History & Facts of Connecticut Counties

Connecticut County records vary widely from county to county in both quality and quantity. Some have been carefully preserved while others have been much abused and neglected. Some Connecticut records have simply disappeared. For genealogists doing research in Connecticut there is no effective replace for an on-site search of county courthouse records.

Counties were mainly developed as a way to denote county court districts. In 1959, all counties were dissolved. Federal census returns prior to that year were organized according to county. When the 1790 federal census was taken, there were eight counties in Connecticut. Certain towns were located close to county borders and were recorded as part of different county censuses.

Connecticut Counties

Connecticut is divided into 8 counties. Four of them were created in 1666, during the first consolidation of the colony of Connecticut from a number of smaller colonies. Two counties were created during colonial times, and two counties, Middlesex and Tolland, were created after American independence (both in 1785). Six of the counties are named for locations in England, where many early Connecticut settlers originated. Although Connecticut is divided into counties, there is no county government in Connecticut and local government consists of cities and towns. County government was abolished in Connecticut in 1960, although the names remain for geographical purposes. Counties are, however, still used by the state to organize its judicial and state marshal system.

County Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Fairfield May 10, 1666 Original county created from Colonial Lands Bridgeport
Hartford May 10, 1666 Original county created from Colonial Lands Hartford
Litchfield October 14, 1751 Fairfield and Hartford counties Litchfield
Middlesex May 2, 1785 Hartford and New London counties Middletown
New Haven May 10, 1666 Original county created from Colonial Lands New Haven
New London May 10, 1666 Original county created from Colonial Lands New London
Tolland October 13, 1786 Hartford and Windham counties Rockville
Windham May 12, 1726 Hartford and New London counties Willimantic & Putnam

Connecticut Extinct Counties

Connecticut has counties that no longer exist. They were established by the state, provincial, or territorial government. Most of these counties were created and disbanded in the 19th century; county boundaries have changed little since 1900 in the vast majority of states. These counties need to be looked at when doing genealogy research. Pay close attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was abolished or combined with another county.

  • Westmoreland County was a county established by Connecticut in 1776 (the present day area of Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania), until it was ceded to Pennsylvania in 1784. It briefly seceded to become the State of Westmoreland

Connecticut Counties with Burned Courthouses

The damage to courthouses greatly has a bearing on genealogists in every way. No only are these historic structures torn from our lifetimes, so are the records they housed: marriage, wills, probate, land records, and others. Once destroyed they're lost forever. Although they have been placed on mircofilm, computers and film burn too. The most heartbreaking side of this is the reason that nearly all of our courthouses are destroyed at the hands of arsonist. Although, not all records were lost. Many Connecticut counties have suffered a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.

  • Litchfield County Courthouse in 1887, No records were lost.
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