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.

 

Our Current Best Sellers

Back when our business was creating and selling local history CD-ROMs we found that people were interested in which ones were the most popular.  Now that we sell downloads (with the exception of the fast-dwindling remaining inventory of a few of our CDs), we thought that people might enjoy knowing which downloads sell best.  (If you’d like to view our entire catalog, you can find it HERE).

Here’s the Best Seller List:

#1 — Sullivan County, NY Index of Wills

#2 — Cross – New York State 1775 – 1975

#3 — Harte: Early Iron Industry of Connecticut

#4 — A History of the Town of Jefferson by Mildred L. Bailey

#5 — Sullivan County Intestate Estates

We decided to cut the list off at five — but maybe the next time we’ll provide the top ten. What do you think?

To everyone:  thanks for your patronage!!

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Between the Lakes Group helps you recover history!

Suffield History and Genealogy

Suffield history and genealogy took a step forward this week, as we re-published some documents that should be genuinely helpful.

Suffield Quarter Millennial
We’ve re-published Suffield: Quarter Millennial

Here are the four:

  1. Suffield Quarter Millennial — this book encompasses the history of Suffield, CT from its founding until the time of the celebration, is also the program for the celebration, and has tons of additional Suffield information in it.
  2. An annual report from Suffield’s Congregational Church.  Town (and church) history, lists of pastors, lists of members and also “absent members”
  3. A Sagitta yearbook from Suffield High School
  4. A package of miscellany, including an article from the first volume of the Connecticut Quarterly, a short excerpt from the Connecticut Guide, and a lot of photos.

You can find all this Suffield history and genealogy on our Suffield page on our main website.  If Suffield, CT is of interest to you, have a look today!

The Fulton-Fraser Cemetery in Ferndale, NY

Gertrude Barber’s compilation of the Fulton-Fraser Cemetery in Ferndale, a hamlet in the Town of Liberty, New York was an achievement of hers in the 1929-1930 timeframe.

Her typescripts, done at a time when few perceived much value in collecting such information, have become a genealogical mainstay for those researching in Sullivan County, New York, and this cemetery, another in the Town of Liberty, is another example of her work.

Fulton-Fraser Cemetery
The first page of Mrs. Barber’s compilation of the Fulton-Fraser Cemetery in Ferndale, Town of Liberty, New York

We do not know the current status of this cemetery, or even where in Ferndale it is (or was?) located. We can hope that today it is known by another name and is being cared for.  However, her description of the run-down state of the cemetery nearly a century ago suggests that this may not be the case, and, assuming that it continued to decline, it is worth considering that a compilation like this might not even be possible today.  This compilation includes our own index. 

CLICK HERE to access the main Liberty, NY page on our website for additional information and to download.

  

Gravestone Inscriptions of the Old Liberty Cemetery

Liberty, Sullivan County, New York

These inscriptions were collected by Gertrude Barber (1929-1930) as part of her effort to capture the rapidly disappearing local history of many Sullivan County communities.

Gertrude Barber, the person who collected and transcribed the gravestone inscriptions of the Old Liberty cemetery, one of a number she collected in the 1929-1930 period, deserves our thanks for this effort.  She spent her summers in the Sullivan County area collecting church and cemetery records, and during the winters transcribed her work using a manual typewriter and six carbons, which she deposited in major libraries that showed an interest in her work.  Not all did.  Not many people at the time were interested in this kind of material, or in this geographical area, and were it not for her efforts, much of the information on these stones would eventually be lost.  No doubt some already is.

We regret that she did not get around to collecting all of the cemeteries in Sullivan County, but we are grateful for those she did do.  There are no doubt errors in her copying and transcription.  Again, because of the magnitude – and difficulty — of the copying and transcription task she undertook we readily forgive her errors and are thankful again that she undertook the task at all.

We are delighted to make this compilation of the old section of the Liberty, Sullivan County, New York cemetery, together with the index we compiled of it, available as a download.

Please CLICK HERE to go to the Liberty page of our main website for more information and to download Gravestone Inscriptions of the Old Liberty Cemetery.

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Between the Lakes Group helps you recover history!

Liberty High School Annual for 1919

The Liberty High School Annual for 1919 was the first-ever yearbook Liberty High School published.

1919 graduates
Some of the 1919 graduates from Liberty High School

About yearbooks

High school yearbooks are one form of history within which everyone is recorded when they graduate from high school. They, and their community, are frozen at a point in time that the yearbook captures and keeps. Haircuts, clothes, friends, teachers, the sense of humor of the era, the area businesses – they are all captured as they were, not as we choose to remember them or tell our children they were back in the good old days.

1919 versus today

The class of 1919 graduated before a period of major social change, as a cursory examination of the yearbook will demonstrate.  First off, the size of the class demonstrated the extent to which completion of a high school education was not a general expectation.  In a community that had not changed that much in size between 1919 and the later, post WWII yearbooks we republish, this graduating class is tiny.  Viewing the credentials of the faculty, it’s clear that the expectation that a high school teacher would have even a baccalaureate degree is a creature of the near-century that elapsed since this class graduated.

The function of the yearbook has also changed, quite clearly.  More recent yearbooks are almost entirely about the class graduating, and on the activities in which they were participants.  This issue turns the focus back to those who went to Liberty High School in previous years, even decades.  From our point of view today, capturing this much news about Liberty High School alumni dating back into the previous century (the first class with alumni reporting was the class of 1893) is a book for those searching for a larger population than a single year’s graduating class.

It’s available!

You’ll not be surprised that we’re offering the Liberty High School Annual for 1919 as a download.  Interested?  CLICK HERE to see it on our main website.

Landmarks and Memories of Paxton, MA

We’re happy to republish a remarkable history of Paxton, Massachusetts, written by a person who without question knew more about the history of Paxton, MA than anyone else living at the time she prepared it. Roxa Howard Bush was a careful and very complete local historian of Paxton, and despite the brevity of her book (62 pages of text, plus pictures), it is a remarkably complete study of the history of the Town of Paxton.  The book was privately printed in 1923.  We do not know the number of copies printed, but we do know that few copies are still extant and even fewer available in the rare book market.

Paxton, MA
The old Paxton Inn, Paxton, MA
Unlike many local histories that are long on flowery language and short on names, places, and dates, Landmarks and Memories of Paxton is densely packed with names, and for that reason will be of particular interest to family historians and genealogists. 

If you live now in the Paxton area, or if your ancestors lived there at one time, we suspect you will find this summary of the local history of Paxton and its people essential.

CLICK HERE to go to the page on our main website about Landmarks and Memories of Paxton, MA and how to purchase the download of it.

 

Maine State Prison Report for 1907

Why republish the Maine State Prison Report for 1907?

Because we think a surprising number of people will find it useful!  We count students of public administration, penology, criminal justice, sociology, political science and history among them, not to mention people interested in state and local history in Maine, and, of course, genealogists and family historians.

First, a little about the Maine State Prison Report. 

Maine State Prison
Cover of the Maine State Prison Report for 1907

Only 60 pages long (67 pages including the index we prepared for this document), this report provides astonishing detail about the state prison population.  It lists the names of the inmates of the state prison, then located at Thomaston, Maine, in 1907.  It also lists those who left the prison (via clemency, via completion of sentence, or via death) during that year.  For the current prison population, it provides birthplaces, the crimes for which imprisoned, the counties in which they were convicted of their crimes, the length of their sentences, their ages in 1907, and the dates the prisoners were sentenced. 

The report deals as well with those who were determined to be criminally insane — or, as happened even then, those who were insane and being warehoused in the state prison (interestingly, this practice is quite common today).  Interestingly, the one death reported among the insane population that year shows “dementia” as the cause of death.

If black sheep great-uncle John (or great-aunt Nina) seemed to drop off the face of the earth in your family research back in those days, and the reason happened to involve conviction for a felony in Maine — or even loss of their mental faculties, they just might be here, along with enough supporting information to confirm their identity, as well as the kind of information you can use to locate newspaper articles or court records that might provide more information.

Click here to go to our main page about this document to see a PDF file of the index we have compiled of the Maine State Prison Report for 1907, and to purchase the report as a downloaded PDF file.

Being in the state slammer is nothing to be proud of, as the crimes for which these unfortunates were doing time will demonstrate.  However, we think that this publication will solve some family riddles that have only become more puzzling as the intervening century has passed and those with first hand knowledge of the circumstances have passed away.

The publication also names the individuals responsible for operating the penal system in Maine in 1907, both at the County Jail level and at the “big house” as well. 

The report evaluates each of the facilities that made up Maine’s penal system at that point in time in considerable detail, and does not hesitate to criticize the county jails — and the people responsible for them — that do not measure up to current standards both in terms of efficiency and in terms of prisoner care and rehabilitation. 

The publication is also an excellent document of state of the criminal justice system in 1907, when nationally the Progressive movement was at its peak.  There is descriptive material not only about the programs in the state prison, but also in the county jails.  There is abundant statistical data at all levels. 

In short, we think this is a document of local history, genealogy, and social history that is well worth preserving.

Where does the Maine State Prison in 1907 fit into the history of the prison system in Maine?

The Maine State Government provides some excellent historical background on their website.

The prison about which this report was written was built following a fire in 1854.  In 1923 fire again claimed the Maine State Prison.  The prison was rebuilt, several additional prison units dealing with special populations were built over the years, and in 2002 the last of the prisoners were moved from the prison in Thomaston to the new Maine State Prison in Warren.  The structure at Thomaston was subsequently demolished with the exception of the Maine State Prison Showroom, which remains open.

There seem to be many more persons in State custody in Maine now than there were nearly 100 years ago in 1907.

It appears that there are, both in absolute numbers and relative to the growth in the state’s population.  The population of Maine grew from around 730,000 in 1907 to roughly 1,275,000 in 2000, an increase of roughly 75%.

According to the Maine State Prison Report for 1907, a total of 521 individuals were “in jail” on December 1, 1907.  This number included a total of 68 in the “big house” — the Maine State Prison at Thomaston. 

The Maine State Prison website indicates (2005) that the population capacity of the new Maine State Prison at Warren is 916.  Not given on that website is the population of the county jails and other, less secure and more specialized facilities in the penal system within the state.  We will make the assumption that the prison is currently at capacity — as most prisons today are. 

On that basis, the population of the “big house” has increased from 68 to 916 — a  whopping 1250% increase — while the State’s total population grew only 75%.  From the criteria for admission to the Maine State Prison today (on the state’s website), it appears that the criteria for sentencing to the “big house” are considerably more stringent today than they were a century ago as well. 

CLICK HERE to go to our main page about the Maine State Prison Report for 1907.