Shenandoah County Genealogy, Wills, Estates, Probate Records
Shenandoah County was established in 1772 and was first named Dunmore County for Virginia Governor Lord Dunmore. The county was renamed Shenandoah in 1778, being named after the Senedos Indian tribe.
Colonial Script is a Lost Art
The task of interpreting the handwriting of our ancestors during the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries can be troublesome. However, cursive writing began to change dramatically during the 20th century, and today, has no design to it whatsoever. It is simply a sloppy scribbling of choice. One can use a chart to discern letters in the colonial hand-writing, but try and read a 20th century death certificate! Without structure, then, we seem to be losing our interpretative skills. Hence, the skills of the past are being lost in the 21st century. I personally spend many long hours trying to read the script of yesterday. It is important to me to intepret the old records because those people are my ancestors. They were fluent in Latin, French and English, and their verbiage and writing styles reflect education and skills far superior to what we have today. If you do not believe me, read the old wills and inventories of the colonial estates which reflect a massive effort of building communities around their farms and promoting supportive economies of farm stores and trades. Such a reading is helpful in understanding the work which was required to build a new country out of wilderness terrain.
Indexes to Probate Records
Digital Images of Wills 1772 to 1784
Digital Images of Wills 1783 to 1789
Traced genealogies and family histories of Shenandoah County are available to Members !
How Emigrants Settled Western Virginia and BeyondWhen we consider researching our ancestors, it is important to do a thorough review of the history of settlements in the American colonies and the associated maps. The reason is, to find the port of embarkation from Ireland, Scotland, England and Germany into the country. If we know across what terrain emigrants moved, then we can ascertain the landing ports. Next, take up a map and trace the historical groups searching for a home. During the seventeenth century the frontier was advanced up the Atlantic river courses just beyond what was known as the "fall line." As a result, the tidewater region was settled. However, during the first half of the eighteenth century another, traders followed the Delaware and Shawnese Indians into Ohio country. Thus, in 1714, Governor Spotswood of Virginia made an expedition across the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Scotch-Irish and the Palatine Germans moved into the Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia; also settling along the Piedmont region of the Carolinas. Meanwhile, the Germans in New York pushed the frontier up the Mohawk River to the German Flats. In Pennsylvania the town of Bedford indicates the line of settlement. Settlements soon began on the New River, or the Great Kanawha, and on the sources of the Yadkin and French Broad. In 1763, the King of England attempted to arrest the advance by his proclamation of 1763 which forbade settlements beyond the rivers flowing into the Atlantic, however, in vain. The 1763 Proclamation Line of King George II defined the boundary intended to separate colonists from Native Americans. After Virginia relinquished its claims to the Northwest Territory across the Ohio River to the Congress in 1781 and Kentucky became an independent state in 1792, Virginia no longer claimed lands that were still occupied by Native American tribes. By the time of the Revolution the frontier crossed the Alleghanies into Kentucky and Tennessee, and the upper waters of the Ohio were settled as well. When the first census was taken in 1790, the continuous settled area was bounded by a line which ran near the coast of Maine and included New England except for a portion of Vermont and New Hampshire, New York along the Hudson and up the Mohawk about Schenectady, eastern and southern Pennsylvania, Virginia well across the Shenandoah Valley, and the Carolinas and eastern Georgia. Meanwhile, continuous settlements occurred in Kentucy, Tennessee and Ohio, with only the mountains intervening between them and the Atlantic area.
Europeans Settled the Shenandoah ValleyFirst, the Pennsylvania Germans came into the Shenandoah Valley. Then the Scots-Irish were attracted by the tall grass. Because of the physical barrier of the Allegheny Front on the West the settlers were steered South into Virginia. Actually, it was the Blue Ridge Mountains which deterred the English from moving into the Shenandoah Valley. Those in the valley imported merchandise from europe, such as cloth, guns, glass and wine. Like other colonists, they acquired sugar and rum from the West Indies. They exported were grain and other foodstuffs to the eastern towns. The Shenandoah Hunting Path