Central New York Genealogical Society
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Meetings of the Central New York Genealogical Society are held six times a year, and are open to all. Guests may attend the March, May, September and November meetings for a $5 donation. The April and October full day conference fee for non-members is $15. Annual membership dues are $30.

Instruction in some phase of genealogical research is usually the subject. Experienced genealogists share their specific area of expert knowledge. Workshops are sometimes held at which beginners may obtain help with their research.

Meetings are held at the Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church at 5299 Jamesville Road, DeWitt, New York, unless otherwise noted.

2018 Schedule of Events


March 24, 2018 1:00-3:30pm

Tools and Toys for the Traveling Genealogist, presented by Roger B. Williams

We all dream of taking our “Heritage Tour,” traveling to the sites where our ancestors trod the ground and made their homes. These trips can be enhanced with some advance planning along with the use of both high- and low-technology tools. Knowing what tools to take along with you (and how to use them) will make for a productive, less stressful, and more enjoyable research trip.

Roger makes use of a variety of tech tools while traveling and hopes that some of the “Tools and Toys” he discusses and shows today will help you to expand your family history knowledge, to accurately document your findings, and to have safe travels.

About our presenter

Roger B. Williams’ career as an attorney has spanned about forty-five years. Prior to serving in the NYS Attorney General's office, Roger was an attorney in private practice as well as in a corporate setting. In 2009, Roger retired from his position with the Attorney General’s office after serving for more than 25 years. Since then, Roger has been practicing in Family Court as an “Attorney for the Child” (formerly called a Law Guardian), helping children and their families sort out issues which come before that Court. During his legal career, Roger developed a fascination with office automation – computers, applications, and gadgets – tools which facilitated his work. Now, Roger enjoys putting these tools to work in his genealogical research. Roger has served several terms as a member of the CNYGS Board of Directors. He helped develop the group’s first website and assisted with the County Packet Indexing Project. Roger has presented programs to the Society’s monthly meetings on a variety of topics, often linking his legal knowledge with his interests in automation, computers, and family history.

April 21, 2018 All Day Conference, 9am-4pm

Presented by Michael L. Strauss

Genealogical Research in the Customs House Records

The U.S. Custom Service was created in 1789 with the responsibility for collecting duties on imports, registering vessels, and enforcing the law governing seamen and ships’ passengers. The eastern coastline was divided into districts, each jurisdiction keeping its own records. Many such records created by this department are useful to genealogists. These records date from the early years of the republic-and include records of Naturalization, Passengers Lists, Crew Lists, Seaman Projection Certificates, among other related records. Discover your family history in these great resources.

Work Skills of Old: Justice of the Peace Records

One of the more interesting old occupations was that of the Justice of the Peace. An important and worthy position, the JP was literally the keeper of the peace. Discover your ancestors in the records of the JP. Long overlooked by genealogists, these records are a wonderful source of genealogical information that will prove to be a treasure of information for any researcher.

Lunch: Bring your own and network with fellow attendees, or visit a local restaurant.

Semper Paratus: Genealogical Research in the U.S. Coast Guard

The Revenue Cutter Service, the oldest active seagoing service in the United States, can trace its origins to an act of Congress that became law on August 4, 1790. This act authorized the Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, to fit out cutters to be employed for protection of revenue. Originally called the Revenue Cutter Service (or Revenue Marines), they were first envisioned as a force of revenue tax collectors. Their ability to conduct many diverse missions, some simultaneously, during both peacetime and war became the hallmark of the service. Interestingly, one editor of the Army and Navy Journal in the November 26, 1864 issue not only recognized the value and potential of this unique organization, but also unknowingly predicted both the motto Semper Paratus and the future name of the Coast Guard intended for it in 1915 when this service officially became the U.S. Coast Guard. Discover your family members who may have served in this organization.

Free Trade and Sailors Rights: Genealogical Research in the War of 1812

The War of 1812, often called “The Forgotten War”, was our second domestic conflict with England. This lecture will begin with the causes that brought the United States into military conflict a second time with England. Records of genealogical importance, including Compiled Service Records, Pensions, Bounty Land and related material, will be examined to place your ancestors into the pages of history. Also included will be records that relate to the U.S. Navy, Marines, and the Privateers that harassed the British shipping. This lecture concludes with a practical exercise meant to critically examine all of the documents and resources discussed in the lecture.

About our presenter:

Michael L. Strauss, AG, is a professional genealogist and nationally recognized lecturer. He is a faculty member at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), and is the Military Course Coordinator at the Institute of Genealogical & Historical Research (IGHR). Michael is a monthly contributor to the segment Military Minutes on Genealogy Gems with Lisa Louise Cooke. Strauss has a BA in History and is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran. He is employed as a forensic investigator and a recognized court expert witness in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

May 19, 2018 1:00-4:00pm

Spend an Afternoon with Historian Teresa K. Lehr

Is one or more of your ancestors showing up merely as featureless twigs on your family tree: "Just a housewife and mother," or "worked at [name of a factory] for 50 years and retired in [date]"?

Terry Lehr's presentation will introduce some considerations about events that happened a century ago, which could yield shape, color, texture, and perhaps a few blemishes, that may evolve into a more interesting chapter in your family's history. These ideas can give your simple pieces of data a breath of life from the past.

About our presenter:

Theresa K. Lehr was born and brought up in Cortland, NY. After earning her B.A. in English, Theresa taught Junior High School English. She took a few years off to raise her children, two daughters and a son, and then took positions as Library Aide and substitute Librarian. In the 1980’s, Theresa once again found herself teaching Junior High English. During the 1990’s, Theresa earned Master of Arts degrees in English and history, both from SUNY College at Brockport. She served as Assistant Curator, BakerCederberg Museum and Archives at Rochester General Hospital from 1990-97. Theresa retired from her full-time position as Administrative Assistant and Lecturer, Department of English, SUNY Brockport in 2011, a position she had held since 1998.

Theresa is the author of several books, among them: Emerging Leader: the Letters of Carter Van Vleck to His Wife, Patty, 1862-1864; Lighting the Way: A History of the First One Hundred Years of St. John’s Home; Let the Art of Medicine Flourish: The Centennial History of the Rochester Academy of Medicine and The Great Tonsil “Massacre”.

September 22, 2018 1:00-4:00pm

Holly Sammons and Barbara Scheibel will discuss the Family Search Digitization Project at Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL). There will be a panel discussion with Holly and Barbara, along with two members of the Family Search scanning project. The panel will discuss the history and background of the Family Search partnership with OCPL. Use of the Family Search website will be demonstrated. The wider scanning project will be discussed, and the Family Search volunteers will discuss the process of scanning an entire book. The panel will also share information on what is new at Family Search.

October 27, 2018 Full-Day Conference, 9am - 4pm

Presenter: Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

Problems and Pitfalls of Reasonably Shallow Research

Learn what common problems to watch for in conducting research such as handwriting, spelling, inaccurate information, and the remedies to overcome them.

Show Me the Carfax

Ever run across family trees, information and pedigree charts online and wonder "where did they find that information?" Documenting facts is important to communicating how reliable the information is. Just as when buying a used car we want to see the "Carfax," good genealogy needs documentation. Without documentation we may end up with a "lemon" or "crash" into a "brick wall."

12:00-1:15pm Lunch: Bring your own and network with fellow attendees, or visit a local restaurant.

Write as you go!

Learn how to be an efficient researcher by using the writing process as a vehicle to drive research and not as a separate activity. Attendees will be encouraged to begin the writing process before they ever look at a research record as a tool for organization and analysis. It starts out using the same general principles as "The Dreaded Research Report" but goes through how to practically apply them to build a report, along with advice and time-saving tips. Choosing the appropriate report style for the project data and goals and building the report segment by segment is demonstrated.

Twenty Years of Stuff: Now What Do I Do?

Have piles of documents and loads of information, photographs, and artifacts? Organization, preservation of what is essential, and publication of the family history will be discussed as well as consideration of the collection's final disposal.

About our presenter:

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, a western Pennsylvania researcher, is a Trustee for the Board for Certification of Genealogists; an instructor for Boston University's on campus and online Genealogical Research Certificate courses; coordinator for the Professional Genealogy Course at the Samford University's Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research and an instructor for Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. She is co-director of the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP). She is a regional and national speaker on methodology, Pennsylvania records, professional development, and society management.

November 17, 2018 1:00-4:00pm

A Soldier's Story from World War I, presented by Barbara Leiger Granato

In 1992 when my grandmother passed away, I found an old cardboard carnation box in her attic. When I opened it, I discovered that it was filled with letters and postcards from her brother that he had written while serving in World War 1. Hear an account of his life and some of the experiences he encountered while serving as a Bugler in the Army during World War 1.

Following this lecture Barbara will talk about "What Can You Learn From Genealogy" where she will share some interesting things she learned about her ancestors!

About the Presenter:

Barbara Leiger Granato is an avid genealogy researcher and is currently serving as the Registrar for Oneida Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution based in Utica, New York. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, and several other genealogy organizations. She teaches a Beginning Genealogy class at Mohawk Valley Community College, and serves on the Board of the Oneida County History Center in Utica. CNYGS

Click here to see a listing of our past meetings.

Board Meetings

CNYGS Board Meetings are open to the public; we invite your input and ideas. Of course, as an all-volunteer board, we may also encourage your participation.

Our board meetings are presently scheduled for the following dates, at the same location (see below) as our general meetings, from 10:00am to Noon.

  • March 24, 2018
  • May 20, 2018
  • September 22, 2018
  • November 17, 2018

2019 Meeting Dates are as follows:

  • March 23, 2019
  • April 27, 2019
  • May 18, 2019
  • Sep 21, 2019
  • Oct 19, 2019
  • Nov 16, 2019

Location of our Meetings

Our program meetings are held at the Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church at 5299 Jamesville Road, DeWitt, New York, unless otherwise noted. We thank them greatly for sharing this wonderful facility with our members and guests.


from the south - take I-481 North to exit 2, Jamesville; turn left on Jamesville Rd; go 1.1 mi; church is on the left

from the north - take I-481 South from either the Thruway or I-690, or from the northern suburbs to exit 3W DeWitt. Merge onto E. Genesee St. (route 5) heading west. First light is Erie Blvd, next light is Jamesville Rd. Turn left on Jamesville Rd. and go about 3/4 mile. Church is on the right directly across from the Manlius Pebble Hill School.

Please park in the south parking lot.

Central New York Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 104, Colvin Station, Syracuse, New York 13205-0104
Contact us at: cnygs@yahoo.com

© 2017 Central New York Genealogical Society