Virginia HistoryEdit This Page
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The following important events affected political boundaries, record keeping, and family movements.
1607: The Virginia Company of London founded the first permanent English settlement in America at Jamestown.
1624: The King dissolved the Virginia Company and established Virginia as a crown colony with an elected General Assembly.
1710-1740s: Passes across the Blue Ridge mountains leading from eastern Virginia into the Shenandoah Valley were discovered. Emigrants from Pennsylvania and New Jersey began to enter the valley.
1750-1784: Land grants made to the Ohio Company encouraged exploration beyond the Alleghenies. The new area southeast of the Ohio River was organized by Virginia in 1775 as the District of West Augusta, although much of this was ceded to Pennsylvania in 1786.
1770s: The Wilderness Road opened access across the Cumberland Gap from Virginia into Kentucky. The area that was to become Kentucky was organized as Kentucky County, Virginia, in 1776.
1780s: In 1784, Virginia formally ceded its claims north of the Ohio River to the United States. In 1788 Virginia ratified the United States constitution to become a state.
1792: Kentucky became a separate state.
1861-1870: Most of Virginia joined the Confederacy, although fifty western counties broke off and were admitted to the Union as the state of West Virginia in 1863. Virginia was readmitted to the Union in 1870.
Throughout most of its history, parts of the territory that old Virginia once claimed were carved off to form parts of other states:
- 1779 part of Virginia became part of North Carolina
- 1786 part of Virginia became part of Pennsylvania
- 1792 part of Virginia became Kentucky
- 1792 part of Virginia became part of Maryland
- 1803 part of Virginia became part of Tennessee
- 1803 part of Virginia became Ohio and Indiana territory
- 1816 former part of Virginia became Indiana
- 1818 former part of Virginia became Illinois
- 1863 part of Virginia became West Virginia
A detailed history is:
History of Virginia. Six Volumes. Chicago, Illinois: American Historical Society, 1924. (FHL book 975.5 H2a; Volume 1 on film 1421672 item 11; Volumes 2-6 on film 1321473.) Volumes four through six contain biographies. This history is indexed by Wardell's, Virginians & West Virginians, 1607-1870 (see the “Genealogy” section of this outline).
A bibliography of local histories for Virginia is:
Virginia Local History: A Bibliography. Richmond, Virginia: Virginia State Library, 1971. (FHL book 975.5 A1 Number 87; film 928084 item 8.) The Family History Library has many local histories for Virginia. These often have biographical sketches and genealogical information about local families.