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Hampden County, Massachusetts Genealogy

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This is a historical and genealogical guide to the county of Hampden. You will find help with town histories, vital records, deeds and land records, city directories, cemetery records and cemeteries, churches, town records, newspapers, maps, and libraries.

Hampden County Massachusetts HistoryEdit

Brief HistoryEdit

This region was the first settled area in western Massachusetts Bay Colony centered around Springfield that was settled in 1636. It was first incorporated as the county of Hampshire. The first settlers arrived coming up the Connecticut River valley. The King Philip's War pulled settlers back from many frontier areas in 1675. Springfield has always been the center of trade and culture for this region. When Hampshire County was last divided, Springfield was made the county seat of the new county of Hampden. Realize that the old deeds for the region stayed in Springfield and the old probates moved in 1794 and stayed in Northampton. The county government was abolished on 1 July 1998, but its former jurisdiction is used for state offices as a district.[1]

Historical DataEdit

The basic data are from the historical county boundary series[2] with additions from various sources.

Dates Events
1 Aug. 1812 Hampden County set off from the northern half of Hampshire County. [Mass. Acts, 1812, Ch. 137, p. 291]
7 Feb. 1826 Narrow strips of land exchanged between this county and Tolland Co., Conn., when state boundary straightened.
7 Feb. 1831 Small gain when Palmer annexed a part of Western [now Warren], Worcester Co. [Mass. Acts, 1831, Ch. 37, p. 545]
4 May 1853
15 May 1855
Border between Tolland and Sandisfield, Berkshire Co., clarified - no change - and then redefined. [Mass. Acts, 1853, Ch. 421, Sec. 1, p. 639; 1855, Ch. 358, Sec. 1, p. 755]
9 June 1909 Large gain when Holyoke annexed a part of Northampton, Hampshire Co. [Mass. Acts, 1909, Ch. 480, Sec. 1, p. 498]
29 Mar. 1910 Border between Palmer and Ware, Hampshire Co., redefined - no change. [Mass. Acts, 1910, Ch. 471, Sec. 1, p. 422]

Record LossEdit

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

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Towns and CitiesEdit

The following list of present-day Hampden County towns and cities links them to their individual pages. There you will find a list of other names used for the town or city and of villages and sections of the town or city.

Agawam (1855) | Blandford (1741) | Brimfield (1731)
Chester (1765) | Chicopee (1848) | East Longmeadow (1894)
Granville (1775) | Hampden (1878) | Holland (1835)
Holyoke (1850) | Longmeadow (1783) | Ludlow (1775)
Monson (1775) | Montgomery (1780) | Palmer (1775)
Russell (1792) | Southwick (1775) | Springfield (1636)
Tolland (1810) | Wales (1775) | West Springfield (1774)
Westfield (1669) | Wilbraham (1763)

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County HistoriesEdit

MassachusettsConnecticutHampden CountyBerkshire CountyHampshire CountyWorcesterWindham CountyTolland CountyHartford CountyLitchfieldTollandGranvilleSouthwickAgawamLongmeadowEast LongmeadowHampdenMonsonWalesHollandBrimfieldPalmerWilbrahamSpringfieldWest SpringfieldWestfieldMontgomeryRussellBlandfordChesterHolyokeChicopeeLudlowSandisfieldOtisBecketWashingtonHinsdalePeruMiddlefieldWorthingtonChesterfieldHuntingtonWesthamptonSouthamptonEasthamptonNorthamptonHatfieldWilliamsburgGoshenWhatelyHadleySouth HadleyGranbyAmherstPelhamBelchertownWareSturbridgeWarrenBrookfieldNorth BrookfieldOakhamNew BraintreeWest BrookfieldHardwickColebrookWinchesterBarkhamstedHartlandGranbyEast GranbySuffieldEnfieldSomersStaffordUnion
Modern town and city borders in Hampden County, Massachusetts.

Works written on the county include:

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Hampden County Massachusetts Genealogy ResourcesEdit

Vital RecordsEdit

In Massachusetts, the original vital records (of births, marriages, and deaths) have been created and maintained by the town or city in which the event occurred. In very early colonial times, copies of these records were submitted to the county, but that practice died out long before this county was established. There were marriage intentions commonly recorded in the bride's home town and additional recordings maybe found in the groom's home town and their current residence.

Massachusetts was the first state to bring a unified state-level recording of these events (but not marriage intentions) in 1841 (Boston excluded until 1850). The associated records of divorce and adoption are handled by the courts. The state has maintained a state-wide index to divorces since 1952, but adoption records will require more researching to discover.

It is easiest to start with the state vital records for events since 1841, though realize the original record is with the town or city. More details can be found on the Massachusetts Genealogy Guide page.

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Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county Family History Library
USGenWeb WorldCat Billion Graves
MAGenWeb Archives
Tombstone Project
Billion Graves
See Massachusetts Cemeteries for more information.


Emigration and ImmigrationEdit

Land RecordsEdit

Land transfers, commonly called deeds, are recorded on the county level in Massachusetts. Not all deeds were recorded as is common practice today. The earliest transactions were charters or grants from the English Crown. Once local government was established, the colony would grant land to settlers directly or to towns to dole out. Some towns first start out as proprietorship and records were recorded there. Once towns were established, deeds were recorded on the county level.

NOTE: Hampden County holds all the original deeds of Hampshire County from its beginning in 1662 to the creation of this county in 1812.

Springfield Registry of Deeds
50 State Street
Springfield MA 01103
Phone 413-755-1722

Westfield Satellite Office
59 Court Street
Westfield MA 01085
Phone 413-568-2290
Note: See registry page above for temporary location of this office (Sept. 2013).

Original records

Records are available at the Registry. Their records ONLINE are:

  • Recorded Land [i.e. deeds], 1956-present.
  • Recorded Plans, no date.
  • Registered Land [i.e. land court], no date.
  • Registered Land Plans, no date.
Original records on microfilm

Original records published

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Probate RecordsEdit

Online Records

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Other Court RecordsEdit

The court system can appear to be complex. The system was reorganized in 1686/1692, 1859, and 1978. Described below are the most commonly used records for history and genealogy, but realize that this list is incomplete. For more detailed information regarding court structure, see Understanding the Massachusetts Court System.

Older records are held by:
Supreme Judicial Court Archives
(administration - records stored in several off-site facilities and the Mass. Archives)
16th Floor, Highrise Court House
3 Pemberton Square
Boston MA 02109
Phone 617-557-1082

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Quarterly Court of General Sessions of the PeaceEdit

This court was active from 1812 to 1827. The court heard criminal cases and had authority over county affairs that included levying taxes, reviewing town bylaws, highways, licensed liquor, regulated jails, supervised the administration of the poor laws, and appointed some county officials.

The records microfilmed:

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Inferior Court of Common PleasEdit

This court was active from 1812 to 1859. The court heard all civil cases over 40s unless a case involved freehold or was appealed from a justice of the peace.

The records microfilmed:

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Superior CourtEdit

The Quarterly Court of General Sessions was merged into the Inferior Court of Common Pleas in 1827, and that court was reorganized in 1859 to created the Superior Court as the new lower (i.e. trial) court. It covers both criminal and civil matters.

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Supreme Judicial CourtEdit

The Supreme Judicial Court was established by the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 that combined the former Governor and Council with the Superior Court of Judicature creating the highest state court. This court hears appeals, writ of error, capital offenses, and crimes against the public good. That included divorces until that action was moved to the lower court in 1887.

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Naturalization RecordsEdit

Naturalization records were created on a variety of governmental levels from the Federal down to the city at the same time. The county records for all levels are outlines below. For more information, see the Massachusetts state page for more on naturalization.

Federal Naturalization Records for Hampden

No federal records as yet digitized at NARA.

Hampden County Naturalization Records

Record Dates Location Index Microfilm/Online
Supreme Judicial Ct.
Ct. of Common Pleas
1812-1859 Judicial Archives Indexed Records, 1816-1859, at Mass. Arch. RR
Final adm. and primary declaration, 1840-1852, FHL films 1480083-1480087
Primary declaration, 1853-1877, FHL films 1479810-1479812
Primary and final papers, 1853-1874, FHL films 1479802-1479809
Index, 1812-1861, at Mass. Arch. RR
Index, 1812-1853, FHL film 1479801 Item 2
Superior Court 1860-1991 Judicial Archives Indexed Records, 1860-1945, at Mass. Arch. RR
Pending papers, 1851-1890, and dismissed papers, 1886-1887, FHL film 1479809 Items 2-3
Primary and final papers, 1853-1906, FHL films 1450861-1450864
Naturalization and final adm., 1875-1880, FHL film 1451438 (1st of 5)
Cert. of intention, 1875-1893, FHL films 1479809-1479810
Records, 1879-1906, FHL film 1480087 (1st of 9); Declarations, 1906-1931, FHL film 1450792 (1st of 28); Petitions of military personnel, 1918, FHL film 1450864 Item 2; Records, 1927-1945, FHL film 1450864 (1st of 98); Index, 1906-1989, at Mass. Arch. RR and FHL film 2132736 (1st of 23); Index, 1812-1906, FHL film 1464362-1464363; Index, 1906-1986, FHL film 1464331-1464361
District Court
1896-1906 District courthouse, Palmer, in 1990 Indexed Docket, records, and index, 1896-1906, FHL film 1673943
District Court
1886-1906 District courthouse, Springfield, in 1990 Indexed Declaration and naturalization, 1852-1855, FHL film 1686074 Items 1-2; Naturalization papers and index, 1885-1906, FHL film 1686074 (1st of 18); Index, 1886-1906, FHL film 1686074 Item 7
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Map of the Catskill Road (aka Ancram Turnpike) in yellow from Springfield, Massachusetts to Ancram, Catskill, and Unadilla in New York.
Migration routes for early European settlers to and from Hampden County, Massachusetts Genealogy included:[3]

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Military RecordsEdit

Revolutionary WarEdit

Hampden County Massachusetts Libraries and Genealogy SocietiesEdit

For information on additional archives and repositories, see

Family History CentersEdit

Family history centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes. See family history center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.

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  1. Abolished County Governments - Secretary of State, Acts of 1997, Ch. 48, Sect. 1.
  2. Massachusetts Atlas of Historical County Boundaries
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 847-61. WorldCat entry; FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. Frederic J. Wood, The Turnpikes of New England and the Evolution of the Same Through England, Virginia, and Maryland (Boston: Marshall Jones, 1919), map between 56 and 57, and 168. Internet Archive version online.
  5. Isaac Huntting, History of the Little Nine Partners of North East Precinct and Pine Plains, New York, Dutchess County (Amenia, NY: Chas. Walsh, 1897), 99-101. Google Book edition.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 List of turnpikes in New York in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 6 November 2014). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "LOTNY" defined multiple times with different content
  7. Ancram Turnpike in Routes in the Northeastern United States: Historic Trails, Roads and Migration Routes (accessed 6 November 2014). The Ancram Turnpike went from Springield, MA to Catskill, NY; and was called the Catskill Road.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Almira E Morgan, The Catskill Turnpike: A Wilderness Path (Ithaca, N.Y.: DeWitt Historical Society of Thompkins County, 1971), 5. Online digital copy.
  9. Catskill Turnpike in Routes in the Northeastern United States: Historic Trails, Roads and Migration Routes (accessed 6 November 2014). The Catskill Turnpike went west from Catskill, NY to Bath, NY; the east part was called the Susquehanna Turnpike.
  10. Huntting, 97-99.
  11. Anastassia Zinke, The Susquehanna Turnpike and America's Frontier History in Catskill Mountain Foundation (accessed 1 November 2014).
  12. Joan Odess, The Susquehanna Turnpike (pdf accessed 1 November 2014).
  13. Wood, map between 56 and 57, and 186-88.
  14. Wood, map between 330 and 331, and 348-49.
  15. Wood, map between 56 and 57, and 203-205.
  16. Wood, map between 56 and 57, and 166-67.
  17. Wood, map between 56 and 57, and 76-78.
  18. Wood, map between 56 and 57, and 79-80.
  19. Old Connecticut Path in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 28 October 2014).
  20. Wood, 25.
  21. Boston Post Road in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 28 October 2014).
  22. Wood, map between 330 and 331, and 363-64.
Adjacent Counties: Massachusetts: Berkshire | Hampshire | Worcester
Connecticut: Hartford | Litchfield | Tolland