Notes from the President

20 Jan 2010

Vermont Families in 1791

As I have been traveling from place to place trying to piece together the elusive family of Lewis Hall, who lived in Smithfield (later to become part of Fairfield) in 1791, I have had an opportunity to interact with folks at Archives (formerly Vermont Public Records) in Middlesex and the Franklin Co. Probate Court in St. Albans. Interesting observations in both places.

Vermont Archives

As I was working at Vermont Archives a week ago, I overheard a comment by one of the workers, “Oh, my God, here’s a half box of records that never got microfilmed.” When I asked for details on this comment, I learned that the microfilmed card index of Vermont vitals that we all rely on was missing a half box of records that apparently got missed in that project (many years ago). I also learned that the error was in the 1909-1943 series of records. The good news here is that is part of the records that are being digitized by and will be available to researchers over the internet at some point in the (near?) future. So if there’s a record in that period that you wondered why you couldn’t find it, this may be the answer. I might also note, as many of you are aware, that when the microfilming of that card file took place, some of the cards were out of order, so are difficult if not impossible to find. That problem, at least for the records 1909 and later will also be taken care of with the Ancestry project.

Franklin Co. Probate Court

Anyone who has ever researched at this locality can appreciate the sense of danger that envelops one as he attempts to access those valuable record books. Picture this: a very small vault, within which these heavy books are kept; ceilings about 12 feet high, the books arranged on shelves all the way to the ceiling; access to which is via a ladder which is reached by climbing onto a filing cabinet, and then onto a desk, and then onto the ladder. The ladder is very steep, and for books at the very top, climbing down with a heavy book in one hand, trying not to lose a grip on the ladder with the other, probably induces the kind of sensation that some get when bungee jumping. It’s quite a thrill! At any rate, the point of this whole paragraph is to indicate that I had an opportunity to speak with the workers there about the proposal being considered by the Vermont Legislature to reduce the number of Probate Courts in Vermont to five. Needless to say, they were not much in favor, and felt that it would merely result in much inconvenience for attorneys and other users of the records. Let’s hope the Legislature sees things the same way.

Spring Meeting

Work continues on identifying a location in the White River Jct./West Lebanon area for our joint conference with NHSOG in late April or early May of 2010. *** Nothing has been identified to date. If you have a suggestion, please pass it along to me. I will be attempting more contacts in early January to nail down a location and date. We are still looking for speakers for the event. Hal Inglis of the New Hampshire Society is trying to finalize a speaker on NH research. I would like to locate an individual qualified to tell us all about the “Eastern Union”, a union of towns on either side of the Vermont/New Hampshire border region in the 1780’s. If you know of someone qualified in this regard, let me know. Meanwhile, if you have thoughts on topics/speakers for this or future meetings, please share them with me.

*** Editor's note: The combined Spring meeting will be on April 24, 2010, at Howe Library in Hanover, NH. ***

Bob Murphy


Page last updated 11 February 2010