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.

We will be posting our 2018 schedule shortly, in the meantime, here is our 2017 schedule


January 28, 2017 Full Day Conference

Special DNA Program with Blaine Bettinger, author of the popular Genetic Genealogist blog. Free for CNYGS members. $15 for non-members.

9:30 - 10:30am - Begging for Spit

One of the biggest challenges facing genealogists is asking family members and non-genealogists to undergo DNA testing. Together we’ll examine novel and interactive ways to encourage participation by making these individuals stakeholders in DNA testing.

10:30 - 12pm - Using Autosomal DNA to Explore Your Ancestry

Although DNA testing companies provide their own analysis of test results, there are third-party tools that allow test-takers to learn even more about their genomic heritage, including admixture calculators and the identification of genetic cousins. Together we’ll explore some of these tools and learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

1:15 - 2:45pm - Using Third-Party Tools to Analyze Your Autosomal DNA

Although DNA testing companies provide their own analysis of test results, there are third-party tools that allow test-takers to learn even more about their genomic heritage, including admixture calculators and the identification of genetic cousins. Together we’ll explore some of these tools and learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

2:45 - 4pm - Genetic Genealogy Year in Review

New tools, techniques, and tricks for genetic genealogists are always being created and developed. This lecture examines the very latest developments in the field and helps you understand how these new tools can be incorporated into your research.

March 18, 2017 1:00 - 4:00pm

1:15 - 2:45pm - The Military Tract – Revolutionary War Bounty Land in Central New York presented by Skip Duett, author of the popular Upstate New York Roots blog.

New York State awarded Revolutionary War bounty land in the Military Tract in Central New York. Comprising 1,680,000 acres, it covered all of the present day counties of Onondaga, Cortland, Cayuga, and Seneca and parts of Oswego, Tompkins, Schuyler and Wayne counties. This military bounty land opened up Central New York to white settlement and left an enduring system of land designation that survives today. Your New York Revolutionary War soldier may be identified in Military Tract documents. Understanding NYS bounty lands can help you make sense of land transaction in the region regardless of when your ancestors lived there.

3:00 - 4:00pm - A brick wall roundtable discussion with Skip Duett, Janeen Bjork and CNYGS members will follow Mr. Duett’s presentation.

Breaking through Brick Walls, One Brick at a Time presented by Janeen Bjork

Janeen will give a quick lesson on OCR (optical character recognition), the technology that allows scanned newspapers to be indexed and searched online. You’ll learn how to get around the limitations of OCR to unearth hard-to-find items.

Janeen will share the methods she used to break through the brick walls for her toughest genealogy commission - multiple generations of O'Briens, starting in County Cork, Ireland and continuing to Monroe, Orleans and Onondaga counties.

About our presenters:

Skip Duett, professional genealogist and author (Mohawk Valley Ehles and Allied Families), serves on the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society Family History Advisory Committee and is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, New England Historic Genealogical Society, National Genealogical Society, and CNYGS. He is actively involved in the newly-formed CNYGS DNA Interest Group. Skip has been researching his own family in New York for over 20 years and has been accepting clients since 2013.

Janeen Bjork, raised in DeWitt, NY, has been mining online newspapers for family history and teaching others how to do the same for the last five years in Connecticut and New York. Ms. Bjork’s professional life includes 30 years as a television researcher, programmer and consultant. Her sister-in-law recruited her to genealogy, explaining, "You are going to do this for your niece and nephew." Bjork put her detective, analytic and presentation skills to work on a dynamic tree that included over 100 years of family photos and over 150 years of newspaper stories for her young audience. The professional researcher has found thousands of family stories and items online that range from the mundane to the sensational.

April 22, 2017 Full Day Conference

Pamela Vittorio, a professional genealogist, will present.

9:00 - 10:30am - Bust Walls or Break Ground: Tips & Techniques for Solving Genealogical Problems in the mid-1800s

In this presentation, we look at some sources in print and online that may help with 19th century brick walls, and some research strategies. Tips and techniques also include deciphering names, handwriting tips, and evaluating 19th-century photos. The presenter will be doing some “on the spot” searches for the audience.

10:30am - 12:00pm - Early Irish Immigrants to Canada & the U.S.: The Peter Robinson Settlers (1823 & 1825)

In the early 19th century, the Ottawa Valley in Canada became a center of “resettlement” for over 2,000 impoverished Irish families, mainly from County Cork, Ireland. Find out more on how and where to search for your Irish ancestors who may have come from Ireland to Canada, and perhaps later, to northern NY State.

12:00 - 1:15pm - Lunch: bring your own, or visit a local restaurant.

1:15 - 2:45pm - The U.S. Sanitary Records: Tracing Women's Roles During the Civil War

The U.S. Sanitary Commission Records contain many documents from the Women’s Central Association of Relief (WCAR)– often called, The Union’s ‘Other Army.’ Records from the WCAR and the Women’s Relief Association are housed at the NY Public Library and the Brooklyn Historical Society. These records contain diaries, donor lists, scrapbooks, subscription lists, and other documents vital to discovering more on women’s roles during the Civil War.

2:34 - 4:00pm - Was Your (Great) Grandma a Suffragette? Records for the Women's Rights Movement: 1848-1920

This workshop provides a brief background and strategies/tips on how to find records pertaining to women’s suffrage from the 19th and early 20th centuries, such as scrapbooks and membership lists, and repositories where these documents might be found.

About the presenter:

Pamela Vittorio is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Dept. of English Language Studies at the New School University in NYC but hails from central New York. She refined her methodologies and research skills in an interdisciplinary MA/Ph.D. program in Near Eastern Literature, Languages, and History at NYU. Current interest and specialty areas include U.S. and Canadian history/genealogy, the Civil War, Revolutionary War-Loyalists, Woman Suffrage, and North American Canals (Erie Canal). Currently, she is a member of the Board of Trustees and the editor of From the Boatyard newsletter at Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum. Pamela received a certificate from Boston University's Genealogical Research Certificate program and is a member of APG, CNYGS, NEHG, NYG&BS, NGS, Ontario Genealogical Society, and several other genealogical and historical societies in the U.S. and Canada.

May 20, 2017 1:00 - 4:00pm

Dennis Hogan, family genealogist since 1977 will present.

1:00 - 2:30pm - Maximizing the Benefits of Family Search

Familysearch.org is a great resource for genealogists (and it's FREE). An overview of its features will be discussed. We will investigate the site's manys "nooks and crannies. Tips, tricks, and shortcuts will be presented to help you maximize the benefits from using FamilySearch.

2:45 - 4:00pm - Irish Genealogy

Researching your Irish Ancestors can be challenging, especially if you are not sure of where in Ireland your family resided. Before venturing into Irish records, it is important that you do a thorough search in US records (or whatever country they immigrated to). Develop a body of knowledge about the immigrant in the new country and their spouse, children, siblings, and parents. We will also discuss the current state of Irish records and how to approach them.

About our presenter:

Mr. Hogan is a full-time professional genealogist specializing in Irish and New York State genealogy. A family genealogist since 1977, Mr. Hogan began speaking on Irish genealogy in 2003. All eight of his great-grandparents emigrated from Ireland and settled in or near Ontario County, New York. Dennis grew up on a farm in Gorham, NY, near the former homes of his Irish immigrant great-grandparents. Mr. Hogan is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the National Genealogical Society, the Irish American Cultural Institute and the Ontario County Genealogical Society. Currently, Dennis serves as the historian for the Town of Gorham, the Webmaster for the Town of Gorham Historical Society, and he is the VP and coordinator of the Rochester Genealogical Society’s Computer Interest Group.

Please Note: the location for this meeting will be the Northminister Presbyterian Church, 7444 Buckley Rd, North Syracuse, NY 13212.

September 16, 2017 1:00 - 4:00pm

Author David Kendall will give a presentation on his book “When Descendants Become Ancestors: The Flip Side of Genealogy”. Afterward, there will be break-out workshops to allow attendees to start writing some of their own family legacy.

“From the moment of birth, each of us begins a journey that must ultimately conclude with our entrance into ancestry. Perhaps you remember a time when an older acquaintance wanted to share with you some stories about the good old days, but you couldn’t be bothered. Most of us have had regrets like these, as will our descendants—unless we seek to record and preserve some stories for their use. Whether our stories are short and simple or long and complex matters not, but these stories will become part of their heritage and can certainly influence their lives…,”.
(Excerpt from “Growing up in the 1000 Islands highlighted in local author’s book”, By Pamela McDowell, Staff Writer, Thousand Island Sun newspaper, October 15, 2014.)

About our presenter:
Dave Kendall’s roots are in Grindstone Island and Clayton. A 1955 graduate of Clayton Central, he returned to teach at the same school following four years at Cornell University. After a short stint in the military, he received a Master’s degree from St. Lawrence University and a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. He then taught for 30 years in the graduate school at SUNY Brockport, retiring in 1998 and returning to the Thousand Islands. His recently published book, When Descendants Become Ancestors: The Flip Side of Genealogy, contains a synopsis and several short stories about his life experiences, and implores everyone to preserve their stories, citing the significance of each individual in teaching future generations.

October 20 -21, 2017 Full Day Conference

Jane E. Wilcox, professional genealogist and presentor of the popular podcast The Forget-Me-Not Hour, will be presenting this full day conference.

Jane will offer half hour consultations at Panara Bread in Fayetteville on Friday, October 20. For details and registration please visit eventbrite.

Saturday, Oct 21, 9:00 - 10:30am - Up the North River: An Overview of Pre-1800 Hudson Valley Ethnic Groups and Religions
The Hudson (North) River valley was an ethnic and religious melting pot long before the late nineteenth century immigrant influx. Find out who was in New York in the beginning. You will be surprised!

10:30am - 12:00pm - A Tale of Woe: An Eighteenth Century Woman's Story Using Original and Authored Sources
Margaret Wilcockson’s story has been published inaccurately and incompletely. This case study demonstrates how historical context, the law, and published research errors impact a story. See how a 1714 Connecticut unwed mother’s life unfolds with original and authored sources. Women’s rights under the law are featured.

12:00 - 1:15pm Lunch: bring your own, or visit a local restaurant.

1:15 - 2:45pm - Looking for Your New York Tenant Farmer: Little-used Resources
Documents for New York manors and their tenants have survived. Learn how and where to look for your tenant ancestors in these and other records, such as court and tax records. See examples for using the records in your research.

2:45 - 4:00pm - A Tour of New York State Genealogical Research Repositories: The Best - Part 1
Explore the unique research resources and collections that are held by libraries, county archives, town historians, and historical and genealogical societies in New York State (not including Long Island, NYC and Albany). Among those featured are the Folklife Center at the Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, Warren County; the Genesee County History Department in Batavia; the Rhinebeck Town Historian at the Starr Library in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County; the Western New York Genealogical Society at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library in Buffalo; and the Onondaga County Public Library Local History and Genealogy Department in Syracuse. You’ll learn research ideas for any repository as well.

About our presenter:
Jane Wilcox, professional genealogist, author and historian, began researching her own family at a very young age. She has been doing genealogy professionally for more than a decade. Jane is a contributing editor of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Record and member of the NY State Archives Advisory Committee. Jane holds a master’s degree in journalism and undergraduate degree in American history and English literature. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the National Genealogical Society, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, and many others. About

November 18, 2017 1:00 - 4:00pm

Laine Gilmore, professional genealogical researcher and writer, presents

1:00 - 2:30pm The Power of Land Records in Genealogical Research.

The main goal in understanding land records is to put your ancestor in a certain place and time. But sometimes, land records can be a wealth of information to determine who other family members were, or using the concept of “cluster genealogy”, to find out who the neighbors were. Land records can often name family members and their relationships and could possibly tear down that brick wall you’ve had for so long. This lecture will present an overview of different types of land transactions, such as state land states, federal land states, homestead records, bounty land records and others. We will discuss where to find each type of record and what “genealogical gems” can be found in those records. We will also discuss techniques for plotting your land of interest, finding historical maps and learning about online and computer tools to help you analyze and locate land.

2:30 - 4:00pm There’s a Society for That!!!???

We join societies for many reasons: documenting an ancestor who is not yet in the system, showing our patriotism, volunteer opportunities, and certifying our lineage.

In this lecture, you will learn about different types of societies, the ways in which to document your ancestors, and how to evaluate your evidence to be sure it is acceptable to the registrar.

About the presenter:
Laine Gilmore, owner of Laine Gilmore Genealogical Research Services in Central New York, received her certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in 2010. Laine has certificates from the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh in Advanced Land Research, Finding and Documenting African American Families, Problem Solving with Church Records, and Mastering Genealogical Documentation. In addition to local genealogical societies, her memberships include the National Genealogical Society, New England Historic Genealogical Society and the Association of Professional Genealogists. Laine works with clients both locally and nationally, is editor of “Hills and Hollows” (Erieville - Nelson Heritage Society publication) and has done client research for the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s Newberry Press as well as Genealogist.com. She specializes in both archival and internet family history research, lineage society applications, project management and educational workshops and methodology applications for written family histories. Laine is also co-historian for the Town of Nelson, Madison County.

Click here for a flyer of the 2017 meetings.

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 18, 2017
  • May 20, 2017
  • September 16, 2017
  • November 18, 2016

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