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THE EDITORS’ VIEW

Understanding a family’s geopolitical context is vital to successful research. Knowing which jurisdictions might have created records concerning your ancestor’s activities is the first step in locating those records. Boundaries change and levels of governmental control change, sometimes resulting in records preserved in unexpected places.

The Burton  family of Norwich, presented here by Thomas Jones, is a great example of the research complexities posed by jurisdictional turnovers. In 1761 New Hampshire granted land at Norwich to a group of Connecticut men, even though the area was also claimed by New York. In 1764 King George set New York’s eastern boundary so as to include Norwich. Residents had a Cumberland County address in 1766 and a Gloucester County one in 1772, both in the Province  of New York. In 1777 Vermont declared itself a republic and claimed the area as well, combining Cumberland and Gloucester counties into Unity County, then renaming it Cumberland County four days later. In 1781 Vermont divided its Cumberland County into three counties and placed Norwich in Windsor County, where it remains today. However, New York did not relinquish its claim until 1790, and residents continued to call themselves New Yorkers on some records, likely unsure of exactly where they lived or which authority would prevail. In the space of twenty years, the village of Norwich was in New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.

While these changes no doubt confused Norwich residents back then, they can cause havoc for unwary researchers tracing Norwich families or in fact tracing anyone who lived in Cumberland or Gloucester County, New York. In this case, although the family stayed in Norwich and nearby Sharon, relevant records concerning them were housed in four states (including Connecticut) and numerous repositories. The appropriate records can be found only by knowing which entity (or entities) had governing power over the area.

The settlement process can change boundaries even in the absence of political conflict. Take the case of Joseph Chaplin, who in early 1791 built a cabin on the bank of the Tioughnioga River and established a ferry.1 In the course of seventeen years, Joseph was described as a resident of Lot 50, Virgil Township, 2 Montgomery County; the Town of Homer and Virgil Township, Herkimer County; the towns of Homer and Virgil, Onondaga County; and the Town of Virgil, Cortland County. Yet he never moved. New counties and towns were formed and records were created in each, but Joseph stayed at his ferry.

History matters, and legal (jurisdictional) history matters most. Without understanding it, we literally don’t know where to start our search.

Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS

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THE NEW YORK
Genealogical and Biographical Record

VOLUME 147   APRIL 2016   NUMBER 2

CONTENTS

“IN THE COUNTY OF CUMBERLAND AND THE PROVINCE OF NEW YORK”: CLARIFYING JOSIAH BURTON’S IDENTITY, RELATIONSHIPS, AND ACTIVITIES

by Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, FASG, FUGA, FNGS ............. 85

DAVID JAPIN, STEPFATHER OF JOANNES NEVIUS OF NEW AMSTERDAM

by John Blythe Dobson, FASG, FGBS ........................... 103

ADOLPH DEGROVE, 1720–1796, OF NEWBURGH, NEW YORK, AND SOME OF HIS DESCENDANTS

by William M. Degrove ........................................ 113

THE FAMILY OF JOHN S. AND ZERVIAH (HAWKINS) PORTER OF JEFFERSON COUNTY AND POINTS WEST

by Harold A. Henderson, CG ................................... 129

THE CHILD LEFT BEHIND: HENRY LARZELERE OF THE TOWN OF JERUSALEM, YATES COUNTY, NEW YORK (CONTINUED)

by Jeanne Larzelere Bloom, CG ................................. 144

Regular Features

THE EDITOR’S VIEW ................................................... 83

NECROLOGY ........................................................... 102

REVIEWS ............................................................... 156

Dinan. In Search of Barnabas Horton: From English Baker to Long Island Proprietor 1600–1680.

By Frederick C. Hart Jr., CG, FASG, FGBS.

Rohrbach. Johannes Rohrbach Of New York 1710.

By Richard Haberstroh, AG.