I am honored to have
the opportunity to share with you the most culturally significant
documents ever recorded at the Essex County
Registry of Deeds. We refer to them as the "Native American Deeds".
These deeds link us directly to the Native Americans who
lived on this land.
This collection of ancient land transfers
is the only "evidence" we
have of land dealings
between the Native American and English cultures in the 17th
Century. These records also document that every town in Essex
County has a Native American heritage.
It is a fascinating story about property rights, the Massachusetts
Bay Colony and how the first American nation was replaced by
another. I hope that you will find it as interesting and exciting
as I did.
Some time ago, I asked Tom O'Leary
( the Registry's former GIS Director) to put the pieces of
this historical story together. He used our Native American
Deeds, early town records and maps to place these documents
in a new cultural context.
The purpose of this website is to stimulate the interest of
the public in general and local schools in particular to our
heritage--linking our 21st century life to our 17th century roots.
After reviewing these ancient original-source
documents, one will be able top make a stronger connection
between the ancient Native American names and places and
today's names, places and lifestyles. When I look at old
maps or travel the main highways
and back roads of Essex County, I can imagine the narrow Native
American trails that connected their villages to hunting and
planting grounds. Today, as I drive along the coastline,
or near our rivers, it is easy to think of Native Americans who
might have fished, camped or celebrated there long
ago. I invite you to take this journey with me over our landscape
in the moccasins of our Native Americans, who had to sell their
lands in order to survive. The "Native American Deeds" will
lead the way.
The Essex County Registry of Deeds has been maintaining a
chain of land ownership records since 1639. I especially commend
my predecessors for their diligence in taking custody of all
the records, particularly for preserving the Native American
Deeds to make this project possible.
I would especially like to thank Secretary of State William
Galvin, without whose constant support and encouragement I would
not be able to provide you with this historical journey through