It was an evening when “History Came Alive,” all 225 years’ worth, as several hundred people came to partake in the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds’ birthday celebration. The event, which was held on June 20th and free to the public, showcased the notable land records of many prominent people, along with changes to the Registry’s operations throughout the past two and a quarter centuries.
“It was on June 20, 1793 that Norfolk County and the Registry of Deeds came into existence thanks to a bill signed into law by then Governor John Hancock,” noted Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell. “As some residents of Norfolk County will proudly tell you, next to his being the lead signer of the Declaration of Independence, this was probably the second most important signature in John Hancock’s life.”
Hancock, his wife Dorothy Quincy, and his friend President John Adams greeted those attending the event. The evening was filled with “pomp and parade” as President Adams would say with a stirring rendition of God Bless America sung by the Singing Trooper, Dan Clark among his several patriotic songs. There was also fife and drum music performed by the Colonial Boys and an honor guard from the Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office which led the procession into the Registry’s Great Hall.
People strolled throughout the 113 year old building to view the 45 notable land exhibits, which included the names of the 4 U.S. Presidents who were born in Norfolk County: John Adams, John Quincy Adams (Braintree, now part of Quincy), John F. Kennedy (Brookline) and George H.W. Bush (Milton). They also viewed the land records of Norfolk County residents who won Nobel Prizes and others who were elected Governors of Massachusetts.
Additionally, there was a land record of an extraordinary individual from each one of the county’s twenty-eight communities. “This is an eclectic group of Norfolk County people that have made significant contributions in the areas of science, the arts, politics, environment, law, military and medicine,” noted Register O’Donnell. Some of those honored included revolutionary war hero Paul Revere (Canton), Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis (Dedham), astronaut Sunita Williams (Needham) and Helen Keller advocate for the disabled (Wrentham).
There were also exhibits tracing the history of the Registry of Deeds throughout its 225 years. There were storyboards about the different Registry locations as well as past Registers of Deeds. “Much has obviously changed,” noted Register O’Donnell. “The Registry operations have gone from the days of scriveners with quill pens to the modern era of computers and advanced document imaging. No longer do people ride by horseback to the Registry of Deeds, but today they can perform many of the same tasks from the comfort of their home computer.”
Those who attended the event received a booklet which included all the exhibits as well as a pin commemorating the 225th anniversary. If you are interested in a free booklet, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Registry of Deeds at 781-461-6104.
Register O’Donnell concluded, “Norfolk County has an amazing history. It is one of the reasons that it is considered a destination place to live and to work. We are proud as a Registry to be the depository of more than 6 million land records and processor of hundreds of thousands of transactions on a yearly basis. But as proud as we are of the past and the present, we are just as excited and focused on what the future holds for the Registry.”
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The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is located at 649 High Street in Dedham. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. All land record research information can be found on the Registry’s website www.norfolkdeeds.org. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center via telephone at (781) 461-6101, or email us at email@example.com.