Are you tracking an ancestor through Connecticut genealogy and need a guide?
The name Connecticut is derived from anglicized versions of the Algonquian word that has been translated as “long tidal river” and “upon the long river”, referring to the Connecticut River. The Connecticut region was inhabited by multiple Native American tribes before European settlement and colonization, including the Mohegans, the Pequots, and the Paugusetts.
Connecticut Genealogy: Colonial America
The first European explorer in Connecticut was Dutch explorer Adriaen Block. After he explored this region in 1614, Dutch fur traders sailed up the Connecticut River (then known by the Dutch as Versche Rivier, “Fresh River”) and built a fort at Dutch Point in present-day Hartford, which they called “House of Hope”
The Connecticut Colony was originally a number of separate, smaller settlements at present-day Windsor, Wethersfield, Saybrook, Hartford, and New Haven. The first English settlers came in 1633 and settled at Windsor, and then at Wethersfield the following year. John Winthrop the Younger of Massachusetts received a commission to create a new colony at Saybrook at the mouth of the Connecticut River in 1635.
The main body of settlers came in one large group in 1636. They were Puritans from Massachusetts, led by Thomas Hooker, who established the Connecticut Colony at Hartford. The Quinnipiack Colony was established by John Davenport, Theophilus Eaton, and others at present-day New Haven in March 1638. The New Haven Colony had its own constitution, “The Fundamental Agreement of the New Haven Colony”, which was signed on June 4, 1639.
The settlements were established without official sanction of the English Crown; each was an independent political entity. They naturally were presumptively English but, in a legal sense, they were only secessionist outposts of Massachusetts Bay or expansions from Plymouth Colony. In 1662, Winthrop traveled to England and obtained a charter from Charles II which united the settlements of Connecticut.
Historically important colonial settlements include:
- Windsor (1633),
- Wethersfield (1634)
- Saybrook (1635)
- Hartford (1636)
- New Haven (1638)
- Fairfield (1639)
- Guilford (1639)
- Milford (1639)
- Stratford (1639)
- Farmington (1640)
- Stamford (1641)
- New London (1646).
As you can see Connecticut has a long history compared to many other states. If you have an ancestor that appears in Connecticut around the American Revolution or shortly after, then there is a good chance that you will have a line that leads back to the 1600s in Colonial America. Historical societies have preserved the records in Connecticut fairly well.
Some key events that you need to remember when researching Connecticut genealogy are the following:
- Founding of Massachusetts Bay – Many of the families that founded Connecticut also were founding families of Massachusetts Bay.
- Founding of Connecticut – Thomas Hooker and the founders wrote the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut which was a founding document that influenced our Constitution. Anytime a government is put in place or founded it creates many records.
- Pequot War – A war fought between the settlers or the New England Colonies and the Pequot Indian tribe.
- French and Indian War – A colonial war that created many records for the men who served.
- American Revolutionary War – The American Revolution created many records. Connecticut was one of the first colonies to participate in the war. Remember to investigate the military records of Connecticut.
- Industrial Revolution – Connecticut was home to many large industries pre and post Civil War. Where jobs were created workers migrated.
- Civil War – Obviously the largest conflict in American History. Civil War records are well-preserved.
- 20th Century Wars – The World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and other conflicts create military records of the men and women who served.
|County||Date Formed||Parent County||County Seat|
|Litchfield||1751||Fairfield, Hartford, and New Haven||none|
|Middlesex||1785||Hartford and New London||none|
|New Haven||1666||unorganized territory||none|
|New London||1666||unorganized territory||none|
|Tolland||1785||Hartford and Windham||none|
|Windham||1726||Hartford and New London||none|
Connecticut Genealogy: State and Local Records
When tracking an ancestors life it is important to locate vital records. Sometimes it is as easy as searching an online database and sometimes it can be harder. If you have located an ancestor that lived in Wisconsin during its early statehood it would be a good idea to contact the local historical and genealogical societies to see what type of information they may have. Locating records at the local level can be more precise and provide more information than those at the national level. Here are some places you may want to begin your search for local records:
- County Clerk’s Office: Contacting the county clerk can help you find some land records, court documents, and other interesting documents that will give you a deeper look into your ancestor’s life.
- Local Library: What were the newspapers during that time period? Most libraries have microfilm that will allow you to read what was going on during your ancestor’s life. Many libraries also have obituary collections.
- Local Genealogical Societies: Most counties have their own historical society and genealogical societies. It is quite possible that someone has come before you and done much of the research and has wrote it down. If that is the case, then a local genealogical society would have that document.
- Local Cemeteries: Finding the grave of your ancestor can also give additional clues.
Connecticut Genealogy: Online Resources
Here is a list of free and paid resources to track your Wisconsin ancestor. Don’t forget to check out some of the national parks I have listed as they have been preserved by the government and may have records that you would not think about.
Connecticut Census Records
- Connecticut, Compiled Census Records and Census Substitutes Index, 1790 – 1890
- U.S. Federal Census – 1880 Schedules of Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes
Connecticut Birth, Marriage, and Death Records
- Connecticut, Marriage Index, 1959 – 2002
- Connecticut, Hale Collection of Cemetery Inscriptions and Newspaper Notices, 1629-1934
- Connecticut, Deaths and Burials Index, 1650-1934
- Connecticut Death Index, 1949-2012
- U.S., Newspaper Extractions from the Northeast, 1704-1930
- Connecticut, Divorce Index, 1968-1997
- New England, Select United Methodist Church Records, 1787-1922
- Connecticut Town Birth Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection)
- U.S., New England Marriages Prior to 1700
- Connecticut, Marriage Index, 1620-1926
- Early Connecticut Marriages
- Connecticut Town Death Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection)
- Massachusetts, Marriage Index, 1784-1840
- Burying grounds of Sharon, Connecticut, Amenia and North East, New York
Connecticut Military Records
- Connecticut Military Records
- Fold3 Connecticut Military Records
- Connecticut Newspapers
- Connecticut, Military Census, 1917
- Connecticut Soldiers, French and Indian War, 1755-62
- Connecticut, Military Questionnaires, 1919-1920
- Connecticut Revolutionary War Military Lists, 1775-83
- Connecticut Servicemen, Spanish American War
- Connecticut Men in the Revolutionary War
- History of the First Light Battery Connecticut Volunteers, 1861-1865 : personal records and reminiscences
- History of the Sixteenth Connecticut Volunteers
- First Connecticut Heavy Artillery : historical sketch and present addresses of members
Connecticut Immigration and Travel
- U.S. Naturalization Records Indexes 1791 – 1992
- Connecticut, Federal Naturalization Records, 1790-1996
- New England, The Great Migration and The Great Migration Begins, 1620-1635
- Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1775
- Web: US, New England Seamen’s Protection Certificate Index, 1796-1871
- Hartford, Connecticut, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1957-1962
- Connecticut, Passport and Birth Certificates, 1852-1928
Connecticut Museums and Historical Societies