A group of veteran researchers will share their knowledge of the important and complex subject of land records and their utilization in family history, genealogy and local history research March 18 at Russells Mills Schoolhouse.
"Starting out with the records of the original purchasers from the Native Americans and these proprietors' successors and on into the deeds at the Registry of Deeds, there is much to learn for anyone doing family research," the Dartmouth Historical & Arts Society said in a news release.
Each panelist will make a 10-minute presentation. A discussion will follow.
Sally Aldrich will provide an overview of the Old Dartmouth proprietors' records. Dan Socha will discuss development and ongoing effort for the proprietors' records index. Richard Gifford will talk about following families via land records. Marian Ryall will share a timeline of land ownership in Russells Mills Village. Don Plant will explore what happened to the original proprietors' land. Robert Harding's presentation is titled "An Illustrative Deed - Nicholas Howland Jr. to Jeremian Davoll, 1730.
The 2:30 p.m. presentation will take place at Russells Mills Schoolhouse, 1205 Russells Mills Road.
More about the panelists:
Aldrich, who authored an honors history thesis at UMass Dartmouth on the subject of the Dartmouth proprietors' records and is considered the foremost local authority on that subject, transcribed the letter of James B Congdon, explaining to the chairman of the county commissioners the condition of the books in 1867 and recommended actions to preserve them. Congdon also summarized the contents:“These books purport to be the records of the proprietors of the land in the o1d town of Dartmouth, which was embraced in the purchase of William Bradford. ... The records of the sales and transfers of the lands of the Propriety ... are in four books, and in them are found recorded all the lands which constitute the o1d town of Dartmouth.”
Socha, a native of Michigan but an 18-year resident of Dartmouth, is a retired market development manager for Computer Integrated Manufacturing. After retirement from the computer industry, he turned to a longtime hobby of woodworking and focused on historical interests. He and his wife Susan live in a circa-1730 house in Dartmouth. He is the webmaster for the Dartmouth Historical & Arts Society and has been a leader in applying modern methods to the operations of a small-town historical society. A current project is the creation of a searchable index for the thousand-plus-page collection of handwritten proprietors record transcriptions created on the initiative of James B. Congdon.
Gifford, of Little Compton, has presented several talks on local genealogy and history in the local area. He is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Connecticut School of Law and is noted for the rigorous standards of his research and his knowledge of south coast history and genealogy.
Ryall, a board member of DHAS and a member of the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, is an avid researcher of land records, has conducted several meticulous searches into Russells Mills land history, and discovered and reported on the fascinating results of her work. She is especially sensitive to the detailed “metes and bounds” and the shapes of land parcels involved in her research.
Plant, also a board member of DHAS and a member of the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, has identified several personal ancestral lines back to the original Mayflower passengers and has been immersed in local history and his family ancestry for many years. He has a special curiosity about the disposition of the lands of the original purchasers, including 10 of his direct ancestors who purchased the land which became Dartmouth from Massasoit and Wamsutta.
Harding, a member of the Dartmouth Historical Commission, president of the Dartmouth Historical & Arts Society and a local historian and genealogist for many decades has studied the history of the 1702 Cummings House in Dartmouth extensively. Some of the deeds conveying this property in the early years illustrate many lessons about land ownership and transfers in the old town of Dartmouth. He is also an advocate of land record researching from a personal computer and has created a tutorial slide show to facilitate that process for others.