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Smyth County Virginia


Map of Va: Smyth CountySmyth County was formed in 1832 from portions of Washington and Wythe counties. The county's name honored Alexander Smyth, a former congressman from Virginia who had died in 1830 while seeking to create the new county. The earliest settlement of the region dates from 1745. The county's records are virtually complete, despite Federal forces having set fire to the wagon transporting them to safety in 1864. The fire was extinguished by a neighbor, Elizabeth Catherine Killinger, and returned to the courthouse. Another small fire of an unknown date destroyed a few court records.

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Smyth County Marriage Records
Smyth County Will Books
Smyth County Deed Books
Smnyth County Court Order Books
Smyth County Tax Lists
Smyth County Death Records
Smyth County Census Records
Smyth County Miscellaneous Records
Records Prior to County Formation (pre-1832)

MARRIAGE RECORDS
SMYTH COUNTY MARRIAGES, 1832-1850 John Vogt & T. William Kethley, Jr. 1984, viii, 89 pages, indices, figure, map. A total of 831 marriage records are abstracted in this volume and they are taken from the county clerk's register. Accompanying data includes minister's name, date of marriage and/or return to clerk.
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SMYTH CO. VA MARRIAGES, 1851-1891 & SMYTH CO, VA 1860 CENSUS Transcribed, annotated and edited by Jack Hockett & Shelia Steele Hunt. 2007) viii, 213 pages, separate surname indices. 8x10, paperback. A thorough and meticulous transcription. The census is carefully done from difficult-to-read pencilled census records.

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SMYTH CO. VA MARRIAGES, 1892-1905 & SMYTH CO, VA MARRIAGES, 1906-1915 OF PERSONS WHOSE BIRTHS OR PLACES OF RESIDENCE WERE LISTED AS WASHINGTON OR RUSSELL COUNTIES, VIRGINIA Transcribed, annotated and edited by Jack Hockett & Shelia Steele Hunt. 2000 (reprinted and reformatted, 2007) vi, 188 pages, bride cross-reference index. 8x10, paperback. Includes names of groom & bride, ages, marital status, parents of each, birthplaces, groom's occupation, date of marriages, person performing the ceremony, and place of marriage where given. A thorough and meticulous transcription, with copious annotations added..
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WILL BOOKS
SMYTH CO. VA WILL BOOK A, 1832-1844; WILL BOOK No. 1, 1838-1898 Abstracted, annotated and edited by Jack Hockett and Donald Helton. 2023. iv, 157 pages, complete name index. 8x10, paperback.
This will book consists primarily of:
(a) Last Will and Testaments: These give everything from full details of families to mere "hints" of the size and composition of families (wife, husband, children, et al). They are generally an excellent source of genealogical information. More often the LWT is written fairly soon before the death of the testator, but in some cases, quite some years before. Sometimes "bonus" information is captured in the will such as the metes and bounds of land conveyed by the LWT.
(b) Appraisal and Inventory of Estates: This provides some clue as to the wealth (or lack thereof) of the individual concerned, proving articles which are provided to the (usually) three appraisers and the price assigned to each article. These have generally not been transcribed beyond mentioned the size of the estate, the major composition of the estate and the total, if given (frequently no total is given). For those interested in the size and wealth of their subject's estate, the information is readily available to transcribe and is frequently, in the case of large estates, exhaustive.
(c) Sale Bill of Estate: The Sale Bill generally follows pretty closely the Inventory/Appraisement of Estate. In the case of these sales, I have recorded the names of purchasers, but attempting to only make one mention of each name or form of name (some repeats). Prices paid have not been transcribed but are easily available to the researcher. In the case of slaves, the name of the slave and the price at sale are transcribed and a few other interesting articles sometimes mentioned.
(d) Settlement of Estates: These entries contain the "bookkeeping" of the estate administrator and lists the debits and credits of the estate; proper names are recorded (usually "received from" or "paid to". These entries can also sometimes be exhaustive and are difficult to sometimes make sense of even in full transcription. These settlements sometimes contain valuable information regarding the heirs to include their names and the amount to be distributed to each heir (at times being more specific regarding the heirs than the LWT itself.).
(e) Assignment of Dower: By law of the commonwealth, a widow was entitled to 1/3 of the estate of her husband; these assignments of dower are listed in this LWT and are frequently good sources of the location, metes and bounds of the land assigned.
(f) Renunciation of Dower: Not infrequently the husband of a widow would leave specific amounts to his widow in his will, instead of dower, but the widow had the right to renounce the provisions made for her in the LWT and in such cases, request her dower.
(g) Other:
Slaves: Information on slaves can be found in several areas, including LWTs, Estate Sales, Inventories, and sometimes other places. They having generally, at that time, no surnames, their given name is always capitalized in this transcription.
Names/Forms: The English speaking clerk (who was wary of most punctuation, by the way), frequently butchered the German [and Swiss German/Alsatian German] names, especially; in a few instances, the German name itself has been translated into English. This segment of the early population was very numerous and extremely important in and for Smyth County.
The bulk of the early settlers came especially from Pennsylvania (with Chester County being especially prominent as a place of origin); for this reason I call Philadelphia (port of arrival) "The Jamestown of Smyth County"; some Germans and Scottish/Ulsterite and also English (rarely mentioned but numerous) came also from Pennsylvania, sometimes stopping for a generation or more in Frederick, Shenandoah, and especially Augusta/Botetourt/Rockbridge County. It should here be pointed out that a great number of the early inhabitants listing "NC" as place of birth were short-term persons of NC background, coming primarily also from PA to NC and thence to Smyth; a fairly rare, small group of persons coming from the counties in or bordering the Piedmont of NC may have come there from the E. of NC or from VA. Lastly, the minority of persons who crossed the water gaps, deemed frequently "Eastern Virginia English" trickled into Smyth, mainly from the Piedmont Counties of Louisa, Amelia, Powhatan, Buckingham, Cumberland et al. Finally, particularly in the St. Clair District, the "New England Colony" were a strong and fairly numerous contingent, originating in MA, CT and RI, frequently stopping in Ulster and Westchester Cos. NY and thence to (now) Smyth County. This "colony" had a small spillover into neighboring Washington County; many of them were former tenants of the patroons in NY. This latter group makes Smyth County unique in Virginia in having a sizeable contingent of (originally) New England people.

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SMYTH CO. VA WILL BOOK 2, 1844-1854 Abstracted, annotated and edited by Jack Hockett and Donald Helton. 2023. iv, 155 pages, complete name index. 8x10, paperback.

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SMYTH CO. VA WILL BOOK 3, 1854-1863 Abstracted, annotated and edited by Jack Hockett and Donald Helton. 2023. iv, 128 pages, complete name index. 8x10, paperback.

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SMYTH CO. VA WILL BOOK 4, 1864-1873 Abstracted, annotated and edited by Jack Hockett and Donald Helton. 2023. iv, 162 pages, complete name index. 8x10, paperback.
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SMYTH CO. VA WILL BOOK 5, 1873-1883 [WILLS ONLY] Abstracted, annotated and edited by Jack Hockett and Donald Helton. 2023. iv, 74 pages, complete name index. 8x10, paperback.
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SMYTH CO. VA WILL BOOK 6, 1883-1891 [WILLS ONLY] Abstracted, annotated and edited by Jack Hockett and Donald Helton. 2023. iv, 71 pages, complete name index. 8x10, paperback.
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SMYTH CO. VA WILL BOOK 7, 1891-1901 [WILLS ONLY] Abstracted, annotated and edited by Jack Hockett and Donald Helton. 2023. iv, 89 pages, complete name index. 8x10, paperback.
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DEED BOOKS
SMYTH CO. VIRGINIA DEED BOOK 1, APR.1832-AUG.1836 Thomas & Jane Ann Colley. 2004, ii, 219 pages, index. One can locate considerable information on the county’s history and genealogy by referencing its deed books, containing not only deeds (Indentures of Bargain & Sale) but relinquishment of dower, powers of attorney and Deeds of Gift, Deeds of Trust, etc. This includes the all-important location of female surnames and also valuable clues to the misconstrued and translated (Anglicized) German and Swiss German names. This is the first deed book for this new county, and the index will list many of the early settlers in the region as well as the influx of new landowners. A very valuable addition to southwestern Virginia history.
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COURT ORDER BOOKS
SMYTH CO. VA ORDER BOOKS 1 (1832-33) & 2 (1833-35) Abstracted, annotated and edited by Jack Hockett and Donald Helton. 2023. vi, 308 pages [two volumes in one, with individual pagination and indices].
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SMYTH CO. VA ORDER BOOK 3 (1836-38) Transcribed, annotated and edited by Jack Hockett and Donald Helton. 2024. iv, 184 pages, every-name index.

From the Authors' Introduction-
This book represents an entire (almost every word - a few areas where info has been grouped or consolidated to prevent repetition) transcription of Smyth County Virginia Order Book 3. It is important for the study of the earliest records of this county after formation in 1832 from the Counties of Washington and Wythe, which house the records to which one must refer for information on most individuals contained in this book earlier than the year 1832.
Order Book (OB) 3 begins at Court, Tuesday 19th. January 1836 with a list of conveyances which were admitted to record since the last court term. The book ends on p. 322 at court, Tuesday 17th. Jul 1838 with Abram Naff, orphan of Michael Naff, choosing Peter Naff as his guardian and the court appointing Peter also guardian to Eliza Naff, another orphan of Peter.
Irregularities: The clerks who made the entries usually presented with good handwriting and the filming was mostly acceptable for transcription (a very few letters cut off in the right hand margin and a very few smudges or strikeovers which made transcription more difficult). (a) Page 222 is missing from the film - filming error, causing me to go to the Internal Index to locate any entry ascribed to this page. Only two entries (indentures) were located and the Deed Book 2 for Smyth was consulted to supplement information that is on this page; a copy of the page could be secured from the Smyth Co. VA Courthouse in Marion, if needed; (b) The clerk has mistakenly used the number page 264 twice and this has been dealt with by the transcriber by labeling the pages 264A and 264B; (c) The clerk has mistakenly used the number 287 twice and this has been dealt with by the transcriber by labeling the pages 287A and 287B.
In general, the early order books for Smyth County contain such information as Revolutionary War Pension Applications (perhaps one reference in Order Book 3); Road Orders (new, repair of, change of course, discontinuation, et al.); Binding out of orphans and/or poor and free persons of colour by the Overseers of the Poor; Improper tax charges in county levies & poor rates; Permission of manumitted persons to remain within the Commonwealth (Isaac Tate); Division of Estates; Assignments of Dower; Election of county officials; Ad quod damnums; Indentures of Bargain & Sale and of Trust Deeds (proving and admitting to record); Estate Inventories & appraisals; Licensing of lawyers, pedlars (peddlers) et al.; Examination of lunatics; Permission of clergy to perform marriages; Survey of county lines (not in OB 3); Appointment of committees for imbeciles and persons declared non compos mentis; Exceptions from payment of taxes and poor rates for reason of age, poverty and other; Bonding of witnesses; Powers of Attorneys; Grand Jury presentments; Tavern rates; Payments for wolf and fox hides, for guarding prisoners, for dieting prisoners and payment to county officials and for work and teams on the public roads; Payment of charges for building and furnishing the courthouse and jail and other public areas; Laying of the yearly county levy; Licensing of houses of private entertainments and ordinaries; Loans to Smyth County and other information. Many causes/cases are tried for such reasons/types as debt, assumpsit; Habeas corpus, appeals of judgments of justices, murder, counterfeiting, larceny, assault & assault & battery, breach of the peace, trading with a slave, hog stealing, attachments, covenants, and others; Many judgments 'non sum informatus'. Some of the entries give clues to migratory patterns of former Smyth County residents, centering especially on the states of Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, Missouri and Indiana for the period in question.
Courts include the regular monthly courts, as well as 'called courts'(extras) and quarterly courts. As well, sitting in Wytheville, the Circuit Superior Court of Law & Chancery which replaced the Superior Court of Chancery (1802-1831) which itself replaced the High Court of Chancery.
A few annotations 'take or leave' have been made from readily available sources for Smyth County. For the text of both books, the handwriting and filming are generally acceptable with only a few instances of page lines being cut off, handwriting obscured or the usual inabilities to distinguish I and J, T and S and a few other letters. Punctuations (nearly nonexistent for some clerks) have been added where judged necessary for meaning; clerks sometimes used improper punctuation (sometimes retained for 'flavor'). One clerk seemed to habitually leave off the last letter or two of a word. Oxonian spelling was still in vogue with the clerks of this era.
The internal index for this book is available and extensive but, owing to the fact that an every-name index has been prepared, it has not been transcribed and presented here.
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TAX LISTS
SMYTH CO. VA PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX LISTS, 1832-1837, 1839-1849, 1852-1853, 1855, 1857, 1859, 1861, 1863 Abstracted, annotated and edited by Jack Hockett and Donald Helton. 2014. iv, 323 pages, complete name index. 8x10, paperback.
From the author's preface:
I believe the county to be unique among counties in the commonwealth in that it received a hearty number of New England and New York settlers – a group perhaps second only to the very numerous PA settlers – primarily of German origin with occasional elements of Swiss-German, but also very likely English, Scottish and a few Ulsterite (Scots-Irish) settlers also from PA. A few examples of this can be found in the histories of such families as the Coles and Wheelers from New England, the Bishops and Sherwoods (the latter family via New Brunswick, CA) from NY (and just across the line in WCV, the Aylesworths (Rhode Island to Saratoga, NY to WCV), Dentons (NY), and Thompsons (stonemasons from CT). The county also harbored a number of persons from MD (such as the Talbot [Talbert], Smallwood, Vermillion, Smallwood, and Poston families [and right across the line in WCV, the McNew, Cawood and Athey families], as well as "Delaware Swedish " (Stalcop/Stolcup). Some German speaking persons might have come via NC such as the Swiss Billetor/Billeter family (Stokes Co NC). But, of course, it was the PA settlers that, by far, dominated the ranks of the early settlers of the county. This likely put the "Eastern Virginia English" into a quite small minority although some few families from the VA Piedmont did appear in early times, such as the Harris, Thompson, and McGhee families (Louisa Co), the Crenshaw family (Amelia, Nottoway Co – originally in St. Martin’s Parish, Hanover Co), and the Ferguson and Lee families (both from Buckingham Co.). In my opinion, the early migration to Smyth Co VA indicates a heavy preponderance of settlers from North of VA, with PA dominance and a unique and fairly sizeable New England and other Middle Atlantic contingents.

In summary, the county was heavily German and Swiss German with a healthy dash of Scottish and some few "Eastern Virginia English" having crossed through the water gaps to join the principally Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New York, and New England early settlers to the county.
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SMYTH CO. VA 1890 PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX LISTS Abstracted, annotated and edited by Jack Hockett and Donald Helton. 2011. ii, 44 pages, complete name index. 8x10, paperback. The loss of the 1890 census has made for some difficulties for the genealogist. The 1890 Personal Property Tax Lists are extant and they are an excellent source of information and supplement to the missing 1890 census
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SMYTH COUNTY, VIRGINIA LAND TAX BOOK FOR THE YEAR 1837 Researched by Thomas Jack Hockett. ii,21pp.

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DEATH RECORDS
SELECTED DEATH RECORDS OF SOUTHWEST VIRGINIANS WHO DIED IN MISSOURI OR WERE RELATED TO THOSE WHO DIED IN MISSOURI (with additions from Iowa and Sullivan County/East Tennessee) Researched by Thomas Jack Hockett; Abstracted & compiled by by Donald W. Helton. iv,220pp., every-name index (8.25" x 10.75" paperback). These deaths are taken from a variety of sources and methods employed, including "hunt and seek", census, on-line sources at Rootsweb, Ancestry, IGI, Family Genealogy Forums, censuses, etc. and the very valuable Missouri Death Certificates 1912-1958 which are generously available online. These deaths of mid and extreme SW VA people in MO during the subject time likely represent only a fraction of the deaths which could be ferreted out with difficulty employing 2-4 sources (in conjunction) in conjunction. The work represents considerable labor (not to mention eye-strain) and it is hoped it will bolster further the efforts to document the migration of SW VA persons".

During the process of abstracting and compiling the death records listed herein, instances of conflict occurred between the certificate and additional information found on-line. The information is entered as found. Any such conflicts are left to the discretion of the reader to reconcile.
Table of contents
Missouri Deaths from
      Washington County       1
      Wythe Co., Va      43
      Russell Co., Va      56
      Grayson/Carroll Cos., VA       80
      Smyth Co., Va      85
      Tazewell Co., Va      101
      Lee Co., Va      118
      Scott Co., Va      138
      Dickenson Co., Va      151
      Buchanan Co., Va      154
      Miscellaneous Deaths from southwest Va.      181
      Iowa Deaths from Southwest Virginia      193
      Alphabetical Index      202
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SMYTH CO. VA. SELECTED DEATH RECORDS & MISCELLANEOUS RECORDS (ANNOTATED), 1853-1939 Researched and abstracted by Thomas Jack Hockett; compiled by Donald Helton. iv,204pp., every-name index (8.25" x 10.75" paperback). The author has gathered together more than four thousand death records from Smyth and surrounding counties (Grayson, Wythe, Mercer). The majority of the records carry annotations drawn from a myriad of sources. The volume also contains the records of Smyth Countians who died in Mercer County, WV, as well as some Smyth County Migrations (3) and a listing of miscellaneous Smyth County Birth Records. This is an important resource for researchers working in the southwest Virginia area.
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CENSUS RECORDS
1880 CENSUS OF SMYTH CO. VA Transcribed, annotated and edited by Jack Hockett & Shelia Steele Hunt. 2007 vi, 99 pages, every-name surname index. 8x10, paperback. The second census following the Civil War, this census presents significant and detailed information on every member of the household. A thorough and meticulous transcription taken from microfilms [Population Schedules of the Tenth Census of the United States].
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MISCELLANEOUS RECORDS
THE ANCESTORS AND DESCENDANTS OF RICHARD COMER (1763-1844) by Kathryn B. Greever, Richard Kreiss, and Dee Miller. 2007) iv, 389 pages, all name index. 8x10, paperback. Richard Comer, born in York County, Pennsylvania 1763, was one of the early settlers in southwest Virginia. He died in Smyth Co., Virginia in 1844. The authors have completed a seven-year genealogical search on the male descendants of this pioneer, and a second volume on the female lines is planned. The current volume answers many of the difficult questions on this family line, and its index include more than 13,000 persons who are related either by descent or marriage.
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RECORDS CREATED PRIOR TO COUNTY FORMATION (PRE-1832)
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