Research Local History

Click on the headings to the left to see links to resources and information available.



The Rockingham Free Public Library provides an extensive local history collection including maps, photographs, published histories, genealogies and microfilmed local newspapers. Patrons visiting from far away would be best served by getting in touch with the Reference and Historical Collections Librarian, ahead of time so that resources relevant to your research can be prepared ahead of time. Click here to email Nancy or call the Library at 802.463.4270.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Bellows Falls and Saxtons River



The Sanborn National Insurance Diagram Bureau created maps used for fire insurance assessment from 1876 until after World War II, when other assessment instruments became more popular. The areas that were targeted for documentation were areas urbanizing around the late 1800s. Sanborn Maps, as they are known, hold a vast amount of information for historical researchers including building shape, name, use, building material, property boundaries and information about sidewalk and road width and location. The villages of Bellows Falls and Saxtons River are documented in these PDF files of the original maps.

To access the Sanborne Maps, please contact the library by phone at 802.463.4270 or email reference@rockinghamlibrary.org.

Researching a Property



Researching Your House or Property in Bellows Falls, Saxtons River and Rockingham

The Town Vault:

How to Read and Understand a Deed

Definitions

A Deed is a legal agreement resulting in the transfer of land and buildings from one owner to the next owner.

A Grantee is the buyer.

A Grantor is the seller.

In Vermont, Registered deeds are treated in the stored in the town clerk’s office. All of the villages within the town of Rockingham, including Bellows Falls, Saxtons River and Cambridgeport, share this office. The office of the town clerk is located in the second floor of the town hall on the square in Bellows Falls.

Deeds are indexed in two systems, grantor and grantee. These systems are set up alphabetically by the last name followed by given name or by company name. In the Town of Rockingham these systems are on index cards. Larger towns may have index books. In either case, they give the Volume or Book and page number where the deed may be found and after an abbreviated description of the property.

All deeds start with names of the grantor and grantee, where they reside, and the amount of money or goods that will be exchanged for the property. This is followed by the description of the property (compass directions and measurements) and often who the abutters are. On warranty deed there is a written guaranty to defend and uphold against other claims against the property. Finally, the date is written out and signed by the guarantor and witness to the deed. At the bottom of the deed will be found the date that the deed was recorded and the signature of the recorder.

To get a history of the property, start with the last known owner and look this person up in the grantee index. It is good to work out a log in which you can keep track of each owner. The log would look similar to the following example:

Vol.

Pg.

Grantee

Grantor

Date of Transfer

Price

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following back through deeds is just a case of finding the deed to the grantee and entering this information on to your log.  For the next deed you wold use the first deed’s grantors name and look that person up in the grantee index. Make sure you find the same property as some people own several pieces of property in their lifetime.

Your search would look something like this:

1st Deed (2001) Smith from Jones

2nd Deed (1995)                  Jones from Rogers

3rd Deed (1982)                              Rogers from Thomas

4th Deed (1964)                                          Thomas from Green

5th Deed (1945)                                                      Green from Wilson

 

Resources from the Library

 

Sanborne Insurance Maps

Sanborne maps were prepared for fire insurance purposes and are available for Bellows Falls and Saxtons River for 1885-1940. These maps include information such as the outline of each building, the size, shape and construction materials, heights, and function of structures, location of windows and doors. The maps also give street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers. Click here to access the Sanborne Fire Insurance Maps online

 

Histories of the Town of Rockingham

            First edition written by Lyman S. Hayes in 1907

Second Edition written by Frances Lovell in 1957

These two books provide a good overview of the history of Rockingham and the surrounding area.  They also contain many family genealogies, business histories and accounts of major happenings in town, including natural disasters and fires.

 The 1907 edition is available in full online for free through the Google Books Project. This is a great way to access this book because it is fully searchable.  The map on page 344 shows Bellows Falls in 1824 and the one on page 349 shows the buildings of Bellows Falls in 1869 and the following pages document the resident or use of each building. The index of persons may help you find out more about the former occupants of your house if you have their names.

The 1957 edition is available at the library and is very similar to the 1907 edition in layout. This edition contains no numbered maps but does extend the genealogies of the families from the first edition.

Cataloged Photograph Collection

The Library’s cataloged photograph collection may contain an image of your home or property. It is helpful to know the names of families that owned or occupied it and any previous business uses of the property. Please ask at the library to search the index spreadsheet and view the corresponding binders of historic images.

National Historic Register Applications

If your house or property is part of one of the districts that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, there might be detailed architectural and useage history in the application. Many applications are available online, at the library or in the Town Hall. The ones available for Rockingham are:

Bellows Falls Historic Neighborhood District includes: Atkinson, Westminster, School, Hapgood Sts, Hapgood Pl., Burt St., Henry St., South St., Hadley St., Temple Pl.

Bellows Falls Downtown Historic District includes: Depot, Canal, Rockingham, Bridge, Mill and Westminster Sts.

Parker Hill Rural Historic District includes: Parker Hill and Lower Parker Hill Rds.

Saxtons River Village Historic District includes: Roughly bounded by Burk Hill and Belleview Rds., Oak St., Saxtons River, and Westminster West Rd.

Bellows Falls Island Multiple Resource Area

Rockingham Village Historic District

Williams Street Historic District, Rockingham

George-Pine-Henry Streets Historic District, Rockingham

Rockingham Village Historic District

Click here to find more information about the National History Register.

Local Genealogical Research



The Library can help you trace your roots with online tools. Watch the video to learn more.

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player


Genealogy in Rockingham, Windham County Vermont

Covering the villages of Bartonsville, Bellows Falls, Brockway Mills, Cambridgeport, Saxtons River and Rockingham.

Vital and Property Records

Vital and property records are kept in the Town Vault at the Clerk’s office,  located on the second floor of the Town Hall/Opera House at 7 The Square in Bellows Falls, VT.  Handicap access is by elevator on the left side of the building.  Phone # 463-4336, mailing address P.O. Box 339, Bellows Falls, VT 05101.

There is a $2.00 an hour access fee to vault records and a sign-in and sign-out register is maintained. Copies can be made for a fee.

Since the first proprietors meeting of March 28, 1753 the town has continuously maintained records of its meetings, vital records and property transactions.

Vital Records

Vital records are kept in the vault and identified as Births, Marriages, and Deaths.  These are filed on cards in alphabetical order by family name, and within each family group by given name.  From the cards the actual record is identified by book number and page.

Cemetery records can be found on the death certificates and card index for deaths.  Those records indicating Book 35 are found in the property deeds book 35.  These were written on the back of deeds apparently as a way of saving money.

Property Records

How to Read and Understand a Deed

Definitions

A Deed is a legal agreement resulting in the transfer of land and buildings from one owner to the next owner.

A Grantee is the buyer.

A Grantor is the seller.

In Vermont, Registered deeds are stored in the town clerk’s office. All of the villages within the town of Rockingham share this office.

Deeds are indexed in two systems, grantor and grantee. These systems are set up alphabetically by the last name followed by given name or by company name. In the Town of Rockingham these systems are on index cards. Larger towns may have index books. In either case, they give the Volume or Book and page number where the deed may be found and often an abbreviated description of the property.

All deeds start with names of the grantor and grantee, where they reside, and the amount of money or goods that will be exchanged for the property. This is followed by the description of the property (compass directions and measurements) and often who the abutters are. On warranty deed there is a written guaranty to defend and uphold against other claims against the property. Finally, the date is written out and signed by the guarantor and witness to the deed. At the bottom of the deed will be found the date that the deed was recorded and the signature of the recorder.

To get a history of the property, start with the last known owner and look this person up in the grantee index. It is good to work out a log in which you can keep track of each owner. The log would look similar to the following example:

Vol.

Pg.

Grantee

Grantor

Date of Transfer

Price

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following back through deeds is just a case of finding the deed to the grantee and entering this information on to your log.  For the next deed you would use the first deed’s grantors name and look that person up in the grantee index. Make sure you find the same property as some people own several pieces of property in their lifetime.

Your search would look something like this:

1st Deed (2001) Smith from Jones

2nd Deed (1995)                  Jones from Rogers

3rd Deed (1982)                              Rogers from Thomas

4th Deed (1964)                                          Thomas from Green

5th Deed (1945)                                                      Green from Wilson

Church records must be obtained through the individual churches.

The Library has The Records of The First Church of Rockingham.

Probate Court records

These records document adoptions, custody, divorces and wills.  The probate court system is now closed in Bellows Falls, VT.  Access to these records must be done through the Probate Court at 80 Flat Street, Suite 104 in Brattleboro, VT 05301 telephone 802-257-2898.

Rockingham Free Public Library

Newspapers covering local events are available on microfilm starting as early as 1817.  Many issues are missing but it is still worthwhile to check out. The local newspaper often contain the obituaries and marriage announcements and are easiest to navigate when you have an exact date of death or marriage from the vital records or elsewhere. The microfilm machine can provide digital files or a printout. Printing is 10 cents per page.

The library has public access computers available and a number of genealogical database resources available to all visitors, including Heritage Quest, available from any computer to all library cardholder and Ancestry Library Edition, which can only be used inside the library.

Heritage Quest Click here to request the login information.

Heritage Quest provides census, book information on people and places,  Persi which covers people and places in periodicals.  Freeman’s Bank information provides bank information on freed slaves, Revolutionary War, information on Pension, Bounty and Land Warrants and U.S. Serial Set.

Ancestry Library Edition**This service is only available in the Library.

- U.S. collections deliver hundreds of millions of names from sources such as federal and U.S. censuses; birth, death, and marriage records including the Social Security Death Index; and U.S. border crossing and trans-ocean ship records.

-  Canadian collections provide nearly 60 million records from the Census of Canada; and key vital records, such as the Drouin Collection (1621-1967), which includes nearly 30 million baptism, marriage, and burial records from Quebec.

-  U.K. collections offer censuses for England, Wales, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, and Scotland, with nearly 200 million records; Births and Baptisms (1834-1906), Marriage Licenses (1521-1869), Deaths and Burials (1834-1934), and Poor Law Records (1840-1938) in London; and more.

-  Other international collections continue to grow with more than 46 million records from German census, vital records, emigration indexes, ship lists, phone directories, and more; Chinese surnames in the large and growing Jiapu Collection of Chinese lineage books; Jewish family history records from Eastern Europe and Russia; and more.

-  Military collections deliver over 150 million records containing information often not found elsewhere; and includes records from the colonial to the Vietnam era.

-  Multimedia collections deliver millions of files ranging from family and gravestone photos to postcards and newsreels.

-  Newly released 1940s Census data.

Local History Books



The History of the Town of Rockingham

Cover of the History of RockinghamThere are two volumes of The History of the town of Rockingham, Vermont, including the villages of Bellows Falls, Saxtons River, Rockingham, Cambridgeport and Bartonsville.

* The 1907 History writen by L.S. Hayes is available in the Library.
(click here for Library holding information), you can alsoclick here to read it as a Google Book.

* The 1957 history, written by Frances and Leverett Lovell is available in the Library. (click here for Library holding information).

Both contain family genealogies and Indexes of Persons and are a great place to start your local history or genealogical research.

Village Names in Rockingham



Have you ever wondered how places in Rockingham came to be named?

Click here for information about Rockingham, Bellows Falls, Cambridgeport Place Names.

List of Newspapers availble on Microfilm



The Washingtonian (Windsor, VT) 1810-1815
The Bellows Falls Times

29 Dec 1817 – 21 Dec 1818
4 May 1818 – 18 Oct 1824
24 Oct 1824 – 29 Oct 1841
5 Nov 1841 – 10 Feb 1844
7 Feb 1844 –   1 May 1846

The Bellows Falls Intelligencer 4 July 1825, 27 Mar 1826, 10 Apr 1826,
11 Nov 1831
The Bellows Falls Journal 14 Nov 1835 – 25 Nov 1836
The Bellows Falls Times May 1846 – May 1912
Jan   1915 – Jun 1973
Connecticut Valley Times Reporter July 1973 – Dec 1974
Bellows Falls News Review

June 1972 – Mar 1984

The Shopper April 1984 – Dec 1986
The Bellows Falls Town Crier Jan   1987 – Dec 1988

National Register of Historic Places



If your house or property is part of one of the districts that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, there might be detailed architectural and useage history in the application. Many applications are available online, at the library or in the Town Hall.

Click on the headings below to view the listings available for Rockingham (and Rockingham/Springfield) are:

Bartonsville Covered Bridge
Bellows Falls Downtown Historic District
Bellows Falls Island Multiple Resource Area
Halls Covered Bridge
"Miss Bellows Falls" Diner
Moore and Thompson Paper Mill Complex
Oak Hill Cemetary Chapel
Rockingham Meeting House
Saxtons River Historic District
Williams River Route 5 Bridge
Worrall Covered Bridge
Parker Hill Rural Historic District

Visiting the Library



Rockingham Free Public Library
65 Westminster Street
Bellows Falls, VT 05101
Telephone:802.463.4270
FAX:802.463.1566
E-mail: reference@rockinghamlibrary.org
Hours of Service:
Monday - Wednesday 10 - 7
Thursday & Friday 10 - 5:30
Saturday 10 - 2

View Larger Map
Driving Directions

Exit 6 off I-91: From the North or South:
Take Exit 6 of I-91. At end of ramp, turn right and travel onRte. 5 South to Bellows Falls via Rockingham Rd, which becomes Westminster St. After passing through downtown, the Library will be on the right between Henry and Hapgood Streets.

Exit 5 off I-91: From the North and South:
Take Exit 5 off of I-91 South. At end of ramp, turn towards Bellows Falls/Rte 5. At bottom of hill turn left onto Rte. 5 North. Go about 3 miles to the light and bear right onto Westminster St. towards downtown Bellows Falls. The Library is two blocks down on the left between Hapgood and Henry Streets.

Parking is available on nearby streets.

Ask a Question