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Archiver > APG > 2007-11 > 1195606864

From: "Melinde Sanborn" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Counties
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 20:01:04 -0500
In-Reply-To: <642192.43579.qm@web62403.mail.re1.yahoo.com>

Hi Ruy,
My statement also was not restricted to the colonial era. I am trying to
avoid making an itemized list of all the records usually kept in counties
elsewhere in the US that are not kept in counties in New England. I'd also
like to avoid making a list of what each of the present and extinct
so-called counties in New England states did and didn't keep. In fact, I
can't think of a book that does all that, although Diane Rapaport's New
England Court Records addresses some records that were kept in the courts on
a county level (where there were counties) in most New England states.

Here are some illustrations: Most New England towns kept a series called
Proprietors' Records, in which the town recorded lotteries, assignments,
swaps, and sales and purchases of land within their borders. These were
never kept at the county level (if a county level existed). In some cases
they were kept to the exclusion of county-level deeds, and sometimes in
parallel. They did not overlap. Selectmen or town clerks in Rhode Island and
Vermont kept deeds, probate, tax, and many other records, and counties
didn't - for certain time periods.

In a few cases, the Family History Library (and its predecessors) has
catalogued a number of records as "county" records - such as the Rockingham
County, New Hampshire, probates and Rockingham County, New Hampshire land
records. Evidently, the cataloguers were not familiar with the Provincial
deeds series, Provincial court series, or Provincial probate series - from a
time when the entirety of New Hampshire was a province without counties
(until 1769).

You are probably familiar with the series called "Ipswich Deeds" and the
very odd set of records the FHL calls "Old Norfolk County" records, as
opposed to recent but disbanded Norfolk County, Massachusetts, which is
nowhere near the original Norfolk.

I am reduced to saying that if you go into New England research, especially
pre-1800 and post-1988 research, thinking that counties (where they exist at
all) are just like counties in many other parts of the US, you will be . . .


I was, however, not
limiting my comment to the colonial era -- in fact, I
really had post-colonial records in mind -- and I have
certainly obtained a number of more recent (1800s)
probate records from the probate office of Orange
County, Vermont, for example. So I was a touch
surprised by your mentioning Vermont above. I have
similarly obtained probate records from Rockingham
County in New Hampshire, York and Waldo Counties in
Maine, and of course Essex County in Massachusetts,
none with specific references to being maintained by
town (though the relevant towns would be noted in the

Possibly the county-level offices do maintain at least
some books by town rather than for the entire county
in aggregate, and now that I think about it I've
probably never asked that question explicitly in my
dealings with those offices. But certainly the
sources for those records were county probate offices,
not town ones.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,

Ruy Cardoso

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