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And relationships too

So all this week The Legal Genealogist has been romping through the laws of the Province and State of New York as they impacted Orange County.

That’s all been, in part, leading up to tomorrow’s spring seminar of the Orange County Genealogical Society at the Goshen United Methodist Church. (Come on out and join us!)

NY.lawsWe’ve looked, together, at some of the ways the statute books themselves can help provide depth and context to the stories of our ancestors’ lives and even clue us in to what stories we may want to spending time tracking down.

We’ve looked, for example, at how and when the borders of Orange County were fixed — and how they changed over the years.1

We’ve looked at the problems that wild animals like wolves and panthers posed to early settlers.2

We’ve looked at the fact that wolves weren’t the only four-leggedy beasties that posted problems: pigs running wild and dogs bothering sheep were also noted in the laws.3

We’ve even looked at the on-again-off-again-on-again celebration of the opening of the Storm King Highway — a major engineering feat in the years leading up to World War I.4

Yes, there are a lot of stories in those statute books.

And, yes, I do realize that the particular stories we’ve been looking at don’t talk about particular individuals.

But, yes, really, there are names that are named in those pages as well and — more than just names — relationships too.

The bread-and-butter of genealogy.

Just one example, if you will. It’s a pair of laws passed just a little more than 194 years ago — they became law on the 16th of April 1822.

A man named Thomas Ellison had died. He was a resident of New Windsor, in Orange County, and his administrator, Thomas I. Delancey, wanted to be able to mortgage and sell some of the real estate owned by the estate to pay debts and support the minor heirs. He also needed to be able to sign off on a land sale Ellison had agreed to before his death but for which he hadn’t executed the deed.

The laws passed that April all those years ago recited that Delancey was not just the administrator of Ellison’s estate, but the guardian of the persons and estates of those minor heirs.

And every last one of them was named in both statutes:

• “Eliza Ann Ellison, John Ellison, Henrietta Ellison, Caroline Matilda Ellison, Emily Ellison, William Ellison, Thomas Ellison, and Charlotte Amelia Ellison, the infant children of Thomas Ellison, late of the town of New-Windsor, in the county of Orange, now deceased.”5

• “Eliza Ann Ellison, John Ellison, Henrietta Ellison, Caroline Matilda Ellison, Emily Ellison, Thomas Ellison, William Ellison, and Charlotte Amelia Ellison, the infant children of the said Thomas Ellison…”6

Not too shabby, getting all the underage children of the deceased with their full names, is it?

But the second statute goes one better. It explains why this man, this Thomas I. Delancey, was chosen as the administrator and as the guardian of the children. Because, it says, “the … petitioner … is the husband of Mary Jane, one of the children of the said Thomas Ellison…”7

Oh, yes, really, there are names that are named in the pages of those statute books, and relationships too.

Convinced you to read them yet?

I thought so…


  1. Judy G. Russell, “Bordering Orange,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 25 Apr 2016 ( : accessed 29 Apr 2016).
  2. Ibid., “Cry wolf,” posted 26 Apr 2016.
  3. Ibid., “Four-leggedy beasties,” posted 27 Apr 2016.
  4. Ibid., “The Storm King,” posted 28 Apr 2016.
  5. “AN ACT for the relief of the Infant Heirs of Thomas Ellison, deceased,” Chapter 227 in Laws of the State of New York, … 1822-1824 (Albany, N.Y. : William Gould & Co., 1825), VI; 240-241; digital images, Google Books ( : accessed 28 Apr 2016).
  6. “AN ACT fur the relief of the surviving Administrator, and the Heirs of Thomas Ellison, deceased,” Chapter 229 in ibid., VI: 241-242.
  7. Ibid., VI: 242.
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