ST. LOUIS PUBLIC LIBRARY
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Winter 2003
A Publication of the St. Louis Public Library

Vol. 3   No. 1

DID YOU KNOW?

The Did You Know? section is designed to provide tips and research strategies and to  highlight a particular type of genealogical tool or resource.

Connecticut’s Fire Lands and the Connecticut State Library.

Connecticut Fire Lands

Many of the American colonies offered bounty land to their citizens in exchange for service in state militias or the Army of the Continental Congress during the American Revolution (1775-1783). Only two colonies made bounty land grants to civilians: Georgia and Connecticut. Georgia awarded land to persons who could prove they had not lent support to the British after they re-occupied the colony late in the war. Connecticut offered land in its Western Reserve to persons who had lost loved ones or property during raids on Connecticut coastal towns by British soldiers and sailors headquartered in New York City.

Connecticut initially claimed all the land extending from its border on the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. It gave away part of that land to the United States in a Deed of Cession dated September 13, 1786, but kept more than 3.3 million acres in what would later become the state of Ohio. This area was known as New Connecticut or the Connecticut Western Reserve.

During the Revolutionary War, British raids, carried out between 1777-1781, badly damaged nine Connecticut coastal towns: Danbury, East Haven, Fairfield, Greenwich, Groton, New Haven, New London, Norwalk, and Ridgefield. In 1792, the Connecticut General Assembly approved a plan to grant land in Connecticut’s Western Reserve to Connecticut residents who had lost loved ones or property during the British raids. Half a million acres were set aside for this purpose. This portion of the Western Reserve became known as the Fire Lands (less commonly referred to as the Sufferers’ Lands).

The Fire Lands were divided into townships measuring five square miles. Once surveying was completed in 1796, a drawing was held to determine which land parcels applicants would receive. The law establishing the Fire Lands dictated that the deeds for land parcels in the region would be recorded in the town where the sufferer had lost a loved one or property. Though the Fire Lands are located in the present-day Ohio counties of Huron and Erie (plus a township each in Ottawa and Ashland counties), persons interested in the original records relating to the Fire Lands should contact the Connecticut State Library, 231 Capitol Street, Hartford, CT 06106 (www.cslib.org).

The Connecticut State Library

Persons researching Connecticut ancestors should be aware of the large collection of materials of interest to the genealogist held by the Connecticut State Library (CSL). Their website (www.cslib.org) contains lots of information about collections, finding aids, electronic databases, and research policies. Included in CSL’s collection are numerous vital, land, and military records of the colonial and state periods, including the Connecticut Archives, the Winthrop Papers, the Barbour Collection of Vital Records, and the Sherman Adams Collection of Military Rosters (See info in "They Came From…").

CSL has also made several databases available at www.cslib.org/databases.htm. The record of Fitch’s Home for Soldiers contains records for 2,300 Connecticut veterans (mostly Civil War) who were residents at the Home. The Noble Pension Database documents the work of General William H. Noble and his daughter, Henrietta, who were pension agents in Bridgeport, Connecticut. They helped numerous Connecticut veterans of the Civil War and the Spanish-American War secure pensions from the federal government. The Wethersfield Prison Records Database is a guide to Warrants of Commitment for persons confined in that prison during the period 1800-1903. There is also a World War I Veterans Database, which is a guide to Military Service Questionnaires filled out by Connecticut veterans (or their survivors) during 1919-1920.

The CSL website also mentions the Connecticut Newspaper Project and ongoing efforts to microfilm each of the 1,810 Connecticut newspaper titles found during the discovery process. More than 1,100 of these titles remain to be microfilmed. The 243 newspapers already filmed have substantial gaps in their coverage. It is the intention of Connecticut Newspaper Project to gather as complete a file of a newspaper as possible before the filming of a particular title begins. CSL is part of CONSULS (the Connecticut State University Library Information System). Its catalog, and those of Connecticut’s four state universities, can be searched online at (http://csulib.ctstateu.edu/search/). Searches can be limited to materials in the Connecticut State Library collection.

The Connecticut State Library offers a limited genealogical search for a fee in response to inquiries submitted on the Genealogical Index Search Request Form available on its website. Genealogical inquiries by telephone are not accepted. They will furnish a list of professional genealogical researchers familiar with Connecticut source materials on request.

Connecticut State Library
231 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
860-757-6580
Hours: M, Tu, Wed, & Fri- 9 AM- 5 PM. Th- 9 AM- 7 PM., Sat- 9 AM-2 PM.
Closed Sundays.

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