By Audrey Cooney
June 20, 2018
DEDHAM — The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds marked the 225th anniversary of its founding with a special exhibit of some of the registry’s most notable documents on Wednesday.
“In all of Norfolk County, there’s a treasure trove of history,” said Register of Deeds William O’Donnell, adding that it’s the only county to be the birthplace of four U.S. presidents. John Adams, John Quincy Adams, John F. Kennedy and George H.W. Bush were all born in the county.
During the event, visitors could peruse an exhibit featuring 45 deeds from the registry with ties to famous and notable people. These included the presidents born in the county, Abigail Adams, Helen Keller and Paul Revere. Even Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom has ties to the area. Her name is on the deed for a house in Wellesley purchased on behalf of the Canadian Consulate in Boston.
Husband and wife Peter and JoAnn Jones of Wellesley said they had no idea until they saw the exhibit that they lived down the street from a house owned by Elizabeth II. The couple said the event tied right into their love of American and local history.
“We’re losing our history a little at a time,” said Peter, who said children today aren’t receiving adequate history education in schools. “You lose your roots, you don’t know where you come from.”
Linda Berman, the former second assistant register of deeds, came back to her old workplace to explore the exhibit.
“I think this is fabulous,” she said.
Berman said O’Donnell has done an excellent job of making the registry accessible and user-friendly. The anniversary event was another example of that, she said. It served as a history lesson and a chance for Norfolk County residents to learn about what it is the registry does.
“It’s their registry,” she said.
O’Donnell led a brief ceremony formally marking the anniversary. It featured the Norfolk County sheriff’s honor guard and retired Massachusetts State Trooper Dan Clark, who sang the national anthem and traditional Irish songs.
William Galvin, the Massachusetts secretary of the state, spoke at the ceremony as well.
“It’s a very underappreciated public service,” he said of the registry, explaining that for many people and families, their home is their prized possession, and the registry is responsible for keeping their deeds.
Galvin said the event showed the wealth of history to be found in the county.
“People come from all over the world to celebrate our history,” he said. “We in Massachusetts have a great deal to be proud of, and Norfolk County has a great deal to be proud of.”
Click below to watch video of Register O'Donnell making remarks at the event.