county historian

About The Seneca County Historian

The current Seneca County Historian is Walter J. Gable, who began in this position in late August 2003. He was a high school social studies teacher for thirty-two years prior to becoming the county historian. He has been a life resident of Seneca County. He graduated from the Romulus Central School, and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Syracuse University. As the county historian he has been working to infuse 21st century technology into the county historian’s office and to make the position of county historian more visible within the community.

The position of County Historian is a part-time position appointed by the Board of Supervisors. The office hours of the County Historian vary from week to week. The office hours are posted outside the office door and can be obtained by calling the county historian’s office (315-539-1785 and listening to the voice message). Specific appointments for an office visit are available. The best way to contact the County Historian is either by an in office visit, written correspondence, or e-mail (wgable@co.seneca.ny.us). Materials can be faxed to him (315-539-3789) as long as they are clearly marked to the attention of the county historian.

The Seneca County Historian has four broad categories of duties and functions, according to New York State law:

  • Research and Writing to help interpret the county’s past
  • Teaching and Public Presentations to help the public to learn about the county’s past
  • Historic Preservation of the documents and artifacts that help document the county’s past
  • Organization, Advocacy and Tourism Promotion to help organize and direct the commemoration of historic anniversaries and participate in other civic or patriotic observations

In addition to the above, the Seneca County Historian provides assistance to those conducting genealogical research.

The Seneca County Historian’s Office contains many kinds of information and provides various services. These include the following:

  • Detailed information about the “history” of the county, its various towns and communities, and specific events and developments. Much of this is contained in either various reference books or articles written on specific topics
  • Detailed information about various family names of residents of Seneca County at some time in its history. This information is found mainly on the approximately 30,000 index cards, compiled by Mrs. Betty Auten over the approximately 25 years that she was the county historian; hanging files and bound books containing genealogical information provided by various people researching their family histories; and a few special reference volumes.
  • Posters, articles, and/or power point presentations on various topics that form the basis of program presentations to community groups, school classes, etc. The current county historian is most willing to be a program presenter for almost any topic that deals with some aspect of Seneca County history, even if it means the development of materials for a topic other than those for which he has already prepared materials.
  • Providing assistance to people coming to the office, or contacting the office, with requests for information. This includes mainly research on genealogically or residences, but has also taken the form of requests from various government agencies and historical organizations.
  • Handling any special request to the extent that facilities, time and funds make it possible.