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What's New

About Hampshire County

      Hampshire County is located in the western part of Massachusetts in what is known as the Pioneer Valley area. Major geographical features include the Connecticut River, which runs roughly through the middle of the county; Mt. Holyoke, Mt. Tom and Mt. Toby; and the Quabbin Reservoir, the largest man-made lake in North America, which supplies drinking water to much of eastern Massachusetts. The warm, sheltered climate of the valley has led to the development of many commercial agricultural ventures, including the most northerly commercial tobacco cultivation in the Americas.
      Before the arrival of European settlers, several Native American tribes lived in what is now Hampshire County, primarily the Pocumtuc and Nipmuc; incursions by the Mohawk were a frequent fact of life for those living west of the "Great River" (the original European name of the Connecticut River).
      European settlement began south of present-day Hampshire County, at Springfield, Massachusetts, along the Connecticut River. Those with early roots in Hampshire County should always consult Springfield sources.
      Hampshire County was formed in 1662 from Middlesex County. The county seat is Northampton. In 1811 Franklin County was formed from the northern portion of the county, with its seat at Greenfield. In 1812 Hampen County was formed from the southern portion of Hampshire County, with its seat at Springfield. Hampshire County's western border is with Berkshire County, and its eastern border is with Worcester County.
      In the 19th century two major developments with long-term implications for Hampshire County residents were the rise of industries along the Connecticut River and other waterways, and the establishment of numerous seminaries and colleges in various towns. The former led to influxes of new immigrant groups, new economic cycles, and strengthening or establishment of new transportation networks; the latter would eventually create new demographic, economic and cultural realities particularly evident in the impact of the so-called Five Colleges: Amherst, Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke, Smith and the University of Massachusetts.
      Today Hampshire County embraces many types of communities, from rural towns to a small city, and many people, from college students to farmers to suburbanites who may commute an hour or more each way to work. All contribute to the diversity of this area. -- by Cindy Brown, former CC

Reference Sources

Alphabetical List of all Town Clerks in Massachusetts
Web site maintained by the state of Massachusetts with addresses and telephone numbers.

Towns of Hampshire County -- including unincorporated place names. Check here if you are unsure of where a place name may actually be located. By Cindy Brown. Or, check this List of Place Names in Hampshire County published by the State of Massachusetts.

Hampshire County Cemeteries
Excellent USGS site listing cemeteries in Hampshire County alphabetically or by town. Links to specific information about each cemetery, including longitude and latitude.

Connecticut Valley Historical Museum
Quadrangle, State & Chestnut Streets
Springfield, MA
413-263-6800.
The history and traditions of the Connecticut River Valley are preserved at the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum. Built in 1927, the stone Colonial Revival building houses artifacts and documents which tell the story of the region from 1636 to the present. Changing exhibitions highlight various aspects of the Pioneer Valley's rich 350-year history, much of it told through the museum's collection of hand-crafted furniture, pewter, silver and portraits by itinerant artists. In the museum's Genealogy and Local History Library, the Ellis Island passenger records, the Loiselle Indes, over 30,000 genealogy books, 36,500 microforms, 40,000 photos, 2.5 million archival documents, as well as deeds, diaries, account books, land transfer documents and photographs attract researchers and family historians from around the country. Large collections of French-Canadian and Irish records and a growing ethnic genealogy collection. Open Wednesday-Sunday, noon-4:00pm. Admission (includes admission to all 4 museums): $4, adults; $1, children 6-18, under 6 free. While technically this is not in Hampshire County it is in nearby Hampden County and a great resource for the Valley.

National Archives and Records Administration
(Silvio O. Conte National Archives) NARA's Northeast Region (Pittsfield) -- location, hours, basic information about the collection, services, driving directions. This is the closest National Archives available to Hampshire County residents.

Friends of the Silvio O. Conte National Archives
Web site of the Friends of the National Archives regional office located in Pittsfield.

Unincorporated and Unofficial Names of Massachusetts Communities
Listing of place and community names in Hampshire County

Histories
William Burton Gage, Gazeteer of Hampshire County, Massachusetts 1654-1887 (Syracuse: W.B. Gay & Co., 1886).

Clifton Johnson, Historic Hampshire in the Connecticut Valley, Happenings in a charming old New England county from the time of the dinosaur down to about 1900 (Springfield, MA: Milton Bradley Company, 1932).

Maps and Gazeteers
Official Arrow Street Map Atlas: Western Massachusetts (Canton, Mass.: Arrow Publishing). Includes so many details, such as cemeteries and local place names.

The Rev. Elias Nason, M.A., A Gazetteer of the State of Massachusetts (Boston, Mass., B. B. Russell, Publisher, 1890.) Revised and Enlarged by George J. Varney.

Vital Records
The Walter E. Corbin Collection, by Walter E. and Lottie S. Corbin, is the microfilm edition of the genealogical and historical material collected by the Corbins and covering Central and Western Massachusetts from 1650 to about 1850. Materials include vital records, church records, town records, epitaphs, family Bible records, unpublished local histories and over 500 family genealogies. The complete collection includes Berkshire, Franklin and Hampden Counties, as well as scattered towns in other Massachusetts counties and other New England states.

Availability: Individual reels can be viewed at the libraries or other organizations which own the collection. They can be borrowed from the Family History Libraries of the Mormon church. the New England Historical and Genealogical Society offers individual reels for sale. The listing below is only for Hampshire County.
Reels 1, 2: Amherst
Reels 3, 4: Belchertown
Reel 5: Chesterfield
Reel 6: Easthampton
Reel 7: Enfield, Florence, Goshen, Granby
Reel 8: Hadley
Reels 9, 9A: Hatfield
Reel 10: Huntington, Middlefield
Reels 11, 12, 13, 13A, 14, 15, 16: Northampton
Reel 17: Norwich, Pelham, Prescott, South Hadley
Reels 18, 19: Southampton
Reel 20: Ware
Reel 21: Worthington
Reels 22, 23: Williamsburg

Probate Records
Probate Court, 33 King St., Northampton, MA 01060. Located in Northampton Center (Routes 5 and 10). Records from 1660 to the present. Earlier records in Cambridge, MA.

Land Records
Deeds 1662-1812: Hampden County Registry, 50 State St., Springfield, MA 01103. New Hall of Justice building.
Deeds 1812-present: Hampshire County Registry, 33 King St., Northampton, MA 01060.

Court Records
Hampshire Co. Springfield Sitting:
Sessions and Quarter Sessions Records, 1681-1739 1 vol.
Sessions and Quarter Sessions, Common Pleas, 1692-1706, 1710-29 2 vol.
Sessions, Court of Common Pleas, 1704-14, 1724-26 2 vol.
Sessions, Common Please Files, Misc. 1720-1812 3 vol.
County Court Sessions, Court of Common Pleas Records 1720-27, 1664-1812

Indexes
The Historical Records Survey, Division of Women's and Professional Projects, Works Progress Administration. Index to the Hampshire Gazette, 1786-1937. Part III, Personal Section (1939).



This page was last updated on 7/9/01 8:23 PM
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