Friday, July 29, 2005

Old Middlesex South Books

We’re well on our way to having all documents in the registry scanned and available on our website. One of the last groups left to be scanned are our oldest documents, those that were recorded before this registry came into existence in 19855. Prior to that year, any documents related to land in the towns that subsequently became the Middlesex North District (Billerica, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Lowell, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro, Westford and Wilmington) were re-copied in new books that were divided by town name and then sequentially numbered. The placement of documents within these books was based on what town the relevant property was part of in 1855, not when the document came into existence. For example, a 1776 deed to a parcel at the corner of Andover and High Street was then in Tewksbury, but by 1855 that area had become part of Lowell, so that deed would be placed in one of the Lowell books. To give you a sense of the relative size and volume of real estate activity within the Middlesex North District towns prior to 1855, here are the number of record books containing documents from 1639 to 1855 for each town: Billerica – 21 books; Carlisle – 13 books; Chelmsford – 19 books; Dracut – 16 books; Dunstable – 12 books; Lowell – 91 books; Tewksbury – 16 books; Tyngsboro – 7 books; Westford – 20 books; and Wilmington – 14 books. There are also 16 books in a category called “Doubtful” which presumably includes documents for property of an indeterminate location. There is also Grantor Index (21) and Grantee Index (17) books. The indexes are consolidated, meaning all of the names are grouped alphabetically, and contain dual book entries. One is the book and page number of the original Middlesex South book; the other is the newer, Middlesex North reference (“Lowell book 2, page 450” for example). We are now analyzing how to best convert these documents to digital form and hope to have them available on our website by January 2006. These documents tend to make fascinating reading, so they’ll be valuable from a historical as well as a title examining perspective.

No comments: