Researching your family history can be frustrating, especially when you are dealing with ancestors from the 1700 and early 1800’s. For years we made the mistake that the majority of new researchers do and that is to take someone else’s record as gospel and add it to your family tree. Easy, right? Not so fast! Do you know where they got the information? Did they attach a copy of their source?
Source material is THE most important piece of information you need to document your family history. Would you prefer to take information that has been written in a book published in 1805 as a source citation or from an unverified source online? Unverified information can be helpful, it may give you a hint to look further into an area of research you had not thought to look, but a verified source is essential. A verified source allows you to close the issue and move to the next family member.
A few years ago we started working on my maternal grandmother’s side full time after about 15 years of dabbling in it as a hobby. They had been in West Virginia for so long there was a treasure trove of information. As the months passed we became more aware of how important the sources were as we found more than half of our information was inaccurate. It was because we made the mistake of taking that information without a source.
We got tired of moving from website to website looking for sources and then forgetting where we had found them! This is a common mistake if you are new at this, but you will soon learn to save everything. We started amassing reference material such as books, maps, bibles, anything we could get our hands on.
Now we are sharing this information with you. We have spent the last 7 months putting everything together in a cohesive manner, building this website and finding a server to host it that would not break the bank. The birth, marriage and deaths records are strictly from 1700-1864. They include records from both West Virginia and from Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. We also provided an extremely user friendly search function.
Everything posted on this website is sourced and there is a link where you can go to see the source material. Since we have provided links to hundreds of thousands of records there no doubt will be bugs. Please let us know immediately so the issue can be fixed.
We transferred everything into PDF files, so please take advantage of the inherent search function in the PDF format. We provided hundreds of books about the areas where our ancestors lived -- mostly from Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia but also the old countries. There are county books, state books, family books and bibles, geographical books, tax lists, marriage bonds….if it was available from public sources, we have tried to find it.
We cannot stress anything that is more important than this one fact. The spelling of the ancestor you are looking for is probably not spelled properly. If you cannot find it the logical way, try just the first name with a middle initial and leave the surname blank. Use your imagination.
This site by no means is complete, it never will be due to the amount of information available, and it is just a matter of finding it. We intend to add to it daily. If there are certain records you cannot find, ask and we will try to help.
If you had ancestors in what is now West Virginia in the 1700 or early 1800’s odds are they entered the area through Pennsylvania and were either German or Scotch-Irish. Very few Virginians migrated west at that time. The Lancaster, Pennsylvania area was a very important stopping point. Most of our German ancestors settled in the upper Shenandoah Valley while the Scotch/Irish migrated to the Greenbrier County area in the lower Shenandoah Valley.
If you have source material you would like to share with others or if you find an error in our information (which no doubt you will) please contact us at the link above.
Also, if you are interested on how your pioneer ancestors lived their daily lives review the books linked on our Reference Material / Social & Cookbooks page. Learn how to make soap, candles or cook venison the way your many times over great grandparents may have done.
If you would like to ask a question or comment on the website please visit us on Facebook at West Virgina Ancestry.