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The Orville B. Ackerly Collection

Transcriptions of Early Suffolk County, New York Deeds and Other Documents

This database is an index (containing 14,195 records) to a collection of notebooks prepared by Orville Bunnell Ackerly, in which he had transcribed early deeds that had mostly not been recorded at county of town offices. Scattered throughout the notebooks are also some wills, family bible records, and other types of documents...

Orville Bunnell Ackerly served as County Clerk for Suffolk County for several terms in the late 19th century. Earlier he had served as an assistant in the County Clerk’s office, and also as a clerk for the Surrogate’s Court in Suffolk County. Based on that experience, and on his strong interest in history, he became one of the leading experts on Suffolk County deeds and on the county’s documentary history.

Ackerly realized that many, perhaps even a majority, of early Suffolk residents did not have their deeds officially recorded with either county or town clerks. Suspecting that the original copies of many of these unrecorded deeds were still in the hands of descendants of early residents, and fearing that many would be lost forever if not copied, Ackerly took it upon himself to preserve the information as best he could.

Contacting people he knew to be descended from early Suffolk families, he requested to be allowed to copy any collections they might have of old family papers. The results were certainly impressive. By the end of his life he had seventeen notebooks full of old documents he had transcribed in his own handwriting.

Most of the documents were deeds, but scattered throughout the notebooks were also some wills, family bible records, and other types of documents. While some of these deeds had been recorded with county or town clerks, the great majority had not. These are known only from Ackerly’s transcriptions. His original notebooks were given to the Suffolk County Historical Society. Duplicates are also in the Long Island History Room of the East Hampton Library.

We have provided a printable form (available after a successful database search) to request a copy of a transcribed document from the Suffolk County Historical Society’s Orville B. Ackerly Collection.  When requesting a copy of the document, please carefully copy to the request form all the information from the search Results pertaining to your desired document. It is especially important to give the name of the individual in whom you are interested. Many pages have the end of one document and the beginning of another. To make sure that the correct document is copied for you the Society needs to know the name and not just the volume and page number.

Mail your request form along with the $10.00 fee and a Self-Addressed Envelope with 2 Stamps to the address on the request form.  Enclosing a copy of the Printable Version of the Results page will help insure the request information is accurate.

Please be aware that if the index indicates a name is found in volume 18, it will not be for a full transcription, only a further citation. Volume 18 was a reference list Ackerly made to list other sources where he had found deeds. Some of these sources are identifiable; some are not presently identifiable.

For more information about the Suffolk County Historical Society, see:

Records Search: Ackerly Collection

Please note that the Surname (e.g. Last Name) is a required entry field. But since exact spellings are not always known, to aid your search we offer three different ways to specify Surnames...

  1. Exact Match ("is exactly") - This is the default surname search method.
  2. Soundex ("sounds like") - This option enables you to specify a surname spelling it out as best you can, and it will return results that "sound" similar to what you spelled out.
  3. Wild Card - With this option you can replace part of the surname with a % to match any number of letters, or _ to match a single letter. So for example, Sch% will return all names starting with Sch. Similarly, Schl_tz might return results such as Schlitz or Schlotz. 

NOTE: The wild card option applies ONLY to the surname. You can just enter the first few letters of a First Name; the search automatically adds a wild card to the end of the First Name.

For whichever of the above surname search options you would like to use, simply select the appropriate radio button option below the input field on the form. Although the additional form fields are optional, providing as much information as you can helps narrow your search. The more specific your search, the less time you need spend scrolling through search results!


* Matches multiple characters. 
_ Matches one single character.



The German Genealogy Group wishes to thank all the following volunteers for their help and participation in the Ackerly Collection project:


Ken Bausert * Barbara DeOliveira * Lynn Detrano * Don Eckerle * Audrey Harmse * Chris Harmse * Linda Heelan * Robert Hertz * Terry Koch-Bostic * Liz Lovaglio * Dale Realander * JoAnn Schmidt * Mark Waldron

We would like to thank the staff of the Suffolk County Historical Society for their assistance in this project, especially: 
Wallace W. Broege, Director;     Edward H.L. Smith, III (Ned), Librarian;   and    Diane F. Perry, Administrative Assistant.

Special thanks to Ms. Dale Realander, who coordinated this project. If you would like to contribute time to other current Heritage Preservation projects, please contact the German Genealogy Group

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