Sunday, January 30, 2011

1869 Homer Business Directory

Digital copies of historical publications are a wonderful thing.  There are only a few existing copies of many historical publications, and only a few people can own them.  Creating digital copies makes them available to many others, and I am very appreciative to those companies and individuals who find these gems and make them available to purchase or to view online.

I have a digital copy of the 1869 business directory of Cortland County.  I have spent a number of hours over the past week transcribing the Homer section of this directory and putting it on my web site.  It is not just a list of businesses.  Many individuals are listed in the directory, along with their occupation and general address.

While there are many individuals listed as dairymen and farmers, there is a surprising number of other occupations and businesses.  Many people have multiple occupations.  Here is a sampling of the many occupations included:
justice of the peace
insurance agent
freight agent
telegraph agent
dress and cloak maker
proprietors of lumber yards, saw mills, cider mills, cheese factories, carriage manufacturer, flax mill, grist mill, brewery and malt house, cheese box factory
church pastor
ornamental painter and paper hanger
manufacturer of axes and edge tools
clock and watch maker, jeweler
honey dealer
gardner and florist
Internal Revenue collector

hair dresser
book and stationery dealer
prop. of hotel and billiard room

And remember, this is 1869.  Fascinating reading even if you don't have a family connection here.  Take some time and look through this interesting picture in time.  Imagine living at this time and how you would obtain what you need for you and your family.  1869 Homer Business Directory.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Launching Web Site and Collaboration

Woo hoo!

Officially published the Homer-NY One Place Study web site at the beginning of this month.  I've been getting it ready for the past month.  What a feeling of accomplishment.  I could have continued to wait until I had more content, but I really felt I needed to get it out there to keep my momentum to work on the project - and how else can I reach out and hopefully work with other individuals if I can't show them that I am serious about the project.

Now I can  make a list of people and sites I want to contact to link to as well as collaborate.  Collaboration is one of my key words for 2011.  I read a blog by Chris Brogan, and he wrote a post about picking 3 words each year to guide and inspire him.  I liked the idea and chose collaboration for one of my words for the year.

It is my greatest hope that this project will benefit others and provide new opportunities for collaboration on this project and others.  

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Starting the Homer Pioneer Database

I use Legacy Family Tree software for my own family genealogy files, so I created a new Legacy database to start recording all the pioneers of Homer.  Legacy has a feature to create web pages, which I will use to attach the database to the web site for the one place study.

To get started, I found a nice index of the 1820 census on the Cortland County NYGENWEB site: - thanks to the volunteers who worked on that project.  By importing the names into my data base it saved me creating each of those records and typing in the names and gave me a base to start with.

Next I went to Ancestry to read the digital copies of the census.  I wanted to be sure I agreed with the interpretation of the names by the volunteers, plus I wanted to record the transcriptions of the composition of the households for future use, and source the information.  I also looked at the name interpretations on Ancestry's name index.  I have never compared the records of an entire town to the indexes before and was surprised by the number of errors I found.  Ancestry does allow you to record your own record interpretations to correct the indexes, and I found myself reporting quite a few errors.  Hopefully those corrections will help some newcomer find their ancestral records.  Some mistakes were repeat misinterpretations of handwriting conventions of the time.  Other mistakes made me wonder if Ancestry had used non English speaking volunteers to create these indexes - or individuals who had not lived in the United States.  I got that impression when I saw names that even beginning US genealogists would have recognized without error recorded incorrectly, and these did not appear to be typographical errors, just interpretation errors.

Once I felt I had a good representation of the individuals on the 1820 census, I went backwards to record the individuals in the 1800 census.  I had to remember that Homer was part of Onondaga County at that time.  Another caution, when browsing the Homer census records, the beginning page is not under Homer, but under Fabius.

Accessing the digital copies of the 1810 census has been problematic.  You can't browse the records - Homer doesn't come up.  You can't search for Homer under the residence for individuals - it doesn't come up.  You can search for Onondaga County and get Homer records, along with all the other towns.  I'll let you know how I deal with these problems afterwards.  I think I am going to go in a different direction next for variety sake.