Monthly Archives: August 2010

- Charlotte County Chancery Causes Now Available

The Library of Virginia (LVA) is pleased to announce the completion of an additional digital scanning project. The processing, indexing, and digital reformatting of the Charlotte County chancery causes is now complete. The images have been added to the Chancery Records Index (CRI) on Virginia Memory. The Charlotte County chancery images span the years 1765 through 1912 (the index covers through 1914).

This locality joins forty-five counties and cities whose chancery causes have been digitally reformatted and made available through the Library’s innovative Circuit Court Records Preservation Program, which seeks to preserve the historic records of Virginia’s Circuit Courts. 

To date, The Library of Virginia has posted over 4.9 million digital chancery images. Additional localities are presently being scanned and will be posted in the coming months. However, due to the recent reductions to the Library of Virginia’s budget, the pace of the agency’s digital chancery projects will necessarily proceed more slowly. Please know these projects remain a very high priority for the agency and it is hoped that the initiative can be resumed in full when the economy and the agency’s budget situation improve. Please see the Chancery Records Index for a listing of the available locality chancery collections.

Chancery causes are cases that are decided on the basis of equity and fairness as opposed to the strictly formulated rules of common law cases.  Chancery cases are especially … read more »

- Friday Night Lights ca. 1900.

Front of broadside advertising high school football circa 1900s-1930s.

After a new courthouse was built in Lunenburg County in 2006, Circuit Court Clerk Gordon Erby asked the Library of Virginia’s Local Records staff to help identify what remained in the record room of the old courthouse.  

I found this broadside  − advertising a game between the Maroon Wave of Victoria High School and the team from Courtland High School − while processing the papers left there by John L. Yates, who served as clerk for 56 years, from 1878 to 1934. The year is not specified but, judging from the month and day, the game probably took place between the early 1900’s and 1930’s. Victoria, which grew up around the railroad, is one of two larger towns within Lunenburg County, the other being Kenbridge. Courtland High School may have been located in the town of Courtland in nearby Southampton County.

Yates left desks and drawers in the old courthouse stuffed with correspondence, personal financial records, and other pieces of ephemera. He or someone in his office used the backside of this poster as scratch paper for a running total of figures written in pencil.  His papers comprise nearly 4.5 cubic feet and are open to the public. A portion are processed but most remain unprocessed.

Lunenburg County had several high schools before consolidation in 1969 and its students are now served by Central … read more »

- Latest issue of Broadside is now available

The summer 2010 issue of Broadside, the Library of Virginia’s quarterly magazine, is now available.  Broadside describes and illustrates the holdings and happenings at the Library of Virginia. Discover fascinating items from the collections as well as events, exhibitions, educational programs, and opportunities to become more involved.  The current issue includes articles on the papers of journalist Charley McDowell, the Library’s new Civil War Research Guide, and on how a Library of Virginia collection played a key role in the return of a World War II veteran’s Purple Heart certificate and photograph. 

Click here to subscribe to Broadside or view past issues.

-Roger Christman, LVA Senior State Records Archivist… read more »

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- That’s Some Magic Bullet: Thirty-Eight Years After Revolutionary War, Bullet Exits Louisa Man’s Arm. Surfaces in Library’s Vault

Bullet removed from Edward Houchins' arm, Jamestown Exhibit Papers, Accession 42098.

Transcript of documents shown above.

Edward Houchins, a veteran of Captain Edmund Curd’s Company of Goochland Militia, petitioned the General Assembly on 10 December 1818, requesting an increase in his forty-dollar-a-year pension. According to the Louisa County resident, he was severely wounded in the arm at General Horatio Gates’s defeat at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina, in 1780. It was this very wound that allowed Houchins to successfully petition the Assembly in 1805 for his current pension. In the 1818 petition, Houchins complained of unusual pain from the lead ball that had become lodged in his arm thirty-eight years earlier. An affidavit from Richard Sandidge accompanying the petition asserts that he saw Houchins’s wife take a poultice of her husband’s arm, thereby producing the bullet. Upon further examination of the bullet, Sandidge determined that it contained pieces of bone from Houchins’s arm. As a result of this evidence, the General Assembly decided favorably on Houchins’s petition for an addition to his pension. Houchins later relocated to Mercer County, Kentucky, in 1821, collecting his pension until his death on 14 April 1846.

Edward Houchins’s petition is just one example of the more than twenty thousand legislative petitions included in the Library’s Legislative Petitions Online Database. According to a note filed with the 1818 petition, the affidavit of Richard Sandidge (containing the extracted projectile) was removed … read more »

- What’s New in the Archives

Interested in what’s new in the archives at the Library of Virginia?  You can find out in two reports compiled quarterly by LVA staffers:  The Library of Virginia Quarterly Report of Archival Accessions and Primary Sources:  Quarterly Report of Newly Processed Collections.

The Report of Archival Accessions lists the creator, title, size, brief description, and accession number of the local, map, private, and state archival collections described and/or received during the time period. Some of the local and state records collections listed may be closed for processing; check with Archives Research Services regarding availability for research use.

Primary Sources lists the latest collections processed, microfilmed, or digitized by the Library.  Like its companion publication, Report of Archival Accessions, Primary Sources gives the creator, title, size, and accession number for each collection processed during the previous quarter.  It also contains links to published finding aids for each collection.  Notable collections processed between March and June 2010 include:  Smyth County Register of Colored Persons Cohabitating Together as Husband and Wife, 27 February 1866; Barnard-Nickels Family Papers, 1929-1972; and Governor Timothy M. Kaine, Executive Office-Governor, Records, 2005-2009.

Current reports are located on the Library of Virginia’s Web site under the ”News and Events” section (linked above).  Older reports are located under “Library Collection Releases.”… read more »

- Sulphur, scams, and sketches

 A cropped view of one of Duralde's sketches.

“My health is so very bad that I do not know whether I will ever reach New Orleans or Cuba again.”

     –  Martin Duralde, Jr., to Henry Clay Duralde, 8 August 1846

“My cards are laying with the cock-roaches on the shelf.”

     - Martin Duralde, Jr., to Allen Jones, 12 August 1846

Wracked by tuberculosis (or consumption as it was then called), 23 year-old Martin Duralde spent a month and a half during the summer of 1846 at several Virginia springs in a futile attempt to recover his health.  As Duralde, the grandson of the legendary Henry Clay of Kentucky, traveled to the Blue, Red, and White Sulphur Springs of Greenbrier and Monroe Counties, (West) Virginia, he kept a letterbook that is now part of the LVA’s collection (Accession 22281).   

Duralde’s companion for part of this trip was a man named L. H. Coulter, called “Old C.” in the letters.  Travelling up the Kanawha River towards the springs, the two men stopped in a small town where they had heard that “there was a great superfluity of money.”  While running a card game there, Old C. was caught dealing two cards off the deck and “ruined a fine prospect” of the two winning between several hundred and two thousand dollars.  Their prospects didn’t pan out at either the Blue or … read more »

- Two New Digital Collections Added at LVA

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce two new digital collections just added to DigiTool and Virginia Memory.

Lost Records Localities Digital Collection, Buckingham County, Free Negro Registration: Sawney, Doctor, 1838. Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA 23219.Lost Records Localities digital collection is an effort undertaken by Catherine O’Brion, Local Records Archivist, and Local Records intern Susan Gray Page. A work in progress, the digital collection consists of scans of the records copied for the Lost Records Localities collection and indexed in the database of the same name. The database remains available to the public on our agency site, yet there is now a link to the digital project on the database page for those who want to try it out.

Of course, the collection can also be accessed via the DigiTool search page and on Virginia Memory’s Digital Collections pages:
A to Z
By Topic—County and City Research

Albemarle County (Va.) Public Buildings and Grounds, Plan of Clerk's Office, 1869. Public Buildings and Grounds Digital Collection. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, 23219.Albemarle County (Va.) Public Buildings and Grounds, Plan of Clerk's Office, 1869. Public Buildings and Grounds Digital Collection. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, 23219.In addition, Vince Brooks, Senior Local Records Archivist, just finished creating the Public Buildings and Grounds Collection, in which users will find drawings and plans for various 18th and 19th century local government structures, such as courthouses and jails. These drawings are part of the larger Local Records’ Public Buildings and Grounds collections which contain reports and other related financial and architectural documents. (Note: only the drawings have been digitized.)

This collection is available via the DigiTool search page , as well as Virginia Memory’s Digital Collections pages:
A to Z
By … read more »

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- Local Editorial Contemplates Smyth County’s Cohabitation Register

(The following editorial is reprinted here courtesy of the Smyth County News & Messenger. It originally ran 28 July 2010.)


In some ways it is difficult to read. Just the title “Register of Colored Persons of Smyth County, State of Virginia, Cohabitating Together as Husband and Wife on 27 February, 1866″ speaks of discrimination so powerful that the institution of marriage between a man and woman was not recognized. As you read across the columns and come to “Last Owner,” the reality of slavery existing in Seven Mile Ford, Rich Valley, Marion and Rye Valley takes hold.

The names of those registered and their last owners resonate as familiar: Campbell, Carter, Fowler, Heath, James and Tate among many others.

As news of this register’s existence was announced this week, Circuit Court Clerk John Graham reflected, “When you see this document, you’re reminded that slavery was not just an institution somewhere in the South. It was a way of life right here in Smyth County. This remarkable document brings history home.”

Despite the challenges it presents us, this register is a national treasure of incalculable value.

Prior to this document recording and formalizing their marriages, which Virginia law didn’t recognize before the Civil War ended in 1865, the existence of many of these individuals had never been listed in a public read more »

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- Ripped From the Family Bible

The Smith family Bible pages used as an exhibit in a Rockingham County chancery cause.

When I found an unopened envelope labeled “Exhibit A” among the papers of a Rockingham County Chancery cause, I was curious to see what could be inside. Curiosity quickly turned to excitement when I opened the envelope to find a genealogical gem.

These tattered pages of a family Bible were used as an exhibit in Dorman L. Smith, etc. v. S. K. Wine, etc., 1903. It was a complicated land inheritance case made more difficult by the destruction of court records during the Civil War and three generations of Smith family land dealings.

Interestingly, the answer and depositions record an attempt by some war-weary residents of Rockingham County to settle in Bartow County, Georgia, around 1863. In 1901, Caroline Smith, of Lytle, Georgia, gave a deposition detailing the Smith family genealogy. She read from these pages during the deposition and later either gave or loaned them to the court to be used as an exhibit.

These pieces of the Smith family Bible have since remained as part of the court record. The Bible is dated 1722 and was printed in Edinburgh, Scotland, by James Watson, “Printer to the King’s Most Excellent Majesty.” The earliest entry records the birth of Abraham Smith on 29 December 1792.

The Rockingham County Chancery collection is housed in more than 530 Hollinger boxes and 14 oversize boxes. It spans … read more »

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