Virginia Research Guide


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Vital Records has a variety of collections available for free online:

Records of specific counties include:

Resource Compilations

Genealogical & Historical Societies

Southwest Virginia

Northern Neck Virginia

Historical Counties & Boundaries

  • Family History 101 provides a record of county formation & discontinuation; also discussion of what is available or lost.
  • The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries at the Newberry Library features an interactive map of the historical counties of Virginia.
  • Prior to 1738 all that part of Virginia lying west of the Blue Ridge was included in the County of Orange. During the fall session of the 1738 State Legislature, the portion of Orange County west of the Blue Ridge Mountain range was divided into the Counties of Frederick and Augusta.

Here is a partial list of the various sub-divisions of the territory referred to into counties, with the dates of formation and from whence the names of the counties were derived:

Culpeper, 1749, from Governor Thomas, Lord Culpeper
Hampshire, 1754, from Hampshire, England.
Botetourt, 1770, from Governor Botetourt.
Berkeley, 1772, from Governor Berkeley.
Dunmore, 1772, from Governor Dunmore, but name changed to Shenandoah in 1777.
Fincastle, 1772, from English country home of Governor Botetourt.
Montgomery, 1776, from General James Montgomery.
Washington, 1776, from General George Washington.
Kentucky, 1776, from Indian name, "Dark and Bloody Ground."
Fincastle, abolished in 1776.
Ohio, 1776, from Ohio River.
Monongalia, 1776, from Indian name.
Youghiogeny, 1776, from Indian name. This county was abolished when line between Virginia and Pennsylvania was settled.
Shenandoah, 1773, name Indian, from River Sherando, formerly Dunmore County; name changed in 1777.
Greenbrier, 1777, from many Greenbriers along the river.
Rockbridge, 1778, from Natural Bridge.
Rockingham, 1778, from English name.
Harrison, 1778, from Governor Benjamine Harrison, of Virginia.
Illinois, 1779, from Illinois Indians; this county passed from Virginia by her cession of the Northwest Territory.
Hardy, 1786, from Samuel Hardy, a member of Congress.
Russell, 1786, from General William Russell.
Randolph, 1787, from Edmund Randolph.
Pendleton, 1788, from Edmund Pendleton.
Kanawha, 1789, from Indian Tribe, Canawhays.
Wythe, 1790, from Judge George Wythe.
Bath, 1791, from English name.
Lee, 1792, from Governor Henry Lee, of Virginia.
Grayson, 1793, from William Grayson, a member of Congress.
Brooke, 1797, from Governor Robert Brooke.
Monroe, 1799, from Governor James Monroe.
Tazewell, 1799, from Mr. Tazewell, member House of Delegates from Norfolk County.
Wood, 1799, from Governor James Wood.
Jefferson, 1801, from Thomas Jefferson.
Mason, 1804, from Stevens Thompson Mason.
Giles, 1806, from Governor William B. Giles.
Cabell, 1809, from Governor William H. Cabell.
Scott, 1814, from General Winfield Scott.
Tyler, 1814, from Governor John Tyler.
Lewis, 1816, from Colonel Charles Lewis.
Preston, 1818, from Governor James P. Preston.
Nicholas, 1818, from Governor Wilson C. Nicholas.
Morgan, 1820, from General Daniel Morgan.
Pocahontas, 1821, from the Indian Princess.
Alleghaney, 1822, from name of mountain.
Logan, 1824, from Mingo chief.
Page, 1831, from Governor John Page.
Fayette, 1831, from General LaFayette.
Floyd, 1831, from Governor John Floyd.
Smyth, 1831, from General Alexander Smyth.
Jackson, 1831, from President Andrew Jackson.
Marshall, 1835, from Chief Justice John Marshall.
Braxton, 1836, from Carter Braxton.
Clarke, 1836, from General George Rodgers Clarke.
Warren, 1836, from General Warren.
Mercer, 1837, from General Hugh Mercer.
Roanoke, 1838, from Indian name "Much Wampum."
Pulaski, 1839, from Count Pulaski.
Carroll, 1842, from Charles Carroll, of Carrollton.
Marion, 1842, from General Francis Marion.
Wayne, 1842, from General Anthony Wayne.
Ritchie, 1843, from Thomas Ritchie.
Gilmer, 1843, from Governor Thomas W. Gilmer.
Barbour, 1843, from Governor James Barbour.
Taylor, 1844, from John Taylor, of Caroline.
Doddridge, 1845, from Philip Doddridge.
Wetzel, 1846, from Lewis Wetzel.
Highland, 1846, named from the High land.
Boone, 1847, from Daniel Boone.
Wirt, 1848, from William Wirt.
Hancock, 1848, from John Hancock.
Putnam, 1848, from Israel Putnam.
Wyoming, 1848, from Wyoming Indian Tribe.
Raleigh, 1850, from Sir Walter Raleigh.
Upshur, 1850, from Abel P. Upshur.
Craig, 1851, from Robert Craig, member of Congress from Montgomery County.
Pleasants, 1851, from Governor James Pleasants.
Calhoun, 1855, from John C. Calhoun.
Wise, 1855, from Governor Henry A.Wise.
Roane, 1856, from Judge Spencer Roane.
Clay, 1856, from Henry Clay.
Tucker, 1856, from Henry St. George Tucker.
McDowell, 1858, from Governor James McDowell.
Buchanan, 1858, from President James Buchanan.
Webster, 1860, from Daniel Webster.
Bland, 1861, from Theodoric Bland.
Mineral, 1866, from mineral deposits found in that territory.
Grant, 1866, from General U. S. Grant.
Lincoln, 1867, from President Abraham Lincoln.
Summers, 1871, from Judge Lewis Summers.
Dickenson, 1880, from Mr. Dickenson of that county.
Mingo, 1895, from Indian tribe of that name.

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