Erie County, New York Genealogy

From FamilySearch Wiki
Revision as of 22:22, 10 August 2013 by Lsgc (talk | contribs) (update state census chart)

Jump to: navigation, search

United States go to New York go to Erie County

Guide to Erie County New York genealogy. Birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, military, immigration and naturalization records. This page describes sources of genealogical data about Erie County, New York Genealogy families, including links to smaller localities at the bottom of this page. New York-related pages show useful statewide sources. United States pages explain the terminology and contents of genealogical records.

link= York_Online_Genealogy_Records New York
Online Records

Erie County, New York
Map of New York highlighting Erie County
Location in the state of New York
Map of the U.S. highlighting New York
Location of New York in the U.S.
Founded 1821
County Seat Buffalo
Address 92 Franklin Street
Buffalo, NY 14202
Erie County Website
NY Erie map.png

Erie County New York Historical Facts

Parent County

Created 2 April 1821 from Niagara County.[1]

Neighboring Counties

Cattaraugus · Chautauqua · Genesee · Niagara · Wyoming · Ontario Canada counties: Welland · Lake Erie[2]

Boundary Changes

Record Loss

Erie County New York Genealogy Resources

Bible Records

  • 1581–1917 New York, Family Bible Records at Ancestry– ($); Index. Database is a collection of genealogically important records taken from the Bibles of colony and state residents. Reveals the Bible's original owner, brief record of descendants,and a particular event such as birth or marriage as recorded in Bible.


Business Records and Commerce


Cemetery records often reveal birth, death, relationship, military, and religious information.

Online Grave Transcripts Published Grave Transcripts County Cemetery Directories* Family History Library*** WorldCat* Tombstone Transcription Project*
Cemetery Site*   NYGenWeb Cemeteries*
New York Gravestones*   epodunk*
NYGenWeb Cemeteries*   Billion Graves*
Billion Graves*   Names in Stone*
Names in Stone*    
   *See the New York Cemeteries page for details about each site.

Individual cemeteries:


For information and tips on using and accessing online census records, see New York Census.


U.S. Census Mortality Schedules for New York, 1850-1880:

  • Available online at Ancestry ($).
  • Deaths are included for the 12 months prior to the census, 1849-50, 1859-60, 1869-70, and 1879-80 beginning 1 June and ending 31 May of the census year.[3]
  • Basic contents of the records include: Name, sex, age, color, marital status, place of birth, month of death, occupation, and cause of death. 1870 also has parents' birthplace. 1880 lists how long a resident of the county.
  • Also on FHL Films 1415128–42.
  • The 1890 Census is lost. For a substitute, see directories.
Source 1825 1835 1845 1855 1865 1875 1892 1905 1915 1925 - - - - - - Yes - Yes Yes
Family History Library Film - - - Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FamilySearch Images - - - Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
New York State Library Film - - - Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

New York State 1865 and 1875 Census Marriage, Mortality; and 1865 Soldier Mortality records:

  • Images available online at New York State Census, 1865 and New York State Census, 1875. Click on the link to go to the page, then click on the ‘Browse through images’ link and select your county, then select an ancestor's town and browse to the end of the population schedule until you find the Marriage, Mortality, and 1865 soldier mortality schedules.
  • Includes marriages and deaths for the 12 months prior to the census, ending 1 June of the census year.
  • Marriage entry content: Husband's name, wife's name, ages and previous marital status, month and day and place of marriage, and church or civil ceremony.
  • Death entry content: Name, age, sex, color, marital status, month and day of death, native state or country, occupation and cause of death.
  • 1865 deaths of officers and enlisted men entry content: Name, age, marital status, citizenship status, enlistment date, original regiment, original rank, regiment at death, rank at death, promotions, death date and place, manner of death, surviving associates, and burial place.
  • Also on microfilm. See the Family History Library line in the above State Census Chart.

 Church Records

Church records are good substitutes for birth, marriage, and death information and are most often found on a local city/town or county level.  Published and manuscript church records can be found at public, university, and private libraries.

For a brief general history of denominations and a guide to finding various New York denomination's records, see New York Church Records Wiki page.

  • 1829-1933 St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Eggertsville FHL film 1411839 Records include list of pastors; births and baptisms 1844-1880, 1829-1865, 1880-1932; confirmations; communicants; marriages 1843-1932; deaths 1844-1933.
  • Records of Trinity Lutheran Church, Akron, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at ($).
Methodist Episcopal
  • 1867-1948 Methodist Episcopal Church. Williamsville and Bowmansville Charge FHL film 1378858 Contains history of the church 1844-1946; record of probationers including a few deaths 1869-1925, 1930-1936; class record including deaths 1869-1909; alphabetical record of members in full connection including deaths 1873-1948; record of official members 1867-1889; baptisms 1869-1941; marriages 1869-1946; appendix with a few deaths 1881-1883, 1902-1904.

"Many Buffalo church records have been microfilmed and are available in the Special Collections Room at the main branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, the Research Library of the Buffalo History Museum, and from any local LDS Family History Center."[4]

Cornell University's Study Center for Early Religious Life in Western New York has an online guide to Erie County church records housed in their collection.

Additional Church Records

Additional church records can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Erie County, New York Genealogy Church Records  in online catalogs like:

Court Records

Ancestors may have also been involved in municipal, state, or federal court cases. See also New York Court Records and United States Court Records.


Ethnic, Political, or Religious Groups



  • Rootsweb message board for Erie County, New York Genealogy has many information threads about families that resided in that county. There is a search engine that allows you to search by surname and topic.


  • - How to Research Buffalo, New York, Ancestors, Buildings, Companies, and more.


Land and Property

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.

See New York Land and Property for more details, especially about the papers generated in New York State by large speculative land companies.

Original land records in Erie County, New York Genealogy began in [?dateyear?]. These records are housed at the [?repository?] in [?town?].




Additional land records can sometimes be found using these catalogs:

  • 1804-1824 - Livsey, Karen E. Western New York Land Transactions, 1804-1824. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1991. Digital version at Ancestry ($).
  • 1825-1835 - Livsey, Karen E. Western New York Land Transactions, 1825-1835. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1996. Digital version at Ancestry ($).

Additional resources

Additional resources for Erie County, New York Genealogy land records may be found in the Erie County, New York Genealogy – Land Records topic page of the FamilySearch Catalog . Copies of records on FHL microfilm and microfiche may be available for viewing at various Family History Centers. Copies of books found in the FamilySearch Catalog may be found in WorldCat catalog and ordered from your local library through interlibrary loan. Explore how to search the FamilySearch Catalog and the Worldcat Online Catalog.



Early migration routes for European settlers to and from Erie County, New York Genealogy included:[5]


Civil War

Town registers. The New York town clerks kept a bound register of all soldiers from their town serving in the Civil War 1861-1865. Registers are arranged by county, and town. Some town registers are missing. The registers include an index at the start of each town.

Content. Many register entries include full name, residence, date and place of birth, parents names, marital status, date of enlistment and muster and rank, discharges, death, or promotion.

Access. The original registers are at the New York State Archives in Albany, New York. Microfilm copies are found at the Family History Library (FHL Film 1993401-37). They are also indexed and available at ($).

Available towns. Registers are available for: Amherst · Aurora · Boston · Brant · Buffalo · Clarence · Colden · Eden · Elma · Evans · Grand Island · Hamburg · Holland · Lancaster · Marilla · Newstead · North Collins · Sardinia · Tonawanda · Wales.

Regiments. Service men served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were specifically formed in Erie County:[7]

- 116th Regiment, New York Infantry
- 132nd Regiment, New York Infantry
- 151st Regiment, New York Infantry
- 155th Regiment, New York Infantry
- 160th Regiment, New York Infantry
- 164th Regiment, New York Infantry
- 176th Regiment, New York Infantry

Naturalization and Citizenship


Old Fulton NY Post Cards has the largest online collection of 400 New York 1795-2007 newspapers. The instructions for this quirky site are needed to get the most out of it.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards has the following Erie County, New York Genealogy newspaper images:

  • Blasdell NY Frontier Herald 1956-1966
  • Buffalo NY Daily Courier 1847-1888
  • Buffalo NY Evening Courier and Republic 1862-1884
  • Buffalo NY Polish Weekly Review 1929-1930
  • Buffalo NY Morning Express 1880-1924
  • Hamburg NY Front Page 1964-1979
  • Hamburg NY Photo News 1970-1976
  • Hamburg NY Erie County Independent 1875-1944
  • Hamburg NY Sun 1945-1988

Other resources

Obituaries has links and guides to multiple online and offline sources of obituaries and death notices.


Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

Probate Records

Probate records including original estates and wills for New York are held in the office of the county Surrogate Court beginning in 1787, or when the county was formed. Prior to 1787, most are housed at the New York State Archives. See New York Probate Records for more information about using probate records.
Content:  Probate Records may give the decedent's date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their place of residence.
Record types:  Wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distribution.

Probate Petitions

In 1830, state law required the Surrogate Court clerk to issue a probate petition for a deceased individual with property. This petition, unique to New York, usually lists the deceased's death date. It also lists the heirs, their relationship to the deceased, and their residence. Alice Eichholz, Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, 3rd ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Pub., 2004), 479. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27rb 2004. Henry B. Hoff, "Navigating New York Probate," American Ancestors 12 (Fall 2011): 57.

These petitions are often found in the estate files and can be obtained from the county Surrogate Court.

The petitions for Erie County, New York Genealogy are also available on microfilm at the Family History Library and its centers:

Online Probate Abstracts and Indexes

Online Probate Records

Original county-by-county New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971 are available free online at FamilySearch. To access these records, click Historical Records below, then click "Browse through 1,630,900 images". Then select the county name, and then the probate records and time of interest.

  • Historical Records - Erie County: Estate Index, 1800-1929; Letters of administration, 1826-1901; Letters of testamentary, 1832-1900; Wills and Administrations, 1819-1832

Probate Records on Microfilm

The probate records described above may also be on microfilms like these: 

Additional Probate Indexes and Abstracts

Additional probate indexes or abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Erie County, New York Genealogy probate wills in online catalogs like:


Erie County has more than 25 intriguing historical societies, museums, and town historians. For a list, visit Erie County, New York Town Historians, Historical Societies and Historical Museums.

Cornell University, Guide to Historical Resources in Erie County, New York Repositories. ([Ithaca, New York]: New York Historical Resources Center, Olin Library, Cornell University, 1983). At various libraries; FHL Book 974.796 A3g. Includes index. Includes references to some family histories and genealogies.

Archives, Libraries and Museums
Grosvenor Room Genealogy
Buffalo and Erie County Public Library
Lafayette Square
Buffalo, NY 14203
(716) 858-8900
Email form | blog

Genealogical Resources: Local histories, census records, church and cemetery records, city directories, ethnic and immigration research, African American research, published family histories, maps and atlases, military records and history, vital records, yearbooks and school records. The website includes dozens of guides for topics such as: African-American Genealogy, Canadian Genealogy, German Genealogy, Irish Genealogy, Italian Genealogy, Jewish Genealogy, Native American Genealogy, and Polish Genealogy.

Western New York Genealogical Society Library
Hamburg Historical Society Museum
5859 South Park Avenue, Rt. 62
Hamburg, NY
Genealogical Resources: Atlases, gazetters, directories, histories, church records, cemetery records, vital index, censuses, compiled genealogies, immigrant lists, military records, and periodicals.

E. H. Butler Library
Arhives and Special Collections
Buffalo State College
1300 Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14222
Phone: (716) 878-6300
Archivist Phone: (716) 878-6308
Fax: (716) 878-3134

Genealogical Resources: Besides College archive materials there is a collection of the "Edward H. Butler Family Papers" and the "Paul G. Reilly Indian Collection" which involved treaties between various Indian nations and with the United States Government. Some of the documents (photocopies of the original) are as early as 1789. Collections

Rev. J. Clayton Murray, S.J.
Archives & Special Collections
Andrew L. Bouwhuis Library
Canisius College
2001 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14208-1098
Phone: 716-888-8406
Fax: 716-888-2525

Genealogical Resources: Besides the College archive materials, there is a collection of medieval manuscripts, including early printed Bibles, the Joseph P. Desmond Collection of Irish literature, history and culture; and the history of the Jesuits. Collections

County Historian's Office

Erie County Historian
Doug Kohler
95 Franklin Street, 16th Floor
Buffalo, NY 14202


The Erie County Clerk's office has marriage, divorce, court and land records. The Surrogate Court has probate records. For further information about where the records for Erie County are held, see the Erie County Courthouse page.

Family History Centers

Family History Centers (FHCs) are branches of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and are located all over the world. Their goal is to provide resources for family history research.

The main FHC for Erie County, New York Genealogy is the Buffalo New York Family History Center. For additional nearby Family History Centers, search online in the FHC directory.

Buffalo History Museum
1 Museum Court
Buffalo, NY 14216
Facebook page
Genealogical Resources: Library, city directories, church records (many Roman Catholic parishes), cemetery records, censuses, newspapers, obituary index  (1811-2001), obituary request form, private papers, published family histories, list of professional researchers for hire.
Buffalo and Erie County Public Library
1 Lafayette Square
Buffalo, NY 14203
Genealogical Resources: Genealogy Subject Guide.
Erie County Historical Federation
11 Danforth Street
Chektowaga, NY 14227
Facebook page[9]
Genealogical Resources: "Loosely organized group of local historical societies and appointed town historians of Erie County, acting as a liaison between groups and providing a speakers bureau."[9]
Western New York Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 338
Hamburg, N.Y. 14075-0338
Genealogical Resources: Surname list, locality list, 1865 Census index, journal, research library.
Central New York Genealogical Society[10]
Box 104, Calvin Station
Syracuse, New York 13205
Genealogical Resources: Member queries; surname research list; online resources; six meetings/year; publication: Tree Talks (At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 974.7 B2t) quarterly with annual index.

A list of local libraries and archives with Polish resources is available online at the Polish-American Heritage in Buffalo and Erie County, New York website.

Social Groups Online


Town Records

Town records in New York may include early births, marriages, deaths, divorces, local histories, selected military records, and town meeting minutes. Vital records from 1880/1882 are kept by town and village clerks, although some (Kent’s and Putnam Valley’s) are available in the County Historian’s Office. For further details, try the links to individual town Wiki pages found in Places. See also:

The County Archives has the following records:

  • 031 Petitions, Licenses, and recognizance to sell liquor (Tavern licenses) 1813-1878
  • 139 Monthly Reports of Hunting and fishing licenses, 1908-1938
  • 165 Certificates of Qualifications as Examiner in Lunacy, 1883-1947

Vital Records

Vital records of birth, marriage or death were first recorded at the local level in the village clerk, town clerk, or city clerk’s ledger book. If you know where a birth, marriage or death took place, a copy of the certificate or record may be obtained by writing to the town, village or city clerk. See also How to order New York Vital Records or order electronically online.

See the heading Places on this wiki page for links to local community wiki pages and their available records. See New York Vital Records for a discussion about beginning dates and availability of vital records in New York.

Use substitute records for birth, marriage, and death information. These substitute records include Bible Records, Cemeteries, Church Records, Newspapers, and Probate Records.


Early births were recorded on the town level and the years vary by town. (List of towns) The New York State Department of Health (state level) began recording births in 1881. Births were not recorded on the county level.

Birth Substitutes


Early marriages were sometimes recorded on the town level and the years vary by town. (List of towns) In 1880, town clerks were to record the marriage and a copy was sent to the New York State Department of Health (state level). Town clerks continue to record marriages. Marriages were recorded by the Erie County clerk starting in 1878 and go until April_1935.[11]

Marriage Substitutes

  • 1620–1901 Names of Persons and dates of marriages from Elma, Erie County, New York website. Extracted marriages from the book “History of the Town of Elma, Erie County, NY, 1620-1901, Chapter XVII, Page 157.”
    Index gives:
    • Groom Name
    • Bride Name
    • Date
  • 1800–1855 New York Marriage Notices at Ancestry– ($); Index. This database is a collection of marriage notices published in newspapers around the state. Contains name of bride and groom, marriage date, marriage location, residence, and newspaper found in.
  • 1864-5, 1874-5 See Marriage Schedule information in the State Census section of Census for marriage information for 1864-5, and 1874-5.


All divorces were granted by the governor or legislature and were very rare.


All divorces were granted by the court of chancery. These records are found in the New York State Archives or for the New York City area at the New York County Clerk's office.These divorces were granted only on the grounds of adultery.


All divorces are handled by the county Supreme Court where the divorce was granted. Divorce files in New York are sealed for 100 years. Contact the County Clerk for information about divorce records.

Divorce judgment papers often include date and place of the marriage and the names and birthdates of any children. Local newspapers may publish notices of divorce actions.


Early deaths were recorded on the town level and the years vary by town. (List of towns) The New York State Department of Health (state level) began recording deaths in 1881. Deaths were not recorded on the county level.

Death Substitutes

  • 1849-50, 1859-60, 1869-70, 1879-80 See Mortality Schedule information in the Federal Census section of Census for death information.
  • See Town Clerks' Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War in Erie County, New York Genealogy in the Civil War section of Military for death information.
  • 1864-5, 1874-5 See Mortality Schedule information in the State Census section of Census for death information for 1864-5, and 1874-5.

Additional Resources

Additional resources for Erie County births, marriages and deaths may be found in the New York, Erie– Vital Records topic page of the FamilySearch Catalog . Copies of books found in the FamilySearch Catalog may be found in WorldCat catalog and ordered from your local library through interlibrary loan. Explore how to search the FamilySearch Catalog and the Worldcat Online Catalog.

Voting Registers

Erie County New York Places

Erie County New York Genealogy Websites

Erie County New York Genealogy References

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 489. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. Handybook, 478.
  3. Arlene Eakle, and Johni Cerni, The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1984), 103. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27ts.
  4. Buffalo, Erie County, New York Genealogy at (accessed 17 November 2011).
  5. Handybook, 847-61.
  6. Compare the more northerly route in Handybook, 849, with the more southerly route described in Wikipedia contributors, "New York State Route 5" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at (accessed 28 June 2011).
  7. Frederick Phisterer, New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. (Albany, N.Y.: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912). Internet Archive digital copy; At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Film 1486494-96; Fiche 6083559-64; Book 974.7 M2p.
  8. About Abstracts of Wills, Admins. and Guardianships in NY State, 1787-1835 at New York Ancestors, accessed 8 December 2011,
  9. 9.0 9.1 Erie County, New York Town Historians, Historical Societies and Historical Museums, Updated: 20 October 2004, (accessed 15 December 2011).
  10. Central New York Genealogical Society at (accessed 1 November 2011).
  11. Elizabeth Petty Bentley, County Courthouse Book, 3rd ed. (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Pub., 2009), 203. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D24bena 2009.