Town and County Histories
Town and county histories often contain a great deal of genealogical data on its pioneers and early residents. As with family genealogies, search an online library catalog or digitized book website to see if a history has been written about the town where your ancestors resided.
As you peruse these older town histories, be aware that they are known to contain errors, which can mean that the unsuspecting beginner then takes those errors and repeats them. The problem is not so much that errors are circulated (although it does get frustrating to see inaccurate statements made which were corrected in journals ten years ago!), but rather that the source was not cited with these errors which means that the next unsuspecting person who receives this lovely little error will not be able to evaluate its reliability… and so on… and before we know it, it is the error which stands out over and above the ten-year-old printed correction. So, while early town & county histories and family genealogies are susceptible to a high degree of error, some more so than others, as an authored source they are important, and as a source, it is important to cite them.
When you cite this type of authored source, what does it tell you about your information? It tells you that you need to look further for verification. You have been given a clue, a starting place, and it is now your job to set out to prove the information you have found.
Some examples of New England histories with genealogical content are the following:
Jacobus, Donald L., History And Genealogy of the Families of Old Fairfield, 3 vols., 1930. Available on Ancestry.
Stiles, Henry R., The History of Ancient Wethersfield, Connecticut, Comprising the Present Towns of Wethersfield, Rocky Hill, and Newington; and of Glastonbury Prior to Its Incorporation in 1693; from Date of Earliest Settlement until the Present Time, 2 vols. New York: The Grafton Press, 1904. Available online at Internet Archive.
Lapham, William B., History of Paris Maine, from Its Settlement to 1800, with a History of the Grants of 1736 & 1771, Together with Personal Sketches, a Copious Genealogical Register, and an Appendix. Paris, Maine, 1884. Available online at Internet Archive.
Stackpole, Everett S., Old Kittery And Her Families. Lewiston, Maine: Press of Lewiston Journal Company, 1903. Available on Internet Archive.
Winsor, Justin, A History of the Town of Duxbury, Massachusetts, with Genealogical Registers. Boston, Massachusetts: Crosby & Nichols, 1849. Available online at Internet Archive.
Mitchell, Nahum, History of The Early Settlement of Bridgewater In Plymouth County, Massachusetts Including An Extensive Family Register. Boston, Massachusetts: Printed by the author, 1840. Available online at Internet Archive.
Furber, George C., History of Littleton New Hampshire in Three Volumes. Cambridge, Massachusetts: University Press,1905. Available online at Google Books.
Lyford, James O., History of the Town of Canterbury, New Hampshire, 1727-1912, 2 vols. Concord, New Hampshire: Rumford Press, 1912. Available online at Internet Archive.
Wilbour, Benjamin F., Little Compton Families, 2 vols. Rhode Island: Little Compton Historical Society, 1967. Available from Ancestry.
McPartland, Martha R., The History of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, 1677-1960, with Related Genealogy. East Greenwich, Rhode Island: East Greenwich Free Library Association, 1960. Available online at Internet Archive.
Cudworth, Addison E., The History, with Genealogical Sketches, of Londonderry. Montpelier, Vermont: Vermont Historical Society, 1936. Available online from Ancestry.
Wells, Frederic P., History of Newbury Vermont from the Discovery of the Coos Country to Present Time With Genealogical Records of Many Families, 1704-1902. St. Johnsburg, Vermont: The Caledonian Company, 1902. Available online at Internet Archive
Learn more about what histories are available for Mayflower families by taking our course “Research: Mayflower Ancestors”.