Local Genealogical Research
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 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.
How to Read and Understand a Deed
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 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.
Please note that subscription materials are available only in the Library.