Hampden County, Massachusetts GenealogyEdit This Page
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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 History
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.
The basic data are from the historical county boundary series with additions from various sources.
|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]|
Towns and Cities
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)
Works written on the county include:
- The Hampden County MAGenWeb Project, an member of The MAGenWeb Project, an affiliate of The USGenWeb Project.
- The USGenWeb Archives Project for Hampden County.
- FamilySearch.org Family History Library catalog for Hampden County.
Hampden County Massachusetts Genealogy Resources
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.
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
Quarterly Court of General Sessions of the Peace
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:
Inferior Court of Common Pleas
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:
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.
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.
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.
Hampden County Massachusetts Genealogy Societies
Hampden County Massachusetts Genealogy References
- ↑ Abolished County Governments - Secretary of State, Acts of 1997, Ch. 48, Sect. 1.
- ↑ Massachusetts Atlas of Historical County Boundaries
Connecticut: Hartford | Litchfield | Tolland