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Reading Family Trees

Library in Northville gathers information on local families

June 10, 2012
By RODNEY MINOR , The Leader Herald

NORTHVILLE - For those living in or around the Sacandaga Valley, a program at the Northville Public Library may be able to show them their family tree.

The "Sacandaga Families" is a genealogical research tool that creates family trees for people who have lived in or around the Sacandaga Valley since the late 1700s, information from the library said. The covered area includes the towns of Northampton, Hope, Benson, Wells, Edinburg, Day, Providence, Mayfield and Broadalbin.

The Mohawk Valley Library System honored the library's "Sacandaga Families" program with the 2012 Library Recognition Award last month for its efforts to enhance services to the community, a news release said.

Article Photos

Michael S. Burnett, the director of the Northville Public Library, grabs a scrapbook with articles on local history in it at the library on Tuesday.
The Leader-Herald/Rodney Minor

Michael S. Burnett, the library's director, said the program is part of the library's local history and genealogy project, which began seven years ago. He noted the library in the village is not as old as other libraries, which have been around for 100 years or more. As a consequence, he said, the library in Northville did not have a lot of information on families from the area.

To provide better services for people looking for information on the history of the area and its residents, the library started gathering information on who lived in the area from a variety of sources including: census records, military records, vital records, newspapers, cemetery records, obituaries, live testimony, online family trees, online published genealogies and church records.

While it started with Northville and Northampton, Burnett said, the area expanded as families moved in or spread out around the Sacandaga Valley.

"We just kept connecting people," he said. "It all tied in with the families."

There are 28,653 names in the "Sacandaga Families," which is uploaded to, and also can be viewed by people visiting the library.

"I had no idea we would do this well," Burnett said.

Other local genealogy research tools and information also can be reached online at the library's website at

Burnett noted the list grew as they periodically posted information, and more people contacted them to fill some of the blanks around a particular family history.

"We have most people [listed], but we are still finding others," he said.

Using a Fulton County assessment list, Burnett said, the library also has gone street by street to create a database listing properties in the village, past and present, including the names of businesses.

Burnett noted it is common in a small library to talk about family history and how people in the area are related. It's been interesting and enjoyable to have some of the older residents come in and talk about who lived where in the village.

Of course, he said, the entire project has been fun, he said.

Doing genealogy in general, he said, "it's like putting a puzzle together."

Burnett noted library staff and high school seniors transcribed census information, and Gail Cramer, town of Northampton and village of Northville historian, went and indexed historic scrapbooks the library acquired.

"[Cramer] has been great," he said.

Cramer said she has been able to provide much of the information on "Sacandaga Families."

Not only is she providing the information to the library, she said, she is making sure the information is not lost.

"The more people who have it, the more likely it is to not be lost," she said.

While it was nice to win the award from the MVLS, Burnett said, it is gratifying to see how far the library has come in acquiring information on local families.

Thanks to the Internet and technology, he noted, the library has been able to connect with people who have helped provide more local history.

"I think we've caught up to other libraries nicely," he said.

For more information about the genealogy project - and links to other local genealogy information - visit



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