Trying to find nineteenth-century vital records in upstate New York can be a
frustrating experience. Fortunately, we have an ally in Gertrude Audrey Barber
who made it her life’s work to transcribe vital records information from
different sources in various counties in New York State. Beginning in the late
1920s and continuing for nearly 40 years, Barber painstakingly transcribed many
kinds of nineteenth-century records useful to genealogists. Using original
county court records she prepared extracts of deeds and abstracts of wills. She
made transcriptions of church records and visited cemeteries to copy gravestone
inscriptions. She extracted marriage and death notices from local newspapers.
In this article we look at how upstate New York researchers could benefit from
the legacy left by Gertrude Barber. The type of information she transcribed for
each county and the time period covered are listed below. Suggestions are
included for accessing the information since these typewritten transcriptions
were not published in book form. Little information is readily available about
this woman who worked for so long for the benefit of New York State genealogy.
Her obituary in the New York Times of December 17, 1974, reads simply:
"Barber — Gertrude A., Genealogist, Widow of Williard Barber, died suddenly,
Dec. 12, at age 83. Interment private."Wills
Gertrude Barber prepared abstracts and/or an index of wills for the following
counties: Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Greene,
Monroe, Oneida, Otsego, Rockland, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Tioga,
Tompkins, Warren, and Washington. Many of these transcriptions are in several
volumes and include surname indexes. A more complete listing is in the summary
table at the end of this article. The description of her abstracts of wills for
Columbia County, which was published in The New York Genealogical and
Biographical Record (Vol. LXVII, 1936, page 190), will serve to illustrate
what is contained in this collection. “An indexed abstract of wills is always a
most helpful publication for genealogists. It is the names mentioned in the
will, rather than the names of the testators themselves, of which the searcher
desires to be made aware. The author has here made the first of such
compilations, concerning Columbia County, available to the public. The wills
have been completely abstracted and thoroughly indexed. Fifty pages of the
manuscript set forth the abstracts of the will and nearly as many pages are
taken up with the valuable index. Genealogical libraries collecting manuscript
material should have this one in their files.”
Church and Cemetery Records
Barber’s transcriptions of church records consist of extracts of birth,
baptism, marriage, or death information. Individual churches are listed under
each county in the table below. Although other counties are represented,
Sullivan County predominates in her transcriptions of church records. (Those
seeking early church records are reminded of the previous column concerning the
Barber’s efforts in copying tombstone inscriptions are especially valuable.
As tombstones weather over time, these original records become increasingly
illegible and transcriptions are all we have left. Information was collected
from cemeteries in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Columbia, Erie, Orange,
Otsego, Rockland, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Wyoming counties. Individual
cemeteries are listed by county in the table. Some of these items are quite
extensive, such as “Gravestone Inscriptions in Columbia County, New York.” It
occupies 12 volumes and was released in stages from 1935 to 1941. (The finding
aid “The Association of Municipal Historians of New York State Name/Location
Survey Project 1995–1997,” the subject of a previous article, may be helpful in
locating these cemeteries.)
Collections of vital records extracted from newspapers include such items as
“Deaths and Marriages taken from Cayuga County, N.Y. newspapers, 1825–1834” and
“Marriages and deaths taken from the Delaware Gazette at Delhi, Delaware
County, N.Y.” This newspaper was apparently published weekly. Issues with no
marriages are entered with “none” rather than skipped, an indication of the
author’s care taken to produce complete, reliable results. Several more
examples are included in the table. (An even more extensive collection of vital
records extracted from early newspapers may be found in the work of Fred Q.
Bowman, the subject of a previous article.)
Accessing the Collection
Barber’s typewritten transcriptions were usually deposited in the library of
the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society in New York City. Members of
the “G&B” will find her work there. Most have been microfilmed and today
are available at many major genealogical libraries.
NEHGS lists 30 items in its catalog, including some relating to downstate
counties not included here. Of these, 25 are listed in the Circulating Library
catalog, making them readily available to members. Her transcriptions of
marriage and death notices from the New York Evening Post, 1801–1890
are among the searchable databases available on the Society’s website.
The New York
State Archives at Albany lists 120 items authored by Gertrude Barber – a
very complete collection. The Archives participates in the national
inter-library loan network, which allows researchers to borrow microfilm for use
in their own public library. Similarly, the Family History Library catalog lists 119 entries, including many
microfilms that may be borrowed for use at local Family History Centers. The online catalog of
the National Library of the National Society of the Daughters of the American
Revolution in Washington, D. C. contains 39 entries.
Public libraries in upstate New York may hold some of this material. Results
will vary. The public library for Monroe County, in Rochester, New York, lists
48 items authored by Gertrude Barber. However, the online catalog for all 50 of
the public libraries in the Southern Tier Library system lists none.
The following table lists works related to 21 upstate counties including,
when known, the time period covered for each item. For cemetery transcripts the
date of publication is given. The table below, while extensive, is far from a
complete record of the work of Mrs. Barber.
Transcriptions Compiled by
Gertrude Barber Relevant to Upstate New York
Cemetery records of Allegany County, New York.
Cattaraugus County, N. Y., cemeteries.
Cemetery near Yorkshire Corners, Cattaraugus County, New York and Maple Grove
cemetery, town of Freedom, Cattaraugus County, New York.
Gravestone inscriptions in Cattaraugus County, New York: including cemeteries
in the towns of Freedom, Franklinville and Yorkshire.
Gravestone inscriptions of Cadiz cemetery, town of Franklinville; Sugartown
cemetery, town of Franklinville; Delevan cemetery, town of Yorkshire;
Cattaraugus County, N.Y.
Silome cemetery in the town of Freedom, Cattaraugus County, New York and
Farmersville Center cemetery, in the town of Farmersville Center, Cattaraugus
County, New York.
Abstracts of wills of Cayuga County, New York, 1799–1842. Volumes 1–4.
Includes indexes after each volume.
Cayuga County, New York, deaths and marriages taken from Cayuga County, N.Y.
Gravestone inscriptions of Chautauqua Cemetery, Chautauqua, N.Y., published
Abstracts of wills of Chemung County, N.Y. from 1836–1850. Copied from the
original records at the Surrogate’s Office, Elmira, N.Y., 1941. Includes
Index to wills of Chenango County, New York, from 1797–1875.
Abstract of wills of Columbia County, New York, 1796–1851, 8
Gravestone inscriptions in Columbia County, New York, published 1935–41, 12
Abstracts of wills of Delaware County, N.Y., 1796–1875.
1855 census of Delaware County, New York. Lists name, age, state or area of
birth, and occupation, with index.
Deaths, 1819–1879, copied from Delhi Gazette, published at Delhi,
Delaware County, N. Y.
Index of wills, Delaware County, New York, from 1797–1885.
Letters of administration of Delaware County, New York: copied from the
original records at the court house, Delhi, N.Y., v. 1 1797–1844, v. 2
1844–1863, v. 3 1863–1874, v. 4 1874–1875.
Marriage and deaths taken from the Delaware Gazette at Delhi, Delaware
County, N.Y., listed chronologically, with an index. Index does not include
Gravestone inscriptions from cemeteries in Erie County, New York, published
Monroe County, New York abstracts of wills: copied from the original records
at Rochester, New York, v. 1, 1821–1841, v. 2, 1841–1847.
Abstracts of wills, of Oneida County, N.Y., 1798–1848. v. 1, 1798–1822, v. 2,
1822–1832, v. 3, 1832–1839, v 4, 1840–1843, v. 5, 1843–1847, v. 6,
Records of the Congregational Church at New Haven, Oswego County, N.Y.
Includes baptisms, 1821–1850, deaths, 1817–1850, and members,
Abstracts of wills of Otsego County, New York, five volumes: 1794–1824,
1817–1829, 1829–1838, 1837–1845, 1845–1850.
A collection of abstracts from Otsego County, New York, newspaper obituaries,
Deaths taken from the Otsego Herald and Western Advertiser and
Freeman's Journal, Otsego County, N.Y., newspapers,
Index of wills of Otsego County, New York, from 1792–1850.
Inscriptions from the Lake View Cemetery at Richfield Springs, Otsego County,
N.Y., Published 1930. Names not arranged alphabetically, probably in order of
location. With index.
Marriages taken from the Otsego Herald and Western Advertiser
and Freeman's Journal, Otsego County, N. Y., newspapers from
Record of births and baptisms, 1797–1827: kept by Daniel Nash, Christ Church,
Cooperstown, Otsego County, N.Y.
Tombstone inscriptions in the Catholic Cemetery at Richfield Springs, N.Y.
and also in the Exeter Cemetery at Exeter, N.Y.: both located in Otsego County,
N.Y. Published 1931.
Abstracts of wills of Schenectady County, N.Y.: copied from the original
records at the court house, Schenectady, N.Y. Three volumes, each with
Abstracts of wills, letters of administration, letters of guardianship, of
Schoharie County, New York, from 1795–1863.
Schoharie County, New York, cemetery records, 7 vol., published
Sullivan Co., New York cemetery records: Wurtsboro, Bridgeville, Bethel,
Hurd, Swan Lake, Brooke-Side & Harris, Fallsburgh-Never-Sink. (no
Sullivan County, New York, gravestone inscriptions, 10 vol., published
Bloomingburgh Cemetery, Bloomingburgh, Sullivan County, N.Y., published
The church record of the Kenoza Lake Charge of the Methodist Episcopal
Church: Heard Settlement - Foster - Dale - Jeffersonville - Youngsville - Pike
Pond, now known as Kenoza Lake; all in Sullivan County, N. Y.
Church records of various places in Sullivan County, New York.
Cemetery, Ferndale, N.Y., and Old Fallsburg (Palen's) Cemetery, Fallsburg,
N.Y. All located in Sullivan Co., N.Y.
Index of wills, Sullivan County, New York, 1876–1909.
Index to records of the Presbyterian Church, Monticello, Sullivan County, New
Records of consistory of the Union Tabernacle Reformed Church, Unionville,
Sullivan County, N. Y.
Records of the Associated Reformed Church of Mongaup Valley, Sullivan County,
N. Y.: membership records; baptisms, 1830–1919; marriages, 1831–1919. This
Church was abandoned in 1927.
Records of the Barryville Congregational Church of Barryville, Sullivan
County, New York, 1836–1927.
Records of the Dutch Reformed congregation of Mamakting, later known as the
Dutch Reformed Church of Wurtsboro (Rome), Sullivan County, New
Records of the First Congregational Church in the town of Lumberland,
Sullivan County, New York: formerly known as the First Presbyterian
Congregational Church of Narrow Falls and also as the Narrow Falls and
Records of the First Presbyterian Church at White Lake, Old Newburgh,
Cochecton, Sullivan County, New York.
Records of the Free Methodist Church, Ferndale, Sullivan County, N.
Records of the Methodist Episcopal and the Baptist Church of Sullivan County,
Records of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Monticello, Sullivan County, N.
Records of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Rock Hill, Sullivan County, N.Y.:
baptisms, 1884–1892; marriages, 1883–1893; membership records.
Records of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Sandburgh, Sullivan County, N.Y.:
baptisms, 1863–1880; marriages, 1863–1882; membership records.
Records of the Presbyterian Church of Cochecton, Sullivan County, New
Records of the Presbyterian Church, Monticello, Sullivan County, New
Records of the Reformed Dutch Church, Grahamsville, Sullivan County N.Y.:
baptisms, 1845–1905; membership records; marriages, 1844–1888.
Records of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Bloomingburg, Sullivan
Records of the White Lake Presbyterian Church, Bethel, Sullivan County, New
Cemetery inscriptions, Sullivan County, New York, published
Abstracts of wills of Tioga County, N.Y., from 1799–1847.
Abstracts of wills of Tompkins County, N.Y., from 1817–1833.
Abstracts of wills of Warren County, New York: book A,
Extracts of deeds of Warren County, NY from 1813–1825, copied from the
original records at the Court House at Lake George, N.Y.
Abstracts of wills of Washington County, New York, v. 1, 1786–1806; v. 2,
1806–1814; v. 3, 1814–1825.
Index of wills of Washington County, New York: from 1825–1890.
Gravestone inscriptions of Wyoming County, N.Y.: including cemeteries in
Sheldon and Bennington, N.Y., published 1933.
Gravestone inscriptions of Wyoming County, N.Y.: including cemeteries in
Silver Springs, Hermitage and Genesee Falls, published 1932.
Prospect Hill cemetery at Arcade, Wyoming Co., N.Y., published
Tombstone inscriptions from cemeteries located in Wyoming County, New
York. Includes index. Published 1931.