Sunday, November 7, 2010


Recently I was given a family to research who had roots in Hanover County, Virginia. It is understatement to say that I was sorely disappointed to find it was a burned county! So what can you do with a burned county?

Usually land records are a good bet because they are so important that they are usually always re-recorded. Unfortunately for Hanover County they begin too late for the family I was researching. The county was formed in 1720 and the earliest and best land records don't begin until 1782. You can easily miss at least one and maybe two generations during that time lapse!

There are some early land records that have been extracted from land patents, parish vestry books, and other miscellaneous random records. In a case like this these are some of the best possibilities you can hope for.

What about probate records you might ask? Well a burned county means a burned courthouse and that usually includes ALL the records that were stored at the courthouse. One little book of deeds, wills, and inventories exists for the years 1733-1735. Everything else starts in the 1780s.

It was not a fun experience to research in Hanover County and to borrow from an old phrase from Mr. T. "I pity the fool who has ancestors from this county!"

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