If you have started any sort of family history research, you are most likely already aware of the value of census records. As a supplement to the federal census, New York State census records are a good way to trace your ancestors between federal census years, and they can provide some detail that federal records do not.
There is a particular value in 1865 and 1875 New York State census records, in that they recorded information on marriages that occurred within the 12-month period leading up to each census.
Athough I conduct genealogy projects utilizing New York State resources, as well as United States collections, my home base is Columbia County, New York. So the examples I use focus on Columbia County marriages. Certainly similar research can be done for any county in New York State. Reviewing and analyzing this information could assist in leading you to new avenues of research.
To make information on Columbia County marriages more accessible, researcher Susan Mulvey transcribed the records from the New York State census. The transcribed information is available on her Columbia County USGenNet site:
Susan provides a disclaimer concerning the quality of the digital images, which for some towns is definitely difficult to decipher, but it is a great resource if you have ancestors who may have gotten married in Columbia County in 1864/1865 or 1874/1875.
The transcriptions are categorized alphabetically by town and include the following information about each husband and wife:
- Previous Civil Condition (single, widowed, etc…)
- Month and Day of Marriage
- City or town where the marriage occurred
- Whether it was solemnized by a clergyman or civil magistrate
Pay attention to that last bit of information. Sometimes an entry contains an abbreviation for religious affiliation. This can be helpful if you find a marriage record for a particular couple from your family tree, or even a family surname that you can attribute to Columbia County. If the religious affiliation is indicated, this might just provide new insight into searching church collections in the area.
Browsing the Digital Records
If you would like to take a crack at browsing the digital records yourself, it takes a little bit of effort, but if you willing there is a way! Both sets of censuses are available on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. The trick is to browse through the New York State Census database image sets, first selecting the county, then selecting the town.
The first section of the census for each town is titled “I. Population”.
As you scroll through each page of any particular town you will get to the section titled, “II. Marriages”.
There is also a section that recorded deaths in the 12-month period leading up to each census, which Susan has transcribed on her USGenNet site.
Additional sections for each town’s census contain information such as agricultural statistics and lists of houses of worship, as well as other notes and comments made by the census enumerator.
Share Your Story and Learn More
Were you able to discover new information about your family through researching the different sections of these New York State census records? Please share your story by leaving a comment below!
Do you have questions about researching New York State census records? Do you want to learn more about researching your family history? I would be happy to assist you. Just click the button below to send me an e-mail inquiry.