County Clerk Kendall Announces Clerk’s Office 300th Anniversary
Tercentennial marks historical milestone in Dutchess County
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY- Today, Dutchess County Clerk Bradford H. Kendall commemorated the 300th anniversary of theDutchess County Clerk’s Office. The tercentennial anniversary serves to celebrate, reflect and showcase the varied aspects of how the office has evolved over the last three hundred years.
In 1715, Richard Sackett was appointed the first County Clerk by Royal Governor Robert Hunter. Responsibilities delegated to the County Clerk included serving the Court of the Common Pleas, as the Clerk of the Peace, and Clerk of the Sessions of the Peace. Under the First Constitution, it was the clerk’s duty to keep the county records. Deeds prior to 1718 were recorded in Ulster County. The seal of the office was that of the Court of Common Pleas.
Beginning in 1721, County Clerks were charged with administering the Oath of Allegiance to new citizens. In 1821, under the second Constitution of the State of New York, the office of County Clerk became an elected position. In addition to overseeing land and civil court records of the County, the Clerk became responsible for Registries of Horseshoers and Stallions, Nurses, Physicians and Dentists, and Partnerships, Businesses and Corporations. Early records also include board of supervisors’ records from the 1700’s, election canvases and coroner’s inquests from the 1800’s to 1900’s.
With the onset of the automobile era, vehicles were originally registered by the Secretary of State. As the number of drivers and registered vehicles increased, in 1921 the County Clerks throughout New York State were authorized to open local motor vehicles offices in order to adequately handle the functions of regulating motor vehicles and to expand customer service. The County Clerk serves as the County Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.
The Office of the County Clerk has continued to adapt to changing responsibilities and advances in technology. Innovations such as microfilm and the typewriter were instrumental in carrying out tasks. In 1987, Dutchess County transitioned to the computer age, indexing documents on an IBM mainframe computer. Twenty years later the office migrated from the mainframe to server based technology, which greatly expanded the availability of information in the office and on the Web. Today, more than 1.3 million images are available for viewing and purchase over the internet. The availability of information continues to grow as the office expands the digitized document collection.
Serving as the Clerk of the Supreme and County Courts, the office serves as the repository for the filing of court papers. In 2014, the Dutchess County Clerk joined the NYS Courts Electronic Filing system to allow for the ease of filing of court papers as well as providing for public availability of those same records.
In addition to recording Veterans Discharges and issuing Veteran Peddlers Permits, the Dutchess County Clerk in 2011 partnered with the county Division of Veterans’ Affairs to form the Return the FAVOR Program. This program encourages veterans to register with the county enabling them to be informed of the benefits and services available to them.
Kendall, Dutchess County’s 36th County Clerk stated, “Celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Dutchess County Clerk’s Office gives us a rare opportunity to not only commemorate our past, but to thoughtfully reflect on the evolution the office will make into the future. The history of the Dutchess County Clerk’s Office is really the tale of the people its served and marks the creativity, enterprise, turmoil and triumph they’ve experienced. I am honored and humbled to lead on this historic occasion.”
Pictured Top to Bottom: County Clerk Henry Livingston, County Clerk Fred Smith with staff circa 1940, County Clerk Kendall
“For 300 years, Dutchess County has been played witness and been a part of amazing history from before the founding of America and even the state of New York,” County Executive Marc Molinaro said. “The County Clerk’s Office has a fundamental role in government: to preserve records, to ensure the public can conduct transactions – both legal and otherwise – and has really been the home of Dutchess County history. Under the leadership of current County Clerk Brad Kendall, the Clerk’s office serves as the ‘front door’ of county government, welcoming residents and delivering high quality customer service. Congratulations to County Clerk Kendall and the entire team in the Clerk’s office as they shepherd in the next 300 years of service in the Dutchess County Clerk’s Office.”
As the clearing house for County records, the Clerk’s Office looks forward to serving the public for another 300 years and beyond. To that end, the Dutchess County Clerk’s Office has commemorated the accomplishments and the development of its roles and responsibilities over the past three centuries. For more information, please visit www.dutchessny.gov/countyclerk or by visiting exhibits located on the 1st and 2nd floors of the Dutchess County Office Building, 22 Market Street, Poughkeepsie.