Historical gazetteers are important reference works for genealogists because they provide information about place names associated with our ancestors that are frequently not in common use today. Once we know, for example, that “a runaway pond” could be found in Glover, Vermont, we can begin to look for census or other source records belonging to that jurisdiction. Hayward’s New England Gazetteer is one of the more ambitious works of this genre, for herein the reader will find descriptions of nearly 10,000 places-counties, towns, villages, rivers, bays, streams, islands, and so forth-scattered among this six-state region. The descriptions are full or spare, by design. However, at a minimum, the descriptions include, in the case of communities, the date of the locality’s founding or incorporation, precise location, population and principal industry in 1837, and something about the history; or, with respect to bodies of water, they include its source and terminus, the region traversed by it, uses to which settlers have put it, and sometimes a historical anecdote that occurred there. Among the innumerable curious facts you will discover in The New England Gazetteer is that there is a Middleton in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and a Middletown in Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Similarly, the eastern part of New Hartford, Connecticut, was originally called Satan’s Kingdom, while the region surrounding Montville, Connecticut, was once the home of the Mohegan Indians. Such examples are endless, but one thing is certain-if you are on the lookout for New England ancestors, this is a volume you will want to consult over and over again.
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