Historic Records & Books
From 1874 until 1930, the Town of Southampton published eight volumes of municipal records, beginning with documents dating from 1639 and ending with the official records of 1927. The project of editing and transcribing the earliest records and documents, a painstaking process given the fact that they were handwritten and nearly illegible, was initiated by William S. Pelletreau (1840-1918), who had served as town clerk since 1861. Pelletreau and his successors Edward H. Foster, William J. Post and James A. Early were ahead of their time when they brought these public records into print; many Long Island towns followed suit, but the Town of Southampton was the first. William S. Pelletreau became a distinguished scholar of Long Island history, writing and compiling numerous books on the subject, and was buried in the North End Burial Ground in Southampton Village.
Town Records Book 1
The First Book of Records of the Town of Southampton with other Ancient Documents of Historic Value.
John H. Hunt, Printer, Sag Harbor, New York 1874.
More than a book of records, William S. Pelletreau's first volume of "ancient documents" contains the transcriptions of Indian deeds, patents, and other legal documents that defined the boundaries and internal governance of the original settlement. Beginning with The Disposall of the Vessell dating from 1639, the book progresses through the election of town officers, land exchanges and disputes, Indian affairs and many other legal and social matters. It concludes with land transactions of the 1660s.
Town Records Book 2
The Second Book of Records of the Town of Southampton with other Ancient Documents of Historic Value.
John H. Hunt, Printer, Sag Harbor, New York 1877.
A companion volume to the first, Pelletreau's second volume carries the official record into the early 18th century. In addition to the election and appointment of officers and committees, the volume contains early vital records (births, marriages, deaths), Liber A records and surveyors' notes concerning boundaries with neighboring towns, contracts with town officials for commercial interests like whaling and mill construction, and issues of importance to the community's religious life. The records conclude in 1717.
Town Records Book 3
The Third Book of Records of the Town of Southampton with other Ancient Documents of Historic Value.
John H. Hunt, Printer, Sag Harbor, New York 1878.
Continuing where his second volume left off, William S. Pelletreau's third in the series of published records extended from 1717 until 1807. Beginning with Liber B of the town records, the volume includes earmarks, land allotments, highways and elections of officers. One omitted Indian deed (1703) was included, as well as the first Census of the Town of Southampton (1776). As in the first two volumes, Pelletreau provided an Introduction that describes the historical context for the period covered in the book.
Town Records Book 4
The Fourth Book of Records of the Town of Southampton with a list of Soldiers and Sailors in the Union Forces of the Civil War.
John H. Hunt, Printer, Sag Harbor, New York 1896.
After a span of nearly two decades, a fourth book of records was published under the auspices of Town Clerk William J. Post. Liber C forms the basis of the volume; it begins in 1809 and includes the election of officers, land and highway records, and the creation of the first school districts. Liber C concludes with four stray cows, reported missing by Mr. S. Harris in December of 1870. The volume also includes a list of soldiers and sailors who served from the Town of Southampton in the "War of the Rebellion."
Town Records Book 5
The Fifth Volume of Records of the Town of Southampton comprising Ancient Loose Documents in the Town Clerk's Office also abstracts of the Red Book of Deeds.
John H. Hunt, Printer, Sag Harbor, New York 1910.
While printed under the auspices of Town Clerk William J. Post, it was former clerk William S. Pelletreau who most likely brought the fifth volume into being. Citing miscellaneous "bundles, many of them in a dilapidated condition" and as yet unpublished, Pelletreau reminds us that the early tax lists and land records pertaining to the "lives and manners of our ancestors" are worthy of both preservation and publication. The volume includes abstracts of the town's 17th century book of deeds, the "Red Book."
Town Records Book 6
The Sixth Volume of Records of the Town of Southampton being abstracts of Vol II Deeds in the Town Clerk's office with additional unrecorded deeds with indexes of names and localities.
John H. Hunt, Printer, Sag Harbor, New York 1915.
The sixth book of town records is essentially a sequel to the fifth. Under the auspices of Town Clerk James A. Early, former clerk William S. Pelletreau persevered in his effort to get all of the early town records and documents into print. The volume is comprised primarily of Volume II of Deeds, known as the Yellow Book, which spans 1698 to 1736. The value of the volume is enhanced by the extensive annotations inserted by the author, who had spent his lifetime researching the land records of Southampton Town.
Town Records Book 7
The Seventh Volume of Records of the Town of Southampton
H.D. Sleight, Printer, Sag Harbor, New York 1928.
The seventh book of town records picks up where the fourth left off, with Liber D beginning in 1871, and continuing through 1926. Although former clerk and distinguished Long Island historian William S. Pelletreau had since passed away (1918), his legacy of publishing the town's records was resumed. Printed under the auspices of Town Clerk Edward P. White, the book is largely devoted to highways, proceedings of annual town meetings, legal issues (including lawsuits against the railroad), and budgetary matters.
Town Records Book 8
The Eighth Volume of Records of the Town of Southampton 1893-1927. Parts I and II.
H.D. Sleight, Hampton Press, Bridgehampton, New York 1930.
The last of the printed town records was Volume Eight. It appeared in two sections, subtitled "A Record of Highways of the Town of Southampton, N.Y. Liber A, From 1893 to 1927 Inclusive." While Edward P. White continued as Town Clerk, the printer/historian H. D. Sleight wrote the Introduction in which he traces the evolution of roadways in the town from its inception. Sleight defines "commons," "passing highways," and other types of roadways and the rights of town citizens to their use.