State Highway Marker

State Highway Marker

Friday, August 5, 2016

Very exciting news . . .

"Nearly 300 pages of Charles City County records that were pilfered by Union soldiers during the Civil War have returned to Virginia — filling in some of the blanks on wills, deeds and other court filings from the 1600s.

It’s a godsend, an absolute godsend,” said John Metz, deputy of collections and programs at the Library of Virginia. “I’m a historian. This is the kind of thing we live for.”

The records of Charles City County figured in big city news 154 years ago also . . .

At 8 o'clock A.M., the head of the column halted at Charles City Court-House, the old county seat, where half an hour was spent in preparing and eating the morning meal. All the city there is here consists of the two buildings constituting the Court-House and Clerk's Office, which contained the county records. There is an old hotel building on the opposite side of the road, with a wide-spreading porch, whose frameless windows and vacant doorways testify that it was long since abandoned to the owls and bats.
The Court-House is a very old structure, built of brick and covered with slate. It was erected during the last half of the seventeenth century, and contains the oldest records of any other county in the State. I regret to say that all these old books, with the records of real estate titles and other papers, which must be of great value to the country, have been wantonly scattered in confusion about the premises' covering the floors and dooryards, and are almost wholly destroyed. A more impressive exhibition of the destructive effects of war could scarcely be imagined, than to see those old and cherished books of record and title papers scattered to the winds or trodden under foot. Some portion of these records date back to 1600 and 1675, and exhibit some neat and masterly specimens of penmanship. Charcoal caricatures, of fierce and mustachoed horsemen, ornamented the whitewashed walls, evidently intended to counterfeit some cavalry officer of the German persuasion. The premises are thickly overgrown with rank weeds, and neglect and decay are stamped on everything around. I cannot persuade myself that New-England soldiers would be guilty of such vandalism.

-New York Times, August 20, 1862

Charles City Courthouse 1864

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