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Rockbridge County, Virginia Courthouse

Lexington Courthouse

Buena Vista Courthouse

Local Libraries

Virginia Military Institute Lexington

George C. Marshall Research Library

Washington and Lee University Library

Family History Library

Local Newspapers

Preston Library

General References for Rockbridge Genealogists

Census and Other Records


Vital Records

Local History

Rockbridge County, VA began keeping records in 1778. Those which are located in the Courthouse at Lexington, VA follow:


Marriage Registers 1778-present.

Minister's Returns 1782-1858.

Marriage License 1858- present.

Births: 1853-96, 1912-17.

Deaths: 1853-70,1912-17.

Wills: 1778-present.

Deeds: 1778-present.

Property Books 1783-1798.

Property Books 1810-present (excluding 1837-42, and 1851-1888).

Land Books 1782-present.

Surveys 1779-1806 (Back of minister returns).

Minute Books 1825-1873 (unindexed).

Chancery Order Books 1831-present.

Causes Ended (Chancery Suits) 1831-present.

Law Order Books 1831-present.

Rockbridge County Census: 1870.

Civil War Muster Rolls (1861-64).

Order Books 1778-1821, 1873, 1875, 1881, 1883, 1886, 1887, 1889.

Orders 1821-41 (in Deed Book II).

World War I Records. World War II Records.

W.P.A. Listings of Historical Homes and Places in Rockbridge done in 1930's.

Lee-Jackson Camp Records (1896-1915) Camp Frank Paxton, Sons of Confederate Veterans Records.

Guardian Books 1804-25, 1837, 1842-53, 1856-91, 1900-16.

Poll Books: 1874, 1877, 1880-84, 1886-88, 1890-91.

Revolutionary & CSA Pension Applications.

Marriage Bonds, Consents 1778-1852.

Marriage Licenses 1853-present.

Original Wills.

Original Deeds.

Lost or Destroyed Records

Original Wills 1846-1857.

Marriage Licenses 1852-53 (Minister's returns and consents available).

Property Books: 1799-1809; 1837-42; 1851-1888.

Order Books: 1841-72. Surveyors Records: These records previous to 1864 were destroyed by fire during Hunter's Raid in June 1864, when the Surveyor's office was torched.

Some records remain at the Virginia State Library where they were sent to be microfilmed. These records slowly trickle back into the courthouse and are then available on microfilm from the Virginia State Library as well.

Lexington Courthouse

As Lexington was a town until the late 1960’s, most records of value to a genealogist are in Rockbridge County. However, some town records are available and may prove useful. The deeds, probate, vital records, and others are found in the Rockbridge County, VA Courthouse.

Buena Vista Courthouse

This Courthouse has marriages, births, deaths, deeds, tax records and other types of records. Buena Vista became an independent city in 1893 and has maintained its own records since that date. Do not overlook this courthouse.

Local Libraries

Rockbridge Regional Library Main Branch, Lexington, VA Home Page: Rockbridge Regional Library also has branches at Buena Vista, Glasgow, Goshen and Warm Springs. They have a computerized catalog. However at this writing, the local history collection is not on computer. A card catalog in the Local history section remains.

Local History Collection This area holds most of the libraries local history and genealogical material, although some references can be found on the shelves and in other areas of the library.

Local History Files This group of files contain genealogies, photographs, physical Newspapers, and other local history and genealogy items. Special headings include: Census, Churches, Civil War, Floods, Genealogy, Houses, Indians, Maps, Natural Bridge, and Newspapers.

Maps and Atlases Confederate Engineer maps, current local maps, atlases of early American History and much more to aid your research.

Reference Shelves The Union List of Periodicals, how to guides to genealogy, writer's handbooks, city directories, books on religions, the Gale Index of Publications and Broadcast Media and much more can be found in this section.

Rockbridge Area Genealogical Society The RAGS Collections are being housed at Rockbridge Regional Library. Within this newly formed collection one will find such things as Pedigree Charts of members (with index), Family Bible records (photocopies), and other genealogical materials.

Virginia Military Institute Lexington, VA Home Page:

Preston Library at VMI publishes a guide to the library for the cadets. Although this guide is very useful and helps you to learn your way around the library, it does not detail the holdings within their collection. The Archives, located on the 2nd floor of the building, contain many of the records and documents of VMI from it's founding. Original copies of the local newspapers and other records can also be found in the Archives. The Dolly Hardee Truman Rare Book Room on the 5th floor contains many books which have been out of print for years and years. A wonderful collection of microfilmed local newspapers is perhaps the most important reason for a genealogist to be sure to visit VMI. While there check the National Union Lists of Manuscripts to see if manuscripts are available on your ancestor’s surname and the locations.

George C. Marshall Research Library Lexington, VA

The Marshall Library located on the campus of Virginia Military Institute contains a variety of materials relating to the life and times of General Marshall and his associates. General Marshall's papers are housed here as well as other personal manuscripts involving the "Marshall period". Microfilm, periodicals, photographs, posters, tapes, newspapers, and maps are located in this vast collection of the Marshall era. Although this is not a genealogical library in any manner, if one is seeking more information on World War II this source should be carefully studied. George C. Marshall Research Library Handbook For Researchers provides basic information for researchers and typed library guides are available for most of the manuscript collections.

Washington and Lee University Library Lexington, VA Home page: Computerized catalog, Annie. The Special Collections are now being computerized.

Special Collections A wonderful Guide to the Manuscripts Collection of the Rockbridge Historical Society was done in 1989 by Betty Ruth Kondayan, and published by the Rockbridge Historical Society in Lexington, VA. This guide should be consulted before attempting to research in the Special Collections at Washington and Lee University. This is a wonderful tool but was not intended as a comprehensive guide and one will find much more in the collection than is described in the guide. Guide to the Manuscripts Collection, University Library, Washington and Lee University was printed in 1983 and should be consulted for information on the special collections as well, again this is not a comprehensive guide. Vaughan Stanley, the current Special Collections Archivists is compiling a guide to the Washington and Lee University Manuscript Collection.

The National Union List of Manuscripts can be consulted to aid you in locating the availability of manuscripts on the person or subject of interest.

The Rockbridge Historical Society’s files are housed in Washington and Lee University's Special Collections. The RHS files and the University’s Special Collections include such materials as:

Churches- Records of the Lexington Presbyterian Church 1858-1911 are found at Washington and Lee.

Civil War- diaries, memoirs, wartime letters, photographs, wartime correspondence, rolls of those exempt from military duty and much more can be located herein.

Company Records- West End Glasgow Company, Rockbridge Alum Springs ledgers, Vesuvius Farm Company, Buena Vista Company, Chesapeake and Ohio Railway , Richmond and Alleghany Railroad, Lexington Development Company, and other small companies are represented in this collection.

Diehl Collection- a collection of the papers of Dr. George West Diehl, minister and genealogist. Dr. Diehl did a great deal of genealogical research on the people in Rockbridge and his papers can provide many clues. About 500 Rockbridge families are represented in these files as well as local churches and Revolutionary war information. Unfortunately, little more than clues are offered. Documentation in these files was scant.

Ledgers- many local businesses are represented in this collection: lumber, grocery, insurance, land development, hardware, blacksmith, tailoring, hotel, legal, dentistry, chair making, to name a few. Post office ledgers from Lexington and Collierstown are also located in this collection.

Maps- many maps of local interest are located among this collection some of which are: Lexington Development Company maps of 1887 and 1891, Virginia and Maryland map, 1825, 1903 map of Lexington, and various other maps of Rockbridge. The Confederate Engineer maps are also here.

Miley Collection- Photographs taken by Lexington photographer, Michael Miley. There are over 7,000 photographic plates in this collection.

Naomi Youel Nielson Collection- Microfilm, 29 reels. Reference area CS 71 Y5, 1989. Notes and papers collected by Naomi Youel Nielson in her research on the Youel, Condon and other families are included in this collection.

Pamphlets and Ephemera- includes such things as newspaper clippings, obituaries, genealogies, printed articles, photographs and maps.

RHS A-Z Manuscripts contain genealogies, correspondence and historical subjects. Among these manuscripts you may find such things as deeds and land grants, early tax rolls, and records of schools and academies.

Scrapbooks- The Withrow scrapbooks of 20 volumes contain much useful information and are subject indexed. The Tompkins scrapbooks consist of 6 volumes of clippings covering the period of 1868-1952.

Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Buena Vista, VA The following are some basic services found at most LDS libraries.

Here you may find two types of records: Compiled records (records of others previous research) and Original records (microfilm widely available). Volunteers will help you to learn your way around and advise you of sources. Most records are on microfiche or microfilm and must be used at the LDS library. Call before you visit for their hours as they are staffed by volunteers. Presently the Buena Vista LDS library is open on Wednesday evenings.

The Ancestral File contains genealogies of families from around the world, approximately 13 million names are within these files.

International Genealogical Index (IGI) lists the dates and places of birth, christening, marriage, and LDS temple ordinances, more than 180 million deceased persons are found within this group of records.

Family Histories Search by surname in the Family History Library Catalog. On microfiche search the pink “Surname Section”. On Family Search computer, use the surname section. The Family History Library Catalog (FHLC) lists descriptions of records from throughout the world.

Biography, Genealogy, and/or History Search for biographical and genealogical collections in the Family History Library Catalog. Find the specific locality and then the record type in the Family History Library Catalog. On microfiche, search the yellow “Locality Section”. On Family Search computer, use the locality section.

Social Security Death Index The Family Search computer file is an index to nearly 40 million persons who died in the United States between 1962 and 1988. This index was created from the files of the US Social Security Administration.

Original Records Use the Family History Library Catalog, find the specific locality where the event took place and the type of record you seek, for example: Rockbridge County, Virginia- Vital Records. Look for such things as Birth, death, marriage, Cemetery, Census, Church, Probate, Emigration, etc. On microfiche, search the yellow “Locality Section”. Or search by specific location on Family Search computer.

Current selections of Microfilm, other than Federal Census, which are indexed in the Chapter regarding Census, include:

Albemarle County, VA Marriage Records 1780-1903; Index 1854-1940. Amherst County, VA Marriage Register 1763-1852. Amherst County, VA Marriage Register 1763-1900; Index to Marriages 1854-1949 Augusta County, VA Marriage Register 1785-1900 (12 records). Bedford County, VA Marriage Records 1754-1849. Bedford County, VA Marriage Records 1785-1809. Bedford County, VA, Index to Marriages 1754-1849. Cemetery Records Nevada County, CA; Virginia Marriages 1799-1799; 1850 Summer County, TN Federal Census, and more. Cemetery Records-- Fairfax, Christiansburg, Culpeper, Dinwiddie, Augusta, Rockbridge, Altavista, Alexandria, Bedford, Campbell, Clark, Campbell, King and Queen. Cemetery, Records, Rockbridge and Augusta Counties, VA and more. (30 records). Church Annual Genealogical Report Form E 1907-1951. DeKalb County, TN- Marriage Records Family Records Ra-Su, from Public Library in Spence County, IN. Floyd, William and Abadiah Davis Index Surnames-- Householders Griffiths Primary Valuation and Tithe Applotment Books, Ireland-- Counties Fremanagh, Galway, Kerry, Kildane, Kilkenny. LDS Church Baptisms New Hampshire, Hillsborough, Mason Town Records--birth, death, marriage. Ontario, New York Records Marriages 1803-1899; Account Book, Adam Fish Short; Estate Inventories 1799-1822; Ontario Manufacturing 1811-1818. Pulaski County, VA Marriage Records 1839-1899; Louisa 1776-?; Mecklenburg 1765-1810; Norfolk County, 1704-?’ Revolutionary War Records Augusta County, VA. Rockbridge County, VA, Tombstone Inscription Bethesda Presbyterian Church, Rockbridge Baths. Rockbridge County, VA., Falling Springs Church Records. Rockbridge County, VA Marriage Register 1782-1889. Rockbridge County, VA Marriage Register 1854-1866. Rockbridge County, VA Index to Births and Marriages 1782-1913 (2 reels). Rockbridge County, VA Birth Records 1853-1877; Rebellion in Virginia 1675-76, and more. Rockbridge County, VA Birth Register 1853-1896. Social Statistics- 1870, Anderson- Wilson County, TN. Smith County, TN Court Minutes 1799-1835; Dixon Creek Baptist Church 179901853; Bible and Cemetery Records. Virginia Marriages Before 1853. Virginia Marriages and More 1640-1840. Virginia and West Virginia --Vital Records, Monroe County.

Local Newspapers

Through the information located in these old newspapers one can trace the growth of the area and find detailed descriptions of the contemporary life and times. Economic information is contained in advertisements from shops, stores, and other businesses. The costs of food and clothing, building material, farm products, and college tuition can be ascertained. We can also learn what books were being sold, and what the popular music was at the time. Political issues often received a great deal of space. Editorials and letters to the editor discuss national events as well as local events. Old newspapers are like a treasure chest to the genealogist. Marriages, death notices, obituaries, birth notices, community news, real estate transfers, and many other items provide clues which are quite often lost unless one takes the time to read the old papers.

Preston Library

The following collection of newspapers is owned by Virginia Military Institute (VMI). VMI has a wonderful collection which proves quite useful to historians and genealogists alike.

Buena Vista Advocate Dec 1889- Dec 1895, originals only, not microfilmed.

Glasgow Herald May 1890- Aug 1891, originals only, not microfilmed.

Goshen Blade Jul 1891- Jun 1892, 1 issue Aug 1892; originals only, not microfilmed.

Lexington Daily Gazette May- Dec 1890; Jan 1891- Dec 1891; Sep- Dec 1892; Jan- mid Feb 1893. Originals only, not microfilmed.

Lexington Gazette Jul 1835- Dec 1839; Jan 1841- Dec 1857; Jan 1859- Dec 1975; Jan 1976- Aug 1979; other names were Gazette and Banner 1866-68; Virginia Gazette 1869-71. Available on microfilm & originals. This paper began in 1832 after the Lexington Intelligencer ended.

Lexington Intelligencer May 1823- Mar 1831 microfilm available, the physical file was sent to the University of Virginia.

News Gazette June 1962- Dec 1988 on microfilm. This was originally the Lexington Gazette and Rockbridge County News, the two papers combined in 1962.

Rockbridge Citizen Nov- Dec 1871 on microfilm; originals of Jan 1872- May 1874.

Rockbridge County News Microfilm of Nov 1884- June 1962; hardcopy of Jan 1884- Oct 1954.

Rockbridge Enterprise May 1879- Oct 1884, last year incomplete. Originals only, not microfilmed.

Valley Star Apr 1840- Oct 1842, incomplete; 1848, incomplete; 1850, very incomplete; 1851, Sep and part of Dec on Gazette reel; Jul 1853- May 1861. Available on microfilm and hardcopy.

Virginia Gazette 1751-68; 1768-71; 1772; 1774-1780. On microfilm, contemporary Williamsburg, VA newspaper.

VMI Cadet 8 Oct 1907- 1986 on microfilm.

Washington and Lee University Library

Augusta County Argus 1887-1912, microfilm.

Lexington Gazette 17 Jul 1835- Aug 1845; Sep- Dec 1846; Jan- Dec 1861; 1862 & 1863 incomplete; Sep 1864- Oct 1871; 1872 & 1873 incomplete; 1894 incomplete; 1895-1898; 1904-1925; 1928- 1972. On microfilm .

News Gazette 4 Jul 1962- present. Microfilm through Dec 1993 at this writing.

Rockbridge County News 1884-1862. Microfilmed.

Staunton Spectator 1849-1896, microfilm.

Staunton Spectator and General Advertiser 1836-1853, microfilm.

Valley Star May 1839-1862. Microfilmed

Virginia Gazette 6 Aug 1736-8 Apr 1780 (microfilm) Incomplete, missing several issues which are not available. This was the first newspaper in the colony of Virginia, published at Williamsburg. The Virginia Gazette Index, 1736-1780 by Lester J. Cappon & Stella F. Duff. Williamsburg: Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1950, is a 2 vol. set available at Washington & Lee in the reference department.

Ring Tum Phi 16 Feb 1943- present, Archives has 1897/98 through present. This is the student newspaper of Washington and Lee University.

Rockbridge Regional Library

Buena Vista Advocate 13 Dec 1889-4 Dec 1895, microfilm.

Buena Vista Weekly News 2 Aug 1918-12 Dec 1930, microfilm.

Buena Vista News 6 Jan 1933-Dec 1981, microfilm.

The News and County Press Jan 1982-Dec 1986, microfilm.

News Gazette Jan 1990-Dec 1993, microfilm. Jan 1971-June 1979, hard bound copies. c1903-c1951 originals on the reference shelves, soft bound.

General References for Rockbridge Genealogists

This short list contains many sources which are a good starting point for Rockbridge Genealogists.

How-to Guides

Cerny, Johni and Arlene Eakle. Ancestry’s Guide to Research: Case Studies in American Genealogy. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, Inc., 1985. Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy. org. pub. 1973, reprint and revised, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993.

Local History

Morton, Oren F. History of Rockbridge County, Virginia. org. pub. 1920, reprint, Baltimore: Regional Publishing Co., 1980. McClung, James. The Historical Significance of Rockbridge County, Virginia. org. pub. 1939, reprint, Lexington, VA: Bob Lurate, 1992. Rockbridge Historical Society. Proceedings, v. 1-10. Tompkins, Edmund Pendleton. Rockbridge County, Virginia: An Informal History. Richmond: Whittet & Shepperson, 1952.

Vital Records

Kirkpatrick, Dorthie & Edwin. Rockbridge County, Virginia Marriages: 1778-1850. Athens, GA: Iberian, 1985. Kirkpatrick, Dorthie & Edwin. Rockbridge County, Virginia Births: 1853-1877. Athens, GA: Iberian, 1987. Perkins, Louise. Rockbridge County Marriages: 1851-1885. Signal Mountain, TN: Mountain Press, 1989. Ruley, Angela M. Rockbridge County, Virginia Death Register 1853-1870; Death Certificates 1912-1917. Athens, GA: Iberian, 1990.


Couper, William. Jackson Memorial Cemetery Survey, Complete to 1960. Ruley, Angela M. Rockbridge County, Virginia Cemeteries, Vol. I: Kerrs Creek District. Natural Bridge, VA: author, 1989.

Census and Other Misc. Records

U.S. Census Bureau. 1850 Rockbridge County, Virginia Census. Wichita, KS: S.K. Publications,1989. Civil War

Driver, Robert J., Jr. Lexington and Rockbridge County in the Civil War. Lynchburg, VA: H. E. Howard, 1989. Rockbridge Records in the Virginia State Library and Arvchives

Taken from A Preliminary Guide to Pre-1904 County Records in the Archives Branch, Virginia State Library and Archives. Compiled by Suzanne Smith Ray, Lyndon H. Hart, II, and J. Christian Kolbe. (Richmond, VA: Virginia State Library and Archives, nd). See the above cited publication for further details, or records of other counties.

Circuit Court Clerk. Bonds/Commissions/ Oaths. Delivery Bonds, 1824-1827. Ordinary Bonds, 1819-1850.

Business Records/ Corporations/ Partnerships. John and Daniel Hoffman’s Account Book, 1809-1813. Junction Valley Turnpike Company. 1850-1852. Ledger for Blacksmith Shop, 1794. North River Navigation Company. 1856-1857. Watkins & Jones Day and Account Book, 1877.

Court Records. County Court. Chancery Rough Docket, 1871-73. Chancery Rule Docket, 1799-1803. Common Prosecution Papers, 1845-48. Court Dockets, 1786-99, 1837-47, 1856-58. Court Papers, 1785-1830, 1886. Criminal Prosecution Papers, 1826-92. Docket Book, 1779-82. Fines, 1889-1890. Form Book, 1808. Judgments Confessed, 1820-1831. List of Jurors, 1853-58. Loose Papers, 1778-1848. Memorandum Books, 1784-1801, 1821. Minute Books, 1778-79, 1785-1811. Presentments, 1850-58. Process Book, 1835. Rough Docket, 1789-90. Rule dockets, 1786-99, 1821-57. Rules Docket and Office Judgments, 1786-95. Schedules, 1812-17. Witness Books, 1831-77.

County and Circuit Courts. Juror Lists, 1853-58. Receipts, 1867-71.

Unspecified Court. Execution Docket, 1828-39. Executions, 1842-44, 1877-95, 1879-82. Fee Book, 1841-42. Form Booklets. Issue Docket, 1815-21. Memorandum, 1815-26. Minute and Form Book, 1863-65. Rough Docket, 1808-15, 1868-77. Witness Books, 1807-30, 1871-76.

Election Records. Election Tickets, 1891. Lists of Voters, 1863. Polls, 1802-38, 1851-58, 1860-65. Republican Tickets, 1886. Senators’ Poll. 1857.

Fiduciary Records. Administrator’s Bonds, 1794-1810, 1815-23, 1837-39. Estate Accounts of John Letcher, 1829-30. Executor’s Bonds, 1782-93, 1799-1805, 1811-15, 1835-39. Guardian’s Bonds, 1784-1803.

Free Negro and Slave Records. Certificate of a Free Negroe. Petition Against Free Negroes Remaining in Virginia, 1855. Register of Free Negroes, 1831-50.

Justice of Peace Records. Warrants and Summons, 1826-98.

Land Records. Bedford County Processioning Records, 1814. Deeds, 1787, 1799, 1821. Kentucky Land Grant, 1792. Land Books, 1820-22. List of Conveyances, 1861. List of Grants, 1800. List of Transfers, 1816. Processioner’s Lists, 1813, 1818. Processioner’s Reports, 1812-22. Processioning Books, 1812-13, 1816-17, 1820-21.

Marriage Records and Vital Statistics. Marriage License 1838.

Military and Pension Records. Roll of Company K, 93rd Regiment, 1861.

Organization Records. Democratic Executive committee Minutes, 1901-09.

Road and Bridge Records. Assignment of Labor to Roads, 1846, 1850, 1854, 1862. Road Accounts, 1841-42, 1845-46, 1849, 1855-56, 1858-59, 1862, 1867-68, (booklets) 1839-40, 1842-43, 1845-50, 1852-58, 1869. Surveyors of Roads, 1870.

School Records. Reports, Orders, and Accounts of School Commissioners, 1837, 1839-42.

Tax and Fiscal Records. Accounts and Sales of Delinquent Land, 1818. Delinquent and Insolvent Lists, 1792-93. Delinquent Land Lists, 1791, 1825. Delinquent Tax Lists, 1803-30. Insolvent Land Lists, 1802, 1812. Insolvent List of 1838-39. Insolvent Personal Property for 1807, 1807-08. James McClung’s Personal Property Tax. Lists and Vouchers for Taxes, 1850-54. List of Attornies Taxes, 1787-89. List of Collection of Revenue Tax, 1787. Personal Property Tax Books, 1846-47. Rough Personal Property Tax Books, 1790, 1794, 1806.

Miscellaneous Records. Certificates of Insanity, Inquisitions, 1820-49. Francis Jenk’s Papers, 1886. J. P. Moore’s Receipts, 1873. James Campbell’s Exercise Book. James W. McClung’s Papers, 1779-1896. Miscellaneous Account Book, 1828. Miscellaneous Accounts, 1816-17, 1828, 1847-68. Miscellaneous Accounts and Vouchers, 1850-65. Miscellaneous Papers, 1784-1884. Miscellaneous Papers, Accounts, and Delinquents, 1840-50.

Microfilm is available for many other records.

Special thanks to Angela M. Ruley!