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I devoted the day to one of my ongoing genealogy research cases. I am working on a revised sketch for Elisha Freeman of Norwich, Vermont and his wife Lucy. The first step was to bring together five years of research so I can create my proof argument. Creating a chronology helped me decide if  the facts work and are consistent with my research hypothesis.

Admittedly, in my first year of research I did not always record proper citation information. One of my biggest problems was identifying the copies I made from microfilms in 2009. I scanned six references from a microfilm series containing early town records for Hanover, New Hampshire. However, I missed a great deal of citation information and being six years ago, my memory has not served me. The problem became worse because some of the repositories are far from my location, including town halls three hours away in Vermont. I decided to make up for what I could with online availability and to my surprise; I was able to retrace most of my steps.

The key fact was discovering that the references included not only the town clerk’s records (starting 1761), but proprietor records as well. Proprietor records from the American colonial period include a charter for the town made in the name of the Royal Government and officiated by governor of the colony, distribution of large lots within the town, and records dealing with establishing the town. [1]

I needed to figure out these mysterious pages in order to add them to the proof argument. Internet Archive has a copy of Hanover Town Records, 1761-1818 that were printed in 1905. I was able to find some information, but could not determine the origin of the microfilms. Family Search’s catalog led me to the answer and informed me that the microfilm was digitized. From there, I could see the collection of Hanover records again and was quickly able to record the right information. The first page catalog explains the inclusion of proprietor records, town records, and vital records.  The eBook from Internet archive only includes one volume of town records. [2]

Ebook: The Records of the Town of Hanover, New Hampshire, 1761-1818

Family Search, New Hampshire, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1636-1947

It is important to look a couple pages back and forth to find when events involving your ancestor happened. Careful note taking the second time around has led me to discover some important information. Having thought Elisha moved to Hanover in 1774, I begin to read the agenda from the meeting of the town proprietors which showed payments dated 17 Dec 1767 of 9 shilling for 3 days to Elisha Freeman for work on a highway in Hanover. [3] He adventured up the Connecticut River valley much earlier than previously known and was eager to make the frontier his home. The land his father Silvanus Freeman received as a proprietor was quitclaimed to Elisha on 23 May 1769. [4] I can continue forth with this project having the correct dates, citations, and a clear objective.

[1] Recommended scholarship on New England Town Records is Ann Smith Lainhart, Digging for Genealogical Treasure in New England Town Records, (Boston, MA: NEHGS, 1996).

[2] Herbert Foster Darling, George Mendal Bridgman, Sidney Bradshaw Fay, The Records of the Town of Hanover, New Hampshire, 1761-1818, (Hanover, NH: 1905).

[3] Hanover Town Records, (Salt Lake, UT: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1950), Vol. 1, Proprietor Records, 106: accessed on Familysearch.org, New Hampshire, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1636-1947.

[4] Grafton Co., New Hampshire, Deeds, vol. 100, page 425: accessed on microfilm at NEHGS.


Jake Fletcher, “Re-tracing your footsteps in research,” Travelogues of a Genealogist, posted 24 Jul 2015. https://fletcherfamilytree.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/re-tracing-your-footsteps-in-research/

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