The Crooked Lake Review

Fall 2006-Winter 2007

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In Memory of

Marion Springer

1924 - 2006


Bill Treichler

George and Ora William Waight’s daughter Marion was born January 21, 1924, in Jasper, Steuben County, New York. She married Clifford Springer in June 1943; he died in 1993. She is survived by three daughters, five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and one great-great granddaughter. She and her husband were also proud foster parents for nineteen children.

Marion Springer is remembered by many people for her willing and expert help locating their ancestors. She began her genealogical research in Steuben County by helping people look in official records for information about their antecedents when she was the Fremont town clerk, from 1952 until 1964. At that time she began keeping a card file of all names that had been sought in the town files.

When the county took over from the towns in 1964, Marion was hired to become senior clerk in the county clerk’s office in Bath and took the responsibility for caring for the records of personal property liens. Here, besides her official duties, she worked with county historians Charles Oliver and James Hope to cross-reference the 1790 through 1925 census records for Steuben County with the wills and land deeds files, and with the marriage and birth certificates for all the towns in the county, as well as with gravestone readings for all Steuben County cemeteries.

She also worked to index and enter into computer files probate records up to 1900. Marion indexed and made computer available newspaper announcements of genealogical importance taken from two Steuben County newspapers. She had some assistance, but she personally read most of the newspapers. Then she created an index of obituary notices published in two local papers from 1967 to present.

In a 1983 newspaper interview she confided. “It’s not really a hard job. It’s like a puzzle. You have to be accurate or the pieces won’t fit. There really isn’t any part of my job I don’t like.” The interviewer commented that both history and modern technology crowded her office, that she enjoyed the contrast and thought the best part of the job was the contrast. Marion, a 1941 graduate of Jasper Central School, retired at age 76 in 1998 as senior clerk.

The next morning, after 46 years as both town and county clerks, she began volunteering forty hours a week in the county historian’s office helping people to piece together their family histories. From that time, she worked without pay well over 20,000 hours replying to genealogical inquiries from all across the country, assisting visitors to the historian’s office in their searches, and continuing to read and index marriage and death records, obituaries and probate documents. She regularly took material home for evening work.

On Tuesday October 24, 2006, Marion agreed to take a few days off “to rest my voice” from a persistent cough and resulting hoarseness. On Friday she was moved by ambulance from her home to Ira Davenport Hospital and from there to Arnot Ogden Hospital in Elmira where she was diagnosed with pneumonia and congestive heart failure. She died Sunday, October 29, 2006, in her 83 year.

The card file she kept has over 13,600 cards, each with name[s] and address[es] of searchers who have requested information about the person listed on the front of the card. The file has become a valuable cross-referencing system. There are 160,000 names on the computer she used.

At her desk in the historian’s office on the main floor of the Magee House she was always willing to answer questions from drop-in visitors and historical society members. Marion could almost always immediately reply with desired information, or its location. Many of the books in the office she supplied, and she underwrote Steuben County Historical Society book publishing projects more than once. She was a long-time member of the society.

Here is what the society treasurer, Eleanor Silliman, wrote as the conclusion of the nomination for Marion’s inductance into the Steuben County Hall of Fame:

Marion Springer was a Steuben County pioneer in recording family history at the government level. Her efforts to help families with their genealogy, brought people here from all over the United States and Canada to learn the history of Steuben County. She was always happy to share her wealth of knowledge about Steuben County and the families that have lived here.

Because she thought anything worth doing was worth doing right; she proofread all records after they were computerized, sometimes several times. She was always striving to make the indexed records in the department as accurate as possible.

Many long hours of a “labor of love” were spent making the Genealogical Research Department of Steuben County a place people planned vacations around. They came to meet the lady that had answered their letters and emails, helping to make their ancestors come to life.

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