Cheshire County, New Hampshire Genealogy
- 1 County Courthouse
- 2 History
- 3 Places / Localities
- 4 Resources
- 4.1 Biography
- 4.2 Cemeteries
- 4.3 Census
- 4.4 Church
- 4.5 Court
- 4.6 Gazetteers
- 4.7 Genealogy - How to get started?
- 4.8 Genealogy - Town Histories often have Genealogical Sections
- 4.9 Land
- 4.10 Local Histories
- 4.11 Maps
- 4.12 Military
- 4.13 Newspapers
- 4.14 Probate
- 4.15 Taxation
- 4.16 Town Records
- 4.17 Vital Records
- 5 Societies and Libraries
- 6 Web Sites
- 7 References
The main courthouse is located at 12 Court St., Keene, NH 03431, tel. 603-352-6902 (Superior Court). The offices are open from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Mondays through Fridays.
There is an annex at 33 West St. in Keene where the county deeds and some other records are kept (tel. 603-352-0403, fax 603-352-7678.) The office is open Mondays through Fridays, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
- The county was named for Cheshire County in England. See the nh.searchroots.com site for a brief history of Cheshire County, and histories of the towns in Cheshire County. That site has a link to the website of Jeffrey Newcomer, www.chesterfieldoutdoors.com that has many lovely photographs taken mostly in Cheshire County.
Cheshire County was established on 19 March 1771 from the Colonial lands. 
- On 5 July 1827, the northern half of Cheshire County was established as Sullivan county. 
One record source that would be helpful, but was destroyed, is the 1890 census. There was a fire in Washington, D. C. in 1921 which badly damaged the records. None of the New Hampshire population records remain. The 1890 census veterans' lists were kept in a different building and were saved. They are available on microfilms and at www.ancestry.com. You can search for veterans' or widows' names.
An interesting help for 1890 is the Town and City Atlas of the State of New Hampshire, published in 1892 in Boston by the D. H. Hurd Company. The atlas has maps for almost every city, town, and village in New Hampshire. The maps show the locations of homes, and the map gives the name of the person living in the home. The above web site is from the University of New Hampshire Library.
Places / Localities
- Keene - a city of approximatley 24,000 residents, in the central portion of Cheshire County.
An excellent way to gain information is to contact the local town historical society. The best list of these is found at the Association of Historical Societies of New Hampshire. Click on the Directory.
Birth, marriage, and death records of many New Hampshire towns and villages are available on-line at www.familysearch.org, That site has birth records early to 1900, and marriage and death records, early to about 1948. Many of the town birth, marriage, and death records were microfilmed and are listed in the Family History Library Catalog.
Fortunately, authors have prepared books about most of the towns in Cheshire County. These books generally contain a genealogical section in the last part of the book. Following is a list of the towns for which these types of books are available at the Family History Library and at many other libraries and historical societies: Chesterfield, Dublin, Fitzwilliam, Gilsum, Jaffrey, Keene, Marlborough, Nelson, Richmond, Rindge, Stoddard, Sullivan, Surry, Swanzey, Troy, Walpole, and Westmoreland. They are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under the town, and then History, or, Genealogy.
If you want to seek clues about an ancestor who lived before 1850 you can look at the microfilm of the master index to New Hampshire town records. This is the Index to Early Town Records of New Hamspshire, Early to 1850 (FHL films 14942-15052). The cards are in alphabetiocal order by the name of the person. The cards list the volume and page number for original town records. Many of the town records are available on microfilms through the Family History Library.
Many town vital records are indexed now on familysearch.org. If you want to study microfilms of the town vital records, following is a list of New Hampshire towns with the dates of the birth, marriage, and death records on Family History Library microfillms. See the Library Catalog for the microfilm numbers.
Villages: No birth, marriage and death records are listed in the Family History Library Catalog for the following villages. Those records may be kept in another town's records.
For the villages, sometimes information on the genealogies of residents are included in the books on the larger towns. For example, information about persons in the the towns of East Swanzey, West Swanzey, and North Swanzey might be included in the history of Swanzey.
There are many town history books with biographical and genealogical information published about the towns in Cheshire County. The Family History Library, the Historical Society of Cheshire County in Keene, New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Historical Societry in Concord, New Hampshire, and other major family history libraries should have most of those books. For a list of the towns for which there are these town history books see the Places - Towns section above.
The Historical Society of Cheshire County (see address in Church section) has collected information from all of the towns in Cheshire County. They have town histories, family histories, biographical manuscripts, photographs, city directories, newspapers, business records, and other biographical information. The New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, New Hampshire is a good source for similar materials.
The New Hampshire Old Graveyard Associaton has the most complete list of cemeteries. This list is available at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nhoga.
- Cheshire County, New Hampshire Cemetery Records hosted by Access Genealogy, (accessed 22 August 2011). (This lists just three cemeteries in Alstead as of Feb. 2012.)
- Cemeteries in Cheshire County New Hampshire hosted by Findagrave, (accessed 22 August 2011).
The Findagrave organization provides a way for you to request that a volunteer will take a photograph of a gravestone. Often a volunteer will respond and will e-mail you the photo and add it to the web site.
- Cheshire County New Hampshire Cemetery List hosted by epodunk, (accessed 22 August 2011).
If the above internet sources do not list your ancestor's name, you may wish to contact the cemetery sexton, town clerk, town library, town historical society, or the Historical Society of Cheshire County (see Church records section for their address). Also check the Family History Library Catalog at www.familysearch.org, since the records may have been microfilmed.
Censuses for 1790 through 1930, except for the 1890 population schedules, are available on several internet sites. The site www.familysearch.org is currently indexing many of these census records. The 1940 census will be available this year (2012) on the internet in a browsable form, but will not be indexed yet. Indexing will begin in 2012. Volunteers are needed! Check with familysearch.org about many indexing opportunities.
The 1890 census, except for the list of Civil War veterans or their widows, was destroyed by a fire in Washington, D. C. in 1921. An interesting help for 1890 is the Town and City Atlas of the State of New Hampshire, published in 1892 in Boston by the D. H. Hurd Company. The atlas has maps for almost every city, town, and village in New Hampshire. The maps show the locations of homes, and the map gives the name of the person living in the home. The above web site is from the University of New Hampshire Library.
Note: the 1890 census veterans' schedules for New Hampshireh were preserved. They list Civil War veterans or their widows, and are available at ancestry.com.
If you know the name of the town or city, and the denomination, you may wish to contact the Historical Society of Cheshire County, P. O. Box 803, 246 Main St., Keene, NH 03431, tel. 603-352-1895, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. They have volunteers who may be able to send you the names and addresses of churches of that denomination for the town.
Or, if you know the town of residence and the ancestor's denomination, see the Church Records section in the general information for New Hampshire. That section lists archives and other record keepers for the various religious denominations.
If you do not know the denomination, search for a marriage record. This may give the name of the minister. Then you can contact a historical society and learn at which church he was the minister. Also search for an obituary, which may mention the church the person attended. The death certificate may list the name of the cemetery. You can then write to the cemetery and ask if it is affiliated with a local church. The death certificate may mention the funeral home. Their file may have the name of the church, cemetery, or a copy of the obituary. Also, relatives might know the denomination.
Different churches contain a variety of types of records. Many churches keep baptism, marriage, and burial records. Sometimes birth and death information is included. The church records of brothers and sisters, etc. may give clues.
The Court of Common Pleas and the Superior Court are the principal court records. The records from 1771 to 1899 were recently sent to the New Hampshire State Archives. Records since 1899 are still at the Cheshire County courthouse at 12 Court St., Keene, NH 03431, tel. 603-352-6902 (Superior Court). These include civil and criminal court records. The offices are open from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Mondays through Fridays.
A useful guide is Hamilton Child's Gazetteer of Cheshire County, N.H., 1736-1885; (Syracuse, N.Y., printed at the Journal Office, 1885). This has information about the towns, and includes a great deal of biographical and historical information. It is also an online book available through Internet Archive, (accessed 22 August 2011). Child's book is also available online at GoogleBooks, (accessed 22 August 2011). A database with searches for surnames and given names is provided by ancestry.com, (accessed 22 August 2011). Ancestry.com is available free at FamilySearch Centers.
Genealogy - How to get started?
1. Check new.familysearch.org and see if your ancestor's name is listed there.
2. Check familysearch.org and see if your family's vital records of births, marriages, and deaths are there.
3. Check familysearch.org and see if your family is listed on the U. S. census records of 1850-1930. You can also see those censuses at the Family History Center using Heritage Quest, and ancestry.com.
4. If you know the town where they lived, seek a town history that has a genealogical section (see below).
5. Read through the wiki articles on Cheshire County, and on New Hampshire, for ideas of sources. Study the Records Selection Table in the New Hampshire article. This can help you think of new sources to try.
6. Share your search on new.familysearch.org., genforum.com, or ancestry.com. You can also share your quest with the local historical society or town library and ask for help. Send them your family group forms and a pedigree chart.
Genealogy - Town Histories often have Genealogical Sections
Following is a list of the towns for which the Family History Library has town history books with a section of genealogies of families of that town: Chesterfield, Dublin, Fitzwilliam, Gilsum, Jaffrey, Keene, Marlborough, Nelson, Richmond, Rindge, Stoddard, Sullivan, Surry, Swanzey, Troy, Walpole, and Westmoreland. They are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under the town, and then History, or, Genealogy. Major libraries may also have these books. For example, the Historical Society of Cheshire County, 246 Main St., Keene, NH 03431, has those books, and may be able to seach the book of the town history for your family's information.
Cheshire County land records are available from 1771 to the present. The Cheshire County Registry of Deeds is at 33 West St., P. O. Box 584, Keene, NH 03431, tel. 603-352-0403, fax 603-352-7678. The office is open Mondays through Fridays, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The office has grantor (seller) and grantee (buyer) indexes, 1771-present, and deeds for the same time period. The following internet site may be helpful:
Cheshire County Registry of Deeds, (accessed 22 August 2011).
Using the internet you might be able to view the indexes, and, digital images of the Cheshire County deeds. You will need to have an updated computer, and updated programs. See the internet site www.nhdeeds.com.
If you wish to use microfilms at a Family History Center, you can order films of the deed indexes for 1771- 1900, and deeds for 1771 to 1900 . See the Family History Library Catalog, New Hampshire - Cheshire County - Land and Property.
An excellent way to gain information about family history and local history is to contact the local town historical society. For a list of the societies, see the web site of the Association of Historical Societies of New Hampshire. At that site click on the Directory tab, and scroll down to see the alphabetical list of towns and addresses.
From the above internet site you will see there are helpful historical societies or groups in Alstead, Chesterfield, Dublin, Fitzwilliam, Gilsum, Hinsdale, Harrisville, Jaffrey, Keene (Historical Society of Cheshre County in Keene), Marlborough, Marlow, Nelson, Richmond, Rindge, Stoddard, Sullivan, Surry, Swanzey, Troy, Walpole, Westmoreland, and Winchester.
The Historical Society of Cheshire County, in Keene, New Hampshire is an excellent source for local history information. See the Church section above for how to contact them, They have a large collection of town and county histories, records collections, photographs, and manuscripts. See also:
- Cheshire County New Hampshire Genealogy & History, (accessed 22 August 2011). This web site is a resource for researchers of family tree (genealogy) and history in Cheshire County, New Hampshire. There is a brief history and genealogical links to the towns and cities of Cheshire County.
- Hurd, D. Hamilton, History of Cheshire and Sullivan Counties, New Hampshire, (Philadelphia : J. W. Lewis; 1886, (accessed 22 August 2011). Hosted by Internet Archive. You can also read the book online at familysearch.org - see the Books tab there. The book includes histories for many of the Cheshire County towns. The digitizing was completed by the University of New Hampshire Library.
See the heading Biography under Cheshire County for additional suggestions.
- Historic Maps of Cheshire County - 1877, (accessed 22 August 2011). These maps are for sale, but can be viewed online.
- Town and City Atlas of the State of New Hampshire, 1892, (Accessed 10 March 2012). This has maps for almost every city, town, and village in New Hampshi,re, and gives the name of the person who lived in the home in 1892.
- 1895 Cheshire County, New Hampshire, (accessed 22 August 2011).
- Color coded map of Cheshire County, (accessed 22 August 2011). This site has links to photos taken in the towns, and links to official town internet sites.
The most complete listing of New Hampshire Revolutionary War soldiers is found in volumes 14-17 of the New Hamsphire State Papers. You can go to google.com, and look forNew Hampshire State Papers with the link to ancestry.com. There you will find a name index to voloumes 14-17, then you can go to the needed volume and page for information on the soldier. Often the place of residence is given.
For a military history of New Hampshire, see:
Potter, Chandler Eastman, The Military History of the State of New Hampshire. Concord, N.H.: McFarland & Jenks, 1866. (Family History Library film 1033664; fiche 6046858.) You can search this book on-line by going to google.com. Look for ancestry.com as the internet way to search this book. This history comprises events from the first settlements in New Hampshire to the rebellion in 1861. It includes biographical notices of many of the officers and explanatory notes.
The following internet site has a partial list of Revolutionary War soldiers of Cheshire County:
- Revolutionary War Volunteers from Cheshire County, hosted by USGenWeb, (accessed 22 August 2011).
Familysearch.org is a free source for locating names of Civil War soldiers and sailors. Ancestry.com is available free at FamilySearch Centers and is also valuable for finding names of soldiers and sailors.
You can go to ancestry.com and search for names in The Revised Register of the Soldiers and Sailors of New Hampshire in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, by Augustus D. Ayling. This book gives the age, residence, and service information about approximately 32,000 New Hampshire Civil War veterans. The book is also available on microfilm or microfiche from the Family History Library.
Town history books are available through the Family History Library, and other large libraries, for most of the towns in Cheshire County. They often contain extensive information concerning the war and the soldiiers. For example:
- History of Chesterfield, Cheshire County, New Hampshire, by Oran E. Randall. See pages 116-124,Record of the Citizens of Chesterfield Who Enlisted in the Military Service of the United States During the War of the Rebellion 1861-65 - Alphabetical listing.
- Civil War Vets Buried in New Hampshire - Cheshire County - Towns A-J are listed, and at the end there is a place to lead you to the rest of the Cheshire County towns.
- Civil War service men from Cheshire County served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are many companies or regiments that were formed from men of Ramsey County.
- - 2nd Regiment, New Hampshire Infantry, Company A.
World War I
A very helpful source for World War I is an index at www.ancestry.com of World War I draft registration records, 1917-1918. All men between ages eighteen and forty-five were required to register. Their birth date and place, address, and sometimes the name of nearest kin, are listed on the card. Many of these men served in the war.
World War II
There is an index on www.ancestry.com of the 1942 World War II draft registrations for New Hampshire, of men forty-five to sixty-five. Some of these men served in that war. The records contain name, address, birth date and place, name of kin or friend, name and address of employer, and signature. (See www.ancestry.com for further information.)
If the soldier died in World War II, see this internet site:
- Chesire County, New Hampshire World War II Casualties Army and Air Force hosted by Access Genealogy, (accessed 22 August 2011).
- List of Veterans for the Walpole Veteran's Memorial by Era, (accessed 22 August 2011).
Naturalization and Citizenship
Cheshire County naturalization records are kept at the county courthouse at 12 Court St., Keene, NH 03431. The records for 1831-1859 are included in the county volumes titled "Roads and Session Records." You can search Family History Library microfilms of naturalization records for 1860-1945 kept by the Supreme Judicial Court. They include records of the Circuit Court, 1874-1876, and the Superior Court, 1901-1904.
Volunteers, in recent years, arranged most of the naturalization records in aphabetical order. The Historical Society of Cheshire County, in Keene, has photocopies through the early 1900s.
The main newspaper for Cheshire County is the Keene Sentinel, published since 1799. The offices are at 60 West St., Keene, NH 03431, tel. 603-352-1234, e-mail email@example.com. The web site is sentinelsource.com.
- At www.genealogybank.com (accessed 11 November 2011) you can search for names in the Keene Sentinel for years 1799-1891.
- Newspaperarchive.com ($) has historical newspapers available on-line. Their database has Fitchburg, MA newspapers (1868-1977) covering local news that included Cheshire County residents.
- Obituary Index Cheshire County, New Hampshire, (accessed 22 August 2011). This has obituaries primarily from 1998 to 2008 as of November 2011.
- The Historical Society of Cheshire County (see address in Church section above) has obituaries taken from the Keene Sentinel newspaper for 1799-1890 and 1985- present.
The Registry of Probate office is at 12 Court St., Keene, NH 03431, tel. 603-357-7786. The probate records for 1771-1885 are at the New Hampshire Division of Records Management, 71 S. Fruit St., Concord, NH 03301. You can request and search those records there. They are on microfilms also - see below.
Probate records for 1886 to the present are still at the court house in Keene. The Registry of Probate office has an index to those persons for whom probate records were filed. There is an index on Family History Library film 2316239 item 3 for 1771-1885.
The Family History Library has microfilms of probate records for wills, 1769-1885; administrations, 1823-1869; and alphabetical probate estate files, 1769-1885. There is an index on film for 1769-1885. See the Family History Library Catalog, New Hampshire - Cheshire County - Probate Recorde. The Historical Society of Cheshire County, in Keene also has films of the records for 1771-1885,
Many town tax records have been preserved by town clerks and town tax officials. Town tax records were generally taken each year. The Family History Library has many town records on microfilms. For film numbers see the Family History Library Catalog under New Hampshire - Cheshire County - [name of town] - Town Records.
There is an index to the town records (which include many tax records) from the early settlement of the town to about 1850. This is the Index to Early Town Records of New Hampshire, Early to 1850 (FHL films 14942-15052). The index cards list volume and page numbers for the town records, many of which are on Family History Library microfilms. The records are listed in the catalog in the manner mentioned in the paragraph above.
Town records are an important source of family history information from the 1600s to about the 1940s. The early New Hampshire town records to about 1850 have an every-name index. The index and film numbers are listed just above in the Taxation section. Many town records are still in the town offices.
To see the types of family history information you might find in town records please go to the heading Town Records in our New Hampshire wiki article.
Certified copies of of birth, marriage, and death records are available from the State Division of Vital Records Administration or from the local city and town clerk where the event took place. Original records are kept by the city or town clerk and copies are sent to the state.
In 1905, when the state created the Bureau of Vital Records and Health, printed cards were distributed to the local clerks and earlier vital records were transcribed onto the cards and submitted to the state.
- New Hampshire Birth Records, Early to 1900 are available online from FamilySearch.
- New Hampshire Marriage Records, 1637-1947 are available online from FamilySearch.
- New Hampshire Death Records, 1654-1947 are available online from FamilySearch.
Some vital records links are found at MyGenealogist.com, (accessed 22 August 2011). Most of the links listed are by town or city. There are also links to cemetery records.
The internet site of the Keene Public Library has vital records information on-line for Keene:
birth records, 1753-1910
marriage records, 1762-1855, and 1886-1941
death records, 1742-1941
The marriage and death entries from 1887 through 1938 often give birth place, parents' names, parents' birthplaces, age, and other useful information.
Societies and Libraries
- Historical Society of Cheshire County.
- The Association of Historical Societies of New Hampshire.
- Cheshire County Public Libraries, (accessed 22 August 2011).
- Historical Societies for Cheshire County listed by MyGenealogist.com, (accessed 22 August 2011).
Family History Centers
As of November 2011 there were Family History Centers in New Hampshire at: Concord, Exeter, Lebanon, Nashua, Randolph, and Wolfeboro. By going to the site below you can find the address, directions, hours open, and telephone number for Family History Centers in New Hampshire and neighboring states.
- The Association of Historical Socieites of New Hamsphire.
- The Historical Society of Cheshire County 's internet site.
- The Cheshire County NHGenWeb Project, a member of The NHGenWeb Project, an affiliate of The USGenWeb Project.
- The USGenWeb Archives Project for Cheshire County
- The USGenWeb Archives Project for Cheshire County (backup site)
- FamilySearch.org Family History Library catalog for Cheshire County
- Cheshire County, New Hampshire Genealogy and Family History (Linkpendium)
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 181. [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].