The Buffalo History Museum Pt. 2

Continuing with my research trip to The Buffalo History Museum, I looked through many different books and did not have luck finding any of my ancestors in them. I do not find these negative results as a waste of time as I was learning about resources that I did not know were out there.

One of those negative results books was Death Record of Old Buffalo Settlers, 1833-1883 by Thomas Farnham. This was a fascinating book that the author wrote down biographies for people that he personally knew that passed away. I was sad that my ancestors were named in there as I would have loved to learn some of those personal details that he wrote about others that he knew. What a great resource for deaths before death records were kept by the City. A note on the research guide that the library gave me said “The necrologies were published in the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser in 1869 and 1878.” It would be interesting to compare what the newspaper printed to what was written in the book as the author was still alive at the time.

Two other books that I had negative results for were both written by June Zintz: Index of marriages from Buffalo newspapers, 1811-1884 and Marriages from Buffalo church records 1825-1900. I found surnames that were from my family, but no given names that I recognized.

They have a large card file system organized by surname for deaths in Buffalo or Erie County. I did a search for Gollwitzer and did find a card for Edwin J. Gollwiter. Edwin is my 1st cousin, 3x removed. He is the son of Charles Gollwitzer who is a brother to my 2nd great-grandmother, Barbara Gollwitzer (who married John Hetzel).

Edwin J. Gollwitzer found in the card catalog.
On top of the card catalog there is a guide to help shorthand used on the cards.

For Edwin’s card, it indicated that I should find a notice of his death in the Buffalo Historical Society Annual Report. However, it was not there. The librarian realized that the code on the card was incorrect and pulled a book titled Buffalo Historical Society Publications, edited by Frank H. Severance, Volume Thirty.

Frank H. Severance, editor, Buffalo Historical Society Publications, The Buffalo History Museum F 116 .B83 P86 v.30 c. 2, page 263

Lastly, I asked to look at the books for the Buffalo Registered Voters, 1897-1956. I had to leave soon, so I only asked for two of the books to be pulled. The research guide said that the volumes were arranged by ward, then by election district within each ward, then by street. I figured that I should start with the low hanging fruit and select John Hetzel as my person to look up as he lived in the same house at 842 Smith in Buffalo for over 60 years.

I used my phone to look up the wards on the Federal Population Censuses. Even though John did not move, the ward did, multiple times:

  • 1900 – Ward 10
  • 1910 – Ward 7
  • 1920 – Ward 8
  • 1930 – Ward 5
  • 1940 – Ward 5
Registered Voters. Ward 1-14. City of Buffalo 1900.

The first voter registration book that I looked at was for 1900. I was disappointed at first as I didn’t find Smith Street listed but then I realized that there was more than one election district. After a few more pages, there he was.

Ward 10, District 2, City of Buffalo, 1900, Official List of REGISTERED VOTERS.
Smith Street, 842 Hetzel, John

It was exciting as I have never seen a voter list before. This is a great reference similar to directories that can help you track your ancestor year to year in-between the Federal Population Census schedules.

I also found him in the 1954 book along with his son, Clement Hetzel.

Official List of Registered Voters City of Buffalo 1954 Wards 1 to 7.
Ward 5, District 13, City of Buffalo, 1954, Official List of Registered Voters, Smith Street, 842 Hetzel, Clement, 842 Hetzel, John.

I look forward to when I have time to go back to these Voter books and look up all of my ancestors that lived in Buffalo.

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