Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thankful Thursday / Village Clerks

     Years ago, before I had ascertained the Irish townland of my Ryan clan, I found myself in the office of the Canandaigua, NY village clerk.  I was there to purchase a copy of my 4th great aunt Mary Ryan Sheehan's death certificate in the hopes that the space for her birthplace would hold something more than the word Ireland.  I had checked all her brothers and sisters certificates and she was my last possibility.

     I went to the office in person rather than send to the state for it, and if you have ever ordered a certificate from the Great State of New York, you know why.  The last one I ordered took a year to arrive, the others a mere 6 to 9 months.  I can get one from Ireland in under 3 weeks for cryin' out loud!

     I filled out the form and handed it back to the clerk, who disappeared into the mysterious recesses that hold all the information we genealogists would give our right arms for, OK... that may be hyperbole, but we'd give alot.  I don't know about you, but my wildest fantasies involve a flashlight and a night in a deserted clerk's office.  

     When the clerk returned she had the book containing the certificate in her hands at which point she said to me, "I don't know if you really want to buy this, all it says is she came from Ireland and her parents were Alice O'Dwyer and Cornelius Ryan, you already know all that."  Then this incredibly awesome , kind, considerate, (I can't think of enough adjectives to do her justice),  woman let me look for myself!  I was stunned!  And grateful, the certificate also held Mary's cause of death that I hadn't know when I entered the office.  In case you are wondering, it was double pneumonia.

     In another village, the clerk is an old schoolmate of mine who pretty much lets me look at whatever I'd like to, I am exceedingly fond of that woman.

     This is in stark contrast to another clerk, in another village which shall remain nameless, (oh what the heck, it was Palmyra), who refused to even check to see if she had the record I needed unless I forked over $22.  Mind you I had the exact death date, there was no need for a search, and I had been taken in earlier by the same person when she didn't have a 1940 death certificate I needed that should have been there. After a call to her boss to whom I explained if they didn't have the record, I would have to spend an additional $22 to get it from the state, I did get the assurance they had the certificate. That's right, I'm not afraid to go over the head of anyone who stands between me and the information I
want need.
     At any rate, today I am thankful for the great ones, the clerks who understand that our passion for family history may sometimes exceed our budgets and accommodate us when they can.  Hats off to you!

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