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Rockingham County, Virginia genealogy and family tree research page. Discover links to record collections, history, and genealogy sources to assist you to you track your personal Rockingham Co. ancestors. Get started by building a Free Family Tree.
Rockingham County was founded on January 12, 1778 from Augusta County . This county was named for Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, British Prime Minister .
Areas bordering to Rockingham County are Pendleton County, West Virginia (west), Hardy County, West Virginia (north), Shenandoah County (northeast), Page County (east), Greene County (southeast), Albemarle County (southeast), Augusta County (southwest).
Cities and towns located in Rockingham County include Bridgewater, Broadway, Clover Hill, Cootes' Store, Cross Keys, Dayton, Edom, Elkton, Grottoes, Harrisonburg, Keezletown, Lacey Spring, Linville, McGaheysville, Mt. Clinton, Mt. Crawford, Newhaven, Ottobine, Port Republic, River Bank, Rushville, Singers Glen, Sparta (Mauzy), Spring Creek, Stemphleytown, Timberville, Turleytown .
Rockingham County consists of Federal Census Schedules to guide in looking into your family tree. Federal Population Schedules can be found for 1790 (destroyed), 1800 (destroyed), 1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 (free index), 1890 (fragment), 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940.
Rockingham Co. Mortality Schedules can be found for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. Rockingham Co. Industry and Agriculture can be obtained for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. Rockingham Co. Union Veterans Schedules is available for 1890. The Slave Schedules exist for 1850 & 1860. One can find free online and printable census forms to help you with your research.
A list of Rockingham County Historical and Genealogical Societies, Forums, Message Boards, Libraries, Archives.
Genealogist frequently forget the value of Rockingham County court, probate, and land documents as a resource of genealogy and family history information. Hidden away in Virginia courthouses and archives everywhere are often the aspirations and worries of countless Virginia residents.
The possibilities are great that your ancestors and forefathers have left a detailed record of at least a few elements of their lives in the Rockingham County court records. Even if your forebears is not mentioned in a Court case, give some thought to all of the other methods that could have lead to him or her appearing in court records.
The first building to function as a courthouse is thought to have been a log building on the Daniel Smith estate about two miles northeast of Harrisonburg. Daniel Smith was married to a daughter of Robert Harrison, and it is possible that the first courthouse had been built as a building for Harrison. The initial meeting at Smith’s, near where “Smithland” still stands, took place April 27, 1778. The original log courthouse on the square was still used for several years, but in 1799 the court ordered that the old structure be sold at auction and removed from courthouse square.
Ten years later, in 1791, a second courthouse was built on Court Square. The first courthouse had apparently been damaged by fire because records indicate that it was “unfit for business.” The justices decided to repair the damage and court was held temporarily in the home of Andrew Shanklin.
The second court building was located near the middle of the square but on the north side of Market Street “near the Maypole.” It was a two-story structure, 26 by 32 feet, built of stone by Brewer Reeves, a tavern keeper in Harrisonburg. By January 1833, Jacob Rush, David Henton, John Kenney, and Peachy Harrison, commissioners, advertised the old courthouse for sale. It was scheduled to be sold to the highest bidder on regular Court Day, the third Monday in January. The buyer had to remove the structure by March 15th to have the square cleared for the contractors who would begin construction of a new courthouse.
The third courthouse was built 1833–1834 for about $4,000. In 1832 the second courthouse was so rundown that it was seen as unsafe. The court decided to replace it with a 40 by 50 foot “plain, neat, brick building.”
By 1873 the third courthouse had become so dilapidated it was viewed as being unsafe. Judge James Kenney ordered that court proceedings should be temporarily moved to the Federal Court-house. This fourth courthouse, also of brick, cost $11,450.
By March 1896, slightly less than 20 years after its construction, the fourth courthouse was in need of replacement. The Clerk’s Office was moved temporarily to the town council building on the west side of Court Square and other offices were moved to nearby buildings. Court sessions were held in the new Federal Courthouse that had been erected at the corner of North Main and Elizabeth streets.
The fifth and current courthouse building was built 1896–97 for $96,826.24. It underwent a major renovation costing $93,000 in 1931 and another update, including the addition of new windows and air-conditioning, in the 1990s.
The following indicates what vital, land, probate, and court records are in Rockingham county. The dates indicated below are the first known records for each county. Many pre-Civil War records were lost during the Valley Campaign of 1864. In an effort to safeguard the records, they were loaded onto a wagon that was subsequently set afire by Union troops. Records that were saved include: administrators, executors, and guardians bonds.
The following are web links to Family history and genealogy, Records and Resources related to Rockingham County. A lot of these genealogy links fall into 3 categories: Commercial Sites, Personal Sites or Organization Sites. Some have free access some call for a fee. This is just a listing which has been compiled or submitted. I do not endorse or promote one genealogy site above another. Feel free to provide your own favorite Rockingham County genealogy or family history affiliated sites.