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Archiver > GEN-NYS > 1999-05 > 0928157975

From: Jim Elbrecht< >
Subject: Re: Town clerk / historian ??`s
Date: Mon, 31 May 1999 13:39:35 GMT


> hi groups , I am wondering something ........ Is there by chance any '
>town clerks / historians on this list ??

I think there probably are, but you scared them out of replying with
your closing line.<g>

I'm *not* a Town Historian-- but I've talked to a few & for the sake
of anyone researching in NY, I'll throw out my 2 cents..

>..... Do you have copies of the Fed . census for your town in your files you
>use to look up those people that did live in your areas if somebody should
>write and ask about one of them ???? ,

[I've comented mostly on Historians, since their post is the most
variable-- Town Clerks are more or less 'regular' employees in most
towns, and would have access to Town records, but if they look in them
for you, it is out of dedication & not duty]

This is completely on a Town by town basis. Some Town Historians [a
small minority] are well paid [for a part-time job] & are given an
office stocked with goodies like census & historical records.

The majority are chosen because they have a passion for their area &
some resources of their own-- and are paid <$1000 a year. Most are
struggling to keep up with queries from folks & go to the
Town/County/Historical-Society archives to research.

One story I heard from a historian reflects how they are 'supplied'--
and how things change. This historian had been in her office for
many years & had an excellent library that she had pieced together,
mostly from her own pocket. One year the 'other party' became the
majority party in her town & because 'Historian' is an appointed post,
she was ousted & a new historian from the 'other' party was put in
place. The old historian dutifully cleaned out the office in her home
& handed it all over to the new one----- a couple years later, when
the political tides returned the 'first party' to office, she was
re-appointed. But this time, the 'other party' historian refused to
turn over any materials, since, officially, the Town Historian was
supposed to supply their own.

> Phil , in Lynnwood , now writing a
>draft of the letter he plans on sending to just about every town clerk /
>historian in New York state
I would recommend trying to narrow things down a bit before going off
on wild goose chases.[and sending a few hundred town historians to
their books] Have you read every POTTER genealogy published? Do
you have a theory about from where in NY they came? Have you read
obits/histories of all the family members?

I treat Town Historians as volunteers, since they're barely paid in
most cases. I alway include a check for $10 to cover expenses. The
check is *often* returned, but at least they know I'm willing to
reimburse them for expenses & I know that if they need it, they won't
have to ask for it. [slowing things down].

Here's how I picture things going, though you might get lucky;

Historian gets your general letter, and thinks she can help-- she
remembers that there were POTTERs in the next town, so she calls that
historian--- who was just sitting there trying to figure out how to
answer your letter. They both decide you should do some more
narrowing of your search before they spend any time on it.

Another point-- and one which suprised me when I 'figured it out'-- is
that many historians prefer a phone call to a letter. This can get
expensive calling coast to coast-- but there are phone plans that
might be good for a trial period. I don't use it often, since I'm a
terrible note-taker, but many of the historians are older folks who
have difficulty writing [and wouldn't know what to do with a word
processor, let alone a computer]-- but sit at home in the evening &
can go on for hours about their town. [warning-- these calls can get

I've rambled on too long--- I welcome corrections from exerience or

[& on a *very* general POTTER note-- there are lots of
Potter-something place names in NY. I lived in Potter Hollow in the
Town of Renssalaerville in Albany Co-- It was named for Potter
PALMER, of the PALMERs of 'The Palmer House' in Chicago.]

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