Do You Have Family In New York State?


Do You Have Family In New York State?

Everyone today is aware of the difficulties involved in travelling from Canada to the United States these days, and the even greater difficulties involved in immigrating to the States. Were you aware that it wasn’t always so?

Cross-border migration was easy and common place in the late 1800s, whether by road, railroad, or by way of the frequent lake crossings made by passenger steamers across the Great Lakes. It was common to pack up and cross into the United States from Ontario to Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York State, and beyond. In fact, during the 1870s and 1880s an estimated 825,000 ‘British-Americans’ left for the United States. The reasons for this migration were multiple, including employment opportunities, families reunification, leaving families behind, escaping problems with the authorities, or for any other reason.

The 1900 United States Federal Census (as found in the MyHeritage Library Edition and accessed via the $10 OGS member fee) tells us that there were 121,928 residents of New York who claimed their birthplace as Canada! Those 121,928 people could easily have more than 4 million living descendants today!

Aside from using big data like the United States census as found in the MyHeritage Library Edition, how might you find more detailed information regarding those descendants who lived in or passed through New York State? Consider the resources of the New York 


Genealogical and Biographical Society. The NYG&S (website:, like the Ontario Genealogical Society, concentrates on acquiring, preserving and digitizing local records, whether at the state, county of local level.

The eLibrary alone of the NYG&B contains thousand of digitized records, including such record collections as Religious Records, New York State (1639-1914), Coroner’s Proceedings, New York City (1823-1842), Methodist Protestants and the Union Cemeteries of Brooklyn (1844-1894), The Record, Worden’s Subject Index (1870-1982). The main NYG&B library collection, non-digitized, contains such records as: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Localities Files 1653-1986; New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Subject Files ca. 1828-ca. 2000; Canal Street Presbyterian Church Register of Marriages and Baptisms 1816-1853; and numerous family histories and genealogies, and much more.

Membership in the NYG&B is only US$ 70 per year, or US$ 125 for two years. OGS members are entitled to a 25% discount on their NYG&B membership. The discount code can be access by logging into the OGS website, going to Members’ Corner, and clicking on Member Advantage Codes.

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