Board of Supervisor Records

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Contributing Writer
Janet Wahlberg

This month I am continuing my quest to point out some of the more obscure records available at the Hall House Library. One set of books is the Board of Supervisor records from 1858 thru 2000. I first became aware of them when I was researching the possibility of a small boy being admitted to the Gustavus Adolphus Home around the turn of the 20th century. While I did not find his name in the records, I did find an interesting collection of reports that could prove very useful in doing research.
There are lists of the people serving on the Board of Supervisors for many of the small towns going back to 1811. You will find Grand Jury lists in addition to Reports of Town Officers, Superintendent Reports and many other topics. The 1811 Board of Supervisors lists Charles B. Rouse as the County Clerk. It also lists The Town of Chautauqua with Matthew Prendergast as the town officer and Philo Orden as the town officer of the Town of Pomfret. These are the only town and county officers listed that year. By 1865 the staff of the county has grown to include Chairman Orson Stile, Clerk Lucius Hurlbut, Reporter C.E. Bishop and Janitor Stephen Parment.
The Reports of Town Officers include Police reports. Hopefully you will not find your family members here. However, if you have one of those family stories that mentions Uncle John in whispers, this may be your source.
There are two extensive sections on Town Accounts and County Accounts. These list such items as Coroners’ accounts, Printers’ accounts, Jail accounts, Sheriffs’ accounts and others. Listed under each of these titles are the names of those who made claims against these accounts. There are many many names here.
If you have an interest in early political decisions required to run the county and towns, there are Board minutes. In many cases these describe the issues raised and then who voted for or against the issue.
One of the more interesting section of the books is the Superintendent Reports from the County Home. It has lists of Deaths at the Asylum, Admissions to the County Home, Inmates of the County Home, Boarders, Discharges, Births, and Absconded. I am totally intrigued with the Absconded list. I am not quite sure what it indicates but, the Webster’s New World Dictionary defines it as “to leave hastily and in secret.” Those who died there were often buried in a nearby cemetery that was part of the complex. The graves are marked with simple round stones with a number on them. The various lists of those residing at the Home are further broken down into the ethnic origins of the inmates of the County Home and the County Asylum.
One entry follows: “In our Asylum, there are 13 that, through their friends or guardians, pay in full or in part for board and care as follows:” There is a list of names that followed this entry.
The Superintendents Reports for the County Home also reports on supplies purchased, food produced, repairs made and the cost of these items
If you are willing to read through some of these book, I think that you might find some small and fascinating details about the evolution of County government and perhaps find some of your ancestors.

To read Janet Walberg’s previous genealogy columns or to delve deeper into her writings and insights for searching out and recording your own family’s genealogy, please go to jamestowngazette.com and visit Janet’s own web page.