07 Oct

Western New York Genealogy Conference

Saturday, October 7, 2017 -
12:30pm to 8:30pm
Event Location: 
Embassy Suites Buffalo, 200 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo NY 14202
Event Sponsor: 
New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and Western New York Genealogical Society

Online registration is closed, but onsite registration is available.

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) and the Western New York Genealogical Society (WNYGS) are pleased to host the Western New York Genealogy Conference on Saturday, October 7, 2017 at the Embassy Suites Buffalo. The conference celebrates Western New York as a unique place of shared history and community. Designed for researchers of all experience levels, this day-long event will feature six presenters and seven programs. Conference participants will:

  • Attend informative, insightful, and engaging presentations that discuss research methods and strategies, statewide and regional resources, and local genealogical projects
  • Network with other genealogists, historians, researchers, and genealogical society representatives
  • Participate in optional (pre and post) conference tours in and around Buffalo.

Optional pre and post conference tours and events will be available for an additional cost.


Table of Contents


Conference Overview



The conference will be held at the Embassy Suites Buffalo, 200 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, New York 14202. The hotel is a smoke-free facility. Complimentary wireless access will be available to attendees in the conference meeting spaces and guest rooms. 



Start Time

End Time

Session #


8:30 a.m.

9:15 a.m.




9:20 a.m.


Event Welcome

9:20 a.m.

10:20 a.m.

Session 1A

Pathways from New England to New York

9:20 a.m.

10:20 a.m.

Session 2B

Early Probate in New York: From Colonial Dutch and English to Statehood

10:20 a.m.

10:50 a.m.



10:50 a.m.

11:50 a.m.

Session 3A

A Tour of New York State Repositories

10:50 a.m.

11:50 p.m.

Session 4B

Understanding and Using Fulton History

11:50 p.m.

1:15 p.m.


Lunch Break

1:15 p.m.

2:15 p.m.

Session 5A

Using Autosomal DNA to Explore Your Ancestry

1:15 p.m.

2:15 p.m.

Session 6B

Saving and Sharing Local Records

2:15 p.m.

2:45 p.m.



2:45 p.m.

3:45 pm

Session 7

The Future of Genealogy


4:00 p.m.


Closing and Q&A session


Conference Registration

Full-day registration costs $45 for WNYGS and NYG&B members and $55 for non-members. Please call 212-755-8532 x211 to register or simply come to the confernce and register on Saturday morning.

Optional pre- and post-conference tours and events will also available for a fee or at no additional cost. See “Conference Weekend Tours & Events” section below.


Cancellation Policy

All conference cancellations must be in writing (mail or email) and received no later than September 15, 2017. No refunds will be issued after that date.


Conference Materials

Program materials will be distributed electronically in advance of the conference. A printed version may be purchased during registration at a cost of $10 per set.


Society and Repository Hall

From 10:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., local genealogical societies and repositories will have displays. Representatives will be on hand to answer questions and provide information. Participating organizations include:

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Program Descriptions


Pathways from New England to New York (Joshua Taylor)

Thousands of our ancestors journeyed from New England to settle in New York. This session will discuss major pathways between 1780 and 1850 and explore the key motivations that led New Englanders to migrate. We will also discuss the influence—and records—of land companies (particularly the Holland Company) and other factors.


Early Probate in New York: From Colonial Dutch & English to Statehood (Jane Wilcox)

New York has a notoriously complicated court system that affects all records, including early probate records that are of particular interest to genealogists. That New York's probate system is difficult to navigate is an understatement. This talk will help demystify the first 225 years of estate records in New York by taking a journey to learn how and where to find wills and administrations through the centuries -- from Dutch and English provinces to early New York State. We'll explore Dutch notarial and provincial records, town records, and various court records including Mayor's, Prerogative, Chancery, Common Pleas, Probate, and Surrogate's and more found at the New York State Archives, county offices, online and more. Essential resources important for successful searching and examples using probate records will be featured. 


Tour of New York State Genealogical Research Repositories: The Best (Jane Wilcox)

Explore the unique research resources and collections that are held by libraries, county archives, town historians, and historical and genealogical societies in New York State (not including Long Island, NYC and Albany). Among those featured are the Folklife Center at the Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, Warren County; the Genesee County History Department in Batavia; the Rhinebeck Town Historian at the Starr Library in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County; the Western New York Genealogical Society at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library in Buffalo; and the Onondaga County Public Library Local History and Genealogy Department in Syracuse. You’ll learn research ideas for any repository as well.


Understanding and Using Fulton History (Dennis A. Hogan)

The Fulton History website provides free of charge an index with images for over 37,000,000 pages of newspapers. Most newspapers are from New York State, however papers from 25 states and 4 foreign countries are now included. Site background, best practices, and research tips will be presented.


Using Autosomal DNA to Explore Your Ancestry (Blaine Bettinger)

For years, genealogists have focused on Y-DNA and mtDNA, unable to access the wealth of information in the remainder of their DNA. At long last, new autosomal DNA tests reveal this hidden information. Genealogists can use autosomal DNA for ethnicity estimates, finding long-lost cousins, and examining specific genealogical problems.


Saving and Sharing Local Records: Rochester Genealogical Society Community Case Studies (Larry Lavery & James Paprocki) 

This session will demonstrate complementary approaches to preserving and accessing local records, with particular emphasis on church records. The hope is that attendees will take away information that will help them preserve and share records in their communities.

The first part of the session will describe the twelve-year evolution of record digitization arm of the Rochester Genealogical Society. With more than 300,000 Monroe County-related pages in its holdings, the group utilizes cameras and scanners to capture church records, cemetery records and town records not easily available to researchers through normal channels. We will cover how the committee was formed, selecting projects, attracting volunteers, obtaining permissions to publish, ownership of the records, privatization, funding, archiving projects, equipment and software used to accomplish the work.

In the second part of the session, you will learn about the Rochester Churches Indexing Project, an eight-year long initiative involving more than 180,000 records. This presentation will provide an overview of the decision-making steps used to determine the scope of the RCIP, the best ways of extracting information, quality-control methods, and optimal presentation formats. It will also demonstrate how the RCIP enables multiple ways of accessing the data records.


The Future of Genealogy (Joshua Taylor) 

Enjoy a look into the future of family history as we end the day together. This session will explore advances in technology, potential tools for collaboration, and shifts and changes in demographics that will impact the world of genealogy in the years to come.

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Blaine Bettinger, JD, PhD

Dr. Blaine Bettinger is an intellectual property attorney by day and a DNA specialist by night. In 2007 he started The Genetic Genealogist (www.thegeneticgenealogist.com), one of the earliest blogs on the topic. Dr. Bettinger has been interviewed and quoted on personal genomics topics in Newsweek, New Scientist, Wired, and others. He is the author of The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy, and co-author with Debbie Parker Wayne of the award-winning Genetic Genealogy in Practice, the world’s first genetic genealogy workbook. Blaine frequently authors articles and gives presentations to educate others about the use of DNA to explore their ancestry. He is or has been an instructor for genetic genealogy courses at Excelsior College, the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research, and Family Tree University. Blaine is a graduate of ProGen Study Group 21, a trustee for the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society’s Board of Trustees, and a board member for the Association of Professional Genealogists. 


Dennis A. Hogan

A frequent lecturer, Dennis A. Hogan is a full-time professional genealogist specializing in New York State and Ireland. He serves as both the Vice-President and the Coordinator of the Computer Interest Group for the Rochester Genealogical Society. Dennis is also the Historian for the Town of Gorham and a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.


Larry Lavery

Larry Lavery is a member of the Rochester Genealogical Society where he served as Vice-President, chairing the Computer Interest Group for many years. He is a retired electrical engineer with paternal roots in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Erie counties. Larry lobbied to form the “Church Records Preservation Committee” in 2005. The scope of the effort has expanded to cover all community records of value to genealogists and includes more than 300,000 pages of records.


James Paprocki

Jim Paprocki has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is knowledgeable about database construction and in accessing them through the Internet. In addition to being co-administrator and webmaster of the Rochester Church Indexing Project, Jim is currently Assistant Webmaster for the Rochester Genealogical Society and a past editor of RGS' newsletter.


D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS

D. Joshua Taylor is a nationally recognized genealogical author, lecturer, and researcher and a frequent speaker at family history events across the globe. Passionate about family history, Joshua is the President of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (NYG&B). He is also the immediate past president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS). He holds an MLS (Archival Management) and an MA (History) from Simmons College and has been a featured genealogist on Who Do You Think You Are? and can be seen taking America through their past as a host on the popular PBS series Genealogy Roadshow.


Jane E. Wilcox

Jane E. Wilcox is a contributing editor of The New York Genealogical & Biographical Record and serves on the New York State Archives Advisory Committee. She speaks nationally for conferences, institutes and webinars and hosts The Forget-Me-Not Hour podcast twice a month at www.BlogTalkRadio.com/JaneEWilcox. With her company, Forget-Me-Not Ancestry, in Albany, Jane specializes in colonial and early national New York and area research. She also serves on the NYG&B’s New York Family History Advisory Committee and is writing the authorized guide to the New York State Archives. She has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, a bachelor's degree in history and English literature from the University of Michigan and teacher's certification from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

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Transportation & Accomodation



Discounted full-day valet parking will be available to attendees for $10 on the conference day. Simply pull your vehicle up to the main hotel entrance, explain that you are part of the Western New York Genealogy Conference, pay your money, and be given a claim ticket.  You can then unload your luggage/materials before heading inside. For hotel guests, the standard valet parking rate is $20 per day; on request, in/out privileges are also available.

For those individuals looking for self-service parking options, free street parking is available after 5 p.m. weekdays and throughout the weekend. Additionally, there are several nearby parking lots available (average cost $7-10 per day):

  • Pay2Park Zone - 217 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY 14202
  • Pay2Park Zone - 85 W Mohawk St., Buffalo, NY 14202
  • Pay2Park Zone - 75 W Huron St., Buffalo, NY 14202
  • AllPro Parking - 187 Franklin St., Buffalo, NY 14202
  • AllPro Parking - Martino Lot, 254 Franklin St., Buffalo, NY 14202
  • Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps - Augspurger Ramp, 362 Pearl St., Buffalo, NY 14202


Hotel Reservations:

A special single room rate of $159 (plus applicable taxes – 13.75%) is available for conference registrants on Friday, October 6 and Saturday, October 7, 2017. Hotel guests will receive free made-to-order breakfast daily as well as drinks and snacks during the complimentary Manager’s Reception each evening.

Minimum reservation age is 21. Check-in time is 4:00 p.m., and check-out time is 11:00 a.m. Reservations may be cancelled without penalty with at least 48 hours notice.

Rooms may be reserved online [Reservations> Add Special Rate Codes> Group Code] or by calling the hotel directly at 716-842-1000. The conference group code is WNG.

This special conference room rate will be available May 15 through September 15. Please note that discounted rooms may no longer be available if the conference room block is filled prior to the deadline.



The Buffalo International Airport (BUF) is located 10 miles from the hotel and approximately 20 minutes away by vehicle. Rental cars and taxi cabs are available at the airport. The average cost for a one-way cab ride from the airport to hotel is $25.

Between the hours of 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., the hotel provides shuttle service to and from the airport. The cost is $10 per one-way trip (per room reservation). Call the hotel front desk directly to arrange pick-up.

In addition to driving and flying, Amtrak and major bus lines also provide service to Buffalo. Please consult providers’ websites for detailed information on options and costs.

For those looking for convenient travel options locally, the Niagara Frontier Transit Authority (NFTA) provides bus and rail service within the Buffalo area. Three blocks east of the hotel is the Fountain Plaza Light Rail Station which offers free travel within the immediate downtown area.



During this conference, meals will be on your own.

The hotel features SEAR Steakhouse, a restaurant that is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, and The Beanery, an in-lobby shop that offers quick snacks, sandwiches, and Starbucks coffee.

Many quick service/casual food establishments are located within two blocks of the hotel. Options include:

  • The Chocolate Bar - 114 W Chippewa St, Buffalo, NY 14202
  • Domino’s Pizza - 187 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202
  • Jim's Steakout - 92 W Chippewa St, Buffalo, NY 14202
  • Rachael’s Mediterranean - 235 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202
  • Salsarita's Fresh Cantina - 110 W Chippewa St, Buffalo, NY 14202
  • SoHo Burger Bar - 64 W Chippewa St, Buffalo, NY 14202
  • Spot Coffee - 225 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202
  • Starbucks - 235 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202
  • Subway - 120 W Chippewa St, Buffalo, NY 14201
  • Ted’s Hot Dogs - 124 W Chippewa St, Buffalo, NY 14202

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Conference Weekend Tours & Events

To enhance attendees’ experiences, local repositories and sites will be offering optional paid tours pre and post conference. All proceeds from these events will benefit the hosting charitable organization. Interested individuals should register directly with the organization. Seating is limited, and advanced registration is required.


Friday, October 6, 2017 (Pre-Conference)


“Archives Talk and Cemetery Trolley Tour” - Forest Lawn Cemetery and Margaret L. Wendt Archive and Resource Center

Location: 2062 Main Street, Buffalo, New York 14208

Time: 2:00-4:00 p.m.

As one of the first deliberately designed and professionally landscaped rural cemeteries in the United States, Forest Lawn Cemetery is the final resting place of more than 161,000 individuals on its picturesque 269-acre grounds. Each year, thousands of visitors come to enjoy all that Forest Lawn has to offer. Unmatched natural beauty – hills, valleys, lakes and streams. Sculptural masterpieces. Living history. Most importantly, the stories of those who now rest in peace under our care - from a U.S. President and foreign royalty, to captains of industry, artists, inventors, veterans from every U.S. conflict since the Revolutionary War and people like us who have quietly built the community that we and our families enjoy.

Forest Lawn staff will present an insider’s look at its Margaret L. Wendt Archive & Resource Center, a 3,140-square-foot archival “center of excellence” that protects, conserves, and makes publicly accessible more than 1.2 million historical and genealogical documents. Attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in a one-hour docent-led trolley tour immediately following the presentation.

Cost: $20; register by calling Laurie at (716) 332-2233.


“Grosvenor Room Lock-In: Understanding Regional Genealogy Research Resources and Strategies” - Buffalo & Erie County Public Library

Location: 1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, New York 14203

Time: 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. (with additional "release" times at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.)

The Buffalo & Erie County Library's Grosvenor Room is home to an outstanding collection of unique, rare and historically significant genealogical materials. Join us as genealogy librarian Rhonda Konig presents an insiders' guide to Grosvenor Room resources. Whether beginner and veteran researcher, learn how to get more out of your library research efforts. Immediately following the talk and tour, library staff and Western New York Genealogical Society volunteers will be on hand to assist attendees with their research.

 Cost: Free; register online or via telephone at (716) 858-7189.


Sunday, October 8, 2017 (Post-Conference)


“Resources Talk and Museum Tour” - Buffalo History Museum

Location: 1 Museum Court, Buffalo, NY 14216

Time: 12:00-2:00 p.m.

Genealogy is the story of people and locations. Through our exploration of our ancestors, we reveal the story and heart of Buffalo & Erie County. Join the Cynthia Van Ness, the Director of Library and Archives at The Buffalo History Museum, as she highlights genealogical and historical resources available to researchers from our collection. As a special bonus for conference, we're offering docent-led tours of the Museum and exhibits immediately following the presentation.

Cost: $10; register online or via telephone at (716) 873-9644.


“Pioneer Homestead Tour and Talk” - Hull Family Home & Homestead

Location: 5976 Genesee Street, Lancaster, NY 14086

Time: 3:00-5:00 p.m.

Listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and New York State Register of Historic Sites, the Hull House is a Federal style home that was built around 1810 by Warren Hull, a Revolutionary War veteran and one of Erie County's earliest pioneers. The structure is currently recognized as the oldest masonry dwelling in the county. This special program will include a guided tour of the Hull Family Home and Homestead (including family cemetery) with a discussion of ongoing preservation and restoration efforts by Foundation President Gary Costello.

Cost: $10; register by calling (716) 837-0898.

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Other Local Items of Interest


Research Repositories and Resources:



Erie County Archives

Address: Old County Hall, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, NY 14202

Hours: M-F 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Website: www2.erie.gov

Phone: (716) 858-8785


City of Buffalo Inactive Records Center
Address: 85 River Rock Drive, Suite 301, Buffalo, NY 14207

Hours: M-F 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (call and confirm hours on day of visit)

Website: www.ci.buffalo.ny.us

Phone: (716) 877-0636



Buffalo & Erie County Public Library – Grosvenor Room (featuring WNYGS and PGSNYS collections)

Address: Central Branch, 1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, New York 14203

Hours: M-Su hours vary by day

Website: www.buffalolib.org

Phone: (716) 858-8900



Buffalo History Museum
Address: 1 Museum Court, Buffalo, NY 14216

Hours: Tu-Su hours vary by day

Website: www.buffalohistory.org

Phone: (716) 873-9644


Forest Lawn Cemetery and Margaret L. Wendt Archive and Resource Center

Address: 1411 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14209

Hours: Office – M-F 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and Sa 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.; Archives – M-F 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Website: www.forest-lawn.com

Phone: (716) 885-1600



Mt. Calvary Cemetery Group
Address: 800 Pine Ridge Heritage Blvd., Cheektowaga, NY 14225

Hours: Office - M-F 8:00am - 4:30pm & Sa 8:00am - 12:00pm

Website: www.mountcalvarycemetery.com

Phone: (716) 892-6600


Family Search Center - Williamsville
Address: 1424 Maple Road, Williamsville, New York 14221

Hours: M,W, & Sa 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Tu & Th 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Website: familysearch.org/locations/

Phone: (716) 688-2439



Government Appointed Historians of Western New York

Website: www.gahwny.org


Website includes a contact list for all the village, town, city, and county historians in the eight counties of Western New York



Things To Do While Visiting Buffalo and Erie County:

Visit Buffalo Niagara (local visitor and convention bureau) – www.visitbuffaloniagara.com


Tour Providers in Buffalo:

Buffalo Tours (walking) – www.preservationbuffaloniagara.org/buffalo-tours/

Explore Buffalo (walking, bike, bus, kayak) - explorebuffalo.org

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