Fortunately for me the Wethersfield Town Clerk’s Office is staffed by a group of women who have pretty much heard all the possible off-the-wall questions from the most neophyte researchers. And are able to answer these queries with patience and direct us to the appropriate resources, while at the same time issuing marriage licenses to nervous young couples and supplying dog licenses to anxious pet owners who have waited until the very possible last minute to acquire them.
The department is, from one perspective, a people and paper based search engine — a word that today means a “program for the retrieval of data from a database or network, esp. the Internet” but historically has meant the manual recording and filing of complex essential information, accurately, using a process that then allows anyone to promptly find it.
The “certain map entitled ‘Brimfield Gardens Add. Property of Lucy E. Isaacson, Oscar Isaacson, Wethersfield, Conn. Scale 1 inch = 50 feet Dec. 1923 Spencer and Washburn, Inc., Eng’rs., Norman C. Spencer, Pres’t’on file in the Town Clerk’s Office in said Wethersfield,'” was listed in the map index and a copy was pulled from the appropriate shelf and presented to me within minutes.
(Please click the image for a larger picture)
At the bottom of the document were the words, “We hereby certify that this map is substantially correct. Spencer and Washburn, Inc., Eng’rs” [emphasis added]
Quick access to “substantially correct” information — I was off to a really good start. Tracing the ownership of property proved to be equally simple.
Adjacent to the office area for the Town Clerks was a series of books containing the “Grantee (or Grantor) Index to land Records in Wethersfield Connecticut.” Grantees are basically the buyers and Grantors the sellers. (When I did most of this research the Town Clerk’s Office was in its temporary location during reconstruction of the Town Hall.)
I was shown how to look up the grantee information from our purchase of 284 Brimfield Road. The object of my search was the volume number of the book and within that the page number where the documents officially recording the transaction are stored — in this case volume 305, page 217.
The records themselves were stored behind the grantee/grantor information in a twenty by twenty foot room with books along the outer walls and a five-foot tall metal-topped table with a slight peak in the middle. It was filled with the scents of dust, leather and decaying paper — the aroma of historical research.
The older records, including ours, were kept in leather bound volumes of several hundred pages each. The animal skin covers are fading in color and about one quarter inch thick. These tomes were stacked on their sides with the volume number printed on their spine so that it can be read from that angle. Each cubbyhole had small metal wheels on which the ledgers slide in and out. At several hundred pages each plus the covers the books are relatively heavy, as they should be given the heft of history that is within.
The newer ones are kept in considerably less impressive looking hard plastic binders with way-fewer pages and stored upright in conventional office shelving. Sixty years from now these polymer binders will no doubt look positively “historic” when compared to the electronically stored information of that time.
Volume 305, page 217 contained a copy of the same mortgage document that we had in our home files with one major exception. Written by hand along the right edge of the page were the words “Volume 295, page 546” indicating the location of the immediately preceding transaction relating to his property. In this case the reference led me to the sale of 284 Brimfield Road by George R and Louise E Burns to Thomas and Mary Ellen Willsey (v 295, p 546 – 7/30/75).
From there I followed the very short trail backwards in time Edward H and Mary B Kenyon to George R and Louise E Burns. (v 174, p 155 – 12/28/56)
Frances E Young to Edward H and Mary B Kenyon (v 121, p 479 – 12/10/46 and v 121, p 481 – 12/10/46) (two transactions: one for the Easterly 26.75′ of Brimfield Gardens lot 51 plus the Westerly 23.25’ of lot 50 and the second for the Westerly remainder of lot 51. The Kenyons later (v 148, p 487 – 9/21/53) bought the additional five feet that makes up 284 Brimfield Road from James H and Hetta B Torrey.)
Francis E Young acquired the property in two separate transcations: purchase of Lot 51 from Lucy Isaacson on September 26th, 1935 and the acquisition of Lot 50 from the Town of Wethersfield who had foreclosed it on January 3, 1945.
“Taxes Due May 1, 1930 thru 1933, 1935 and 1936 – $31.47
Taxes due July 1, 1937 thru 1942 – $31.84
Interest due – $25.98
Lien fees due thereon – $30.41
Sewer Assessment Metropolitan District laid 7/6/38 – $ 8.07
Sewer assessment Metropolitan District laid 6/1/38 – $130.06
‘…fair market value of each of such properties is not more than five thousand dollars and such value is less than the total amount due…”
Beginning with the 1935 sale all the documents contained the statement that “Lots number 51 and 52 …were affected by the building line of the lay-out of the Folly Brook Boulevard as laid out by the Metropolitan District Commission [and]…are subject to said building line…”
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