Massachusetts Courthouse Fires
The destruction of courthouses greatly affects genealogists in every way.
Not only are these historic structures torn from our lives, so are the records they housed:
marriage, wills, probate, land records, and others. Once destroyed they are lost forever.
Even if they have been placed on mircofilm, computers and film burn too. The most
heartbreaking side of this is the fact that many of our courthouses are destroyed at the
hands of arsonist. However, not all records were lost. Often, people took their documents
again in for recording after a disaster and later deeds will contain long chains of title, etc.
Barnstable County - Fire destroyed nearly all the early deed books and probate files, but
probate books survived. Although the official deed books only begin in 1827, many deeds
were pre-recorded back to about 1783, though these are far from complete.
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