Researching Your House or Property in Bellows Falls, Saxtons River and Rockingham
The Town Vault:
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 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.
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.
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