Charles City records taken by Union soldiers during Civil War are now returned



Photo by JAMES H. WALLACE, Richmond Times-Dispatch

This is an exciting development out of Richmond, Virginia!

Approximately 300 pages of colonial Virginia wills have been returned to Virginia. The pages were apparently carried off as a war prize by a Union soldier.

The recovered pages, torn from a Charles City will book when the courthouse was ransacked in 1862, include wills written between 1694 and 1700. A collector purchased the pages from an antiques dealer and kept them in a shirt box in his closet in New Jersey. They were kept by the family for three generations until they were recently rediscovered by a family member who has now returned them to the Library of Virginia.

Charles City was among a number of Virginia counties where the courthouse and records were destroyed during the Civil War. Many Wilson County ancestors migrated from the southeastern Virginia area and these newly discovered records could very well include mention of them. The records include the signatures of William Byrd II (one of the surveyors of the “Dividing Line” boundary between Virginia and North Carolina) and Benjamin Harrison, Sr. (great-grandfather of the signer of the Declaration of Independence).

Once the pages are cleaned and conserved, they will scanned and made available to the public, possibly as early as December.

See the article and photographs here: The Richmond Times-Dispatch