A few years ago I came to the realization that online research, however wonderful in its accessibility and scope, did and does have its limitations. In slow and sometimes small steps I began to make trips to historical societies and most recently, Monmouth County Archives. I also looked for local genealogical societies.
I joined the Genealogical Society of the West Fields in New Jersey. They have great speakers! At the October meeting, the guest speaker was Joanne Rajoppi, Union County Clerk. She talked about Land Records maintained by her office. Many records are searchable online from 1985 to the present. Records prior to January 1986 are in the process of being imaged.
It was a great talk and very enlightening. Ms. Rajoppi was approachable and helpful. She explained about Deeds, Mortgages, Assignments and liens as well as showing samples of some of the documents. The most interesting one was the Chattel Mortgage. Chattel Mortgages listed the collateral given and examples included personal property such as a steam boiler and furniture. I saw a listing for table and chairs on one of the mortgages.
I got a new perspective on research in Union County. There aren’t any records in the inventory of the Records Room prior to 1857 because that was when Union County was created from Essex County. Earlier records are Essex County records. I had not known that. If I read it before, it did not click until now.
One of the very recent lessons for the NGS course dealt with courthouse records and marriage records. I had a bit of a challenge when looking for a local repository because Union County does not keep marriage records; the local municipalities do. Earlier records are at the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton. I wasn’t clear on what records were at the Union County Clerk, but after today I have a much better handle on it. At the time, figuring out where the records were was pretty confusing. I guess that’s the point of taking a class. You learn things like that. It took a little while to sort it out, at least for New Jersey, and now, land records in Union County.