Children
LOOKING FOR LOST CHILDREN
(NOTE: I'm talking over 72 years at least, NOT current children. Also some of these records,
regardless of age, may be permanently sealed)
When searching for children in records in New York there are a few tips to remember. If you have
a case where you suddenly lose the children it could be that a parent has died or maybe they had to
give them up because they afford to keep them. Try this:

1.) Surrogates Court carries Guardianship files, as well as Probate Files and Wills, in many NY State
Counties. When a father died someone had to accept responsibility for the children. Even the wife
had to file for guardianship and have a witness sign. Usually they had to also provide a surety bond.
This money guaranteed the children would be provided for. This did not always work out well for the
children if a non-relative had to take them. Children were split up sometimes, treated as servants, etc.
The only other choice, if under 14 years of age, was to become an indentured servant (basically a
slave) or go to the poor house.
Example: 9/4/1822 Guardianship File in Genesee County Surrogates Court for:
Sarah Elizabeth Hoag & Benjamin Wilber Hoag - children
(Benjermin Sr had just died, no wife living)
Original Guardians for both children were:
Pearl Flower, Elisha Brainard, and Nathaniel Blakely. The son ends up
in Pennsylvania, then later in Wyoming County, NY. The daughter stayed in New York. (At least till
she was of age it seems, I did not search further then this file for her.)
It seems Benj. Jr. was almost 27 before he finally got rid of his
Guardian handling his money!! Don't forget, to find the children's name, you may have to look under the
"Head of Household" of the Guardian by his surname, not necessary that of the childs.
2.) Check with the County and Town Historian where you last find the child (after death of parent, almost
always the father). See if there were any Town or County Poor Houses in the area; and if they have a
record of the people who were living there.

3.) See if the Town itself had a "Poor Master". He was like the local
Social Services guy. Check with the Historian of the town. The Poor
Masters Log would list the names of children as well as adults. What
money was given, and what it was used for. Also who got paid for taking
care of whom.

4.) In Genesee County (and probably other counties in NY) there was a yearly meeting of the Supervisors
of the towns. It would last for several days. Different topics were discussed and reported on, including
who got sent to the poor house. A book was printed for every year of these meetings called "Genesee
County Supervisors Meeting of 19--". Check with the Historian of the County to see if they have any
copies. This is something you will have to go read yourselves in most cases: or enlist someone to do it for
you. It is a bit time consuming.
5.) Some Counties still have records in Surrogates Court for Indentured
Servants as well. Because NY provides grants for Records Management, these files, if they still exist, may
be held elsewhere. I believe in our case the County Historian's office archivally filed them and are held in
the Records Storage Facility.
Some of the Indentured Servant Records that involved complaints were found in the County Clerks Office
in Genesee during their Records Management project*. They were indexed and archived by the County
Historians Office here. I couldn't read them. They would make you cry. I wonder how many people
realized there was other types of slavery going on in the United States in the mid 1800's?

* Several Towns and Counties are involved in one of New York State's grant funded programs through the State
Archives and Records Administration. (Also referred to as SARA). It is a Records Management Program. When our
town started this project we found all sorts of wonderful information that had been buried away. Eventually there will
be finding aids for these newly discovered records.