Vermont County records can vary widely from county to county in both quality not to mention quantity. Some have been very carefully maintained while some have been much misused and neglected. Some Vermont records have purely vanished. For genealogists doing research in Vermont there’s no valuable substitute to have an on-site search of county courthouse records. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia
There were only four Vermont counties from 1772 to 1777. They were Cumberland, Charlotte, Albany and Gloucester. Although there were many New Hampshire towns in those counties, they were considered to be part of New York, politically. The records for Gloucester County have been published. Bennington and Cumberland counties were founded in 1777, but Cumberland county ceased to exist in 1781. At that time, it was split into Orange, Windsor and Windham counties. Meanwhile, Rutland County was formed in part of what was Bennington County.
Counties don’t have much meaning in Vermont politically. However, there are some court records, records for unorganized towns and a few other bits of information available in the various county offices. The county designations were also used during the taking of censuses. The probate districts and political boundaries line up for nine Vermont counties. However, there are 6 counties that each had two probate districts. They are: Addison, Bennington, Orange, Rutland, Windham, Windsor
The Addison division was dissolved in 1962 and the Orange division was dissolved much later, in 1994. See also a list of links to county and county seat government run websites.
|County||Date Formed||Parent County||County Seat|
|Addison||1785||Part of Rutland and Orange Counties||Middlebury|
|Bennington||1779||One of the original two counties||Bennington|
|Caledonia||1792||Part of Orange County||St. Johnsbury|
|Chittenden||1787||Part of Addison County||Burlington|
|Essex||1792||Part of Orange County||Guildhall|
|Franklin||1792||Part of Chittenden County||St. Albans|
|Grand Isle||1802||Part of Chittenden and Franklin Counties||North Hero|
|Lamoille||1835||Parts of Chittenden, Franklin, Orleans and Washington Counties||Hyde Park|
|Orange||1781||Part of Cumberland County||Chelsea|
|Orleans||1792||Part of Chittenden and Orange Counties||Newport|
|Rutland||1781||Part of Bennington County||Rutland|
|Washington||1810 (renamed 1814)||Parts of Orange, Caledonia and Chittenden Counties||Montpelier|
|Windham||1781||One of the original two counties||Newfane|
|Windsor||1781||Part of Cumberland County.||Woodstock|
Vermont Extinct Counties
Vermont contains counties that no longer are in existence. They were organized by the state, provincial, or territorial authorities. A lot of these counties were established and disbanded during the Nineteenth century; county borders have altered very little since Nineteen hundred in the great majority of states. These counties needs to be researched when performing ancestors and family history research. Pay attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was eliminated or consolidated with a different county.
- Cumberland County: Originally a New York county, it went out of existence as a New York entity in 1777 when Vermont became independent. Land that had been in Cumberland and Gloucester counties, N.Y., then fell under Cumberland County, Vermont, jurisdiction. Cumberland County, Vermont, was abolished in 1781 when Windham, Windsor, and Orange counties were formed.
- Jefferson County: Formed in 1810; renamed Washington, 1814.
Vermont Counties with Burned Courthouses
The harm to Vermont courthouses drastically has a bearing on genealogists in just about every way. Not only are these types of historic structures torn from each of our lifetimes, so are the files they kept: marriage, wills, probate, land records, and others. Once destroyed they’re gone forever. Although they happen to have been put on mircofilm, computers and film burn up too. The most tragic side of this is the reason that virtually all of our courthouses are destroyed from arsonist. However, don’t assume all records were destroyed. A number of Vermont counties have dealt with a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.
- Addison County Courthouse – On 25 February 1852 a fire in the courthouse burned the probate records for Addison district (not New Haven). What remains for Addison Probate District records before 1852 are fragments.