Virginia records can, at times, be difficult or even downright impossible to find, particularly in the colonial era of the United States.
If you have Southern family lines in your tree, then you likely have ancestors who lived in Virginia at some point and they may well have at least passed through Augusta County, Virginia.
Back in the 1700s, Augusta County was much bigger than it is today.
When Augusta County was set off from Orange County, Virginia in 1738, it had no real western boundary or a specific northern boundary and covered a vast area.
Notice Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, which appear to be in Augusta County!
Adventurous men were already making their way through the western wilderness and settled in Augusta County. Many of these early families were of Scots-Irish descent.
Lyman Chalkley was born in Richmond, Virginia on 20 October 1861 and died in Lexington, Kentucky on 21 April 1934. Chalkley practiced law in Virginia until 1891 when he was elected as a judge. From 1898 to 1904, he was a judge in Augusta County and had a deep interest in the history of the county. He abstracted Augusta County court records covering the time period from 1745 to 1800 and eventually his notes were published in the three volumes of Chronicles of the Scots-Irish Settlement in Virginia, through the efforts of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
The good news is that, while it used to be necessary to find his volumes in a genealogy library, they are now available digitally through FamilySearch for free.
Although the title indicates that the focus of the book is on the Scots-Irish (and it mostly is), if other ethnic groups, e.g. Germans, English, Swedish, created records that were recorded by the Augusta County Court between 1745 and 1800, then you will find them mentioned in Chalkley’s books.
Most researchers would be looking in court records for mentions of wills, probates, deeds and so on. However, would you be looking for a slander lawsuit or mention of an assault and battery?
Chalkley abstracted the info and if you are descended from John Fleiger, he was sued for assault and battery by John Hall in April 1791.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be searching court minutes for an announcement that my ancestor had removed from the county, but here are two mentions:
The first is a woman, no less – a real surprise, Mary Kirland about to move out of the commonwealth (of Virginia) on 21 June 1793. I’d love to find this tidbit if Mary Kirland was in my family tree. Not only would I have proof she was alive on that day, but I would also know she moved out of Virginia and I’d need to look for any possible mention of her death elsewhere.
John Wells was moving elsewhere in December 1793; Thomas Story and John Allison were also migrating, but the court noted that they were both going to Kentucky, also in 1793. At that time, Kentucky was a county of Virginia.
In short, Chalkley’s works are a terrific, quick finding aid to locate your ancestors among those early western settlers. There are wonderful tidbits of information that a researcher might not readily find in the court minutes. Although exact source citations are not provided in a modern format, by default, they really are because the court terms are noted item by item, so they can be readily found even if the original court volumes aren’t indexed.
The main reason I am pointing out these volumes is because they are downloadable, using the links above. Save the Chalkey works to your computer. That way, you can browse them at your leisure.