As a genealogy addict, I’ve spent countless hours researching my family’s history and have discovered that many branches of my family date to colonial America, with the vast majority coming to Virginia in the early to mid-1600’s. For those who have colonial Virginia ancestors, the Library of Virginia is a great resource in family history research. You can explore deeds, wills and other documents related to your colonial ancestors with a quick web search on their easy-to-use website.
If you have a colonial Virginia ancestor, you can click on the “Search the LVA catalog” link to access the catalog search. I recommend clicking on “Advanced Search” and entering the first name in the top field (where it says “any field” and “contains”), then entering the last name in the bottom field (where it says “AND,” “any field,” “contains”). This will only pull results where both names appear in the same phrase, which is helpful if you have an ancestor with a common name.
Some records are available electronically for download. Others are physically housed at the Library of Virginia. You can create an account in order to request specific documents if you are local and can visit the library. They also regularly offer genealogy classes. Even if you are not local to Virginia, I have found that the records available electronically can be extremely valuable in obtaining a clearer picture of who your ancestors were and how they lived. Records on material assistance provided to the Revolutionary War effort, land grants by the King of England and family bibles and wills give so much context to the names and dates of ancestors.
Just as an example, I plugged in my ancestor Hance/Hans Hendrick’s (1660-1728) name and ran a search. Several documents showed up, including some land records available online. I discovered that on April 25, 1701, Hance Hendrick was granted 594 acres of land in King and Queen County, Virginia.
These types of records are ideal for placing an ancestor in a particular location at a particular time. If you have colonial Virginia ancestors in your tree, I’d highly recommend running some searches via the Library of Virginia’s website. I’d love to know what you find out!