Massachusetts Trails to the past is requesting donations of any genealogy material that you may have such as old obituaries, death information or marriages, news clippings, births, and wills. If you have any of this information, and would like to donate it please email it to Marie Miller , State Administrator for Massachusetts. Please include the source of your information, if at all possible.
Massachusetts was originally inhabited by tribes of the Algonquian language family such as the Wampanoag, Narragansett, Nipmuc, Pocomtuc, Mahican, and Massachusett. While cultivation of crops like squash and corn supplemented their diets, these tribes were generally dependent on hunting, gathering and fishing for most of their food supply. Villages consisted of lodges called wigwams as well as long houses, and tribes were led by male or female elders known as sachems. The first English settlers in Massachusetts, the Pilgrims, established their settlement at Plymouth in 1620, and developed friendly relations with the native Wampanoag. This was the second successful permanent English colony in North America, after the Jamestown Colony. The Pilgrims were soon followed by other Puritans, who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony at present-day Boston in 1630. In 1641, Massachusetts expanded inland significantly, acquiring the Connecticut River Valley settlement of Springfield, which had recently disputed with, and defected from its original administrators, the Connecticut Colony. This established Massachusetts' southern border in the west. Massachusetts was a center of the movement for independence from Great Britain; colonists here had long had uneasy relations with the British monarchy, including open rebellion under the Dominion of New England in the 1680s. Protests against British attempts to tax the colonies after the French and Indian War ended in 1763 led to the Boston Massacre in 1770, and the 1773 Boston Tea Party escalated tensions to the breaking point. Anti-Parliamentary activity by men such as Samuel Adams and John Hancock, followed by reprisals by the British government, were a primary reason for the unity of the Thirteen Colonies and the outbreak of the American Revolution. The Battles of Lexington and Concord initiated the American Revolutionary War and were fought in the homonymous Massachusetts towns. Future President George Washington took over what would become the Continental Army after the battle. His first victory was the Siege of Boston in the winter of 1775 -76, after which the British were forced to evacuate the city. The event is still celebrated in Suffolk County as Evacuation Day.