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Alexandria County, Virginia

Arlington County's name comes from Arlington National Cemetery, whose own name had derived from that of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's former home, Arlington House. The area was retroceded to Virginia on July 9, 1846. In 1852, the independent City of Alexandria was incorporated from a portion of Alexandria County. This created an ambiguity, as two separate legal entities had similar names. Alexandria County eventually renamed itself in 1920 to Arlington County.

In December 1789 the Virginia General Assembly offered to cede land along the Potomac River to the federal government so that a permanent seat of government could be established. This was an attempt to place Virginia near the center of the new federal establishment and avoid the capital being located in a more remote northern part of the country. In 1791 the District of Columbia was surveyed and set aside, and ten years later, in 1801, federal offices were moved to the new capital in the District and the federal government assumed jurisdiction.

The land ceded by the General Assembly from Fairfax County to create part of the new district of Columbia was designated as Alexandria County in the District of Columbia.Alexandria County was retroceded to Virginia in 1846 and the Commonwealth extended its jurisdiction over this territory in 1847.

The functions of the Levy and Orphans' courts was reassumed by the newly-formed County court. Also in 1847 the Alexandria Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery was formed and the functions of the District of Columbia's Circuit and Criminal courts were passed to it. Five years later, in 1852, this Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery was superseded by the Alexandria Circuit Court. Finally, as in all Virginia counties, the County Court was abolished in 1904 and its jurisdiction passed to the Circuit Court. In 1920 the name of Alexandria County was changed to Arlington County. See also Alexandria City.



Virginia Merchants: Alexander Smith & Son
Alexandria County, Virginia: His Letter Book Of 1803-1822

Transcribed by Charles & Virginia Hamrick
Date of Publication: 2004
Number of Pages: 211
Misc: Index
Cost: $30.00
Stock Code: VMAS

Here is an exacting transcription of a letter book for Alexander Smith & Son, who operated a store at Alexandria, Virginia. This work elucidates the workings of the merchant and business class in Virginia during the period of the enormous growth of the new nation following the Revolution. It also explains the difficulties faced by merchants in a period of economic disruption just prior to the War of 1812. Eventually Smith was forced to close his business enterprise in 1811 and he became one of the entrepreneurial victims of the times.

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1815 Directory of Landowners Alexandria County, Virginia

Compiled By: Roger G. Ward
Date Of Publication: 2005
Number Of Pages: 13
Dimensions: 5.5" x 8.5"
Misc: Map
Cost: $5.00
Stock Code: VD03

1815 Landowners
In 1782 the General Assembly of Virginia enacted new tax laws which created within each county an enumeration of land and certain personal property. These early land tax laws required a tax commissioner in each district of a county to record a list of the names of persons owning land or town lots, the quantity of land owned and its value, and the amount of tax owed. By 1813, a brief geographic description (usually citing an adjacent stream, road, or other landmark) was required; in 1814, the distance and direction from the courthouse for each parcel was also added to the tax rolls.

The present work is an alphabetical listing of all 1815 landowners found in each county, as well as the accompanying description of the location of the said property. We have not included the number of acres, taxes assessed, or any transactions between landowners which may have been noted on the tax rolls; also, in many cases the geographic location was provided as "adjacent to John Smith", etc. and, while useful many times to a genealogist, was considered to be beyond the objectives of this project. The reader is encouraged to consider the information here-in as an "outline" of early landowners in Virginia rather than a "text" due to the year-to-year variation in information provided to the clerk (or recorded by the clerk), omissions, lack of "identifiers" to determine if "same name" was also "same person" within a district or across districts, marginal quality/clarity (in a few cases) of the microfilm copy, and, not least, errors on the part of either the original clerks or the current author while transcribing.

Some of the approaches to utilizing the 1815 landowner information include:

1. Observe distinct clusters of the same surname within a county in order to clarify the common surnames such as "Smith", "Anderson", etc;
2. Identify non-resident landowners and their county (or state) of residence (these people often being former residents of the current county);
3. Determine neighbors with different surnames (often being relatives);
4. Use the 1815 information as a "bridge" from the 18th and 19th century deed/will books to the 17th and 18th century land grants/patents in the county;
5. Evaluate the 1810 to 1840 census information which generally grouped neighbors;
6. Substitute this information for missing deed/will books in the "burned" counties; and, clarify/enhance vague deed/will information in the counties with more complete records.

FORMAT OF PRESENTATION: Each entry is listed as: Surname, name, personal identifiers (if any); location/place-name of land; miles/direction from the 1815 courthouse. If multiple owners are listed for a property, the listing is duplicated under each of the owner's surnames (i.e "Smith and Brown" is also listed as "Brown, --see Smith"); when multiple owners share a common surname, the property is only listed once. When a landowner had land at more than one location/place-name, the miles/direction listing for each parcel is in the same sequence as the location listing (i.e. James RV, Slate CK; 12N, 5SW.). In the few cases where a landowner had "many" parcels, the miles/direction notation is attached to the location listing (i.e. Sandy RV- 5NE, Willow CK-7S, etc.)

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