ESGR meeting in the spring. Meanwhile, she has forwarded some handout material, which can be found in the Members Area.

2020: Using Cemeteries and Death Records

On September 22, 2020 at 7 p.m. on Zoom, Computer SIG Leader Sue Mueller gave a class on locating and using death indices, certificates, obituaries, cemeteries and beyond, with an emphasis on free online resources. The class was sponsored by the Lincoln Community Center Library site (lin@eriecountypa.gov).

ESGR's September 8, 2020 Speaker, On Zoom

Lifetime ESGR Member John Mason spoke at our September 8 meeting on a topic he titled "Cemeteries, More Than Just Headstones." Mason explained that his presentation covered, "the online, print and local resources that can be used to locate the appropriate cemeteries, the records available at uniquely different cemetery organizations, the challenges you may face in obtaining records, as well as possible work-arounds,  and how these records may help guide you to other resources necessary to your genealogical research. They may even lead you to discovering living collateral family members who have other information to share." If you'd like to print out a copy of his presentation, it is available in the Members area, under Minutes and Handouts.

Zoom Class Census Handouts Available

Sue Mueller spoke via Zoom on Tuesday, August 25, 2020. Her presentation, "Census Records—More Than You Think," was so-sponsored by the McCord Library in North East and the Rice Avenue Community Library in Girard. Mueller explored federal and state census records; where to find them, and what you will find on the census; family and neighbor clues; linking census clues to other sources; other census schedules; census substitutes. Thank you to Sue: her handouts are available in the Members area, under "Handouts Other Events" in Minutes and Handouts.

How to use Zoom

     ESGR members: If you have questions about how to use Zoom, see "Using Zoom" here in the Members Area. All you need to do is download the Zoom app (takes less than a minute) and then click on the meeting link we will send a day or two before the meeting. We also recommend Zoom's online tutorials on how to use it (at Zoom.us). There are also good YouTube Videos on how to use Zoom by Steve Dotto. Here's one.
     You can attend a Zoom meeting using your smart phone, computer or tablet. Best if your device has audio and video so that we can see and hear you. (But don't worry: if you're camera-shy, there's a button for that!) We usually run a chat box during the meeting so that we can see your comments or questions and bring them up. We hope to be able to gather again in person before long.

ESGR Member Meeting August 11, 2020

Two knowledgeable ESGR members presented at our Zoom meeting Tuesday, August 11, 2020. Alice Henneberry, longtime chair of ESGR's research committee, explained how and where to access various documents of genealogical interest at Erie's Courthouse and other locations, and how to request ESGR's help. Connie Edwards gave an insightful presentation on how to get started writing your family history. Their handouts are available in the Members area, under "Minutes and Handouts."

Erie Gives Day 2020

Thank you to everyone who participated in Erie Gives Day on August 11,  and especially to those who contributed to ESGR. This is the first year we've participated in Erie Gives Day. We're grateful for your support, which helps ESGR continue to develop historical and educational programs of interest to our members.

Alert: Ancestry Eliminating Message Folders

Ancestry members -- sharing an important alert from Sue Mueller re an upcoming change on Ancestry:
  In March, Ancestry eliminated the option of creating folders for your Ancestry messages. Now, as of August 31, they are going to delete all message folders on Ancestry.  This means that if you want to save your folders, you should do it now.  You can download folders you created to your computer until August 31st, 2020.  See instructions here. Here's the important part:  
      1. In the messaging center, click Download Folders at the bottom of the panel on the left side. You'll only see this option if you created folders in the previous messaging center.
       2. A .zip file will be downloaded to your computer. If you see it at the bottom of your page, click on it there. Otherwise, check your Downloads folder.

2019:Deciphering Documents in Unfamiliar Languages

Our July, 2019,  speaker, Pam Israel, presented information about how to decipher clues in old family documents that are written in languages we don’t speak, along with her brother, Stefan, who is a Germanics linguist and is expert in old Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Dutch as well. It was one of the larger ESGR turnouts in recent months. Their presentation illustrated the long history of the German empire, whose borders once encompassed many individual nations. Pam showed a 'work passport' held by one of her ancestors, which he had to present at various borders within what was then Germany to show that he was a qualified professional apprentice. After the presentation, Stefan met with ESGR members to look at their heirloom family documents to give them a quick overview in person. He also provided contact information should anyone wish to engage him for a more detailed analysis. 

Historical Society Curator on ECHS Archives

Our June, 2019, speaker, Erie County Historical Society Curator Becky Weiser, gave an interesting presentation on the process of deaccessioning (formally removing) "3D" objects from the Society's collection. She described how she and her colleagues have carefully combed through the many thousands of historical artifacts in the collection to determine which best document Erie County history, and which can be deaccessioned. Many of the objects no longer needed by ECHS will be made available to other area Historical Societies. As part of the process, Weiser and her team have also instituted better storage procedures for the many objects stored in the archives. That part of the presentation was very useful for anyone storing antique fabrics, media or other objects.
 

2019 ESGR Election Results

ESGR members on March 12, 2019, elected their new President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary and four Directors to the board. Here are the results:
Our new officers are
President Jodi Schersten, Vice President Ron Bright, Treasurer (re-elected) Bill Klauk and Secretary Alice Henneberry. Our new Directors: Pat Mickel, Tom Greene, Dick Tefft and Linda Waha. Good luck to our new leadership team.
And many thanks from all of us to outgoing President Jerry Munzi, Vice President Helen Shimek and Secretary Kathy Szympruch. They've done a great job, have brought us consistently impressive speakers and accomplished much for ESGR during the past two years. In the last year alone, ESGR membership has increased by some 40 members!
We're delighted to have all of you in the society.

Serving ESGR: Message to Members

ESGR Members, our Annual Meeting and Election was held Tuesday, March 10 in the Hagen History Center. We cancelled the election, as no one ran against the incumbents in the four open board positions: Vice President, Secretary, and two open Director positions. The incumbents will serve until members replace them. Participating in the governance of ESGR is a vital part of membership. If you value ESGR and attend our monthly meetings, please consider stepping up to do your part in keeping ESGR running. Contact ESGR President Jodi Schersten (president@genealogyerie.org) if interested in serving.

Searching For Infants Born at the Veil Hospital

Speaker Lisa Puckly on Veil Hospital
 
 
Speaker Lisa Puckly from the Corry Area Historical Society gave a powerful presentation at our meeting on November 13, 2018, on the topic of the Veil Maternity Hospital, which operated in Corry from 1921 to 1945 as part of a chain of maternity hospitals started in Kansas City. Working with writer Karen Amos of New Hampshire, who plans to write a book about the Veil hospitals in Kansas City, Corry, Langhorne, Pa., and West Chester, Pa., Puckly has been helping families who are trying to identify babies born at the hospital and women who gave birth there.The search is complicated by the fact that the Corry hospital operated largely in secrecy, since unwed pregnancy carried such a stigma at the time. Moreover, at several points, hospital records were burned, or otherwise destroyed. Men identifying themselves as physicians at the hospital sometimes were not. Sanitary conditons at the hospital were poor. Babies slept in wire baskets, row upon row. Veil advertised its babies for adoption as "certified," and coming "from excellent parentage."  But many infants were bundled up and taken across the state line to New York over the years, often without paperwork. Puckly speculated that the babies taken away may have been viewed as "imperfect." It is not known what became of them. Even when birth (or death) certificates for Veil infants can be found, sometimes the baby's name was changed from its family name, and the parental names listed were fictional. Puckly has helped establish that of the thousands of babies born at Veil over the years, more than 100 babies were buried in unmarked graves at the nearby Pine Grove cemetery in Corry. There are indications that graves were opened periodically to add babies who died later. But who were they? How can they ever be identified? Cutting through the fog of secrecy, the availability of DNA services has enabled some families to find lost relatives. Through DNA, many individuals have discovered siblings or relatives they did not know existed. "I have shed the tears doing the research, and shared incredible joy with the families when we have success," said Puckly. "It is difficult to describe the joy you feel."         (Photograph by John Szympruch)
   

 

Searching Erie's Old Almshouse Records

Entrance to the Old Almshouse Cemetery in Fairview PA
Who lived at the Old Almshouse in Erie? The Erie Society for Genealogical Research is pleased to announce a new research opportunity. As part of ESGR’s Research Service, we can now search the records of the Erie County Almshouse, the institution which once offered free housing for the destitute. (Alms was the old English term for aid for the poor.) In addition to the poor, Almshouse residents included individuals who were disabled, or deemed to be mentally ill, or otherwise classified as unable to support themselves. We hope that by offering this research service, we will be able to help families identify long-lost family members.
Established in 1870, the Erie County Almshouse was located on 105 acres of donated land near 23rd Street and Pittsburgh Avenue. Most of the land was used to raise food crops for the residents. But part of the grounds were used for a cemetery. Some 690 individuals were interred there through December, 1920. Meanwhile, over time, some individuals who lived at the Almshouse were able to leave, while some insane residents were transferred to Warren State Hospital. In 1920, a new cemetery for the poor and the unclaimed dead of Erie County was developed in Fairview, on the Dobler Farm west of Erie. The original Almshouse cemetery was forgotten until 1977, when the Erie County coroner, learning that a business complex was to be built on the cemetery site, obtained a court order to unearth and rebury the dead.  At that point, 443 of the dead were exhumed and reinterred in seven vaults at the newer Almshouse Cemetery in Fairview. The other 247 dead remain at the original site.  A special rededication ceremony was later held at the newer cemetery, honoring those who rest there. They are memorialized on a plaque that reads, in part:  
       We rededicate this cemetery to all those souls who rest here.
       The sanctity of this ground is a reminder  that all life is precious,
       and in death, we are all the same -- God's children."
Thanks to a collaborative effort with the Erie County Historical Society, where the Old Almshouse records are stored, ESGR is now able to research the records of Almshouse inhabitants, including records of those who were transferred to the Warren facility. If you would like to request a search, please submit the form available here (on the left side of this screen) under “Research Service.”  Simply click on the term "Research Service" in the left margin of this page, then click on "Almshouse Research," download the form and print it out. The form is entitled “County of Erie – Almshouse Research Request.”  There is a small fee for the search. The records volumes are not indexed, so searches may take some time.  If you have any questions about the process, please email research@genealogyerie.org.
 
(Photo of the Old Almshouse Cemetery in Fairview courtesy of Bill Klauk)
 
 
 

Reunion Postponed to 2021

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Wagner, Vickey, Buetikofer, Muehlheim family reunion will be postponed to the summer of 2021. Information on the new time and place will be sent out to interested folks next year. 
The event was planned to introduce family members and gather information on different branches of the families. 
If you have any questions about the event, please contact Rita Stewart, 7300 Old Perry Highway, Erie, PA 16509 (email oneoftwo@roadrunner.com)
or, Carol Buetikofer, 6717 Manchester Farms Road, Fairview, PA 16415, (email cicijab@roadrunner.com). 

Resources at genealogyerie.org

Our Links collection continues to grow. We've added links to most of the cemeteries in Erie County. We will be adding more information there. "Area Societies" is a category listing genealogical and historical societies. Most are historical societies, as local historical societies often house valuable local genealogical information and family histories. Use the drop-down menu at top left on the Links page to choose the category of information you are looking for.  
We have also added a category in "Events" called "Key Genealogical Society Events"  to help keep our members informed of important genealogy meetings around the United States. Find details there about upcoming meetings, exhibits and conferences you may have the opportunity to visit.
‚ÄčIf you're just getting started in the Members Area, you'll need to log in. Click on "Members Area" in the left-hand navigation. If you need more information about logging in, please write to webeditor@genealogyerie.org.
If you are not a member, we welcome you. To join, you can download the membership application found in the left-hand navigation column and mail it in with a check, or join online. 
 Have an idea for a speaker or feature? We welcome your suggestions and questions at info@genealogyerie.org.


Come Join Us

Welcome. If you have not yet joined ESGR, we'd like to tell you about some of the benefits of membership in our society. We hope you'll agree that joining ESGR is a great idea. We'd love to have you join us.
When you are a member of ESGR, you become part of a community of shared interest in the history of Western Pennsylvania and its families. Our members range from beginners to people with many years of genealogy research experience. Members receive the Keystone Kuzzins quarterly four times per year. They can access the members-only section of our website and the resources there. They hear knowledgeable speakers with expertise in specialized areas, such as the history of the German, Irish, British, Italian, Polish and other ethnic immigration into western Pennsylvania, methods for accessing military and immigration records, and deciphering federal census records. 
Members also receive a discount on ESGR publications, CDs and books, and a discounted membership rate for the Erie County Historical Society. ESGR members receive advance notification of genealogical events and conferences and may receive discounts on admission to events. They can receive help with “brick wall” research obstacles from our seasoned genealogists. They also have access to the library of handouts and other materials provided by our speakers. ESGR members have access to the ESGR surname database, and can add surnames of personal research interest. ESGR members also have access to the membership directory with member contact information.  If you’d like to join, please go to the Online Join section of our website. You can join online using your credit card or PayPal account, or you can download a membership application and send it in with a check. Please let us know if you have any questions about the process at membership@genealogyerie.org.

May 11
Answering The Call: Erie County in WW1
ESGR Board Member Mary Jane Koenig joins us with other speakers to give a presentation on the forthcoming book, Answering The Call: Erie County, Pennsylvania in World War ...

June 8
Thomas MacEntee: The 1950 Census - Are You Ready?
Are you ready to explore the information in the 1950 United States Census? The Census report is released 72 years after it was taken. In ...

September 14
Researching Funeral Home Collections
Speaker Ari Wilkins on the valuable genealogical information often available in the information that funeral homes collect. Funeral home records often contain extensive information ...