New York State took a census in 1855 that is a great source for genealogical research. There were earlier census taken in New York State but the one done in 1855 was the first State census that listed every name of the people in a family. Plus it also asks the relationship of each individual to the head of household. So I know that a child by a different surname was a grandchild of one ancestor. Also if a person was born in New York State then they were asked in what NY County they were born. That may help to figure out where family members were born. One of my ancestors, Lovina Travis, says that she was born about 1825 in Steuben County but that alone hasn’t helped to figure who her parents are because of a lack of available birth records.
Another question asked in the 1855 census is how long you lived in this town. This also helps with knowing about ancestor’s movements and can lead you to land records. There is a question asked about what material the house is made from. There are still many log homes in the rural areas in 1855.
Very little of the 1855 is currently online. You can a few records on some of the county GenWeb sites. I maintain the Monroe County GenWeb site and I don’t have any online. In part that is because Monroe was a larger county even in 1855.
Part of the 1855 Monroe County was indexed by the group called Genealogical Roundtable about 20 years ago. They indexed all the rural towns but didn’t index Rochester. The index is on large cards by head of household that are located in the Local History Department of the Rochester Public Library (Rundel building). The Local History Department also has the original 1855 census but they are in very delicate condition and the department would like people to view microfilm copies.
The films are available worldwide from the LDS Family History Libraries. There are three films for Monroe County. Film number 1429808 has all the Wards of the City of Rochester. Film number 833737 has the towns of Brighton, Chili, Clarkson, Gates, Greece, Henrietta, Irondequoit, Mendon and Ogden. Film number 833773 has the towns Parma, Penfield, Perinton, Pittsford, Riga, Rush, Sweden, Union (later renamed Hamlin), Webster and Wheatland. For other counties, look on the LDS Library Catalog under the County and then look for census records.
See what facts you can find on your family in the 1855 census.