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Roots and branches

Question: I found out my ancestors were in Montgomery County, Va., in 1830 and 1840, but cannot find more records on them, although I don’t think they moved. What do you suggest?

Answer: Montgomery County, along with its neighbors Botetourt, Wythe, Grayson and other counties, was divided up and made into several counties. See the “Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Census 1790-1920” by Dollarhide. This book is at most genealogical libraries.

The maps of each state show the counties as they are every 10 years and also show the counties they became. “The Handy Book” gives the date the county was established and what county it was formed from. Search all of the adjoining county records.



State boundaries also changed. In the case of Virginia, part of it became West Virginia and there were border disputes with Pennsylvania. One Revolutionary War ancestor claimed Virginia as the location of his property because the taxes were higher in Pennsylvania. Records were found in both states. The borders of Kentucky and Tennessee were also in dispute.

Ministers’ records were taken with them as they traveled and could end up anywhere. Civil records usually stayed at what was the county seat at that time.




Another source would be histories of the areas being researched. These may give clues about what areas need to be examined. Did they work in the coal mines? Check the areas that had mines. If they were farmers, where was the farmland? There are many resources out there.

David Perkins will speak on “My Elusive Grandma: Pitfalls in Research and Sheer Determination,” at 6:30 p.m. May 14 at Madelyn Helling Library. The public is welcome.

Josie Plescia Vaughn is the librarian of the Nevada County Genealogy Society. Send questions to NCGS, P.O. Box 176, Cedar Ridge 95924, or e-mail


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