Tag Archives: 17th Century
American County Histories

County Land Records Bridge Gaps For Families

Sharon Tate Moody, board-certified genealogist, explains how land transfer records can really make a difference for researchers and family historians looking to solidify time lines and relationships when birth, marriage, and death records are lost or destroyed. In Land record treasures are far from ho hum she gives several examples where records of land transfers were able to not only confirm a marriage but also to establish a trail for a family from one county to another.

Accessible Archives lets you search the full text of its American County Histories collection where you can find a wealth of information for counties in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. To see if your family could benefit from a look in the archives check this list of counties in American County Histories Collection.

Most of these large county volumes were compiled and published between 1870 and 1900 and have long formed the cornerstone of local historical and genealogical research. They are encyclopedic in scope and virtually limitless in their research possibilities. To get an idea of how much time is covered, the counties of Delaware volumes cover 1609 to 1888.

From the Archives

In New Castle County, Delaware you will find gems like this:

The place known as “Cowgill’s Corners,” near Little Creek Landing, was, prior to 1760, in the possession of Joshua Clayton, who, by will January 21, 1761, devised it to his granddaughter, Eunice Osborne. He had previously conveyed to his daughter Sarah, widow of Thomas Cowgill, eighty-eight acres, a part of “Willingbrook,” May 11, 1750. The other tract was known as “Higham’s Ferry,” on which was the mansion-house. Eunice Osborne left the property to her children,— Elizabeth, wife of Henry Cowgill; Mary, widow of Israel Asten; Eunice, wife of Peter Edmonson; and Tabitha, wife of Jabez Jenkins. The latter sold to Henry Cowgill, January 3, 1794, one undivided quarter-interest in the lands of Eunice Osborne. He settled at the Corner, which took his name. Jabez Jenkins, November 12, 1711, bought of Richard Richardson one hundred and eighty-eight acres of land, a part of a large tract called “St. Andrew’s,” adjoining the land of John Clayton, and which was northwest of “London.” This tract of “St. Andrew’s “ is now owned by D. Mifflin Wilson. Jabez Jenkins’ land passed to his son, Timothy, and from him to his son Jabez, who, August 7, 1815, sold it to Sarah, wife of John Turner and Jonathan W. Mifflin.


Inns of the Early U.S. in Pictures

Yesterday’s post described some of the early U.S. inns.  Here are pictures of 3 of them, taken from the same source.  Note that Clark’s Inn is located “facing the State House, on Chestnut St.”  The State House is now called Independence Hall.

Blue Anchor Inn and Dock Creek

Penny Pot-House and Landing

Clark's Inn - Philadelphia

American County Histories

Inns of the Early U.S.

The inns of the early U.S. are a far cry from the comfortable hotels we can stay in today.  Here is a description of one of them, taken from the History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884, as found in the Accessible Archives database:


H0000110 HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA. 1609 – 1884. J. Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott. L.H. EVERTS & CO, 1884, p. 980.

IN olden times, such a thing as the modern hotel, with its fashionably-dressed and all-important clerk its vast smoking-room, carpeted parlors, gilt mouldings, and other luxurious appointments, was unknown. The modest inn accommodated “man and beast,” and the jolly landlord welcomed the wearied traveler,— and fleeced him, too, when the occasion offered,— and an active, bright-eyed barmaid waited on him, and provided those simple comforts,— a pipe a pair of slippers, a glass of hot punch or a tankard of foaming ale, and a cosy corner near the tap-room fire. If the cloth was coarse it was generally white and clean, at least in respectable establishments, and the plain deal table groaned under the weight of viands which, if they presented no great variety, were well cooked and wholesome. Our fathers were great eaters and stout drinkers, and there was no need of a French menu and wines with high-sounding names to whet their appetites; roast beef, a leg of mutton, ham and cabbage, a fat fowl, were the solid dishes laid before them; ale, port or Madeira wine, and a glass of Jamaica rum and hot water to top off, left them in a pretty good condition to find sleep on the clean bed,—sometimes a hard one,— prepared for them in the small room, whose bare floors, whitewashed walls, and plain curtains, did not invite dreams of palatial splendors.

The tavern, though it accommodated guests with bed and board, had more of the character of a drinking-house. The inn was rural in its origin, the tavern originated in the city, and was frequented not merely by topers and revelers, but by quiet citizens, bachelors having no fireside of their own, and men of family who went there to meet neighbors and discuss business or the news, while enjoying a quiet glass and pipe. The ordinary was an eating-house, something between the restaurant and the boardinghouse of our day. Coffee-houses, so called, which dispensed intoxicating drinks as well as the fragrant decoction of the Arabian bean, made their appearance later; they were but taverns in an aristocratic disguise.


Warning: file_exists() [function.file-exists]: open_basedir restriction in effect. File(/.) is not within the allowed path(s): (/nfs:/tmp:/usr/local:/etc/apache2/gs-bin) in /nfs/c09/h01/mnt/135851/domains/accessible-archives.com/html/wp-content/themes/inspire/functions/admin-functions.php on line 537

Paul Revere’s Ride

Even in the 1800s, Paul Revere’s ride was memorialized and honored.  See this page image from PAPERS READ BEFORE THE OHIO COMMANDRY OF THE MILITARY ORDER OF THE LOYAL LEGION OF THE UNITED STATES 1883-1886 VOLUME 1, 1888, found in the Accessible Archives database:

A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, And a word that shall echo forever more! For borne on the night wind of the past, Through all our history to the last, In the hour of darkness, and peril, and need, The people will waken, and listen to hear The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Last Survivor of the Battle of Lexington

Here is an interesting tidbit from the April 7, 1854 issue of The Liberator, a source available on the Accessible Archives database.  Even in the early 1800s, some people lived to a remarkably advanced age.

Last Surrivor of the Battle of Lexington — The venerable Jonathan Harrington, of Lexington, the last survivor of the memorable conflict of April 9th, 1775, died recently, In the 96th year of his age. Though but 17 years of age, he was connected with the Provincial militia, and at the battle of Lexington played the fife for one of the companies in that engagement.