Monday, July 1, 2013

Using Town and County Histories for 1790 Family Research

First, we must remember that most county histories are undocumented, so the information should be used as clues for finding more reliable original sources. That being said, county histories are often rich with tales and details about our ancestors and the communities in which they lived. Here’s an example from the Gazetteer of Grafton County.

Winthrop Bagley, of Taunton, was born in 1762, served in the Revolution, and at the close of the war, came to this town and settled upon the place now occupied by George H. Blasdell, on road 22. He run a tavern for several years, and the sign used is still in the family.1

If you are a descendant of Winthrop Bagley, you can use this information to search for original records, perhaps beginning in Taunton, Massachusetts. You can also search for military records to verify his Revolutionary service. As of 1886 which the Gazetteer was published, Winthrop’s tavern sign was still in the possession of family members. I wonder if any of Winthrop’s descendants still live in the area and might still be holding on to that sign!

This is just a sample of the gems that lie in town and county histories. These publications often include transcribed town records and land ownership maps. Many are online, free of charge, at Google Books ( or (  



[1] Hamilton Child, Gazetteer of Grafton County, N.H., 1709==1886 (Syracuse: The Syracuse Journal Company, 1886), p. 629; digital image at Google Books ( : accessed 1 July 2013.

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