09 May 2013

One Of The Most Important Counties In The Country

I have lived in Augusta County, Virginia (including the City of Waynesboro) all my 55 years. My family has deep roots here, both on my mother's side as well as my father's side. Many readers may already know the historical significance of Augusta County. Now comes this news:
There were a lot of unhappy people in Augusta County in 1803 after the United States acquired 828,000 square miles of land from France in the Louisiana Purchase. In fact, lots of individuals concerned about the value of their land in the face of such cheap land offerings, filed complaints at the Augusta County Circuit Courthouse.

Those documents still exist. And now anyone with a computer can view almost 900,000 pages of documents detailing the interesting history of Augusta County.

Formed in 1738, Augusta County may be one of the most important counties in the country, said Nancy Sorrells, local historian and publisher. It was certainly one of the largest, stretching all the way to the Mississippi River and as far north as Pittsburgh. Reductions in its extent began in 1770.

Due to a stroke of luck, the Augusta County Courthouse has never burned down, flooded or moved since it was created in 1745, although the building has been rebuilt a number of times. As a result, hundreds of thousands of legal documents have survived and can shed light on family histories, land, court cases and historical events.

And from the Library of Virginia, where you can access these documents and records:

The final images from the Augusta County chancery causes are now available on the Library of Virginia’s Chancery Records Index. With this addition, all Augusta County chancery causes covering the time period from 1746 to 1912 can be viewed online—a  total of 10,268 suits and 878,490 images.  The collection is one of the most significant collections of historic legal records in the nation.  From 1745 to 1770, the boundaries of Augusta County encompassed most of western Virginia and what became the states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, and Ohio, and parts of present-day Pennsylvania as far north as Pittsburgh. The Augusta County chancery causes are the most voluminous of any locality in Virginia and are one of the longest and most complete continuous collections of chancery records of any locality in the country.  
This truly is a monumental accomplishment and will prove invaluable to researchers, historians, writers,  and genealogists. As I recently wrote to fellow history blogger Robert Moore, "Great - just what I needed, another way to spend endless hours on the internet researching local history." ;-)

The records can be accessed here.


Lynn R. Mitchell said...

Thank you for the research link. Not that I'll get to it any time soon but it is nice to have when I want to dive into Augusta County's history. Maybe I'll see you there. :)

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Sure thing Lynn. Quite a resource.