Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Odds and Ends of Old Virginia and West Virginia

Knowing about the locality and time period of where your ancestors were, becomes very important in trying to find documentation that they were there. A good example of understanding the time period and locality is understanding the Odds and Ends of Old Virginia and West Virginia.

The records of James City County have been completely destroyed. A sheriff's tax book for the years 1768 and 1769 are the few remaining records of the residents in the county before the Revolutionary War.

Virginia was well settled by 1775. By 1800 it had 90 counties and a population of nearly a million. Until 1686 the Episcopal Church was the state church and all children, regardless of their religious affiliation was required to be baptized by the ministers of that church. Dates of their baptism includes their names, dates of birth, and the names of parents in the parish registers. Parish records for marriages, death, and burials include the same information. All church records have been preserved, some are printed, and are all available in the Virginia State Library in Richmond Virginia. Copies of the original entries may be obtained by contacting the library. This library also have Parish Registers and Vestry books from 1618-1860.

The Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom was written by Thomas Jefferson and was passed by the Virginia General Assembly on 16 January 1786. It is considered the forerunner for the first amendment protection for religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

To be married, people were married by banns or by furnishing bonds. The banns were published in the parish where they lived and if the couple lived in a different parish the banns were published in both parishes. Bonds were filed in the county clerk's office but the marriage itself was recorded in the parish records.

In 1704, the Quit Rent Rolls were used as census because all who owned more than fifty acres of land had to pay the King of England rent of one shilling for each fifty acres. Counties that were not affected by this was Lancaster, Northumberland, Westmoreland, Richmond, and Stafford. The 1790 census was all destroyed by fire. By using various records a list has been made available and it is called the Tax List for 1790.

The State of Virginia has records of births, deaths, and marriages from 1853 to the present. Prior to that records are found in each county where the event took place. As to the marriage bonds, some are located in the State Library in Richmond and others in the individual counties. That State of Virginia doesn't have births and death between the years of 1896 - 1912, instead these are located in the individual counties (if any remain) where the event took place.

There are some cities in Virginia that are independent cities and they maintain their own records. Check the cities as well especially the board of health offices in Alexandria, Bristol, Buena Vista, Charlottsville, Clifton Forge, Colonial Heights, Danville, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Hampton, Harrisonburg, Hopewell, Lynchburg, Martinsville, Newport News, Norfolk, Petersburg, Portsmouth, Radford, Richmond, Roanoke, South Norfolk, Stauton, Suffolk, Waynesboro, Williamsburg, and Winchester.

In what was known as All Ohio County in West Virginia, most of the records prior to 1850 are in Wheeling, WV. Marshall, Tyler, and Wetzel Counties start most of their birth, death, and marraiges records about 1853. Some marriages were recorded in Wetzel and Marshall County as early as 1846. Land records and deeds, and will were recorded much earlier. Wheeling, West Virginia has records going back to 1792 and includes marriages. Some early birth and deaths records maybe found there but since it was not a law to record these events at this time, these will be limited.

Someone wanting to do understand their own family history needs to have a love of history to begin with.

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