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

Important Meeting Tues October 9

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Members, please be sure to attend our October 9 meeting. We will be asking you to vote on amendments to  our bylaws. If you were not able to attend the September meeting, you missed a good discussion of the proposed changes. You can review them here in the Members Area. Log in, click on Members Area in the left-side navigation to display the Member content list, and you'll see the proposed amendments and Appendix A, the Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement.

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)
 
 
 

Resources at genealogyerie.org

We've added a category in "Events" -- "Key Genealogical Society Events" -- to keep our members informed of important genealogy meetings around the United States. Find details there about the Niagara County (N.Y.) June genealogy conference in Lockport, N.Y. on U.S. Migration History, the Federation of Genealogical Societies' August conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana and other events of interest.
 
Our Links collection is growing steadily. New category: "Area Societies." Most are historical societies. Often they 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.  For example, there's a category for Erie County cemeteries (still very much under construction), but also one for information about Western Pennsylvania more broadly.
 
‚ÄčTo get started in the Members area, you'll need to log in. Click on the Members section at left. If you are not a member, we welcome you. To join, you can download the membership application at left 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. If you are already a member and would like more information about logging in, please write to webeditor@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.

September 25
Finding/Understanding Death Records
Special Interest Group Leader Sue Mueller discusses where to find death certificates and what you may be missing; finding obituaries for free, and searching ...

October 9
Military Records for Genealogy
How can you find military records for your ancestors? Sue Mueller will cover what kinds of records are available and where they are found, and ...

October 17
Understanding GEDMatch
SIG leader Helen Shimek will lead a discussion and hands-on session about how to use GEDMatch. Please bring your laptops if possible. You won't be ...