Replacing our CDs

Minisink and Port Jervis replacing our CDs

Replacing our CDs has shown up a benefit we hadn’t really anticipated.

Here’s what happens.  As our customers know, our CDs usually contained more than one item.  However, we tended to title the CD with the name of the most important (our call) item on the CD.

However, when we replace our CDs with downloads, each publication on the CD becomes a product unto itself.  In that way, it gets its own listing in our catalog and on the various geographic and special interest pages of our website.

Here’s an example.  Recently we retired our CD-ROM about the History of the Minisink Region of New York State (and Pennsylvania, and New Jersey).  The featured component of that CD was Stickney’s 1867 History of the Minisink Region.   However, there were two other publications on that CD:  Twin River Valley, the 1834 yearbook of Port Jervis High school, and a particularly scarce 1922 Directory of Port Jervis  (which included neighboring locations).

The CD never sold as well as we thought it would; we suspect the reason was that if people already had access to the Stickney book, they went no further and never discovered the Port Jervis Directory or the Port Jervis High School yearbook on the same CD.

Well, now that we’re reissued the three as individual downloads, we think more people will be seeing these additional publications — that were actually there all along.

Do you want to take a look at any of these?

Here’s how to find them:

Stickney’s History of the Minisink — click HERE

Twin River Valley, the Port Jervis High School yearbook — click HERE

That elusive 1922 Port Jervis Directory — click HERE

Of course, our main catalog is HERE, so why not have a look at it, too?

Bottom line:  we think that replacing our CDs will help you find things you never suspected we had just as much as it helps us streamline our processes and deliver quality content to you faster and more economically.

Quinlan’s History of Sullivan County package

Several years ago, we re-published a real classic,

Sullivan County, New York

Since then, free downloads of that volume have become available.  We we could see that there wasn’t much point of keeping the CD-ROM in our catalog, and that it might be a disservice to our customers to ask them to pay for something that they could have had for free elsewhere.  Hence, we discontinued the CD-ROM.  (If you would like to find a free version — and Quinlan is absolutely THE go-to source on early Sullivan County — here’s a good place to download it for free.)(You’ll find the image quality of the free version isn’t as good as ours, but free is free!)

There is one big problem with Quinlan’s History regardless of what version you use.  It has no index.  Of course, creating indexes was as difficult and time-consuming back when Quinlan wrote his history as it is today (maybe more so — we at least can use a computer in our indexing process), so we cannot fault him for omitting it  However, its absence is a lasting defect.  We decided that we could add value, so we put everything else aside and indexed it ourselves.  If you’d like, you can buy a copy of our index for $2.50 — CLICK HERE to go to our website.

HOWEVER, we didn’t stop there.

We decided that we could even improve on that.

When we used Quinlan, we discovered that it was difficult to correlate what was going on in one township with what was happening in other townships and the larger world outside.  To help deal with this, we prepared a detailed timeline from Quinlan.  We’ve included it, and we hope you find it as useful as we have.

And, sometimes, it’s nice to have some pictures to look at when you’re reading about an area.  While there are very few if any Sullivan County photos available of a time before Quinlan wrote his book (circa 1872) and rather few for the next few years.  So we did throw in a few postcards from the turn of the century, just for fun.  We hope you enjoy them!

So, here’s the package deal:

get (1) the full text of Quinlan (our high resolution scans), with appendix, advertisements, etc., AND (2) our complete index, AND (3) the timeline, AND (4) the pictures, all for $5.00 — and you can download it in PDF format right now!

If you’re interested in Sullivan County, New York, and our Quinlan’s History of Sullivan County package sounds like a reasonably attractive proposition, visit our website and download it!

 

 

Child’s Gazetteer of Sullivan County, NY

Child’s Gazetteer of Sullivan County, NY is one of only a few printed sources of Sullivan County, NY historical data contemporaneous with the time it was published.  It’s generally considered essential if you’re doing anything serious with the history or genealogy of the New York county that went on, 75 years later, to become “The Borscht Circuit”.

The book includes both historical material about each township in the county, as well as the expected tables of households replete with the name of the head of household, the business they are in, and, for farmers (which most people did at least as a sideline back then) the number of acres they held.  The advertisements sprinkled throughout the volume are a study in themselves.   Realizing that someone’s name can appear many places in the volume, we compiled our own index of the book, something we felt was lacking and something we needed for our own purposes.

For more than a decade we have offered our scanned version of that important book on a CD-ROM, including the index we compiled of that book, for $20.  As we have been phasing out our CD-ROM line, replacing it with downloads, Child’s Gazetteer came up for republication, and we’re happy to say that it’s now available as a download at a huge saving over the CD-ROM price.  The download is only $4.50.

You may be wondering why we chose to republish this as a download when there are free versions of the book available online already.   Here are the reasons:

  1. Our version is high resolution page images, and you can read it easily.  The free versions, sadly, are low resolution and portions are actually illegible.
  2. Our version includes our index.  The free versions lack an index.
  3. A key part of the original book was a large fold-out map.  Ours is reproduced so that it’s actually usable.  Legibility is a real problem with the free versions.

(By the way, we’ve done a recent post on why we elect to republish things that are already available for free — Click HERE to read it, if you’re interested.)

If our republication of Child’s Gazetteer of Sullivan County, NY for 1872-73 is of interest to you, why not have a look at our main website.  HERE’s the link directly to the page with more descriptive material and the download.

 

Here’s a new Q&A (Question and Answer)

Here’s a new Q&A (Question and Answer) we’ve written for our website.  We thought it was important enough to publish on our blog as well.  We invite your thoughts and comments!

Here’s the question:

You sell downloads of books that I can read for free online.  Why should I pay you money to download a book I can read for free?

Here’s our answer:

Thanks for asking!

First off, there are many cases when you should definitely read the book as a free online rather than paying us (or someone else) for a download, or even buying a printed book!  Here are a few examples:

Is the book historical fiction about the area you’re interested in?  Then, definitely read the freebie.  Likely you’re reading it for pleasure, but even if you’re reading it in connection with an area you’re interested in, you’re most likely looking for a sense of what things were like back then in that locale, and there’s nothing like good historical fiction to give you that sense.

Are you a little unsure whether the book is actually going to contain useful information?  There are plenty of examples of this, but here’s one:  you spot a genealogy with the same surname you’re seeking – but it’s not a particularly rare name.  Use the free download to confirm it.

Is your interest in this particularly area not quite focused yet?  Here’s an example:  many families migrated westward in steps; one generation in one locale, and the next a few hundred miles west.  If you can find local history material that you can download for free about the locales where they stopped (and also where they passed through but didn’t settle) you can pick up a lot of information at no cost.

So, then, why should I buy a download instead of (or in addition to) using a freebie?  Well, here are some factors to consider:

–Perhaps we’re offering something more than just the book itself.  For example, perhaps we indexed the book we republished.  The originals lacked an index, and we new one would add value, so we compiled one.  Indexes can be terribly useful.

–Some free (and some paid) downloads offer a PDF search.  You key in the term you’re after, and you’re presented with 100% matches.  Well, we don’t care for PDF searches, because they’re too sensitive to seemingly inconsequential differences.  They tend not to realize that “M’Cutcheon” is the same as “McCutcheon” or that Hodgkin, Hodke, Hotchkiss, Hotchkin, Hodkins, Hotchkins, Hochkin, and a variety of others are all the same family in different places at different times.  PDF search for “Hotchkin” and you won’t get matches on “Hochkin” and vice versa.  With an index to check, you’ve got a fighting chance of picking up those minor differences.  And, with a PDF search, such a minor daily occurrence in old time print shops as a damaged letter being used in setting a paragraph of type can result in a missed match.

–If you happen to be downloading files on your phone or your iPad, or somewhere else where you’re subject to a data plan, downloading the same file repeatedly can chew up your monthly data allocation pretty rapidly.

–Depending on where you download your free download from, there may be difficulties in copying or printing selections from the download.  In most cases these are designed to be difficult to copy.  We design our downloads so you can copy or print just as much of it as you want.

–This is a big one, particularly if you’re planning on publishing your work and need accurate footnotes or bibliographic citations – or if you’re applying to a hereditary society and need to be able to direct the genealogist to the specific mention in a larger book.  Most e-books, and many other publishing forms used for online books for download do not retain page numbers.  (Some, of course, do.)  Our downloads are page images, including not only original page numbers but even marginal doodling (or notes someone may have made in the copy we scanned).

–Realistically, people don’t expect ultra high quality images in downloads.  After all, you’re unlikely to want to frame an image from a download and hang it on the wall!  However, it is worth noting that the image quality in most free downloads is pretty bad.  Sufficiently so that it can be hard to tell what a person looks like.  Ours are not gallery quality, but we think they’re pretty good representations of what’s in the book.  Also, if you’ve looked at many free downloads, you’ll notice occasionally a page gets folded over in the scanning process.  What you see is what you get.  Because we hand-scan all of our material, you simply don’t have that problem with our downloads.

–In our day of government austerity, when state and Federal budget shortfalls seem to be covered by cuts in museums, libraries, archives, and that sort of thing, it’s not hard to imagine that given a choice between paying the staff and keeping a set of free downloads available online, the free downloads are apt to go first.  Remember that no matter who provides it, it does cost someone money to provide downloads, whether free or not.  Once you’ve purchased one of our downloads, you own it and you can access it whenever you want.

Bottom Line

Hotchkin's History of Western New York State
Hotchkin’s History of Western New York State

It’s always a good idea to see if you can save a little money on incidental purchases, so by all means do check to see if you can locate a free download of a book or other document you want to read.  But please consider what trade-off you’re making.

By the way, we’ve recently republished an important book about the history of the settlement of western New York State as a download (previously we sold it as a CD-ROM).  It’s Hotchkin’s History of Western New York.   It’s pretty good!  Have a look!

Adams Center High School Annual – 1922

Adams Center, Jefferson County, NY

 

We’ve just published another high school yearbook — this one nearly a century old — so we thought we ought to comment on this particular one.  High school yearbooks capture moments in time – or at least the best of them do.  This one, soft cover and limited size included, give us a glimpse of this Jefferson County community at the beginning of the Roaring Twenties – an era which would change American culture in significant ways.  It also represents a time when there seemed to not yet be a consensus about exactly what belonged in a high school yearbook, as the contents of this number illustrates.

Adams Center High School 1922
Adams Center High School – Annual for 1922

First, the graduates that year numbered seven.  That’s not exactly a large graduating class.  So, absent was the customary bunch of pages of portraits and accomplishments.  A single photo suffices for the class.  There is a senior class history.  A senior class will.  A senior class prophecy and a class poem.  An address by the class president, followed by a response by a member of the junior class.  Then follows a series of essays:  “The United States Merchant Marine”  “The Grand Canyon of Arizona”  “A Drama”  (about Shakespeare’s Macbeth)  “Helen Hunt Jackson” (identified as one of the most famous women in the United States; unknown today, she seems to have been an advocate for Native Americans).

Remarks by the Principal at the presentation of diplomas are followed by an article advocating for a new high school.  Then comes a curious table called “School Census, 1921-1922 – Incomplete Returns” which we presume was humorous.  With prohibition in effect, next comes the obligatory article “Alcohol as a Menace”, followed by a light-hearted section called “Ifs” and a “Who’s Who”.  A photo of the baseball team is followed by a history of the school, which is in turn followed by reports on the various sports teams.

Unexpected contents

Then comes a real oddity: the constitution and by-laws of the Ontario Interscholastic Baseball League. (we are still scratching our collective heads over that one!).  Then some current poetry – again, presumably humorous if you knew the individuals mentioned.  Some more humor is punctuated by a photo of the girls’ basketball team.

Rather abruptly a photo of the Adams Center High School faculty appears, along with the list of the members of the board of education.  A boon here for family historians, next to come is a list of alumni by class, including their present city of residence.  Class years begin with 1899, and the compilation is acknowledged to be incomplete.  Then comes a list of the members of each class of the high school – including two post grads – and a list by class of those in the elementary school.  Ten pages of advertisements wrap up the book.

Yes, we do have it for sale as a download.  If you’re sold on this one, go right to it on our Jefferson County, NY page.

But we have  republished quite a number of yearbooks now, so if you would like to see them all listed in one place, you can go directly to our yearbook page.

 

CD Closeout

About CDs…

Back in August we made the momentous “CD closeout” decision — that we would discontinue selling our historical and genealogical CD-ROMs, and gradually migrate the contents of our CDs to downloads.

Well, it’s been happening!  We’ve eliminated around a dozen of our CDs as the inventory sold out, and we’re making progress migrating their contents to download format.

There have been three positive results of the CD closeout so far:

–A number of smaller, less significant publications that were once lurking on CDs with little publicity are now available as individual downloads — with their own catalog entries.   People can actually find them!  Eventually they may even show up on Google!

–We’ve saved time and money.  When you deal with physical inventory — creating the CDs, reproducing them, maintaining the inventory, and shipping them — you spend more time, effort, and money than one would think.  The net result is that we have more time to spend finding more historical and genealogical material and making it available to you.

–Our customers have saved time, money, and helped avoid clutter.  Saved money?  Yes!  When we discontinued our Canaan, CT CD ($20) we replaced it with three downloads.  If you bought all three, you would barely spend half that.  And we doubt many people will buy all three.  The clutter speaks for itself — we never devised a perfect way for storing CDs of our own so we could find things when we needed them, and it’s easy to store downloads on your hard drive.  And time:  we figure that it costs us two or three minutes each time we need to put a CD in and wait for it to crank up, and then to go through it to find what we want, and we suspect it was wasting your time too.  Furthermore, downloads arrive instantaneously.  CDs come by postal mail.  Enough said about that!

But still

We do have some CDs left in inventory.  We’ll continue to sell them until they’re gone.  Here’s what left:

Child’s Gazetteer of Sullivan County, NY

Erie County (NY) Directory

Blue Book of Newton, MA

Child’s Gazetteer of Lewis County, NY

Child’s Gazetteer of Wayne County, NY

Nevada, Missouri Directory

Worcester, MA Directory

Catholic Families of Kentucky

If one of these matches your research interests, we do advise you to act now.  Once the CDs are gone, the material on them goes into the queue awaiting republication as downloads.  There, they vie for priority with the new material we’re working our way through, so it could be a year or more before material on a discontinued CD is again available.  A word to the wise should be sufficient!

As always, thanks to our faithful customers.  It’s you whom we do this for, and even as the CD closeout continues, it’s your needs we try to satisfy.  We try never to forget that.

Recovering history
Between the Lakes Group helps you recover history!

Thanks to Gertrude Barber

Introduction to Gertrude Barber’s Records of Sullivan County, NY

By Geoffrey Brown, Between the Lakes Group LLC

Astonishingly few records exist today of people who lived in Sullivan County in the old days.  Consequently, genealogical and historical research has been difficult at best — and impossible at worst —  in all of Sullivan County.  Gertrude Barber was, almost single-handedly, responsible for much of what we do have today.

Many factors – too many to discuss here – contributed (some still contribute) to this lack of record keeping and record retention.  However, due to the shortage of records, those of us who seek to research in Sullivan County are frequently driven to accept not what we would want or expect, but what is available, regardless of deficiencies.

Enter Gertrude Barber

We really do not know what motivations inspired Gertrude Barber, nor do we actually know much about the woman, who died in Brooklyn in 1974.  The staff of the Department of Genealogy and Local History of the New York Public Library described her as a Brooklyn resident, who began around 1929  to collect cemetery inscriptions and church records in Sullivan County, and who continued from there to collect elsewhere in New York State.

During the summers, Ms. Barber would travel to her current locale of choice, visit the graveyards and record what she could make out of gravestone inscriptions.  Soon, she expanded her project to include capturing such church records and records of wills as she was able to locate and gain access to.

It appears that she collected within Sullivan County mainly for two summers, those of 1929 and 1930.  During the following winters she typed up her notes, in six carbons, in her home in Brooklyn, bringing a copy to the librarians at the New York Public Library and disseminating the other copies to other libraries that indicated an interest in them.  One of the older librarians at the New York Public described to this writer her wintertime visits bringing her typescripts for them.

We first became aware of her transcriptions at the New York Public Library, and it is to them – and, of course, to Ms. Barber — that we owe a massive debt of gratitude that we have the information she transcribed in an easily accessible form today.

You can read more about Gertrude Barber and get a sense of the other New York State locations she visited and transcribed in this article about her HERE.

As grateful as we are to Gertrude Barber today for her huge contribution to genealogy in Upstate New York, there were a few deficiencies in her work that deserve mention simply to avoid raising false hopes.

First, Ms. Barber’s survey was not comprehensive.  As an example, she collected the old section (the oldest, but probably the smallest section today) of the Liberty, NY cemetery, but did not do the newer portions.  (To our knowledge, those much larger newer sections have not yet been collected by anyone, sadly.)  She certainly overlooked other cemeteries, particularly the very small ones that one occasionally saw around the county fifty years ago that are now gone completely. In Liberty, she covered the church records to which she had access, but notably these did NOT include the principal “downtown” churches of Liberty at that time:  Roman Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Episcopal.  Finally, she either did not locate, could not gain access to, or could not read any records of what was already becoming the substantial Jewish population of the Town of Liberty, nor did she record any of the Jewish cemeteries in the county.  Likely she did not know Hebrew, in which many of the stones are written, so the task would have verged on the impossible for her.

The second defect is in the records themselves and her transcription of them.  First off, gravestone inscriptions can be very difficult to read if the stone has been eroded or if moss and lichens have grown over it.  Of course, if the stone is broken off or buried or defaced or stolen, the data is simply missed.  She mentions problems with some stones in most of the cemeteries she collected.  Second, with the church records, many of the pastors or church clerks who originally recorded them had little interest in spelling.  For the most part, surnames had stabilized in terms of spelling by the time the earliest of these records were originally set down, but spelling of surnames in some of the records is creative at best.  Handwriting was also likely a factor here; we have not seen the original record books, so we do not really know what kind of legibility problems Ms. Barber faced.

Ms. Barber also was not a Sullivan County native — at least as far as we know she was not.  Hence, she had no familiarity with the family names typical of area, and doubtless made uninformed assumptions about spellings when transcribing.  Some of the German family names in the western portion of the County seem to have really given her fits.

Her technology, while typical of the era in which she worked, was not what one might have wished for.  Any time you are dealing with multiple carbon copies, typed on a manual typewriter, legibility inevitably suffers.  Today we easily forget just how hard it was to make corrections on six carbons when typing.  The consequences today are that the characters are sometimes blurred, there are overstrikes that make letters – and occasionally strings of letters – unintelligible.

Another defect was with Ms. Barber’s indexing skills.  Fortunately, this is one defect that we can do something about.  While she did index some of the records for Sullivan County, we surmise that her methodology was not the greatest, and since they are not up to the standard of her data collection, in our reprints of her work we have chosen to omit her indices.   Instead of including them, we have indexed many of her records in this section, and where we have done so, our index appears with our republications. When using our indexes, please be aware that we suffered with the same problems of legibility that Ms. Barber no doubt did when collecting the records.  What we saw was what we indexed.

One might say from these notes that we are being very critical, perhaps even unfair to Ms. Barber, but that is not our intent.  Given the limitations at hand, she did an admirable job.  More important, she was the ONLY PERSON WHO APPEARS TO HAVE DONE THE JOB AT ALL!

Even with the limitations of her records, we, seventy five years after she collected this material, say “THANK YOU” to Gertrude Barber for her dedication, patience, and generosity in spending a few years creating this rare compendium of Sullivan County records for us to use today.

 

What we offer

We offer in download form most of the Sullivan County records that Mrs. Barber transcribed and produced in typescript form — at least those that found their way to the New York Public Library.

Please see the Sullivan County page on our main website for a listing of what we have available.

Recovering history
Between the Lakes Group helps you recover history!

 

Centennial Book of Liberty, NY

The Centennial Book of Liberty, NY is one of the less frequently seen documents of the history of that township.  We’re indebted to Denny Birmingham for lending us her copy of this now-scarce document for copying and re-publication.

Centennial book
The cover of the Centennial Book of Liberty, New York

What’s in it?

First, and most obviously, there are pictures – lots of them.  Most of the important building are shown, both commercial establishments and residences as well.  There are photos that illustrate the original settlement on Revonah in a way that makes it comprehensible to people living today.  (An interesting note here:  the name of the mountain had already changed from Hanover to Revonah when this book was published – often the date of the change is assumed to coincide with anti-German sentiment during World War I.)  The photos of the residences are fascinating as one tries to recognize the houses of today’s Liberty among them.  Most of the photos have been seen elsewhere, but the collection is a good one.

The text is very useful since it amplifies on the early history found in Quinlan’s History, and also fills in details of the years following Quinlan’s publication in 1872.  While the photos are a bit hard to relate to people today, there are also photographs of some of the leading citizens.

As mentioned, it is a modest book for a centennial volume, at least compared with some of this genre we have seen.  However, we think it will be useful to anyone with an interest in Liberty today and in its past.  We have compiled and included an index of the book including all names mentioned which should be helpful to those using the book for research only and not reading it through.

How to get the Centennial Book of Liberty, NY

Well, we happen to sell it as a download!

Want more information?  CLICK HERE to go to the Liberty, NY page on our main website, where you can read a bit more about it and download it.

 

A Wartime Yearbook

We’ve just re-published the 1942 Libertas yearbook from Liberty High School in Liberty, Sullivan County, New York.

You can be excused if your immediate response is “What?  You’ve published another Liberty High School yearbook?  What’s your plan?  To re-publish all of them?”

To tell the truth, we wouldn’t mind re-publishing all of Liberty High’s historic yearbooks, but realism tells us that we could never possibly find copies of all of them to scan — which gets us around to why the 1942 Libertas is different and interesting.

A Wartime Yearbook

First of all, it is a wartime yearbook!  Published only months after Pearl Harbor, it is still the only example from Liberty High School that we have of this genre.  There are many things that this yearbook has in common with non-wartime yearbooks (it has all the usual contents, for example, including photos with names of grades seven through twelve, and abundant advertisements) but the moment you pick the original up you notice that it has a soft cover rather than the typical hardbound book cover.

a wartime yearbook
Front cover of the 1942 Libertas, the yearbook of Liberty High School — note the front cover is paper this year!

Later in the war, yearbooks began to reflect a nation actively gearing to to support the war efforts.  Later yearbooks included lists of students who had left high school to serve and, eventually, in memoriam pages for those who would not be returning home.

Nonetheless, this is indeed a wartime yearbook.  We think it’s worth a look.  You can do so, and, if you wish, purchase a download of it, on our Liberty, NY page.  CLICK HERE to go directly there.

 

Methodist Church Records – Town of Liberty, NY Circuit

Back in the years preceding and following the dawn of the 20th century, the larger Sullivan County, NY, villages, such as Liberty and Monticello, had their own Methodist Episcopal (what the Methodists used to be called) churches with full-time clergy.  However, the smaller villages and hamlets might have had a church building, but the clergy was shared between several villages.  If you’ve heard the term “circuit rider” that’s what these clergy were.  They carried the records of each of the churches with them as they rode the circuit.

In the Town of Liberty, in Sullivan County, NY, there was a circuit that served White Sulphur Springs (then called Robertsonville), Swan Lake (then called Stevensville), and Harris (then known as Strongtown).   A succession of ministers served that circuit, and their compiled records are available to us, thanks to the diligence of Gertrude Barber back in 1929.

About church records

Church records, with variations depending upon denomination, tend to have records of liturgical events:  baptisms, confirmations (“joining the church”), marriages, and funerals, with occasional lists of all the members of a particular church at a particular point in time.  In an area that did not have state-mandated capture of birth, marriage, and death statistics until rather late (and then it was not infrequently neglected), church records can be the most important source of such data, surpassing even family Bibles due to their concentration of information about a locality.

Methodist Church Records: Town of Liberty, NY Circuit

We had previously included this compilation on one of our Memories of Liberty CD-ROMs, but now that we have discontinued our CD line, this one gets to stand on its own.  For anyone with ancestors in the more rural parts of the Town of Liberty, or someone interested in the history of these areas, this collection is very important.  We’ve also compiled our own index of the records.

Please CLICK HERE to see more information and to download this collection.

 

Recovering history
Between the Lakes Group helps you recover history!