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This page describes sources of genealogical data about Rensselaer County, New York families, including links to smaller localities in the county. New York-related pages show useful statewide sources. United States pages explain the terminology and contents of genealogical records.

Rensselaer County, New York
Map
Map of New York highlighting Rensselaer County
Location in the state of New York
Map of the U.S. highlighting New York
Location of New York in the U.S.
Facts
Founded 1791
Parent County Albany County[1]
County Seat Troy
Courthouse
Ny-rensselaer-ch.jpg
Address 80 Second Street,
Troy, NY 12180
Rensselaer County Website

Contents

Historical Facts

Parent County

Rensselaer County was organized from Albany County in 1791.[1]

Neighboring Counties

Albany · Columbia · Greene · Saratoga · Washington · Massachusetts county: Berkshire · Vermont county: Bennington[2]

Boundary Changes

Record Loss

Resources

Bible Records

  • 1581–1917 New York, Family Bible Records at Ancestry– ($); Index. Database is a collection of genealogically important records taken from the Bibles of colony and state residents. Reveals the Bible's original owner, brief record of descendants,and a particular event such as birth or marriage as recorded in Bible.

Biography

Business Records and Commerce

Cemeteries

Cemetery records often reveal birth, death, relationship, military, and religious information.

Online Grave Transcripts Published Grave Transcripts County Cemetery Directories
Findagrave.com* Family History Library* Findagrave.com*
Interment.net* WorldCat* Tombstone Transcription Project*
Cemetery Site*   NYGenWeb Cemeteries*
New York Gravestones*   epodunk*
NYGenWeb Cemeteries*   Billion Graves*
Billion Graves*   Names in Stone*
Names in Stone*    
Linkpendium*    
Ancestry*    
Albany Diocese Catholic Cemeteries    
   *See the New York Cemeteries page for details about each site.

The Rensselaer County Cemetery Name Extraction Project directed by Don and Clare Radz started in 1991. Data from headstones throughout the county was collected by volunteers. More than 600 cemeteries in 14 towns of rural Rensselaer County were surveyed, resulting in 93,274 names being recorded. Data was entered into a computer then compiled into books for each town. The records are online at Rensselaer County Cemetery Database. The cities of Troy and Rensselaer are not included in this database.

The Albany New York Family History Center has copies of the Rensselaer County rural cemetery records on microfilm.

Microfilms of rural cemetery records include the name (in alphabetical order by cemetery), location of grave, date of birth, date of death, and age at death.

Individual cemeteries in Rensselaer County:

Census

For information and tips on using and accessing online census records, see New York Census.

Federal

U.S. Census Mortality Schedules for New York, 1850-1880:

  • Available online at Ancestry ($).
  • Deaths are included for the 12 months prior to the census, 1849-50, 1859-60, 1869-70, and 1879-80 beginning 1 June and ending 31 May of the census year.[3]
  • Basic contents of the records include: Name, sex, age, color, marital status, place of birth, month of death, occupation, and cause of death. 1870 also has parents' birthplace. 1880 lists how long a resident of the county.
  • Also on FHL Films 1415128–42 which can be ordered through any Family History Center.
State
Source 1825 1835 1845 1855 1865 1875 1892 1905 1915 1925
Family History Library - - - Yes Yes Yes - Yes Yes Yes
FamilySearch Historical Records - - - - Yes Yes - Yes - -
New York State Library - - - Yes Yes Yes - Yes  Yes Yes
Ancestry.com - - - - - - - - - -

New York State 1865 and 1875 Census Marriage, Mortality; and 1865 Soldier Mortality records:

  • Images available online at New York State Census, 1865 and New York State Census, 1875. Click on the link to go to the page, then click on the ‘Browse through images’ link and select your county, then select an ancestor's town and browse to the end of the population schedule until you find the Marriage, Mortality, and 1865 soldier mortality schedules.
  • Includes marriages and deaths for the 12 months prior to the census, ending 1 June of the census year.
  • Marriage entry content: Husband's name, wife's name, ages and previous marital status, month and day and place of marriage, and church or civil ceremony.
  • Death entry content: Name, age, sex, color, marital status, month and day of death, native state or country, occupation and cause of death.
  • 1865 deaths of officers and enlisted men entry content: Name, age, marital status, citizenship status, enlistment date, original regiment, original rank, regiment at death, rank at death, promotions, death date and place, manner of death, surviving associates, and burial place.
  • Also on microfilm. See the Family History Library line in the above State Census Chart. These can be ordered through any Family History Center.

Church Records

Church records are good substitutes for birth, marriage, and death information and are most often found on a local city/town or county level.  Published and manuscript church records can be found at public, university, and private libraries.

For a brief general history of denominations and a guide to finding various New York denomination's records, see New York Church Records Wiki page.

Ann Mensch's Local Catholic Church and Family History & Genealogical Research Guide is a free online resource that identifies the parishes of Rensselaer County, years parishes were created, contact information, as well as links to online records and research tips. Rensselaer County parishes fall under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Albany.

A large number of local church records have been transcribed as part of the NYGenWeb Project. Faiths represented include: Baptist, Catholic, Dutch Reformed, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed Protestant, and Society of Friends.

Additional Church Records

Additional church records can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Rensselaer County, New York Church Records  in online catalogs like:

Court Records

Ancestors may have also been involved in municipal, state, or federal court cases. See also New York Court Records and United States Court Records.

Crime and Criminals

Directories

Ethnic, Political, or Religious Groups

Gazetteers

Genealogy

  • Rootsweb message board for Rensselaer County, New York has many information threads about families that resided in that county. There is a search engine that allows you to search by surname and topic.

History

The county had partial settlements at a very early period of [early American] history, and has long sustained a very considerable population. The whole of the county, except the towns of Schaghticoke, Pittstown, Hoosick, and north part of Lansingburg and part of Troy, is comprised within the Rensselaerwyck patent, leased under the ordinary rent, in farms, at ten bushels of wheat the hundred acres. The county contains 13 towns and the city of Troy. [4]

Land and Property

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.

See New York Land and Property for more details, especially about the papers generated in New York State by large speculative land companies.

Original land records in Rensselaer County, New York began in [?dateyear?]. These records are housed at the [?repository?] in [?town?].

Online

Microforms

Books

Additional land records can sometimes be found using these catalogs:

Additional resources

Additional resources for Rensselaer County, New York land records may be found in the Rensselaer County, New York – Land Records topic page of the FamilySearch Catalog . Copies of records on FHL microfilm and microfiche can be ordered for viewing at Family History Centers. Copies of books found in the FamilySearch Catalog may be found in WorldCat catalog and ordered from your local library through interlibrary loan. Explore how to search the FamilySearch Catalog and the Worldcat Online Catalog.

Maps

Migration

Early migration routes to and from Rensselaer County for European settlers included:[5]

Migration

Military

Civil War

Town registers. The New York town clerks kept a bound register of all soldiers from their town serving in the Civil War 1861-1865. Registers are arranged by county, and town. Some town registers are missing. The registers include an index at the start of each town.

Content. Many register entries include full name, residence, date and place of birth, parents names, marital status, date of enlistment and muster and rank, discharges, death, or promotion.

Access. The original registers are at the New York State Archives in Albany, New York. Microfilm copies are found at the Family History Library (FHL Film 1993401-37) and can be ordered for viewing at your local Family History Center. They are also indexed and available at Ancestry.com ($).

Available towns. Registers are available for: Berlin · Brunswick · East Greenbush · Grafton · Greenbush · Hempstead · Nassau · North Greenbush · Petersburg · Pittstown · Sand Lake · Schodack.

Regiments. Service men from Rensselaer County served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were formed in Rensselaer County:[6]

- 2nd Regiment, New York Infantry
- 3rd Regiment, New York Infantry
- 7th Regiment, New York Veteran Infantry
- 10th Regiment, New York Infantry
- 22nd Regiment, New York Infantry
- 30th Regiment, New York Infantry
- 62nd Regiment, New York Infantry
- 65th Regiment, New York Infantry
- 91st Regiment, New York Infantry
- 93rd Regiment, New York Infantry
- 104th Regiment, New York Infantry
- 125th Regiment, New York Infantry
- 156th Regiment, New York Infantry
- 169th Regiment, New York Infantry
- 175th Regiment, New York Infantry
- 177th Regiment, New York Infantry
- 192nd Regiment, New York Infantry

Naturalization and Citizenship

Newspapers

Obituaries

Periodicals

Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

Probate Records

Probate records including original estates and wills for New York are held in the office of the Rensselaer County, New York County Surrogate Court beginning in 1787, or when the county was formed. Prior to 1787, most are housed at the New York State Archives. See New York Probate Records for more information about using probate records.
Content:  Probate Records may give the decedent's date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their place of residence.
Record types:  Wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distribution.

Probate Petitions

In 1830, state law required the Surrogate Court clerk to issue a probate petition for a deceased individual with property. This petition, unique to New York, usually lists the deceased's death date. It also lists the heirs, their relationship to the deceased, and their residence. [7] [8]

These petitions are often found in the estate files and can be obtained from the Rensselaer County Surrogate Court.
The petitions for Rensselaer County, New York are also available on microfilm at the Family History Library and its centers:

Online Probate Indexes and Abstracts


Online Probate Records

Original county-by-county New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971 are available free online at FamilySearch. To access these records, click Historical Records below, then click "Browse through 1,630,900 images". Then select the county name, and then the probate records and time of interest.

  • Historical Records - Rensselaer County: Accounts 1837-1867; Administration accounts, Executor accounts 1830-1837; Administration bonds 1899-1902; Administration bonds, Guardianship bonds 1890-1902; Bonds 1896-1898; Decrees 1898-1901; Decrees, Judicial settlements 1898-1901; Decrees, Orders 1880-1901; Dower records 1830-1858; Guardianship records 1823-1827; Index 1794-1916; Letters of administration 1897-1902; Letters of administration, Letters of testamentary 1790-1897; Letters of guardianship 1830-1906; Letters of testamentary 1897-1903; Minutes 1815-1903; Orders 1856-1901; Real estate records 1835-1904; Tax records 1887-1902; Will index 1802-1815; Wills 1791-1901; Wills and administrations 1802-1921; Wills and orders 1895-1896

Probate Records on Microfilm
Probate Petitions described above are found on microfilm at the Family History Library as follows:


Additional Probate Indexes and Abstracts

Additional probate indexes or abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Rensselaer County, New York probate wills in online catalogs like:

Repositories

Cornell University, Guide to Historical Resources in Rensselaer County, New York Repositories. ([Ithaca, New York]: New York Historical Resources Center, Olin Library, Cornell University, 1983). At various libraries; FHL Book 974.741 A3g. Includes index. Includes references to some family histories and genealogies.

Archives, Libraries and Museums
Troy Public Library
Troy Room Collection
100 Second St.
Troy, NY 12180

Genealogical resources: Ancestry.com, Heritage Quest Online, Jewish Data, Proquest Obituaries subscriptions. Vital records, newspapers, city directories, censuses, church and cemetery records, published genealogies, immigrant lists, military records, school records, wills, biographies, ethnic research. Free online guide:

Upper Hudson Library System consists of 29 public libraries in the counties of Albany and Rensselaer counties. Each library has access to genealogical databases - especially newspaper sites. Many databases are accessible with your library card from home. A list of the libraries in this system and their website and contact information is found here.

Courthouses

The Rensselaer County Clerk's office has marriage, divorce, court, land and naturalization records. The Surrogate Court has probate records. For further information about where the records for Rensselaer County are held, see the Rensselaer County Courthouses page.

County Clerk

County Clerk
105 Third Street, Troy, NY 12180
Phone: (518) 270-4080
Fax: (518) 271-7998

County Historian

Rensselaer County Historian[10]
%Renssealaer County Historical Society
59 Second Street
Troy, NY 12180
Phone: (518) 272-7232
Fax: (518) 273-1264

Genealogical Resources: The County Historian may provide access to obituaries, vital records, church records, maps, and family files or journals. Some historians provide search services for their office records and others may refer you to local genealogists who research in the area.

Family History Centers

Family History Centers (FHCs) are branches of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and are located all over the world. Their goal is to provide resources for family history research.

The main FHC for Rensselaer County, New York is the Albany New York Family History Center. For additional nearby Family History Centers, search online in the FHC directory.

Societies

Rensselaer County Historical Society
57 Second Street
Troy, NY 12180
Phone: 518-244-6846
Research Library Collection

Capital District Genealogical Society[11]
Empire State Plaza Station
PO Box 2175
Albany, NY 12220-0175

Counties served: Albany, Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, and Washington.
$3 for non-member queries in their newsletter. Monthly meetings. They staff a genealogy support desk at the Town of Colonie Library.

Central New York Genealogical Society[12]
Box 104, Calvin Station
Syracuse, New York 13205
E-mail: CNYSG@yahoo.com

Member queries; surname research list; online resources; six meetings/year; publishes Tree Talks (At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 974.7 B2t) quarterly with annual index.
Counties served: Albany, Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Erie, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Montgomery, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orange, Oreleans, Oswego, Otsego, Rensselaer, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Washington, Wayne, Warren, Wyoming, and Yates.

Social Groups Online

Taxation

Town Records

Town records in New York may include early births, marriages, deaths, divorces, local histories, selected military records, and town meeting minutes. For further details, try the links to individual town Wiki pages found in Places. See also:

  • Gordon L. Remington, New York Towns, Villages, and Cities: A Guide to Genealogical Sources (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2002). NEHGS online edition; At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 974.7 D27r. Alphabetical list including date founded, if a town history exists, church and cemetery sources, and if a Civil War register (TCR) exists.


Vital Records

Vital records of birth, marriage or death were first recorded at the local level in the village clerk, town clerk, or city clerk’s ledger book. If you know where a birth, marriage or death took place, a copy of the certificate or record may be obtained by writing to the town, village or city clerk. See also How to order New York Vital Records or order electronically online.

See the heading Places on this wiki page for links to local community wiki pages and their available records. See New York Vital Records for a discussion about beginning dates and availability of vital records in New York.

Use substitute records for birth, marriage, and death information. These substitute records include Bible Records, Cemeteries, Church Records, Newspapers, and Probate Records.

Birth

Early births were recorded on the town level and the years vary by town. (List of towns) The New York State Department of Health (state level) began recording births in 1881. Births were not recorded on the county level.

Birth Substitutes

  • 1846–1850 Frank Warner Thomas, Vital Records of Rennselaer County, New York–Births, 1846-1850 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1968). ExLibris digital copy - free; FHL film 532618 Item 3.
  • See Town Clerks' Registers of Men who Served in the Civil War in the Civil War section of Military for birth information.
Marriage

Early marriages were sometimes recorded on the town level and the years vary by town. (List of towns) In 1880, town clerks were to record the marriage and a copy was sent to the New York State Department of Health (state level). Town clerks continue to record marriages. Marriages were recorded by the Rensselaer County, New York clerk starting in 1908 and go until 1930s.[13]

  • 1908-1935 Marriage index; vol.1–10 FHL film 549879–81. This index is from the Registrar's Office in Rensselaer County. It is a microreproduction of the manuscript in the County Courthouse.

Marriage Substitutes

  • 1800–1855 New York Marriage Notices at Ancestry– ($); Index. This database is a collection of marriage notices published in newspapers around the state. Contains name of bride and groom, marriage date, marriage location, residence, and newspaper found in.
  • 1846–1850, 1874–1881 Frank Warner Thomas, Vital Records of Rennselaer County, New York–Marriages, 1846-1850, 1874–1881 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1968). FHL film 532618 Item 1.
  • 1864-5, 1874-5 See Marriage Schedule information in the State Census section of Census for marriage information for 1864-5, and 1874-5.

Pre–1787

All divorces were granted by the governor or legislature and were very rare.

1787–1847

All divorces were granted by the court of chancery. These records are found in the New York State Archives or for the New York City area at the New York County Clerk's office.These divorces were granted only on the grounds of adultery.

1847–present

All divorces are handled by the county Supreme Court where the divorce was granted. Divorce files in New York are sealed for 100 years. Contact the County Clerk for information about divorce records.

Divorce judgment papers often include date and place of the marriage and the names and birthdates of any children. Local newspapers may publish notices of divorce actions.

Death

Early deaths were recorded on the town level and the years vary by town. (List of towns) The New York State Department of Health (state level) began recording deaths in 1881. Deaths were not recorded on the county level.

Death Substitutes

  • 1849-50, 1859-60, 1869-70, 1879-80 See Mortality Schedule information in the Federal Census section of Census for death information.
  • See Town Clerks' Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War in the Civil War section of Military for death information.
  • 1864-5, 1874-5 See Mortality Schedule information in the State Census section of Census for death information for 1864-5, and 1874-5.

Additional Resources

Additional resources for Rensselaer County births, marriages and deaths may be found in the New York, Rensselaer– Vital Records topic page of the FamilySearch Catalog . Copies of records on FHL microfilm and microfiche can be ordered for viewing at Family History Centers. Copies of books found in the FamilySearch Catalog may be found in WorldCat catalog and ordered from your local library through interlibrary loan. Explore how to search the FamilySearch Catalog and the Worldcat Online Catalog.

Voting Register

Places

Web Sites

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 491. WorldCat entry. FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. Handybook, 478.
  3. Arlene Eakle, and Johni Cerni, The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1984), 103. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27ts.
  4. John Warner Barber, Henry Howe. Historical collections of the state of New York (Pub. for the authors by S. Tuttle., 1842)
  5. Handybook, 847-61.
  6. Frederick Phisterer, New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. (Albany, N.Y.: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912). Internet Archive digital copy; At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Film 1486494-96; Fiche 6083559-64; Book 974.7 M2p.
  7. Alice Eichholz, Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, 3rd ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Pub., 2004), 479. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27rb 2004.
  8. Henry B. Hoff, "Navigating New York Probate," American Ancestors 12 (Fall 2011): 57.
  9. About Abstracts of Wills, Admins. and Guardianships in NY State, 1787-1835 at New York Ancestors, accessed 8 December 2011, http://newyorkancestors.org/.
  10. Elizabeth Petty Bentley, Genealogist's Address Book: State and Local Resources, with Special Resources Including Ethnic and Religious Organizations, 6th ed. (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Pub., 2009), 459. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D24ben 2009.
  11. Capital District Genealogical Society (Internet site) at http://www.capitaldistrictgenealogicalsociety.org/index.html (accessed 31 October 2011).
  12. Central New York Genealogical Society at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nycnygs/index.htm (accessed 1 November 2011).
  13. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 488-493. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.


 

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