The Connecticut State Library today announced the release of an index to the Comptroller records. The Facebook post describes the index as an “Index of Connecticut town officials requesting state aid for support of non-resident individuals in their municipality[…]”
What exactly does that mean? Someone from another town? Another state?
The answer can be found in the 1849 Statute revisions.
The state was responsible for the support of those whose care could not legally be charged to a town – which meant they were either not born in the state or had not lived in the state long enough to establish “Inhabitant” status – or to a specific person who had brought them into the state.
When you’re searching for naturalization records, remember that 1906 is the “magic” date. The Naturalization Act of 1906 dramatically increased the level of detail found on a record and limited the number of courts in which one could be naturalized. Prior to that date, applicants could naturalize at any court. Earlier records do exist, but they often contain only the name and country (or kingdom) of origin and not the date and place of birth, spousal information, and more, often sought by genealogists. For that information, you generally are looking for a copy of a post-1906 declaration of intention.
Connecticut long ago signed a transfer agreement for naturalization records for the period after 1790. These records are transferred to the National Archives branch at Waltham, Massachusetts. Many have been digitized and can be accessed online. Use the FamilySearchwiki to locate the appropriate databases.
Are you a Connecticut resident researching your own family or a librarian, community center coordinator, or senior center coordinator working to coordinate a genealogy group? Here are some free resources that can help.
FamilySearch: A free genealogy website run by the Church of the Latter Day Saints, FamilySearch has digitized images of records from throughout the country. Not every record is available from home, but local libraries can become FamilySearch affiliates and have increased access. Don’t forget to check out the classes in the learning center.
The Connecticut State Library: Run by the state of Connecticut, CSL has a ton of resources for researching your family history. These include sources documenting Connecticut’s history, research texts from around the country, and even databases accessible to residents from home.
ResearchITCT.org: This state run site is accessible to residents from home with your local library card and includes newspapers, access to limited Ancestry.com collections and more.
Connecticut Digital Archive: A digital repository of Connecticut records, CT Digital Archive is a great place to look for newspapers and more!
Chronicling America: The newspaper site of the Library of Congress, Chronicling America offers great access to older CT newspapers. Don’t forget to check out the full digital collections of the library at loc.gov.
The National Archives: NARA is the repository for federal records. Many digitized records are now attached to their catalog.
Connecticut had one segregated unit: the company of Capt. David Humphreys in the 4th Connecticut. The privates in that company were all men of color. The company never saw its commander, who was assigned as a staff officer to Washington. The men consistently refer to him as Elijah Humphreys in pension applications. Although it did see active service, it was disbanded after only a year, in 1782.
Most of the men on the Continental Line were on 3 or more year enlistments. Even if they were part of Capt. Humphreys Company during that year, they likely served with integrated companies for the rest of their time in the Army. Men who served in the militia would have served in integrated units.
If you’ve studied colonial New England genealogy, you’ve probably heard about the practice of “warning out”. “Warning out” was a practice in which the town’s selectmen would tell unwanted inhabitants they had to leave the community, usually to avoid paying for care of an individual not raised in or with deep ties to a community.
While it was permitted, warning out seems to have rarely – if ever – occurred. Far more commonly, towns would bill each other for care of their inhabitants. If a resident of one town ended up ill in another, the selectmen of the second town would pay for their care and then expect the first town to repay them. These detailed records, often recorded as bills to the town, can generally be found in town clerk’s offices and/or the state archives.
Civil records of our ancestors were the end result of a series of laws. Laws determined when vital records were created, who had to be recorded, what information was included, what fees were charged for that recording, and more. Reviewing the original laws can help us understand what a source can and cannot tell us and why.
Some of those laws – such as the creation of the draft – are federal. However, vital records laws, probate law, and more were created and passed by the state government. The Connecticut State Library provides links to many of the historic versions of the Connecticut General Statutes on their website. Be sure to check the revision closest in time to the source to obtain the most current version of any applicable law.
Until 1818, the Congregational Church was the establishment or state church of Connecticut. As a result, many families were members by default. Congregational Church records can provide substitute records of birth, marriage, and death.
In the early 1900s, the Connecticut State Library began to collect copies of the state’s church records to ensure their preservation. Most received were Congregational or Episcopal. A portion (approximately 25%) were then abstracted and indexed. That collection has since been digitized by Ancestry. While a very limited sample, it offers a way to search a large number of churches at once – and perhaps, locate some missing family members.