New York Censuses and Substitutes

New York is one of the few states where the original handwritten enumerations made by the Federal marshals have survived.  Seems New York county clerks took the census preservation law seriously and kept the Federal schedules.  They made copies to send to the government in Washington.

Check William Dollarhide,  New York Censuses and Substitutes:  An Annotated Bibliography of State Censuses, Census Substitutes, and Selected Name Lists in Print, on Microfilm, or Online, with County Boundary Maps, 1683-1915; and State Census Examples and Extraction Forms, 1825-1925.  Foreword by Gordon L. Remington.  Bountiful UT:  Family Roots Publishing, 2005.

Dollarhide combed library catalogs, printed source compilations, periodical indexes and articles, personal files and knowledge of New York’s premier librarians and professional genealogists in his hunt for census data and dated name lists.  The result is a county-by-county inventory of sources with locations of originals and descriptions of copies and call numbers.

I would like to add the three different versions of the 1790 census “west of the Massachusetts Exemption Line” along the western border of Lake Seneca:

1.  “Ontario County–Canandaigua Town, Erwin Town, Genessee Town, and Jerusalem Town.”  Printed in Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790 (Washington DC:  Government Printing Office, 1908 and reprinted numerous times), p. 138.  Names are listed in each of the four New York towns established at that time.

2.  “Region West of the old Massachusetts pre-emption line, 1790.” Printed in Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York by Orasmus Turner (Buffalo:  Jewett, Thomas & Co., 1849; reprint in two volumes, Heritage Books, Bowie MD, 1991).  Appendix 9, pp. 479-80.  Names are presented by township and Range.

3.  “Updated residence towns of Ontario County’s families, 1790.” Printed in “Towns and Families of Ontario County, New York–1790,” Heritage Quest 46 (1993): 54-57 written by Fred Q. Bowman.  Names are presented by modern town and county.

In each of these versions, spellings differ and arrangement of names–who is listed next to whom–is different.  Some names are included in one list and not found in the other two.  Might be a good idea to check the original Federal schedule to see how marshal General Amos Hall wrote the names at the time.

Be careful of the indexed versions online–at, Heritage, and  You can determine what version each of these databases used by the results you get.

Be sure you check all of the versions listed above to ensure that you have everybody named in the 1790 census for Western New York–all the way from Seneca Lake to Niagara Falls.  Your favorite New York genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  I am presenting a two-part presentation on New York Research at the Mid-West Family History Expo, 6-7 September 2013 in Kearney NE at the Holiday Inn.  Why not sign-up and learn some new facts about New York?  I promise you that you will go away with your money’s worth if those are the only two sessions you attend!



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