Monday, October 31, 2011

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Our first snowstorm makes Connecticut's settlement patterns seem much more logical. Old Saybrook, Wethersfield, and Windsor are Connecticut's oldest towns. All are - surprise, surprise - right on the Connecticut River. It was a convenient way to ensure you weren't lost in the wilderness. When the river was open, you could use it to travel. And if it froze... It gives you a new appreciation for how or ancestors planned to live without snowplows.

Why can't I find my town?

Looking for Rockfall or Taftville, CT records? You've probably already hit a dead-end. What do you do next? I'll let you in on a little secret.

Connecticut has a number of small villages and neighborhoods with their own names - most of which are part of larger towns. To find your record, youl will need to identify the parent town. An internet search for the town name + history will usually lead you in the right direction. If you get stuck, put a call into the town hall or public library in a nearby town. Hopefully, they can help. With the name of the parent town, it's easy to make the next step.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Why do I need to contact the town? It should be at the county seat. Right?

If you're not a "Nutmegger," the hardest part of research can be figuring out where the records are located. Many genealogists expect to find county systems that hold all records at the county seat. It's a relatively simple way to access records. Of course, Connecticut's counties don't work that way.

Connecticut's towns - not counties - have always been the state's political powerhouses. Traditionally, politics happened locally; records were stored locally. The reasons behind this are not entirely clear. Likely it had something to do with settlement patterns. Early arrivals settled around churches and left gaps between their communities. That church, and the town that eventually replaced it, easily became the center of their lives. According to the Secretary of State's website, the state of Connecticut entirely eliminated county governments in 1960.

What does that mean for you? It's time to stop looking for records on the county level. Time to try the town.