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Proudly Celebrating 50 Years

Our Anniversary (1974-2024)

With a proud history dating back to 1974, the Western New York Genealogical Society is excited to celebrate our work, our impact, and the dedication and passion of our members and volunteers.

50th Anniversary Memories


As we look back over the past fifty years of the Western New York Genealogical Society, we all have our own memories of how we became interested in genealogy and of our time in the Society. Please share with us any special or unforgettable memories you have.


Submissions: Send them to We will share them throughout the coming year.

Shared Memories

  • Memory 1: Carolyn Dawley (#18) of Chandler, AZ   [1/3/2024]

  • Memory 2: Glenn Atwell (#13) of Buffalo, NY [1/10/2024]

  • Memory 3: Lynda Zaky Wood (#3560L) of Buffalo, NY [1/17/2024]

  • Memory 4: Barbara Keil (#3684) [1/23/2024]

  • Memory 5: Beth Benson (#4034) [1/31/2024] 

  • Memory 6: Nancy Cluff Siders (#2954) [2/7/2024] 

  • Memory 7: Lois Lane (#3782L) [2/13/2024] 

  • Memory 8: Rhonda Hoffman (#3495L) [2/21/2024] 

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Memory 8: Rhonda Hoffman - #3495L, B&ECPL Genealogy Librarian


I first started attending WNYGS meetings in 2010. The meetings were at the Hamburg High School library or cafeteria. The first presentation I attended was on HeritageQuest Online, a B&ECPL subscription database. The presenter was Pat Hililker Forsberg and she was very kind to put up with my ‘librariany’ interjections about the database. Other meeting topics that I remember from that time were an antiques roadshow, gravestone symbolism, and medical genealogy (things have changed so much!). 


About a year later I was asked to join the WNYGS board. Glenn Atwell hosted my first board meeting. He often hosted meetings at Christmastime and his home was always so beautifully decorated. Everyone was very welcoming and I enjoyed being snuggled by Glenn’s orange tabby cat (or was that the visiting neighborhood feline?). The other board members that I remember attending were Penn Watson, Pat Forsberg, Sister Claire, Karen Kolb, Ken Nash, Nancy Archdekin (via telephone speaker from Nebraska), and Dr. Jane Clarke. 


Since then I have had various WNYGS roles including president, JOURNAL editor and production editor, and I am currently the librarian. I will always cherish the society, the experiences it has given me, and the many genealogy friends that I have made along the way.


Memory 7: Lois Lane - #3782L


Glenn R. Atwell is listed as Editor on the Batt Genealogy (A Record of the descendants of Franz Joseph Batt, Sr. and Barbara Weber AND of the Anthony Batt and Beatrice Gath of Alsace and America, Published by the Batt Family Association of Alsace and America, Inc., Buffalo, N.Y., 1976.  This book was researched by Ronald Elmer Batt, who is my 1st Cousin 1X Removed. (Lois J. Lane Page 38; Ronald E. Batt, Page 39)


Memory 6: Nancy Cluff Siders (#2954) 

​​"I have been a member of WNYGS for approximately 20 years.  My maternal grandparents were born and raised around Colden and Aurora with surnames of McKAY and OLDEN.  Their families had lived in the area for many generations.  A Letson cousin told me about this group, and I joined.  Living thousands of miles away and working full-time, I sadly have not been much help to society.  When I noticed the WNYGS editor's maiden name was PARTRIDGE, I corresponded with her on our common surname.  I was delighted to discover June was my 3rd Cousin!  She was born on or near the original Partridge homestead adjoining the Partridge Cemetery, where my 3rd great-grandfather, Asa Partridge, was buried.     Note:  I have yet to find the original emails where we corresponded and am relying on this 82-year-old mind of mine, which can be in error."


Memory 5: Beth Benson (#4034) 

“My Dad and I didn’t have a particularly close relationship when I was growing up and I rarely initiated a conversation with him if I could help it, so he was quite surprised when I came home from college one weekend and asked him if he knew a “woman dressed all in green who said her name was Catherine.”  He and my mother, who was standing at the stove, turned and gave each other one of those looks that parents do when they’re having a conversation the kids aren’t supposed to hear.  Then he turned to me and said “Yes, she was your great-grandmother, Catherine Green, and she came here from Ireland.  How do you know about her?” 


I had gone to Lily Dale with a couple of friends that week for a reading with a Medium.  We had never done it before and thought it would be fun.  When she got to me she described my father almost perfectly, even where he always sat in the kitchen doing his crossword puzzles.  Then the medium spoke of the women in green who had her hand on my father’s shoulder, saying her name was Catherine.  My father had always been a good story teller – had a bit of the “blarney stone” in him.  Catherine suggested he had stories to tell about his family that I might like to hear.  Since my father never spoke about his family I was sure he had stories about them, but wasn’t sure they were fit to tell! 


But when I got home, he had plenty of stories – Catherine had left Ireland and married my Spanish great-grandfather here in Buffalo and had five children.  My grandfather, one of the five, had married a German girl whose family owned a business in the First Ward where they lived.  He and his wife had 11 children.  Who knew my father had 10 brothers and sisters!  


I learned enough that day to spark my curiosity, and although I didn’t begin working on genealogy for many years, it opened a dialogue between my father and I.  Maybe that’s what Catherine really wanted after all.  Who knows?  But it all started with a trip to Lily Dale.”


Memory 4: Barbara Keil (#3684) 

“Hi…. Whenever it was when WNYGS posted the two upcoming ZOOM programs, I had an OMG moment. I saw the name Margaret M. McMahon, Ph.D and remembered my very first DNA match after I had submitted my sample to AncestryDNA. I had a match with MM whose tree she managed. Because we both had well developed trees I was able to quickly identify that her husband is my 3C1R.”


Memory 3: Lynda Zaky Wood (#3560L) 

Lynda's first event with WNYGS was March 2013 at St. Louis Roman Catholic Church, with lunch at Ulrich's after the meeting. She stated "little did I know, it was a beginning." Since then, she has served on the board of directors, the programming committee, hospitality, transcribing/indexing, on the committee hosting the Western New York Genealogical Conference. Lynda has also visited the Society of Genealogists in London, England to research family history.  She is currently on the preservation committee, the 50th anniversary program committee and serving on the board of directors for a second time. She enjoys volunteering and helping those on the Facebook page. Lynda also hopes to see more young people in the society. 


Memory 2: Glenn Atwell (#13) 

Glenn Atwell (#13) of Buffalo, NY, has been part of the society since its beginning. He notes that he is currently "the oldest member of the society in terms of membership." He was there "when June was planning the society." Because "she belonged to several other genealogical societies...she knew how to go about it." 


In the first issue of the WNYGS Journal, Issue I, Number 1 (June 1974), Glenn is listed as the Organizing Vice-President. He also was one of the JOURNAL's first editors. In Issue XXXIV. Number 1 (December 2007), he wrote the memorial article on the life of the society's founder, June Partridge Zintz (1927-2007), which described their years of working together for the good of the society and of their friendship over the years.


Memory 1: Carolyn Dawley (#18) 

Carolyn Dawley (#18) of Chandler, AZ, a suburb of Phoenix, was an original member of the WNYGS Board and was the society's first secretary. Her memory of the early years of the society is that the founder, June Zintz, was a "powerhouse." Because June was a member of the DAR, the society board meetings were held at the downtown Buffalo DAR facilities. 


Carolyn noted that June worked tirelessly at all she did. She worked hard to get guest speakers and a genealogy library section for the society at a local library. 


As for her own research, Carolyn noted that you will never know "where genealogy will lead you." When researching her husband's family, a man named Matteson, in the late 1600s, had two sons. One moved to Vermont and he was the direct ancestor to her husband. The other moved westward and his descendents eventually settled in New Mexico. When Carolyn decided to add her new son-in-law to the family tree, she found that her son-in-law was a direct descendant of the original Matteson's son who went west. She had to laugh when she informed her daughter that she had married her cousin, albeit, her cousin many generations removed.


And that's why Carolyn says that when you do genealogy, you never know where it will lead you.

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