Worcester County, Massachusetts Genealogy

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=== Brief History  ===
 
=== Brief History  ===
  
Worcester County was created in the middle of the two largest counties with a third county throwing in another small part. Settlement was mainly an outgrowth of the older settlements to the east and to a lesser degree from the Connecticut River Valley. There was an influx after the Revolutionary War that included migration up from Rhode Island and Connecticut in addition to the east. This is the largest county in area and there have been fifteen attempts to split the county though none were successful. The county seat is Worcester, the second largest city in all of New England. The county government was abolished on 1 July 1997, but its former jurisdiction is used for state offices as a district.<ref>[http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cis/cisctlist/ctlistcounin.htm Abolished County Governments - Secretary of State], Acts of 1997, Ch. 48, Sect. 1.</ref><br>  
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Worcester County was created in the middle of the two largest counties with a third county throwing in another small part collecting the towns of Lancaster, Leicester, Lunenburg, Rutland, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Westborough, and Worcester from Middlesex County; Hassanamisco [''later Grafton''], Medfield, Mendon, Oxford, Sutton, Uxbridge, and Woodstock from Suffolk County; and Brookfield and "the south town laid out to the Narraganset soldiers" [''likely Brimfield''] from Hampshire County. Settlement was mainly an outgrowth of the older settlements to the east and to a lesser degree from the Connecticut River Valley. There was an influx after the Revolutionary War that included migration up from Rhode Island and Connecticut in addition to the east. This is the largest county in area and there have been fifteen attempts to split the county though none were successful. The county seat is Worcester, the second largest city in all of New England. The county government was abolished on 1 July 1997, but its former jurisdiction is used for state offices as a district.<ref>[http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cis/cisctlist/ctlistcounin.htm Abolished County Governments - Secretary of State], Acts of 1997, Ch. 48, Sect. 1.</ref><br>  
 
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{{MAWorCoMap}}Works written on the county include:  
 
{{MAWorCoMap}}Works written on the county include:  
  
THIS WORK IN PROGRESS
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*''Biographical Review ... containing life sketches of leading citizens of Worcester County, Massachusetts'' (Boston, 1899), 1229 pp.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1835328 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|220166|item|disp=FHL book 974.43 D3b and film 1698091 Item 4}} (with digital link).<br>Digital versions at [http://archive.org/details/biographicalreviwc1899biog Internet Archive] and [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=25759 Ancestry] ($).<br>
 
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*Francis Everett Blake, ''Worcester County, Massachusetts, Warnings, 1737-1788'' (Worcester, Mass., 1899; rep. Camden, Me., 1992), 101 pp.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/25930764 WorldCat (Other Libraries)] (1992 ed.); {{FHL|739018|item|disp=FHL book 974.43 N2w}} (1992 ed.).<br>Digital versions at [http://archive.org/details/worcestercountym00blak Internet Archive] and [http://books.google.com/books?id=7ssTAAAAYAAJ Google Books].<br>
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*Rufus Choate, ''Argument for the Division of Worcester County on the petition of O. L. Huntley and others'' (Boston, 1854), 67 pp.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/12218246 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; Not at FHL.<br>Digital versions at [http://archive.org/details/argumentfordivi00choagoog Internet Archive], [http://books.google.com/books?id=T61i6E8_Wq0C Google Books], and [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=16893 Ancestry] ($).<br>
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*Zelote Wood Coombs, "Worcester County: its history, with discussion of attempts to divide it" in ''Worcester Historical Society Publications'', New Series, 1 [1928-1935]: 169-184.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1812569 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|159413|item|disp=FHL book 974.43/W2 H25wa}}.<br>
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*Ellery Bicknell Crane, ''History of Worcester County, Massachusetts'' (New York, 1924), 3v.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/4395752 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|215225|item|disp=FHL book 974.43 H2c v. # and film 1573584 Item 5}} (with digital links for v. 1-2).<br>
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*[Isaac Goodwin], "A Catalogue of the Several Congregational Ministers in the County of Worcester" in ''Worcester Magazine and Historical Journal'', 2 [1826]: 371-375.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/6824311 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|62888|item|disp=FHL film 1698203 Item 5}}.<br>Digital versions at [http://archive.org/stream/worcestermagazinv2worc#page/n753/mode/2up Internet Archive] and [http://books.google.com/books?id=Y_07AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA371 Google Books].<br>
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*William B. Harding, "Origins of the Names of the Towns in Worcester County" in ''Proceedings of the Worcester Society of Antiquity'' 5 [1883], [http://archive.org/stream/collectionsofworv5worc#page/n487/mode/2up 97-117].<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/12787147 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|427662|item|disp=FHL book 974.43/W2 H25w v. #}}.<br>
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*D. Hamilton Hurd, ed., ''History of Worcester County, Massachusetts, with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men'' (Philadelphia, 1889), 2v. (1762 pp.).<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/11670942 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|521327|item|disp=FHL book 974.43 H2hd v. # and film 2055450 and 2055304}} and {{FHL|1922450|item|disp=FHL digital book}}.<br>Digital versions at Internet Archive ([http://archive.org/details/historyofworcest01hurd v. 1] and [http://archive.org/details/historyofworcest02hurd v. 2]) and [http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008651228 Hathi Trust].<br>
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*Lincoln Newton Kinnicutt, ''Indian Names of Places in Worcester County, Massachusetts, with interpretations of some of them'' (Worcester, Mass., 1905), 59 pp.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/9596546 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|1880679|item|disp=FHL digital book}}.<br>Digital versions at [http://archive.org/details/indiannamesofpla00kinnic Internet Archive] and [http://books.google.com/books?id=JKcC6y383pQC Google Books].<br>
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*Kevin Joseph MacWade, "Worcester County, 1750-1774: a study of a provincial patronage elite," Ph.D. dissertation, Boston Univ., 1974, vii, 193 leaves.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1670606 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; Not at FHL.<br>
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*Abijah P. Marvin, ''History of Worcester County, Massachusetts, ... from its first settlement to the present time, with a history and description of its cities and towns'' (Boston, 1879), 2v.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1804192 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|215148|item|disp=FHL film 1321003 Item 1 and 1425612 Item 3}} (with digital link).<br>Digital versions at Internet Archive ([http://archive.org/details/historyofworcest01marv v. 1] and [http://archive.org/details/historyofworcest02marv v. 2]), Google Books ([http://books.google.com/books?id=zDydEUfKy20C v. 1] and [http://books.google.com/books?id=Rj4WqxsQu5UC v. 2]), and [http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009585742 Hathi Trust].<br>
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*Thomas Noyes, "Complete List of Congregational Ministers, in the County of Worcester, Mass., from its settlement to the present time" in ''American Quarterly Register'', 10 [1837-1838]: [http://archive.org/stream/americanquarterlv10amer#page/46/mode/2up 47-65].<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/145084550 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; Not at FHL.<br>
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*Peter Whitney, ''The History of the County of Worcester, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: with a particular account of every town from its first settlement to the present time; including its ecclesiastical state, together with a geographical description of the same, to which is prefixed, a map of the county, at large, from actual survey'' (Worcester, Mass., 1793), vi, 339 pp.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/62841132 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|216679|item|disp=FHL film 1321014 Item 3}}.<br>Digital versions at [http://archive.org/details/historyofcountyo00whit Internet Archive] and [http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/007675884 Hathi Trust].<br>
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*Henry Augustus Willis, "The Division of Worcester County" in ''Proceedings of the Fitchburg Historical Society'', 3 [1902]: 70-83.<br>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1775360 WorldCat (Other Libraries)]; {{FHL|215622|item|disp=FHL book 974.43/F1 H2f v.#}}.<br>Digital versions at [http://archive.org/stream/proceedingsoffit031895fitc#page/70/mode/2up Internet Archive], [http://books.google.com/books?id=gWwWAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA70 Google Books], and [http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009557919 Haiti Trust].<br>
 
*[http://worcester.bettysgenealogy.org/ The Worcester County MAGenWeb Project], an member of The MAGenWeb Project, an affiliate of [http://www.usgenweb.org/ The USGenWeb Project]. <br>  
 
*[http://worcester.bettysgenealogy.org/ The Worcester County MAGenWeb Project], an member of The MAGenWeb Project, an affiliate of [http://www.usgenweb.org/ The USGenWeb Project]. <br>  
 
*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Worcester The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Worcester County  
 
*[http://usgwarchives.net/ma/mafiles.htm#Worcester The USGenWeb Archives Project] for Worcester County  

Revision as of 18:31, 30 August 2013

United States Gotoarrow.png Massachusetts Gotoarrow.png Worcester County

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

Worcester County Massachusetts History

Brief History

Worcester County was created in the middle of the two largest counties with a third county throwing in another small part collecting the towns of Lancaster, Leicester, Lunenburg, Rutland, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Westborough, and Worcester from Middlesex County; Hassanamisco [later Grafton], Medfield, Mendon, Oxford, Sutton, Uxbridge, and Woodstock from Suffolk County; and Brookfield and "the south town laid out to the Narraganset soldiers" [likely Brimfield] from Hampshire County. Settlement was mainly an outgrowth of the older settlements to the east and to a lesser degree from the Connecticut River Valley. There was an influx after the Revolutionary War that included migration up from Rhode Island and Connecticut in addition to the east. This is the largest county in area and there have been fifteen attempts to split the county though none were successful. The county seat is Worcester, the second largest city in all of New England. The county government was abolished on 1 July 1997, but its former jurisdiction is used for state offices as a district.[1]

Top of Page


Historical Data

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

Dates Events
10 July 1731 Worcester County was created from area along the undefined border between Hampshire County to the west and Middlesex County to the east plus the southwestern corner of Suffolk County that included what is now Woodstock, Connecticut. [Prov. Laws, 2: 584]
29 June 1732 Added land from Groton and Littleton in Middlesex Co. when the town of Harvard was established.
14 June 1735 Added land from Hopkinton, Middlesex Co., when western half of town was set off as the new town of Upton, Worcester Co.
16 Jan. 1741/2 Added land from Brimfield and Kingsfield [now Palmer], Hampshire Co., with western part of Brookfield to set off the new town of Western [now Warren].
-- May 1749 Woodstock, Connecticut seceded to Connecticut.
12 Apr. 1753
9 June 1756
Borders redefined and dispute between Hardwick and Greenwich, Hampshire Co., settled.
5 Jan. 1764 Small gain to Western [now Warren] from Palmer, Hampshire Co.
5 Feb. 1765 Small loss when part of Hardwick annexed to Greenwich, Hampshire Co.
6 Mar. 1767 Small loss when part of Ashburnham was annexed to northern half of Fitchburg, Middlesex Co., to set off the new town of Ashby, Middlesex Co.
25 Feb. 1783 Small loss when part of Harvard annexed to Boxborough, Middlesex Co.
15 Oct. 1783 Part of Athol and Royalton set off to create the new town of Orange, Hampshire Co.
16 Mar. 1784 Small gain when parts of Bolton and Northborough set off to create the new town of Berlin with a small part annexed from Marlborough, Middlesex Co.
7 Mar. 1786 Small gain when Southborough annexed part of Framingham, Middlesex Co.
16 Nov. 1792 Large triangular piece of land in Ashburnham annexed to Ashby, Middlesex Co.
15 July 1794 Small gain when Western [now Warren] annexed part of Palmer, Hampshire Co.
18 Feb. 1801 Large gain when parts of Hardwick and Petersham set off to create the new town of Dana with a part annexed from Greenwich, Hampshire Co.
20 June 1807 Small gain when Northborough annexed part of Marlborough, Middlesex Co.
8 Mar. 1808 Small gain when Upton annexed part of Hopkinton, Middlesex Co.
7 Feb. 1816 Small gain when Athol annexed part of Orange, Hampshire Co.
8 Feb. 1823 Small loss when a part of Western [now Warren] was annexed to Ware, Hampshire Co.
3 Nov. 1826 Irregularities of the county line with Windham Co., Conn., straightened.
11 Feb. 1829 One acre gained when Bolton annexed part of Marlborough, Middlesex Co.
3 Mar. 1829 Small loss when a part of Fitchburg was annexed to Ashby, Middlesex Co.
5 Feb. 1830 Small gain when Athol annexed part of New Salem, Franklin Co.
7 Feb. 1831 Small loss when a part of Western [now Warren] was annexed by Palmer, Hampden Co.
27 Mar. 1835 Gained when Milford annexed part of Holliston and Hopkinton, Middlesex Co.
16 Mar. 1837 Gained when Athol annexed part of New Salem, Franklin Co.
16 Mar. 1838 Redefined border between Bolton and Marlborough, Middlesex Co.
24 Mar. 1843 Small loss when a part of Southborough was annexed by Marlborough, Middlesex Co.
3 Mar. 1846
25 Apr. 1848
Border redefined between Lunenburg and Shirley, Middlesex Co.
1 Apr. 1859 Small gain when Milford annexed part of Holliston, Middlesex Co.
20 Mar. 1868 Small loss when part of Bolton was annexed by Hudson, Middlesex Co.
7 Mar. 1872 Exchanged between Mendon and Bellingham, Norfolk Co.
16 May 1901
1 May 1905
Redefined border for Southborough and Berlin with Marlborough and Hudson, Middlesex Co.
14 June 1906 Small loss when part of Harvard was annexed by Boxborough and Littleton, Middlesex Co.
16 May 1907 Redefined border for Milford and Upton with Hopkinton, Middlesex Co.
28 Apr. 1938 Large gain when Quabbin Reservoir created and "drowned" four towns. Petersham annexed part of Dana, and Greenwich and Prescott, Hampshire Co., and Hardwick annexed part of Greenwich.
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Towns and Cities

The following list of present-day Middlesex 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.

Ma-worcester.png
Ashburnham (1765) | Athol (1762) | Auburn (1778) | Barre (1774)
Berlin (1812) | Blackstone (1845) | Bolton (1738) | Boylston (1785)
Brookfield (1718) | Charlton (1775) | Clinton (1850) | Douglas (1775)
Dudley (1732) | East Brookfield(1920) | Fitchburg (1764) | Gardner (1785)
Grafton (1735) | Hardwick (1739) | Harvard (1732) | Holden (1741)
Hopedale (1886) | Hubbardston (1775) | Lancaster (1653) | Leicester (1714)
Leominster (1740) | Lunenburg (1728) | Mendon (1667) | Milford (1780)
Millbury (1813) | Millville (1916) | New Braintree (1775) | North Brookfield (1812)
Northborough (1775) | Northbridge (1775) | Oakham (1775) | Oxford (1713)
Paxton (1775) | Petersham (1754) | Phillipston (1786) | Princeton (1771)
Royalston (1765) | Rutland (1713) | Shrewsbury (1727) | Southborough (1727)
Southbridge (1816) | Spencer (1775) | Sterling (1781) | Sturbridge (1738)
Sutton (1714) | Templeton (1762) | Upton (1735) | Uxbridge (1727)
Warren (1742) | Webster (1832) | West Boylston (1808) | West Brookfield (1848)
Westborough (1717) | Westminster (1770) | Winchendon (1764) | Worcester (1684)

Ceded to Connecticut: Woodstock

Extinct Town: Dana (1801-1938)

County Histories

MassachusettsNew HampshireConnecticutRhode IslandWorcester CountyFranklin CountyHampshire CountyHampden CountyMiddlesex CountyNorfolk CountyTolland CountyWindham CountyProvidence CountyCheshire CountyHillsborough CountyWorcesterWarrenWest BrookfieldNorth BrookfieldEast BrookfieldBrookfieldSturbridgeSouthbridgeDudleyWebsterDouglasUxbridgeMillvilleBlackstoneMendonNorthbridgeSuttonOxfordCharltonSpencerLeicesterAuburnMillburyGraftonUptonMilfordHopedaleWestboroughSouthboroughNorthboroughBerlinBoltonHarvardLancasterClintonBoylstonShrewsburyWest BoylstonSterlingLeominsterLunenburgFitchburgWestminsterPrincetonHoldenPaxtonRutlandHubbardstonGardnerAshburnhamWinchendonRoyalstonAtholPetershamHardwickNew BraintreeOakhamBarrePhillipstonTempletonWarwickOrangeWendellNew SalemPelhamBelchertownWarePalmerMonsonWalesHollandBrimfieldMedwayBellinghamFranklinAshbyTownsendPepperellDunstableTyngsboroughWestfordGrotonShirleyAyerLittletonBoxboroughActonMaynardStowHudsonMarlboroughSudburyFraminghamAshlandHopkintonHollistonStaffordEllingtonTollandWillingtonUnionAshfordEastfordWoodstockThompsonBurrillvilleGlocesterSmithfieldNorth SmithfieldWoonsocketCumberlandLincolnWinchesterRichmondFitzwilliamRindgeNew IpswichGreenvilleMasonBrooklineHollisNashuaHudson
Modern city and town borders in Worcester County, Massachusetts.

Works written on the county include:

Worcester 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 long before 1700. 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.

Land Records

Worcester County Massachusetts Genealogy References

Adjacent counties: Massachusetts: Franklin | Hampden | Hampshire | Middlesex | Norfolk
Connecticut: Tolland | Windham
New Hampshire: Cheshire | Hillsborough
Rhode Island: Providence County