Researching With Local Resources


Contributing Writer
Janet Wahlberg

I have written in the past about local resources that are available to all of us to use in our research; however, I think that it is a subject that invites a repeat visit. The first resource that comes to mind is local libraries. Many of them contain local histories that can be most helpful. Some, such as the Prendergast Library, have microfilm collections of local newspapers. These are invaluable for locating obituaries and other articles that shine light on our predecessors. Increasing numbers of local libraries have a subscription to Ancestry, Library Edition and virtually all have computers for their patrons to use. Another great offering is the genealogy classes that increasing numbers of libraries offer.

You will want to check with the local churches to see if they have early records, and if so, will they allow you to use them. Be sure to call ahead and to make an appointment. While there is rarely a charge for using church records, leaving a donation is considered good practice.

Funeral Home records contain helpful data and Funeral Directors may be willing to help you in locating information on your family members. Please remember that this is not their primary job and they may not be willing to do so. Again, be aware that there might be a charge.

Contacting local cemeteries may provide you with a wealth of information on your ancestors. You will need to call their offices during business hours to see what records they may have. For example, Lake View Cemetery is on-line as well as available by phone. It is important that you call ahead of time to allow the staff adequate time to locate the records that you are seeking.

Did your ancestors belong to local cubs? If so, you should attempt to contact them as they may have membership lists or a newsletter that may provide stories about your family member or events that they may have participated in.

The Hall House Research Library affiliated with the Fenton History Center and located at 75 Forest Avenue is a wealth of information and is staffed with a volunteer every day Monday through Saturday from 10 until 4. We subscribe to Archiv digital and Ancestry Library Version. In addition, we have several Databases that may be accessed for Swedish Research. Our files contain hundreds of Family Histories as well as historical information on the region. We have an extensive research library with a collection from the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, many bound Family histories and numerous books containing information from New England, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. There are dozens of books containing cemetery records and town histories, notebooks that contain obituaries from the Henderson -Lincoln Funeral Home and a file on Schoonover Funeral Home in Sugar Grove. There are newsletters from many county and state historical societies. In addition, supervisors’ records, high school yearbooks, city directories and how-to books specific to various ethnic groups and others that are more general in their subject matter are found in our collection. A collection of some of the Swedish language newspapers are available on microfilm. Then there are journals, church histories, many books on the Civil War and other historical events. Needless to say, we are quite proud of the depth of our collections. Our volunteers have a broad range of expertise and are always willing to give you a hand getting started in your research or take you to a new level.

So, before you rush off on a research trip, take the time to look about the county for the many many local resources. You might be surprised at what you can find right here in Chautauqua County.

To read Janet Walberg’s previous genealogy columns or to delve deeper into her writings and insights for searching out and recording your own family’s genealogy, please go to and visit Janet’s own web page.