Big changes have come to — all content is now read-only, and member subscriptions and the Shop have been discontinued.
Learn more
New? Start Here
Genealogy How-To
 Getting Started
 Getting Organized
 Developing Your Research Skills
 Sharing Your Family's Story
 Reference Guide
 Biography Assistant
Free Genealogy Classes
 Beginning Genealogy
 Internet Genealogy
 Tracing Immigrant Origins

Family Finder
First Name:

Overheard in GenForum: Martins/1700 - 1800s in Conn.
by Rhonda R. McClure

Each week Rhonda answers a question from the GenForum message boards and gives her expert answer here. We'd love to hear anything you have to add. Go ahead and leave your comments on GenForum with the original message.

June 28, 2001
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Q: I've been trying to search and find the parents of my great great grandfather William H. Martin. He was born in 1822, married to Nancy Rogers, lived in Vermont, My problem is his parents, I don't know their names, but have heard they might have come from Connecticut and wonder if anybody knows of any Martins in Connecticut in the 1700s to the 1800s. -- Mary

A: New England research brings the researcher to some states with excellent records. Not only do they have vital records, probate, land and all the other major record types genealogists rely on, but they also go back quite a bit further in years than the rest of the states.

Connecticut to Vermont is one of the migration routes that many families followed in the late 1700s and the early 1800s. Vermont's history may also play a part in the research of your family, which may not necessarily go to Connecticut.

New England is strong in history and records.

Vermont History

Vermont's beginnings were a little on the rocky side. It truly was the man, or state, in the middle. In the mid-1700s, both Benning Wentworth, New Hampshire's governor, and Cadwallader Colden, New York's Lt. Governor claimed the land that became Vermont. While both men petitioned the crown for a change in their boundaries to encompass this land, they did not wait to hear from the king before issuing land grants. Due to this, those early settlers did not know if the land they were working was truly theirs. The crown settled this in 1764, giving the land to New York. This made New York's grants the valid ones and upset most of the people living in Vermont.

In 1777 Vermont announced that it was independent of not only New York and New Hampshire, but also of the English crown. The only grants the fledgling territory acknowledged were those from New Hampshire and new settlers began to move into the territory.

It was this independence though that would have a direct affect on New York. There were two New York counties that included lands that eventually came under Vermont's control in 1777. Both Albany and Washington Counties would lose their eastern portions to Vermont.

This shift of land from New York to Vermont may directly affect your research. You did not mention where in Vermont William was living, but if it was along the counties that border New York, then it is possible that the family came through New York rather than Connecticut.

Connecticut Research

Researchers in Connecticut records have a major resource available on microfilm. The Barbour Collection is a transcription of vital records from the town records of most of the towns in Connecticut. Named for Lucius Barnes Barbour, who was in charge of the project after the creation of the State Department of Health, his job was to abstract all the town records to the mid-1800s.

Records in the Barbour Collection date from a town's creation up through 1850, and in some instances beyond. Each scrap of paper included the entry as found in the town records, the name of the town, along with the volume and page number in the original town book for that vital record entry. In some instances there are also notations that a given individual migrated and to where.

Barbour did exclude some towns in his project. If he was aware of a published work of vital records that covered the years in question, then he did not include it in his state index or in the individual towns. The best-known town that falls into this category is Norwich.

The good news is that these records are available on microfilm at the Connecticut State Library, the Family History Library, and many other public and specialty libraries with genealogy collections. If William wasn't born in Vermont, but Connecticut, then you may be able to pick him up in this resource.

In Conclusion

If you are still trying to get a better handle on William's life, you may want to see if another researcher has submitted some information to one of the compiled genealogy projects. I would encourage you to search the World Family Tree, FamilySearch's Ancestral File, and RootsWeb's WorldConnect. You never know what you may find. If you do locate him in any of these databases, be sure to get a letter off to the submitter as soon as possible so that you do not miss out on an opportunity to converse with a possible cousin.

See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at

Back to Top of Article

Home | Help | About Us | Terms of Service | PRIVACY
© 2011