Friday, January 4, 2019

Never Underestimate a Library

Photo from the Rappahannock Library

I love libraries. You never know what treasures you will find in libraries until you go inside. Of course, I often use online resources for genealogy and history research but when I can hold a book in my hand and discover what I need in its pages, I am extra happy.

I live in New York State but am often in Virginia. Why? Two reasons: our two little grandsons live in Virginia. [Of course, I visit our daughter and son-in-law too. Ha!] I try to lend a hand when I am there. I sometimes drive our older grandson to Preschool.  While he is learning I go to a nearby library.

The library is small and quiet. It is a perfect place for me to spread out my notebooks and laptop on a wooden table and dive into writing my most recent genealogy book, ‘Our Brown Roots’. Before I know it, it is time for me to go pick up our grandson and hear about his day’s activities.

Now it is time for a true confession. At first, I was just using the library as a quiet place to write. Then I thought: I wonder if there are any books on Virginia’s early history here? Several branches of my ancestors lived in the Virginia Colony. Of course there were books!

Here are three books that taught me about the early history and gave me details on everyday life in the Virginia Colony. These books gave me terrific details for my book in progress. 

·     Andrews, Matthew Page. Virginia, the Old Dominion; Volume I (Richmond, VA: The Dietz Press, 1949).
·     Billings, Warren M. The Old Dominion in the seventeenth Century: A Documental History of Virginia, 1601 – 1689(Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1975).
·     Torpey, Dorothy M. Hallowed Heritage: The Life of Virginia(Richmond, VA: Whittet & Shepperson, 1961).

Then I saw a section of the library called ‘Special Collection’. I found more great books including these:

·     Greer, George Cabell. Early Virginia Immigrants(Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1982).
·     Smith, Annie Laurie Wright. The Quit Rents of Virginia, 1704(Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1980). 
·     Torrence, Clayton. Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800 (Berryville, VA: Virginia Book Company, 1981).

The Quit Rents of Virginia definitely includes my ancestor, John Alford, 1645 VA – 1710 VA, who was in New Kent, Virginia in 1704 where he had 240 acres of land. The other two books include my surnames in their index. I photocopied several pages and will investigate those carefully.

Next time I am in Virginia I will explore the Rappahannock Library again and I’m sure I will find more treasures. Remember,

Never Underestimate a Library!


  1. Wow, this is great. I'm sure you'll find other nuggets as you explore the collection!

  2. Good tip! I was surprised when I saw how much genealogical information is available at the library in Virginia Beach. It’s almost like a mini Library of Virginia.


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