Find the Records
The most likely place to find early road layouts is in the Town meeting
records. These are usually found in large ledger books with several hundred
pages each. Each book might cover several decades, so a typical small town
might have two or three volumes of pre-1860 Town Records.
Places to Look
Town Meeting Records
Research done by Others
Historical Society / Library
Even though the most likely location for old road layouts is
the town meeting records, you can't limit your search to those books.
Sometimes towns allow the selectmen to "lay out" the roads, so their minutes
need to be reviewed.
Some towns have created special "Road Books" where they collate road
actions, but even if you find one, don't assume that is where all road
records are stored.
In more recent decades road records may have been studied by others, so its
always a good idea to find out if someone else has already done road
research. Ask various Town Offices if they have a "Road" file. You
might find one in the Listers Office, or the Town Planning Office. You'll be
delighted if you find a 1986 "Old Roads" research project by a former town
historian (and very dissapointed if you find it AFTER you have spent 100s of
hours repeated old Bob's research!)
1) Town meeting records. Usually large leather-bound
ledgers of handwritten meeing minutes.
2) Town “Road Book” or file . Some towns keep
separate road books.
3) Research done by others - Ask the Town Planner,
the Listers, and the Selectmen if they have any file folders related to
roads. The work you are starting today may have been done before!
4) Town Highway Department records. Legal documents
shouldn’t be at the highway garage, but they might be. Check there!
5) Your local library or historical society. Documents
may have been transferred to them (though they shouldn’t be).
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