As Register of Deeds, Howe As Served Community Well
Whether for an inventory for river access, trail connectivity, or to support my stories for “Hike Beautiful Billerica” winter walks, recorded deeds are helpful data to support research. For my historic tidbits I often pore over records of the Registry of Deeds; it’s truly a treasure trove for research, press and the general public.
To study deeds is not as cumbersome or musty as it sounds, thanks to the fact that Richard Howe runs the North Middlesex Registry of Deeds since 1994, and he spearheaded digital innovations, keeping records secure yet publicly and freely available online -- transparent and virtually paperless since 2001!
Interestingly, of all communities in his district, Billerica happens to have the highest number of Land Court cases. This is due to a lack of precision surveying and recording in the past; for centuries farmers considered a tree or “a clump of birches” a great reference point for a land survey. Some flawed measurements are likely due to fluctuating stream beds and water levels. And at the turn of the 20th century, during an influx of summer camps, boundaries were taken with a grain of salt, and other spice got added by land speculation cases and tax takings.
Thus a relatively high number of so-called “clouded” titles challenge unearthing the history behind parcel ownership.
Luckily, going back to 1629, Howe has moved mountains to make the records publicly available, even at our fingertips -- and he has always been very accessible himself to assist in navigating the website he has perfected during his tenure running the office of Registry of Deeds.
It is no coincidence that Howe and I both lead walks with a focus on history and camaraderie: Walks and history talks go hand in hand when trying to grow appreciation for the heritage in the community
Howe does a good job, but continuing the good work requires that he gets re-elected to the position for the next term. I strongly encourage Billerica voters to choose Howe on Election Day on Nov. 6. He is an asset to the town of Billerica.