Research Tips for the Sussex County Hall of Records
Researching Sussex Co., NJ
Prepared by Cathy DiPietro
The Surrogate’s Office handles everything to do with the distribution of property after a death in the county – wills, receipts, inventories, letters of administration, guardianships, etc. They are still located on the second floor of the Hall Of Records building in Newton on the Green.
The County Clerk’s Office and the property records have moved across the Green to the Cochran Professional Building, a newly refurbished, former department store. You enter in the back of the building where the parking lot is…deeds, property divisions, mortgages, naturalizations, military discharges, etc. are stored here now.
The Hall of Records is located on the Square created by Routes 94 and 206 in the center of Newton, NJ. It’s the older, courthouse- looking building with the stone pillars out front. The new courthouse is across the street from the old. The Cochran Professional Building is located across the Square, diagonally, from the Hall of Records. It is the newly refurbished, brick building on Spring Street. Enter the Cochran Building from the back where there’s a municipal parking lot. The property records will be down the hallway, on the left as you enter from the ground floor.
Address:Hall of Records
4 Park Place
Newton, NJ 07860
Hours: The Searching Vault is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (except holidays).
Parking: There is metered parking in the area and limited parking on side streets but get there early (before 10:00) for those spots. There is the municipal parking lots behind the stores and Cochran Building on Spring St. The cost is $0.25 for 90 minutes. This is very convenient for the deeds but about a three block, vigorous walk uphill to the Hall of Records.
County Clerk’s Office – located on the first floor, down the hallway and to the left as you enter the Cochran Building. Sign in at the desk inside the records storage area. Bring pencils as no pens are allowed – sharpeners and stray pencils are provided.
There are computerized deed and mortgages indices from 1964 to present. Ask someone how to use the system – it is not intuitively-designed. Read the directions at the terminal carefully.
There are index books books are arranged as follows (info from 1998):
- Books Numbered 2-14 index the grantor/mortgagor (seller of property)
- Numbered 21-24 for grantee/mortgagee (buyer of property)
- Number 19 for liens under defendant’s name
The older deed books (the good stuff) are located closer to the door. There are usually a number of clerks at the sign-in desk who can help with questions and copies.
Holdings: Deeds and Mortgages from 1795; Births and Manumissions of Slaves; Divisions; Court Records from 1760 (Not Indexed); Officers Oaths from 1753; Various Maps; Freeholders Minutes from 1753; Road Returns from 1764; Naturalizations starting 1808 through 1987; Marriages from 1795 through mid-1850’s; Corporations (Churches, Schools & Libraries) from 1822; The Hopkins Map of 1860.
County Surrogate’s Office – located upstairs from the Social Service’s Office in the Hall of Records. Bring pencils. There are several index books to check to find the right items. These are on the left side as you enter the vault. First, pull the Surname Index books looking for your surname of interest. You then take note of the “proceedings” number in this format: Proceedings Book Number – Page Number – Block Number. The proceedings books are next to the surname books – pull the one corresponding to book number you found, turning to the page and looking down the page for the right block (ten per page). Inside the block will be the deceased person’s name, date of death, township, file number followed by a list of proceedings. Here are some of the abbreviations used for court document books:
- LA – Letters of Administration In – Inventory
- Mn – Minute Books Rc – Receipts
- PR – Petitions & Renunciations WB – Will Book
- Lu – Lunacy Hearings Ac – Account Books
- AB – Administrative Bond GB – Guardian Bond
Copy down the proceedings number in this format: Docket Abbreviation – Volume Letter/Number – Page Number
You can then pull the corresponding book or obtain the correct microfiche and make copies. Microfiche is in the cabinet by the door referenced by the file number (at top of proceedings index block). Check the fiche even if no will was left – I found a death certificate included with the papers I checked. Always check the PR – Petitions and Renunciations book as these contain some names not found in other proceedings.