|The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933 firstname.lastname@example.org|
By Kevin Olmstead
The Daily/Sunday Review
June 10, 2001
Reprinted with permission
A Tioga County native’s search for information about her ancestors has resulted in a Web site featuring a very thorough history of Bradford and Tioga counties, Pa., and Chemung County, N.Y.
Joyce Tice, a native of eastern Tioga County who now lives in the Cortland, N.Y., area, began studying genealogy in 1992, two years after her husband, Stanley Schafranek, passed away. Soon after, she developed the Sullivan-Rutland Genealogy Project, which traces the ancestry and descendants and the life stories of the pioneer population of Sullivan and Rutland townships in Tioga County, Pa.
Her work is included on "Tri-Counties Genealogy and History" by Joyce M. Tice, which can be viewed on the Internet by browsing http://www.rootsweb.com/~srgp/jmtindex.htm.
Tice, who attended elementary school in Elmira, N.Y., graduated from Mansfield High School, then Mansfield University with a major in English. Much later, she earned an MBA in finance and accounting from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
After having worked for Ethicon Inc. and the International Division of Nabisco, Tice is now self-employed, working with accounting systems for small businesses since 1989. She lives in the Cortland, N.Y., area with her dog, Enki, and cat, Sullivan. Her parents still live in Tioga County.
As someone with the background in accounting, Tice confessed that history was not always high on her list of favorite subjects.
"In high school, I liked math and languages," Tice said. "History was lowest on my list of interests. I always read history on my own, but as it was taught in the school – all wars and politics instead of the lives of people like ourselves on their birth to death journeys – I did not find interesting."
She said her work on the Sullivan-Rutland Genealogy Project inspired an interest in local history.
"Genealogy inevitably leads to an interest in local history because it does no good to find out who your ancestors are if you don’t also try to understand what their lives were like and what the community they lived in was about," Tice said. "There is so much in history that is interesting and the more you learn, the more interesting it is. You uncover it in layers as your knowledge base grows. Developing the Tri-Counties site has given me a wonderful opportunity to learn continually about our area’s fascinating past. It is a journey that never comes to an end. It is never boring or routine."
Tice is particularly fascinated by the early history of the region.
"The very early development of settlements along the Susquehanna River in Bradford County and the conflict over the claims of the Connecticut and Pennsylvania settlers resulting in the Pennamite Wars, is a very interesting and dramatic aspect of the history," Tice said. "Also the Indian history and its tragic end in all three of the counties is a never-ending source of interest. The settlement of the French fleeing the Revolution in Asylum is another part of Bradford County history that is very special. I can’t stop at just naming one."
Tice is also interested in the often-overlooked contribution of women to our region’s history.
"The early histories gave the men all the credit and were often written as if the women were not even there," Tice said. "Diaries and letters, when we are fortunate enough to get them, are our best source on the lives of the early women. Mara Sargeant, buried at Leona, is one of the few women credited with service in the Revolutionary War. She later became an early settler here and raised a large family with her husband, Mr. Grace. Many of her descendants remain in this area and all over the country."
While working on her Sullivan-Rutland Genealogy Project in August 1996, Tice found an upstart Internet project called USGenWeb, which was looking for coordinators for each county in the U.S. This project fit well into her plans.
"I had been intending for some time to get SRGP online, so I immediately signed up to do Tioga County because of my already-existing project," Tice said. "I did not know a single thing about HTML (the text language used to design Web pages), but I am fully computer literate and had no difficulty adding that in. However, if I were to see my early pages now that I have learned more, I would be horrified. But you start with what you know and build on it."
Shortly afterward, Tice agreed to take over Bradford County as well, since her ancestry spilled over into that area. Soon, she was also maintaining the site from Chemung County, N.Y.
By December 1996, I had offered to help the person who had signed up for Chemung County," Tice said. "She had trouble getting started and in a short time, I ended up with that, and glad to have it. I have extensive ancestry in Chemung County, also. For convenience sake and unity, I combined the three counties into one site… I have lived and worked and attended school in all three of the counties represented on my site and I have very early ancestry in all three as well, going back to the first settlements."
In the first year, Tice mainly kept the query pages on the Web site up to date. Gradually, she started adding more to the site.
"About September 1997, I decided to start getting the cemetery listings that Rhoda English Ladd had done in the 1970s for Tioga County on the site," Tice said. "Rhoda, who is still alive and near 90, was thrilled to have her work made available to the larger audience."
Tice put a note on the site for volunteers to help retype the lists in a format that she could easily convert to HTML. She received quite a response. "It just snowballed," Tice said. "There are over 700 cemeteries in the three counties and we have by far the majority of them already online, some from older lists, many of which need to be or have been updated, and many from new listings being done in the present by a large number of local volunteers. These people spend their summers out there in the heat and sun copying tombstone records and typing them up for the site."
Tice said some of the volunteers are working on the large cemeteries in our area now, including a local group.
We have a very active group in Bradford County," Tice said. "They share the lists they do for the site with the Bradford County Historical Society and the other county historical societies."
Volunteers have also transcribed census records, histories, church records, tax records, death and marriage records, diaries, letters, family stories and other documents used for genealogical research.
Tice also includes scanned images of antique postcards on the site, some bearing postmarks from Laquin and Barclay, towns that have been all but abandoned.
"They are a valuable resource for seeing what our world looked like in the past and many hundreds are already included there," Tice said. "People send in wonderful antique photos of their ancestors, along with their histories, that are included on the site. I have even started including some business histories. There are 80 townships in the three counties, and each township has its own page with links to its own cemetery listings, census and tax records, church records, school materials, diaries, letters, Bible records and so on. There is also a very large section on school memorabilia from our long-gone one-room schoolhouses."
Tice said volunteers from all over the country send her materials every day, which she formats and uploads for anyone to use free of charge. A search engine enables people to track down materials the quick way if they don’t have time to take the scenic route through this now massive site, Tice said.
"I encourage people to develop a sense of community, so that they understand the world their ancestors lived in, rather than just chasing names and not getting to know about the people they find and the way they lived and believed," Tice said.
Tice said each of the 5,400 pages on the site contains the equivalent of 10 to 20 paper pages – a lot of material gathered over five years. She said the main page gets about 300 hits daily from all over the world. She also said her e-mailing list includes over 800 people.
For Tice, maintaining the Web site is a labor of love.
"My reward has been the exposure to so many interesting parts of our world that I have been in and around all my life and never noticed until the past decade," Tice said. "The site will continue to use up most of my time indefinitely. It will never be a completed task. It is a library just like any other, but instead of existing in a building, it exists on a hard disk here and in California where the server is. It is easier to get to than other libraries because you can reach it any time, right from the comfort of your own living room."
Tice thanks all of the volunteers who have contributed to her Web site. Without them, she said, it couldn’t be what it is today.
"Genealogists and historians are very generous people,"
Tice said. "They want their ancestral histories to be known and they want
their hard work out there where others can use and benefit from it. The
Internet is a wonderful communications tool and permits people to share
their work with those doing the same thing easily. It is also easy to create
the kind of network that has made the development of this site possible
in such a short period of time.
Copyright © 2001; The Daily/Sunday Review; Towanda, Pennsylvania.
Thanks to James Towner, Publisher, for permission to reprint this article on the Tri-Counties Genealogy and History Site of Joyce M. Tice.
Transcribed by Dick McCracken, 11 June 2001
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