Kathy Kanauer wrote an article for the Winter 2008 issue of Hear Ye, Hear Ye, the RGS newsletter, about the Town of Penfield. She mentioned that there is a Local History Room that is located in within the Penfield Public Library. I visited the LH Room today to investigate all the genealogical resources that are available. Kathy is both the person that takes care of the Local History Room and also the Penfield Historian. She has been the Historian for over 15 years, so she knows a lot about Penfield History. She spent a long time showing all that she has available. And there is a lot of records in a small amount of space.
First, there were four file drawers full of family data. A great protion of this came in or around 1985 when Penfield was celebrating their 175th anniversary. In that year they gave out Pioneer Certificates for anyone that could prove that hey had an ancestor that lived in Penfield before 1885. So people sent copies of family charts and any proof that they had of an old Penfield resident.
There is a book collection of 200 to 300 history books that were donated by Jane Terry Widger. This collection includes histories of New England and New York State. There also were census indexes of Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York State. Also some NY State census records from beofre 1825 that came from the Central NY Genealogical Society publication Tree Talks.
There is a collection of old Assessment (Tax) Records. Ones for 1813, 1817-8, and 1819-20 of Penfield are just copies of the originals which probably are in the Ontario County Archives. For the years 1897 to 1959 the original Penfield Assessment records are in a storage room off LH Room. They also have copies of Assessment Rolls for the Town of Brighton for 1816 -1820. These records are good to prove that a person lived in Penfield and in most cases it shows the Town lot that they lived on.
Over the years, someone extracted the Penfield census for the years 1850 – 1915. They have microfilms of the Penfield census also. Does anyone still look at microfilms? They should, for at least the NY State census.
The collection of cemetery records includes lists of tombstone inscriptions that are readily available on-line but unique are some burial permits. Plus someone took photos of every tombstone in the Smith Cemetery and they have those.
One of the things that I always am looking for are church records and there is a good collection of Penfield church records in the LH Room. Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, St. Joseph’s Catholic, Bethleham Lutheran, Advent and East Penfield Baptist Churches are all represented. The records vary but you can expect to find membership rolls, marriages and funerals and usually some baptisms. Note that some denominations only baptized adults.
Then in one notebook there was the Penfield births, marriages and deaths for the years 1847 to 1850 and also Penfield poor records for 1816 to 1860. Very few of those early vital records still exist.
There is a bound copy of Little Nellie’s Penfield Extra (1863 – 1866) and also bound copies of the newspapers, Penfield Post Republican (1957 – 1979) and Penfield Press (1955 – 1985). They also have old diaries of early Penfield residents including a 50 year diary of Aristides F. Church that is indexed.
If you have an old house in Penfield; you would like to see the house file drawer that also includes some pictures. That brings up the collection of over 1000 old photos from around the area including some on glass negatives. And there is also a map collection from the early days to the present.
For such a small room, there are treasures in every corner. If you want to see any of these sources for research on your family, the Penfield Local History Room is in the Penfield Public Library at 1985 Baird Road. The current hours are: Monday 12-5 & 7-9; Tuesday and Wednesday 10-12 & 12:30-4:40.