Erie County Penitentiary Records Are Now in Ancestry ———We Found a Familiar Name!

If you are looking for the skeleton in your ancestor’s closet, Ancestry has just added a record set that may help.  Various New York State prison records are now available for research.  To access Erie County records, search for this title in Ancestry’s Card Catalog: New York, Governor’s Registers of Commitments to Prisons, 1842-1908. Erie County Penitentiary commitment registers are included from 1883-1908.  The registers are keyword searchable and  list convict names, crime, name of judge, county where the convict was arrested, date of sentence, date received at the penitentiary and length of incarceration.

Jack London in Erie Co. Penitentiary

Included amongst the Erie County records is author, Jack London.  He is found on line 176 in the June listings, as “John Lundon” [see image above].   London famously wrote about his Erie County Penitentiary experience in The Road, which is a memoir of the time he spent as a Hobo in the 1890s. On June 28, 1894 London was arrested in Niagara Falls, NY for being a “tramp.”  At his “trial,” he was not allowed to speak [not even to enter a plea]; he was not afforded a trial by jury; and he was not allotted a lawyer. London was sentenced to spend 30 days in jail.   Both his trial and prison transfer happened the same day of his arrest.

London survived his sentence with the help of a friend who he met en route to the prison.  His friend was an experienced convict who taught him the ropes and secured him a position as a “hall-man.”  A hall-man was shielded from heavy labor and served the prisoner’s their food.  They were able to obtain extra bread and used it in the prison bartering system.  London also used his letter writing and other skills to acquire money and favors from other prisoners.

To learn more about London’s time in Erie County, read chapters “Pinched” and “The Pen” in The Road: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/14658

To learn more about the Erie County Penitentiary, see the following article from Western New York Heritage: http://www.wnyheritagepress.org/photos_week_2012/jack_londen_pen/jack_london_pen.htm

Other recently added New York prison-related records include: New York, Prisoners Received at Newgate State Prison, 1797-1810, New York, Executive Orders for Commutations, Pardons, Restorations and Respites, 1845-1931, New York, Discharges of Convicts, 1882-1915.

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A Different Kind of Buffalo Celebrity

Dr. Harvey Tananbaum, for many years the Director of NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, was also a graduate of Bennett High School.

Harvey Tananbaum Bennett HS Beacon 1960

Dr. Tananbaum also has the distinction of having been photographed studying at the Grosvenor Library in April of 1960.

Harvey Tananbaum, Grosvenor Reading Room, Apr. 18, 1960

Read more about Dr. Tananbaum’s career with NASA in this interview where he also discusses briefly his life in Buffalo, here: http://www.aip.org/history/ohilist/25491_1.html

 

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Buffalo Beauty

Our latest blog entry features another Bennett High School alum: actress, model and businesswoman Beverly Johnson, shown here in her yearbook photo from the Bennett Beacon, 1969.  The former champion swimmer became, among other notable things, the first African-American model to grace the cover of the US edition of Vogue in 1974.

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Another Buffalo native’s High School Yearbook photos

Today’s blog entry features retired professional basketball player Bob Lanier, in his yearbook pictures from Bennett High School, 1966.  Lanier played for the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks, retiring in 1984.

 

Bennett High School, Beacon 1966 - Bob Lanier

 

Bennett High School, Beacon 1966 - Bob Lanier copyBennett High School, Beacon 1966 - Bob Lanier 2

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Speaking of Yearbook photos…

Check out Emmy and Tony award-winning actress and Buffalo native, Christine Baranski, as she appeared in her high school yearbook, the Villa Maria Academy Immaculatan, 1970:

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Keep an eye out for future blog entries on Buffalo natives.

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It’s Yearbook Time – Let’s Celebrate Awkward Yearbook Photos

Check out our Yearbook Guide to see if we have your awkward yearbook photos!

 The Hair…

UB, 1898

UB, 1898

Masten Park High School, 1924

Buffalo Seminary, 1922

Buffalo Seminary, 1922

Hutchinson Central Technical High School, 1976

 The Candids…

South Park High School, 1954

South Park High School, 1954

Williamsville East High School, 1984

Williamsville East High School, 1984

 The Expressions

D'Youville, 1925

D’Youville, 1925

Hutchinson Central Technical School, 1976

Hutchinson Central Technical School, 1976

The Artistry

Hutchinson Central Technical High School, 1976

Hutchinson Central Technical High School, 1976

The Poses…

Canisius College, 1906

Canisius College, 1906

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Canisius College, 1906

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New Family History Research presentations at the Central Library!

This month, the Central Library is hosting a series of genealogy talks by Librarian and experienced genealogist Rhonda Konig.  These are just some of the many April events at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Libraries during “Love Your Library Month”!

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