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At the Library of Virginia

There is so much that The Legal Genealogist could say about this wonderful weekend in Virginia.

I could start with a great big “Thank You!” to the Genealogical Research Institute of Virginia (GRIVA) for serving as my hosts for this past Saturday’s fall seminar.

I could thank everyone who came out — and especially the many students of Clover Hill High School in Midlothian — to hear about genealogy and the law.

I could say how much I appreciated the questions and the comments folks had during and after my talks.

I could say how much fun it was to be where so many of my ancestors lived.

I could add how delightful it was to spend yesterday at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond with my cousin and fellow genealogist Paula taking pictures of so many interesting tombstones, and paying our respects to our aunt and uncle who are buried there.

Or I could go back to hunting for ancestors here at the Library of Virginia.

And you know what’s going to win out, right?

You betcha.

I just found my third great grandfather in the tax records of Grayson County and I need to find out how long he stayed there before he and a whole bunch of others headed off for Alabama.

Personal property tax records fill in the gaps between the census records. If an ancestor, like mine, is in North Carolina in 1830 and in Virginia in 1840, it’s the tax records that can tell you when he moved. And where he moved. And who his new neighbors were.

And because the tax was on personal property, and on people (poll taxes or tithes), and not solely on land, it lets me track families who weren’t wealthy enough to own land, who may have been tenant farmers.

These records, like so many others, are not online, not the kind of thing you can find while sitting in your jammies and bunny slippers at 3 a.m.

So check back with me in, oh, eight or 10 hours… after the Library of Virginia closes for the day…

I’m hot on the trail…

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