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Orange County Virginia

Map of Va: Orange CountyOrange County was formed on 1 Jan. 1734/35 from the western part of Spotsylvania County. It was named for William IV, Prince of Orange-Nassau, who married Anne, daughter of George II in 1734--the same year the county was created. At the time of its establishment, Orange County's jurisdiction included all Virginia lands west of the Blue Ridge as far as the Mississippi River, and some early records of settlers in the Shenandoah Valley can be found in the court records in Orange. In 1738 Orange's western and northern portions were taken to create Augusta and Frederick counties, respectively. However, lack of sufficient population to support the county tithe resulted in neither of these new counties being able to function as political units until the mid-1740s. Culpeper County was cut off from Orange in 1749. The final subdivision of Orange came in 1838 with the creation of Greene County. Since that time Orange has preserved its current boundaries. The first permanent settlement of the region occurred in 1714, while Orange was still part of Spotsylvania. Governor Alexander Spotswood imported thirteen German families of iron workers from Westphalia to work his iron ore mines at Germanna. Subsequent groups of German workers brought over in 1717 and 1726 swelled this group, and many of these families later moved to nearby counties and eventually spread throughout the state and country. Orange's records are complete and most records are available on microfilm. However, early marriage records (pre-1750), early church records, and few birth and death records exist. Almost all of the county's records are available at the Historical Society (see below) and the Library of Virginia. the Historical Society possesses large vertical file holdings which are invaluable to genealogical researchers.

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ORANGE COUNTY, VA 1810 SUBSTITUTE CENSUS [Abstracts from the 1810 Personal Property Tax List] by John Vogt, 2011, 5 1/2"x8 1/2" format, viii, 21 pages, map.
        Orange is one of eighteen Virginia counties for which the 1810 census is lost. In August, 1814 British troops occupied Washington, DC and public buildings were put to the torch. In the destruction that followed, numerous early records of the government were lost, including all of Virginia’s 1790 and 1800 census reports, as well as eighteen county lists for the state's most recent [1810] federal census. Although two “fair copies” of each county’s census had been left in the counties for public display, these were ephemeral lists and not preserved, and by 1814 they too had been mislaid, lost, or destroyed. Hence, the closest document available we have to reconstruct a partial image of the missing county lists is the personal property tax list.
       According to research notes by Minor T. Weisiger, Library of Virginia archivist: “Information recorded in Virginia personal property tax records changed gradually from 1782 to 1865. The early laws required the tax commissioner in each district to record in “a fair alphabetical list” the names of the person chargeable with the tax, the names of white male tithables over the age of twenty-one, the number of white male tithables between ages sixteen and twenty-one, the number of slaves both above and below age sixteen, various types of animals such as horses and cattle, carriage wheels, ordinary licenses, and even billiard tables. Free Negroes are listed by name and often denoted in the list as “free” or “FN.”
       The present abstract of Orange's 1810 personal property tax list is NOT a transcript of the entire document; rather, it is a summary of three items important in delineating the 1810 "substitute" census for this county, i.e., number of male tithables 16 and older, number of slaves twelve years and older, and the number of horses. The original form of the census was in alphabetic order by date and letter. The substitute list presented here is in absolute alphabetic order for easy reference.

In the current volume, the data is recorded as in the page sample at right:Column one represents the tithable males (16 and over) in the household; column 2 is the number of slaves over 12; and the final column is the number of horses, mares or mules.
        For genealogical researchers in this 1810 period, personal property tax records may provide additional important information. Oftentimes, juniors and seniors are listed adjacent to one another and recorded on the same day. When a taxpayer is noted as “exempt”, it can be a clue to someone holding a particular position in government or being elderly, infirm, or for some other reason no longer required to pay the tithable tax. Women, both black and white, appear occasionally as heads of households when they own property in their own right or as the widow of a property owner.
        Another valuable source for filling in information about an ancestor is the land tax record, and especially the one for 1815. In that year, the enumerators began to add the location of the property in relation to the county court house. Roger Ward has abstracted all of the 1815 land tax records, and they are available from this publisher at To illustrate the importance of combining the two tax records, the author has included the locations of the personal property tax residents in Orange County where they are listed in the land tax records. In all, of the 1097 households listed in the personal property tax list, 477 were identified and located in the land tax list. All distances cited in the notations represent the distance and direction from Orange county courthouse. Numerous individuals were listed as “estate” in the 18156 tax list, indicating their demise in the intervening five years. Also, occasional references to estates “in the possession of” other individuals often indicates familial relationships.         The 1810 substitute census list for Orange County contains 1,097 households, 1,253 tithables, both white and free black, 3,171 slaves over the age of twelve, and 3,238 horses.

Surname list

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[ORPP] $5.00     (printed version)

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NORTHERN NECK (LAND) WARRANTS & SURVEYS, 1730-1754: ORANGE & AUGUSTA COUNTIES, WITH TITHABLES, DELINQUENTS AND PETITIONERS by Peggy Shomo Joyner. 1985, xxv, 73 pp. Published as the first volume in a series of Northern Neck Warrants & Surveys, this collection has become a standard reference work for researchers in the period of colonial Augusta County history and that of its parent county, Orange.
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[Nnw1] $17.00

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[ENNW1] $12.00     electronic version; please note: this is a large .pdf file and will be sent as a .zip file(52 megabytes).

John Vogt & T. William Kethley, Jr. Revised edition, 1991. xiv, 320 pages, index, appendices, figure, map. To this new revised edition is added a complete index of names in the volume, including bride, groom, bondsmen, parents, witnesses, guardians, ministers and any other person mentioned in the original document. Also an appendix of ministers is added along with the number of marriages conducted by each and an outer date range for the marriages of each minister. Most records are quite complete and contain a wealth of genealogical information. The index contains references to the following: 2,984 marriages; 996 minister's returns; 3,379 witnesses; 99 guardians; 2,614 bondsmen; 122 signed permissions; and 1,396 parents. From the original Orange County lands of 1734, the following counties were created: Frederick, Augusta, Culpeper, and Greene.
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[Orng] $32.00

ORANGE CO., VA ORDER BOOK ONE, 1734-1739: PART ONE, 1734-1736 Barbara Vines Little. 1990, iv, 114 pages. Orange County was an early parent county for many of the western counties in Virginia, including Augusta and its eighty later subdivisions. This transcription of the first part of Orange's first order book was made from the original manuscript housed in the Orange County Circuit Court Clerk's Office. A full index is provided.
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Orange Co. 1815 Directory of Landowners by Roger G. Ward. 2005. 28 pages, map, 5 1/2X8 1/2.
For a full description of the 1815 LAND DIRECTORY Records and a listing of available counties, see:
Individual County Booklets, 1815 Directory of Virginia Landowners

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[Vd78] $8.00

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[EVd78] $5.50     (electronic version)

Orange Co. Revolutionary Public Claims transcribed by Janice L. Abercrombie and Richard Slatten.. 2005. 68 pages, 5 1/2X8 1/2.
For a full description of the Virginia Revolutionary Public Claims and a listing of available counties, see:
Revolutionary "Publick" Claims series

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[Pc52] $9.25     (printed version)

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