Berkshire County, Massachusetts

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:''This article is about a western Massachusetts county. For other uses, see [[Berkshire (disambiguation)|Berkshire]]''. <br><br>''[[United States]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[Massachusetts]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[Berkshire_County,_Massachusetts|Berkshire County]]''
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''[[United States]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide|Massachusetts]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[Berkshire_County,_Massachusetts|Berkshire County]]''  
  
{{Infobox U.S. County
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This is a historical and genealogical guide to the county of Berkshire. 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.  
| county = Berkshire County
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| county_map = Ma-berkshire.png
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| state = Massachusetts
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| latd =
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| longd =
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| founded year = May 28
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| founded date = 1760
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| seat = Pittsfield
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| building image =
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| building address = Berkshire County Courthouse<br> 76 East Street <br>Pittsfield, MA 01201; <br>Phone. 413.448.8424<br>[http://publicrecords.onlinesearches.com/MA_Berkshire.htm  '''Berkshire County Website'''] }}
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=== County Courthouse ===
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== Berkshire County Massachusetts History ==
  
'''''Court clerk&nbsp;''''' has divorce records 1761-1922 and court records from 1761; '''''probate judge&nbsp;''''' has divorce records from 1922 and probate records from 1761; '''''register of deeds&nbsp;''''' has land records.<ref name="HBG">''Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America'', 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 329. {{WorldCat|50140092|disp=At various libraries (WorldCat)}}; {{FHL|1049485|item|disp=FHL Book 973 D27e 2002}}.</ref><br><br>'''Towns Organized Before 1800:''' <br>Adams 1778, <br>Alford 1773, <br>Becket 1765, <br>Cheshire 1793, <br>Clarksburg 1798, <br>Dalton 1784, <br>Egremont 1760, <br>Great Barrington 1761, <br>Hancock 1776, <br>Lanesborough 1765, <br>Lee 1777, <br>Lenox 1767, <br>Mount Washington 1779, <br>New Ashford 1781, <br>New Marlborough 1759, <br>Otis 1773,<br>Peru 1771 (originally called Partridgefield), <br>Pittsfield 1761, <br>Richmond 1765, <br>Savoy 1797, <br>Sheffield 1733, <br>Standisfield 1762, <br>Stockbridge 1739, <br>Tyringham 1762, Washington 1777, West Stockbridge 1774, Williamstown 1765
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=== Brief History  ===
  
[http://lwvma.org/govcounty.shtml http://lwvma.org/govcounty.shtml]
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Berkshire County has always been at the crossroads of settlers on the move. As the western side of the Berkshire Mountains, those moving west from all other Massachusetts counties, Rhode Island, and much of Connecticut, and occasionally from very southern New Hampshire and Vermont would converge here. Many would continue west into New York state or up the western side of Vermont following the first roads that allowed easy travel through this region. It was never a populous county, but the rugged terrain was often were "lost" ancestors called home.<br>
<div style="float: left; width: 147%">
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*In 1997, the county governments of Essex, Berkshire, Hampden, Middlesex and Worcester were abolished. Pittsfield acts as a county seat for the area.
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*Their functions were turned over to state agencies.
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*Sheriffs in these counties still administer jails but their employees are state employees.
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*The legislation to abolish these county governments transferred Registeries of Deeds to the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.  
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*Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth and Suffolk county governments remain substantially unchanged.
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=== Quick Facts ===
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=== Historical Data ===
  
{| style="float: right;" border="0"
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The basic data are from the historical county boundary series<ref>[http://publications.newberry.org/ahcbp/documents/MA_Individual_County_Chronologies.htm#BERKSHIRE Massachusetts Atlas of Historical County Boundaries]</ref> with additions from various sources.
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{| cellspacing="1" cellpadding="1" border="1"
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|-
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! width="100" scope="col" | Dates
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! width="500" scope="col" | Events
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|-
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| 30 June 1761
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| Berkshire County was created from the western third of [[Hampshire County, Massachusetts|Hampshire County]]. [Mass. Col. Acts, Vol. 4, Ch. 33 [1760/1], Sec. 1, p. 432]
 
|-
 
|-
| {{Adoption RootsWorks Research}}
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| 30 June 1768
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| Loss when part of Plantation #3 was included in the new town of Worthington, Hampshire Co. [Mass. Col. Acts, Vol. 4, Ch. 16 [1768], Sec. 1, p. 1028]
 
|-
 
|-
| align="center" | {{Wikipedia|Berkshire County, Massachusetts}}
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| 23 June 1779
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| Loss when part of Plantation #5 was included in the new town of Cummington, Hampshire Co. [Mass. Col. Acts, Vol. 5, Ch. 6 [1779/80], Sec. 1, p. 1072-1073]
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|-
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| 12 Mar. 1783
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| Loss when parts of Becket, Partridgefield [''now Peru''], and Washington along with Chester, Prescott's Grant, and Worthington in Hampshire Co. were included in the new town of Middlefield, Hampshire Co. [Mass. Acts, 1783, Ch. 19, Sec. 1, p. 228]
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|-
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| 9 Feb. 1785
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| Loss when Myrifield Grant and unincorporated county land created the new town of Rowe, Hampshire Co. [Mass. Acts, 1785, Ch. 2, Sec. 1, p. 230]
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|-
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| 9 Mar. 1793
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| Loss when part of Plantation #7 was annexed to Hawley, Hampshire Co. [Mass. Acts, 1793, Ch. 18, Sec. 1, p. 242]
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|-
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| 21 Feb. 1822
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| Loss when the Gore was combined with the western part of Rowe, Hampshire Co., to create the new town of Monroe, Hampshire. [Mass. Acts, 1822, Ch. 93, Sec. 1, p. 707]
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|-
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| 2 Apr. 1838
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| Loss when part of the territory known as Zoar was annexed to Charlemont and Rowe, Hampshire Co. [Mass. Acts 1838, Ch. 56, Sec. 1, p. 344 and Ch. 57, Sec. 1, p. 345]
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|-
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| 4 May 1853<br>15 May 1855
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| Border between Sandisfield and Tolland, Hampden Co., clarified then redefined. [Mass. Acts, 1853, Ch. 293, p. 535; 1855, Ch. 358, Sec. 1, p. 755]
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|-
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| 11 Jan. 1855
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| Loss when the southwest corner of the county [and state] known as Boston Corner annexed to Columbia Co., N.Y.
 
|}
 
|}
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<div style="width: 147%"><center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center><br>
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=== Towns and Cities  ===
  
==== Parent County  ====
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[[Image:Ma-berkshire.png|right|400px|Ma-berkshire.png]]The following list of present-day Berkshire 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.
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<center>[[Adams, Massachusetts|Adams (1778)]] | [[Alford, Massachusetts|Alford (1773)]] | [[Becket, Massachusetts|Becket (1765)]] | [[Cheshire, Massachusetts|Cheshire (1793)]]<br>[[Clarksburg, Massachusetts|Clarksburg (1798)]] | [[Dalton, Massachusetts|Dalton (1784)]] | [[Egremont, Massachusetts|Egremont (1775)]] | [[Florida, Massachusetts|Florida (1805)]]<br>[[Great Barrington, Massachusetts|Great Barrington (1761)]] | [[Hancock, Massachusetts|Hancock (1776)]] | [[Hinsdale, Massachusetts|Hinsdale (1804)]] | [[Lanesborough, Massachusetts|Lanesborough (1765)]]<br>[[Lee, Massachusetts|Lee (1777)]] | [[Lenox, Massachusetts|Lenox (1775)]] | [[Monterey, Massachusetts|Monterey (1847)]] | [[Mount Washington, Massachusetts|Mount Washington (1779)]]<br>[[New Ashford, Massachusetts|New Ashford (1835)]] | [[New Marlborough, Massachusetts|New Marlborough (1775)]] | [[North Adams, Massachusetts|North Adams (1878)]] | [[Otis, Massachusetts|Otis (1773)]]<br>[[Peru, Massachusetts|Peru (1771)]] | [[Pittsfield, Massachusetts|Pittsfield (1761)]] | [[Richmond, Massachusetts|Richmond (1765)]] | [[Sandisfield, Massachusetts|Sandisfield (1762)]]<br>[[Savoy, Massachusetts|Savoy (1797)]] | [[Sheffield, Massachusetts|Sheffield (1733)]] | [[Stockbridge, Massachusetts|Stockbridge (1739)]] | [[Tyringham, Massachusetts|Tyringham (1762)]]<br>[[Washington, Massachusetts|Washington (1777)]] | [[West Stockbridge, Massachusetts|West Stockbridge (1775)]] | [[Williamstown, Massachusetts|Williamstown (1765)]]<br>[[Windsor, Massachusetts|Windsor (1771)]]</center><br>
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'''Annexed to Columbia Co., N.Y.:''' [[Boston Corner, Massachusetts|Boston Corner District]]<br>
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=== County Histories ===
  
'''28 May 1760:''' Created&nbsp; from [[Hampshire County, Massachusetts|Hampshire]] County. <ref name="HBG" />  
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{{MABerCouTownsMap}}Works written on the county include:<br>  
  
==== Boundary Changes  ====
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IN PROGRESS
  
==== Record Loss ====
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*[http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~maberksh/ The Berkshire County MAGenWeb Project], an member of [[MAGenWeb|The MAGenWeb Project]], an affiliate of [[USGenWeb|The USGenWeb Project]].
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*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Berkshire The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Berkshire County.
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*{{FHL|Massachusetts%2C+Berkshire|subject|disp=FamilySearch.org}} Family History Library catalog for Berkshire County
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center>
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== Berkshire County Massachusetts Genealogy Resources ==
  
=== Places / Localities ===
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=== Vital Records ===
  
{{MABerCouTownsMap}}'''Cities:''' [[North Adams, Massachusetts|North Adams]] {{!}} [[Pittsfield, Massachusetts|Pittsfield]]<br><br>'''Towns:''' {{nowrap|[[Adams, Massachusetts|Adams]] {{!}}}} {{nowrap|[[Alford, Massachusetts|Alford]] {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Becket, Massachusetts|Becket}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Cheshire, Massachusetts|Cheshire}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Clarksburg, Massachusetts|Clarksburg}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Dalton, Massachusetts|Dalton}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Egremont, Massachusetts|Egremont}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Florida, Massachusetts|Florida}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Great Barrington, Massachusetts|Great Barrington}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Hancock, Massachusetts|Hancock}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Hinsdale, Massachusetts|Hinsdale}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Lanesborough, Massachusetts|Lanesborough}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Lee, Massachusetts|Lee}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Lenox, Massachusetts|Lenox}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Monterey, Massachusetts|Monterey}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Mount Washington, Massachusetts|Mount Washington}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|New Ashford, Massachusetts|New Ashford}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|New Marlborough, Massachusetts|New Marlborough}} {{!}}}}{{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Otis, Massachusetts|Otis}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Peru, Massachusetts|Peru}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Richmond, Massachusetts|Richmond}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Sandisfield, Massachusetts|Sandisfield}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Savoy, Massachusetts|Savoy}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Sheffield, Massachusetts|Sheffield}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Stockbridge, Massachusetts|Stockbridge}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Tyringham, Massachusetts|Tyringham}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Washington, Massachusetts|Washington}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|West Stockbridge, Massachusetts|West Stockbridge}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Williamstown, Massachusetts|Williamstown}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Windsor, Massachusetts|Windsor}} }}<br><br>'''Ceded Districts:''' [[Bethlehem District, Massachusetts|Bethlehem District]] {{!}} [[Boston Corner District, Massachusetts|Boston Corner District]] {{!}} [[Southfield District, Massachusetts|Southfield District]]<ref>Michael J. Leclerc, ''Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research'', 5th ed. (Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2012), 224-26. {{WorldCat|779626228|disp=At various libraries (WorldCat)}}; {{FHL|1967587|item|disp=FHL Book 974 D27g 2012}}.</ref><br><br>'''Villages:''' {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|East Otis, Massachusetts|East Otis}} {{!}}}} {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Lenox Dale, Massachusetts|Lenox Dale}} }}
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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 before this county was created. 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.<br>  
  
'''Communities:''' {{nowrap|{{AutoLink|Housatonic, Massachusetts|Housatonic}} }}
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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.<br>
  
==== Neighboring Counties ====
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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#Vital_Records|Massachusetts Genealogy Guide]] page.<br>
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center>
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=== Land Records  ===
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center>
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=== Probate Records ===
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center>
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=== Other Court Records  ===
  
{{Nowrap|[[Franklin County, Massachusetts|Franklin]] {{!}}}} {{Nowrap|[[Hampden County, Massachusetts|Hampden]] {{!}}}} {{Nowrap|[[Hampshire County, Massachusetts|Hampshire]] }}<br> {{Nowrap|'''Connecticut County:''' }} {{Nowrap|[[Litchfield County, Connecticut|Litchfield]] }}<br> {{Nowrap|'''New York Counties:''' }} {{Nowrap|[[Columbia County, New York|Columbia]] {{!}}}} {{Nowrap|[[Dutchess County, New York|Dutchess]] {{!}}}} {{Nowrap|[[Rensselaer County, New York|Rensselaer]] }}<br> {{Nowrap|'''Vermont County:''' }} {{Nowrap|[[Bennington County, Vermont|Bennington]] }}
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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 [[Massachusetts Genealogy Guide#Court_System|Understanding the Massachusetts Court System]].<br><br>Older records are held by:<br>[http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/arccol/colidx.htm#court '''Supreme Judicial Court Archives''']<br>(administration - records stored in several off-site facilities and the Mass. Archives)<br>16th Floor, Highrise Court House<br>3 Pemberton Square<br>Boston MA 02109<br>Phone 617-557-1082<br>Email [mailto:Elizabeth.Bouvier@sjc.state.ma.us Elizabeth.Bouvier@sjc.state.ma.us]  
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]] | [[#Other_Court_Records|Top of Court]]</center>  
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==== Quarterly Court of General Sessions of the Peace  ====
  
=== Resources  ===
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This court was active from 1761 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.<br>
  
==== Cemeteries  ====
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The records microfilmed:<br>
  
==== Census ====
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*
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]] | [[#Other_Court_Records|Top of Court]]</center>
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==== Inferior Court of Common Pleas ====
  
{{Census|Massachusetts}}
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This court was active from 1761 to 1859. The court heard all civil cases over 40s unless a case involved freehold or was appealed from a justice of the peace.<br>
  
===== State Census  =====
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The records microfilmed:<br>
  
'''''1855 Massachusetts State Census—'''''A free Internet index and images to the 1855 Massachusetts State Census can be viewed on the [https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://www.familysearch.org/searchapi/search/collection/1459985 FamilySearch Record Search]. This index includes every name listed on the census and is linked to an image including information about each person’s residence and age in 1855, birthplace, occupation, other family members, and neighbors
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*
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]] | [[#Other_Court_Records|Top of Court]]</center>
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==== Superior Court  ====
  
'''''1865 Massachusetts State Census'''''—A free Internet index and images to the 1865 Massachusetts State Census can be viewed on the [https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://www.familysearch.org/searchapi/search/collection/1410399 FamilySearch Record Search] This index includes every name listed on the census and is linked to an image including information about each person’s residence and age in 1865, birthplace, occupation, other family members, and neighbors.  
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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.<br>
  
==== Church ====
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*
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]] | [[#Other_Court_Records|Top of Court]]</center>
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==== Supreme Judicial Court ====
  
==== Court ====
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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.<br>
  
==== Gazetteers ====
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*
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]] | [[#Other_Court_Records|Top of Court]]</center>
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==== Naturalization Records ====
  
==== Land  ====
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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 Genealogy Guide#Naturalization_Records|Massachusetts state page]] for more on naturalization.<br>
 
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<center>'''Federal Naturalization Records for Berkshire County'''</center> <center>[[#top|Top of Page]] | [[#Other_Court_Records|Top of Court]]</center>  
Berkshire County has three districts (Northern, Middle, Southern) with separate land records. The town of Dalton apparently also kept separate records. Records from all three of these districts are in the same bin on FamilySearch but the name of the image deck does not include the name of the district. You will have to use a little trial and error to find the right set of images.
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=== Maps ===
 
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center>
The separate grantee and grantor indexes for 1761-1830 (labeled as volume 1) are for the Middle District. The large number of image decks labeled 1761-1985 are for the Northern District.
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== Berkshire County Massachusetts Genealogy Societies ==
 
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<center>[[#top|Top of Page]]</center>
In some cases an image deck labeled Volume X may contain the Volume Xs from several districts. So, for example, the image deck labeled Volumes 29-30, 1790-1792 appears to contain these volumes for both the southern and middle districts - four volumes in all.
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== Berkshire County Massachusetts Genealogy References  ==
 
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==== Local Histories  ====
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==== Maps  ====
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==== Military  ====
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==== Newspapers  ====
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[http://www.newspaperarchive.com/ Newspaperarchive.com] ($) has historical newspapers available on-line. Their database has [http://www.newspaperarchive.com/BrowseLocations.aspx?cntry=7&st=50&ci=23022 {{nowrap|Pittsfield, MA newspapers}}] (1858-1977) and [http://www.newspaperarchive.com/BrowseLocations.aspx?cntry=7&st=50&ci=20562 {{nowrap|North Adams, MA newspapers}}] (1895-1977) covering local news that included Hampden County residents.<br>  
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==== Probate ====
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==== Taxation  ====
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==== Vital Records  ====
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=== Societies and Libraries  ===
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==== Family History Centers  ====
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*[[Introduction to LDS Family History Centers]]
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=== Web Sites ===
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*[http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~maberksh/ The Berkshire County MAGenWeb Project], an member of [[MAGenWeb|The MAGenWeb Project]], an affiliate of [[USGenWeb|The USGenWeb Project]].
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*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Berkshire The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Berkshire County.
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*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Berkshire The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Berkshire County (backup site)
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*{{FHL|Massachusetts%2C+Berkshire|subject|disp=FamilySearch.org}} Family History Library catalog for Berkshire County
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== References  ==
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{{reflist}}  
{{reflist}} {{Massachusetts|Massachusetts}} {{Massachusetts-stub}} </div>  
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<center>'''Adjacent counties:''' '''''Massachusetts:''''' [[Franklin County, Massachusetts|Franklin]] | [[Hampden County, Massachusetts|Hampden]] | [[Hampshire County, Massachusetts|Hampshire]]<br>'''Connecticut:''' [[Litchfield County, Connecticut|Litchfield]]<br>'''New York Counties:''' [[Columbia County, New York|Columbia]] | [[Dutchess County, New York|Dutchess]] | [[Rensselaer County, New York|Rensselaer]]<br>'''Vermont County:''' [[Bennington County, Vermont|Bennington]]</center> <!--This was designed by Scott Andrew Bartley in conjunction with the Mass. Wiki Team on 4 September August 2013--> </div>  
 
[[Category:Berkshire_County,_Massachusetts]]
 
[[Category:Berkshire_County,_Massachusetts]]

Revision as of 23:29, 4 September 2013

United States Gotoarrow.png Massachusetts Gotoarrow.png Berkshire County

This is a historical and genealogical guide to the county of Berkshire. 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.

Contents

Berkshire County Massachusetts History

Brief History

Berkshire County has always been at the crossroads of settlers on the move. As the western side of the Berkshire Mountains, those moving west from all other Massachusetts counties, Rhode Island, and much of Connecticut, and occasionally from very southern New Hampshire and Vermont would converge here. Many would continue west into New York state or up the western side of Vermont following the first roads that allowed easy travel through this region. It was never a populous county, but the rugged terrain was often were "lost" ancestors called home.

Historical Data

The basic data are from the historical county boundary series[1] with additions from various sources.

Dates Events
30 June 1761 Berkshire County was created from the western third of Hampshire County. [Mass. Col. Acts, Vol. 4, Ch. 33 [1760/1], Sec. 1, p. 432]
30 June 1768 Loss when part of Plantation #3 was included in the new town of Worthington, Hampshire Co. [Mass. Col. Acts, Vol. 4, Ch. 16 [1768], Sec. 1, p. 1028]
23 June 1779 Loss when part of Plantation #5 was included in the new town of Cummington, Hampshire Co. [Mass. Col. Acts, Vol. 5, Ch. 6 [1779/80], Sec. 1, p. 1072-1073]
12 Mar. 1783 Loss when parts of Becket, Partridgefield [now Peru], and Washington along with Chester, Prescott's Grant, and Worthington in Hampshire Co. were included in the new town of Middlefield, Hampshire Co. [Mass. Acts, 1783, Ch. 19, Sec. 1, p. 228]
9 Feb. 1785 Loss when Myrifield Grant and unincorporated county land created the new town of Rowe, Hampshire Co. [Mass. Acts, 1785, Ch. 2, Sec. 1, p. 230]
9 Mar. 1793 Loss when part of Plantation #7 was annexed to Hawley, Hampshire Co. [Mass. Acts, 1793, Ch. 18, Sec. 1, p. 242]
21 Feb. 1822 Loss when the Gore was combined with the western part of Rowe, Hampshire Co., to create the new town of Monroe, Hampshire. [Mass. Acts, 1822, Ch. 93, Sec. 1, p. 707]
2 Apr. 1838 Loss when part of the territory known as Zoar was annexed to Charlemont and Rowe, Hampshire Co. [Mass. Acts 1838, Ch. 56, Sec. 1, p. 344 and Ch. 57, Sec. 1, p. 345]
4 May 1853
15 May 1855
Border between Sandisfield and Tolland, Hampden Co., clarified then redefined. [Mass. Acts, 1853, Ch. 293, p. 535; 1855, Ch. 358, Sec. 1, p. 755]
11 Jan. 1855 Loss when the southwest corner of the county [and state] known as Boston Corner annexed to Columbia Co., N.Y.
Top of Page

Towns and Cities

Ma-berkshire.png
The following list of present-day Berkshire 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.
Adams (1778) | Alford (1773) | Becket (1765) | Cheshire (1793)
Clarksburg (1798) | Dalton (1784) | Egremont (1775) | Florida (1805)
Great Barrington (1761) | Hancock (1776) | Hinsdale (1804) | Lanesborough (1765)
Lee (1777) | Lenox (1775) | Monterey (1847) | Mount Washington (1779)
New Ashford (1835) | New Marlborough (1775) | North Adams (1878) | Otis (1773)
Peru (1771) | Pittsfield (1761) | Richmond (1765) | Sandisfield (1762)
Savoy (1797) | Sheffield (1733) | Stockbridge (1739) | Tyringham (1762)
Washington (1777) | West Stockbridge (1775) | Williamstown (1765)
Windsor (1771)

Annexed to Columbia Co., N.Y.: Boston Corner District

Top of Page

County Histories

MassachusettsConnecticutVermontNew YorkLitchfield CountyHartford CountyBennington CountyWindham CountyColumbia CountyRensselaer CountyHampden CountyHampshire CountyFranklin CountyBerkshire CountyGranbyHartlandColebrookNorfolkNorth CanaanSalisburyNorth EastAncramCopakeHillsdaleAusterlitzCanaanChathamNew LebanonStephentownNassauSand LakePoestenkillBrunswickPittstownGraftonPetersburghBerlinPownalStamfordReadsboroWhitinghamMonroeRoweCharlemontHawleyAshfieldPlainfieldCummingtonChesterfieldWorthingtonMiddlefieldChesterHuntingtonMontgomeryRussellGranvilleBlandfordTollandSandisfieldOtisBecketWashingtonPeruWindsorSavoyFloridaHinsdaleNew MarlboroughMontereyTyringhamLeeLenoxSheffieldMount WashingtonEgremontGreat BarringtonAlfordStockbridgeWest StockbridgeRichmondHancockPittsfieldDaltonLanesboroughCheshireNew AshfordAdamsNorth AdamsClarksburgWilliamstown
Modern towns and cities in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

Works written on the county include:

IN PROGRESS

Top of Page

Berkshire County Massachusetts Genealogy Resources

Vital Records

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 before this county was created. 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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Land Records

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Probate Records

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Other Court Records

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
Email Elizabeth.Bouvier@sjc.state.ma.us

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Quarterly Court of General Sessions of the Peace

This court was active from 1761 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 Pleas

This court was active from 1761 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 Court

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 Court

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 Records

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 Berkshire County
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Maps

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Berkshire County Massachusetts Genealogy Societies

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Berkshire County Massachusetts Genealogy References

Adjacent counties: Massachusetts: Franklin | Hampden | Hampshire
Connecticut: Litchfield
New York Counties: Columbia | Dutchess | Rensselaer
Vermont County: Bennington