Research into the past involves small tracts of land and a few people. Those people were friends, relatives and neighbors of your ancestors. Picture a farm and a small community with churches and graveyards. There were no TV sets or other entertainment, so people lived their lives among these friends and neighbors. They were married by local ministers who was not required to file the marriage license with the local court house. The books of local churches rarely survived. That leaves the family bible, so important a record of family affairs. The genealogist surveys the burial grounds to try and learn where the congregation came from. The tombstones sometimes reflect this. The movement of whole congregations from one State to another was not uncommon. And what was going on that year when the church was established? Where were people migrating from? Thus, it is the task of the genealogist to get some answers. A good start is the deed records because deeds begin "Know all Men by These Presents that I, John Smith, of Clarke County, Georgia, do hereby grant unto John Brown of Carteret County, North Carolina ...." Local neighbors and relatives witness the deeds. If you have several persons with identical names in the records, taking note of the witnesses is essential in identifying the correct people. Another good source is Deeds of Gift which convey property to children before death. Deed records also contain Marriage Contracts which were frequently used for ladies with property marrying a second time because she wanted to differentiate between the property she inherited from a previous husband in order to pass it on to her children by that husband.
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County and Probate Records to Help you Find your Virginia Ancestors