Researching Your Hilltown Ancestors

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The Altamont Enterprise - Thursday, September 30, 2010

Elberfeld and McLean help Hilltowners find their history

By Zenie Gladieux

The Helderberg Hilltowns Association is a new organization for folks interested in the history and genealogy of the Hilltowns of Albany County; the preservation of the historic buildings and farmlands here; and in promoting farms, farming activities, and local tourism in the area. On Saturday, Sept. 25, the organization held its first program in support of those goals. Presenters John Elberfeld and Jane McLean organized a program, "Researching Your Hilltown Ancestors."

A PowerPoint presentation by Elberfeld showcased his efforts to document the owner of their home in Knox — Charlie Beebe, for whom both farm and road are named. In the course of his search, Elberfeld traced, and documented contact information on many of the sources of historical and genealogical information available to those seeking information on their own families. Representatives of some of those organizations were present:

— Kathy Stempel of the Berne Free Library, which has local history, several genealogies of prominent local families, and maps and early histories of Albany County;
— Ralph Miller, Berne Town Historian, who has an index to early Albany County deeds and its online genealogical database of about 75,000 names of Hilltown residents at www.BerneHistory.org;
— Marijo Dougherty of the Altamont Museum, which has local photographs and artifacts some that relate to the Hilltowns;
— Ann Wemple of the Guilderland Public Library, which has a good collection of books on genealogy in general and access for members to online genealogical databases;
— The Knox Historical Society, which has scrapbooks of clippings with massive amounts of family data; and
— The Old Stone Fort in Schoharie, which has many items relating to Hilltowns history and families.

All participants brought materials from their files and there were several computers available for access to online sources. The online archives of The Altamont Enterprise (http://historicnewspapers.guilpl.org) were noted as a wonderful source of obituaries and contemporary information about family life. And the Helderberg Hilltowns website at www.AlbanyHilltowns.com has, in addition to links to many other sites, pictures of buildings and people from the Hilltowns' past and biographies of 1,348 of those people at a site that is growing daily as researchers and family historians continue to share their findings.

To showcase some of the local products available from Hill- towns farmers, McLean prepared a brunch for attendees made primarily from local ingredients, with several kinds of muffins made with blueberries, maple syrup, honey, corn, sausage — and a big bowl of applesauce from local apples. Participants in the seminar left filled with knowledge and good food, eager to begin or continue their quest to add to our knowledge of the Hilltowns and its people.

For more information on genealogical resources, please call John Elberfeld at 872-2082, or e-mail him at jelberfeld@aol. corn. For more information about the organization, please call me, Zenie Gladieux, at 894-8589, or e-mail at zenie@wildblue.net.

Editor's note: Zenie Gladieux is the Chairwoman of the Helderberg Hilltowns Association.

Visit http://www.janemclean.com to view the complete PowerPoint presentation giving September 25, 2010.