GenToday-L Archive

Church Records

Where colonies of European immigrants arrived in the United States, often as religious groups, it is also possible to find some early records. Pilgrims, Quakers, Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian, Methodist, Mennonite, and other close-knit groups have many records that can be used back into the 1700's in many cases, with a few being available into the 1600's. To find these types of records, check with the Family History Library as well as libraries and genealogical societies in the areas you are researching. By contrast, when individuals arrived in the U.S. as single or nuclear families, not attached to any religion, very often nothing exists about them in the way of church records in the first and second generations, thereby creating many roadblocks to tracing their ancestry back into Europe.

There are numerous other books in print containing the church records of local congregations. Check the Family History Library and libraries and genealogical societies in the areas you are researching. For example Alfred Andrews in 1867 compiled Genealogy and Ecclesiastical History of New Britain, Connecticut. Farmington, Connecticut, founded in 1645 had by 1707 grown to the point where the Great Swamp area was granted permission to become its own ecclesiastical society and found a new church. Every communicant member of the church from 1758 to 1867 is included in this study. Thousands of such records exist and have been preserved throughout the nation.

Types of Church Records

Church records include many varieties. There are the standard baptism, marriage and burial records that most of us think of. In addition, you can often find the following:

  • Church census records, membership lists of arriving or new members, departing members, members who have been cut off, excommunicated, or censured.
  • Minutes of various organizations within a church
  • Records of church socials
  • Biographical notes on members
  • Transcriptions of talks or testimonies given in a particular meeting
  • Notes on funeral ceremonies with references to the names of family members who attended.

    Some web sites:

  • JEWISH -
  • MORMON -

    Tip of the Month

    Old courthouse records of the 1700's may sometimes refer to a person "keeping an ordinary". An "ordinary" was an inn, tavern or saloon that served a fixed price meal. That term was also applied to the meal itself. The price that the "ordinary" could charge for food and drink were regulated by the county or town.

    Interesting Fact

    The ten most common surnames in the United States are: Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown, Davis, Miller, Wilson, Moore and Taylor.


    Need info Benjamin & Mary Nichols Fanning's children in Morgan Co,IL.>>Mary Jane Fanning b 1847, m John C. Entrikin 1881, Nancy E.Fanning b 1855, m Alex Claussen 1895, Patience Fanning, b 1859,m David Shelton.

    O'Keeffe,Johanna. The only info I have on her is she is listed as child in Wm Carrolls Sr probate dated 4 Apr 1865 in Mn.In Wm Carroll Jrs probate he lists 5 Keefe children,John,Mary,Catherine,Wm& Jeremiah. Mn or Oh. any

    Searching for any information on James Manning, Daniel Manning, Honora Noonan, and Hartnett Family of Hartford County, CT - 1870-76. E-mail to: FHCZ01A@PRODIGY.COM

    Need information on Solomon CLAY of NC who died in Perry County Missouri in 1833

    I am looking for information on Theadore Yahnke,Frederica Storch Yahnke, Doretha Papke,Herman Kreuger, Michael Kreuger We have had no luck on any of the Yahnke line Thanks GREATGG@aol

    Looking for Nathan EVANS b. 1812 KY. Where? Brother: Lemuel, Father: Robert? Married Mariah CURRY 1835 Harrison Co, IN. Family moved to Shelby Co, IL where Nathan died 1856.

    SNOW, SAMUEL b. 1785/95 RI or MA; in 1820 census Warsaw, Genesse Co. NY. Seek info about him, siblings, ancestors, descendants.

    My Fred CAIRNS, born 1870-1875 in Lincoln Neb. cannot be found. I have gone into every search I can find. He married Emma KENNEDY and lived in Wilmer Minn. in 1899-1803. They were divorced. Thanks!

    Looking for Rushton's, Mallman's and Wrights' who lived in Berkeley starting 1878.

    Seek info/desc for Abraham TAYLOR b 1761 Scotland(?) d 1824 m 1783 Reading,VT to Susannah DAVIS b 1765 d 1838 West Windsor,VT--nine children born.

    Seeking information on the SNELL line in VA, NC, TN, TX, OK, & CA. also BURKS, WILSON, CLEMENT, YOUNG. Contact Mary Grace Walker at:


    Seeking researchers for following surnames: BLASSINGAME, CORNELL, EVANS, FREYBURGER, GARTMAN, HUIET,HENDRIX, HARMAN and LITES.

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