Kinsearching October 23, 2005




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Church records are among the basic research materials for genealogical research. This is especially true during the colonial era in America because there was no separation of church and state. As a result, many governmental functions were performed by the church.

     Closely connected with Virginia's civil government, for example, was the Protestant Episcopal Church (Anglican or Church of England), whose administrative unit was the parish. Among parish duties were levying taxes, appointing surveyors and tax collectors, processioning (determining) land perimeters and settling disputes over property boundaries, building and maintaining the church and parsonage, and taking care of orphans, the poor, the physically handicapped, and the elderly. These parish affairs were recorded in vestry books. Information on baptisms, marriages, and burials was kept in parish registers.

     Due to the effects of wars, fires, floods, time, and neglect, many parish records have been lost. Those which have survived are, therefore, priceless. Such is the case of the new book ALBEMARLE PARISH VESTRY BOOK, 1742 - 1786, SURRY AND SUSSEX COUNTIES, VIRGINIA by Virginia Lee Hutcheson Davis and Andrew Wilburn Hogwood. Their work is a verbatim transcription of the vestry book.

     Albemarle Parish is a lineal descendant of James City Parish, the first Anglican parish established in the New World. The background of its creation serves as a good reminder to genealogists of how changes in boundaries (whether parish, county, or state) can affect the location of records.

     At its inception, James City County laid astride the north and south sides of the James River. In 1652 Surry County was created from the part of James City County lying south of the James River. Surry County included two parishes that had been formed earlier out of James City County: Lawne's Creek Parish (1640) and Southwark Parish (1647). In 1738 these two parishes were divided with sections of both parishes north of the Blackwater River united into one parish which retained the name Southwark. The parts on the south side of the Blackwater River became another distinct parish--Albemarle. With the changes in borders, Lawne's Creek Parish became extinct.

     In 1754 Sussex County was created from Surry County, which remained in Southwark Parish. Albemarle Parish encompassed the new county. A change in boundary lines led to Albemarle Parish's being entirely in Sussex County.

     Like most vestry books, the volume from Albemarle Parish recounts parish business such as payment and exemptions of levies, processions of land, and the upkeep of the poor and handicapped. Although the material does not contain many references to blood relationships, it does help to place individuals in Albemarle Parish at a certain time. Names of approximately 6,500 Surry and Sussex county inhabitants appear in this meticulously transcribed volume. A few recurring surnames are ADKINS, ALSOBROOK, BRIGGS, CHAPPELL, EZELL, GILLIAM/GILLIUM, HINDS/HINES, MASSENBURG, PARHAM, and SHANDS.

   A reprinted volume of church material is KINGSTON PARISH REGISTER, GLOUCESTER AND MATHEWS COUNTIES, VIRGINIA, 1749 - 1827 by Emma R. Matheny and Helen K. Yates. In the time period under study, the history of Kingston Parish is easier to follow than that of Albemarle.

     When Gloucester County was erected in 1751, it consisted of four parish subdivisions, one of which was Kingston. In 1791 Kingston was cut off from Gloucester to form the county of Mathews.

     Matheny and Yates list all the births, marriages, and deaths of nearly 6,000 persons identified in the register. In addition to the names of individuals and the date of the event, each entry provides the register's page number where the information was found. Since few colonial records from this area survive, the importance of the information can be appreciated.

     The 266-page hardback ALBEMARLE PARISH VESTRY BOOK (order #9875) has an introduction, a map of the parish, and a full name index. It is priced at $38.50. The 157-page paperback KINGSTON PARISH REGISTER (order #3800) arranges main entry surnames alphabetically and has a full name index of all other persons. It costs $18.50.

     Both books may be purchased by check, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211 (toll free phone 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website To the books' price, add these handling charges: For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $4 for one book and $1.50 for each additional copy; for UPS, the cost is $6 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book.

     Bonnie Bright Johannes, 5594 North 10th, Apt. 103, Fresno, CA 93710-6586 (e-mail: would appreciate information on the family of Heinrich SCHMIDT and wife Barbara NEERACHER. They had at least one child, Barbara SCHMIDT, born 3 June 1683 in Switzerland.

     In celebration of Archives Week 2005, the Oklahoma Department of Libraries along with support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the Oklahoma Historical Records Advisory Board, the Oklahoma Museums Association, the Oklahoma Historical Society, and the Oklahoma City Zoo, is sponsoring an information-packed workshop on November 17, 2005. It will take place from 8:30 a. m. to 4:30 p. m. at the Oklahoma City Zoo Education Center. Well-known genealogist Thomas Jay Kemp will be the featured speaker.

     Although the workshop is aimed toward library and museum staff members, individuals are welcome to attend. The workshop's goal is to enable you to provide the reference services most requested by genealogists and local history researchers. Topics will include
---The best print and online genealogical reference materials for the U. S.;
---Primary sources that will provide you with the grounding needed to furnish great reference service for genealogists and local historians;
---Core materials that you should have in your genealogy collection; and
---Methods to assist patrons in the use of key online tools.
Useful materials, including templates that you may personalize for your organization, will be supplied.

     Cost for the workshop will be $40, which includes workshop materials, refreshments, and a luncheon. Reservations are required by November 10, 2005.

     A detailed flyer can be downloaded at To make a reservation or to obtain additional information, get in touch with Jan Davis at 405-522-3191 or