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[VA] Index organizes Virginia estate records
Index organizes Virginia estate records
For the last five years, Wesley Pippenger has dedicated himself to producing an index of all the estate-related records found on microfilm and in other collections for Virginia's counties during the 19th century antebellum period. He is issuing the multivolume set geographically.
His most recent volume, the seventh in the series, is devoted to the western counties along the James River and in Southside Virginia. They are Amelia, Brunswick, Cumberland, Goochland, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Powhatan and Prince Edward.
(All but three of these counties bear the names of members of the British royal family. The two created after independence bear the names of American Indians.)
This seventh volume contains 39,198 entries, of which 5,799 are wills; 7,282 are appraisals or inventories; 5,065 are guardianships; 2,676 are bonds; 117 are surveys or plats; 432 are estate divisions; and 135 are records of dower or allotment.
His project continues to turn up wills for people residing somewhere other than the county in which the will was recorded. This volume has examples from Caroline, Gloucester, Hanover and Prince George counties, all of which lost records during the Civil War. There are also 84 wills for people living in other states or countries.
Accordingly, Mr. Pippenger's estate index serves to reveal where copies of records thought to be lost can be found.
Mr. Pippenger also has included data about wills and other documents found in chancery files in Virginia's counties. Virginia has a project for flat-folding these records and entering the data into a centralized database at the Library of Virginia.
Will books were a favorite place for clerks to record any type of record. This includes minister returns of marriages that had been performed.
For each county, there is a listing of records from the circuit court, superior court, district court and country court will books, chancery files, loose papers and guardian accounts. The entries are in a single alphabet giving the name of the party, county, type of record, year and reference. Nonstandard spellings appear under the variant as well as the standard spellings.
With such information, a family historian can determine whether printed abstracts or microfilm of the record are available at a library. Most of the records are available on interlibrary loan from the Library of Virginia through public libraries.
Volume VII of Index to Virginia Estates, 1800-1865 is available from the Virginia Genealogical Society, 1900 Byrd Ave., Suite 104, Richmond, VA 23230-3033. The cost is $40 for nonmembers or $32 for members plus $4.50 handling. Membership in the society is $26 for one year.
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