Southern Tier Genealogical Society

The Southern Tier genealogical Society meets on the first Thursday of the month (April through October). This months meeting features our popular “Show and Tell” night.

Southern Tier Economy Growing, But Help’s Wanted


Micatu is growing fast, The Horseheads start-up has over 20 employees right now and wants to expand to more than a hundred. “Started in my garage with $75 and, you know, five years later, here we  are,” co-founder Mike Oshetski explained.  Oshetski credits state economic development money for helping Micatu grow. The company makes a device that tracks energy usage. It sells the device to utilities.


Trump Plans To Cut Agency That Helps Rural Poor In Southern Tier

Steuben County is one of the counties that receives money through the Appalachian Regional Commission. Credit Dougtone / Flickr

A high-tech business incubator. Rural high speed internet. Flood mitigation. A wide range of major infrastructure projects in our area are funded through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).


Women To March In The Southern Tier, Too

Hundreds of thousands of people are headed to D.C. for the inauguration and for the Women’s March on Washington. WSKG caught up with one group in the Southern Tier and Northern Pennsylvania as they prepared for the voyage. Twin Tiers to D.C. is what the group is calling themselves. Last weekend, they got ready for the march by making posters with phrases like “We’ll show you nasty.”
Angela Button’s poster says, “Feminism: back by popular demand.” She’s a student in Corning and was at President Obama’s inauguration in 2012. “That was really inspiring at that point,” she said, “so this is a cool experience to go back to D.C. kind of in a different light to say, “No, we’re not going to stop.


How Southern Tier Farmers Fought To Hold The Union Line

Many books and movies have been written about Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and his valiant success at Little Roundtop, but very little has been said about the right end the line where Colonel Ireland was with his regiment. Today, they’re getting a little time in the sun. The 137th New York and their leader Colonel David Ireland held down the right side of the line on Culp’s Hill. Culp’s Hill is actually two hills sloping down into a ditch or a swale. On the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, General Lee and the Confederate army attempted to get around the Union line.


Despite Trends, Upstate’s Not Done Yet With Manufacturing

Roxanne Mourhess says the milk trucks roll by her antique store every day. The store is a 150-year-old former church on the main drag in Campbell, New York, a small town near Corning. The store is just down the street from the weathered, light blue grocery store. In the other direction, a Kraft plant puffs out steam by the railroad tracks. Mourhess couldn’t believe it when she heard last month that the plant was slated for closure.


Parents Sue So. Tier School For More Say, Lower Taxes

Parents in Harpursville, New York, are taking their school district to court. A group sued the school earlier this year over what they say is a lack of transparency. The case went before a Broome County judge Tuesday. The group is called STOP, or School Transparency Organization for Parents. They say their school used a secretive process to get rid of two administrators last year and hire replacements.

"Hotbed in Tranquility" by R. W. White


Natural gas has been produced and used in upstate New York for longer than anywhere on Earth.  Indigenous people knew of “burning springs” for centuries, and it was nearly 200 years ago that William Hart ran the first commercial gas line to brighten lamps in the homes of Fredonia, NY, on the shore of Lake Erie.  The first well to release its gas through fracturing the shale formation was drilled in Fredonia in 1857.  Other parts of the nation and the world may have become better known as sources of natural gas — while the Empire State was enjoying progress and prosperity in such sectors as agriculture and manufacturing — so few New Yorkers paid much attention to our local gas wells.

In the past twenty years a surging demand for domestic energy sources drew interest back to the potential abundance of natural gas beneath the beautiful meadows and streams of upstate New York.  A declining farm economy made the exploitation of mineral rights attractive to many landowners, especially with development of the Trenton – Black River formation with its gas under natural pressure, that seemed to cause only temporary disruption to normal activity.  The development of horizontal drilling techniques might mean that even those who lived near a gas well might benefit monetarily.  But beneath the Trenton – Black River play — as deep as 9,000 feet — rests the Marcellus Shale.  Referred to as a “super giant” gas field, this gas can only be released by fracturing the rock with a combination of water, sand and chemicals whose exact composition varies and are often under proprietary control. The prospect of “hydrofracking” with the potential for pollution of water resources and the disruption of rural tranquility has made New York deal cautiously with drilling in the Marcellus Shale.  This activity is presently under state-imposed moratorium.  It remains a topic of debate, the subject of hundreds of reports, letters to the editors and now, a romantic novel.  “Hotbed in Tranquility” was written by R. W. White, who lives, as he describes it, “on a wooded hillside, atop a shale-field of natural gas” in Owego.  Robert White is a retired Presbyterian minister who lived for many years in England.  This is his fourth book, and his second novel. Tranquility is the name of a fictional town in New York’s Southern Tier, in the heart of the Marcellus gaslands.  As the story opens it appears that the exploratory activity has already taken a toll.  Will Ross has returned home to the U.S. after a long stint overseas as a Foreign Service Officer.  He discovers that his own parents are contemplating signing over permission to drill for gas on their land.  Meanwhile, others have begun to sense problems of water pollution and illnesses caused by seepage of gas into their wells.  The gas drillers seem to have the dominant hand with their political connections, but the Town Supervisor of Tranquility, Stephanie Reynolds Hall, has gathered opponents of drilling in support of her campaign for U.S. Congress.  She is a smart, attractive candidate, a divorced mother of two children, including an 11-year old son who may have contracted a pre-cancerous condition from the effects of gas exploration.  Stephanie is also the former high school sweetheart of Will Ross. Will is back in the States after many years posted abroad and his new position at the State Department happens to involve negotiating new international agreements on natural gas.  He sees the possibility of the growth of a worldwide natural gas cartel, which could place both the United States and the Town of Tranquility at a disadvantage.  It is a confidential assignment, but it seems that persons in high places are aware that Will has become involved in Stephanie’s anti-drilling campaign.  Readers also become aware that Will and Stephanie have resumed a passionate affair.  The hotbed of the title doesn’t just refer to politics and hydrofracking.