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Sackets Harbor woman follows family history back to her doorstep


WHO: Beverly K. Sterling-Affinati, Sackets Harbor. Her book "The Sterling/Storing Family of Upstate and Northern New York" has been published by Heritage Books. Mrs. Sterling-Affinati owns HarborSide Services in Sackets Harbor and is a Daughter of the American Revolution and a Daughter of 1812. She is married to Dennis C. Affinati, business manager at IBEW Local 910, Watertown. They have three children.

During the War of 1812, Mrs. Sterling-Affinati's fourth-removed grandfather, Robert Storing (Staring), was called from Herkimer County to fight in Sackets Harbor with the Albany Volunteers. His son and grandson, Jacob and Adolphus Sterling respectively, both enlisted in the Civil War and also mustered out of Sackets Harbor.

Mrs. Sterling-Affinati's book draws upon historic archives, governmental records, vital statistics, census data and DNA test results

Your book is not self-published. Why do you think Heritage Books took an interest in your family's story?

"It fits their standards. It reflects on three specific categories which they request whenever authors submit work to their publishing company: American history, local history, and genealogy.

"The history of my family in America begins when my emigrant ancestor, Nicholas Staring, journeyed with his three sons to the New World. My book takes the reader down the Rhine River in Germany and through the months of dreadful conditions they endured sailing across the ocean en route to the New York harbor in 1710. Nicholas was a Palatine."

What is a Palatine?

"A phrase used in British and early New York to distinguish a certain group of Protestants who came to America through England in 1708, 1710 and the following years. The Palatines were brought here under contract of Queen Anne to make naval stores (production of turpentine and tar) for England. The tar was in great demand for use on ships of the Royal Navy.

"My family was among those who settled in the Mohawk Valley."

What was involved in your research?

"I spent five years researching starting late in 2003. I have a lot of great memories visiting places with my husband in search of family history. We traveled to nearly all of the central and northern counties of New York, sometimes twice and three times, and spent extensive periods of time in the Mohawk Valley.

"I also had a great deal of help from cousins, other genealogists, archives departments, historical societies, churches, libraries, town clerks, historians, etcetera, plus military and pension records which I ordered through the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C."

"Another excellent source was That's a collection of old archived newspapers."

Did you discover any family surprises?

"If I had to pick one thing that surprised me the most, it was finding out that my ancestors lived here in Sackets Harbor and Dexter, prior to my move here and before research began.

"I had no way of knowing that my great grandfather, William D. Sterling, left Hounsfield in 1923 to purchase the Sterling Hotel in Camden, the village where I grew up. There are still Sterling descendants residing here and there.

"Nice touches to this discovery was learning that two of my grandfathers (Adolphus and Jacob Sterling (Storing), mustered out of Sackets Harbor and walked right past the home where I now live en route to the train station — on West Main Street — which would take them south during the Civil War."

What advice can you give to others looking into their family's history?

"Verify sources. Because of technology, it's too easy to get information that may not be correct. When looking at your family history, try to go to the original source, and verify information found online. and make it too easy to add family information without listing where their sources came from.

"And while the intentions of these members may be good, errors do occur; sometimes as simple as transcription errors. And don't be afraid to ask for help. There are professionals at libraries, archives, and the like ... all waiting to guide you in the right direction."

If you have a suggestion for a Q&A profile, contact Times features writer Chris Brock at or write to him at Watertown Daily Times, 260 Washington St., Watertown, N.Y., 13601.

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