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When I found an unopened envelope labeled “Exhibit A” among the papers of a Rockingham County Chancery cause, I was curious to see what could be inside. Curiosity quickly turned to excitement when I opened the envelope to find a genealogical gem.

Map of Virginia highlighting Rockingham County.

These tattered pages of a family Bible were used as an exhibit in Dorman L. Smith, etc. v. S. K. Wine, etc., 1903. It was a complicated land inheritance case made more difficult by the destruction of court records during the Civil War and three generations of Smith family land dealings.

Interestingly, the answer and depositions record an attempt by some war-weary residents of Rockingham County to settle in Bartow County, Georgia, around 1863. In 1901, Caroline Smith, of Lytle, Georgia, gave a deposition detailing the Smith family genealogy. She read from these pages during the deposition and later either gave or loaned them to the court to be used as an exhibit.

These pieces of the Smith family Bible have since remained as part of the court record. The Bible is dated 1722 and was printed in Edinburgh, Scotland, by James Watson, “Printer to the King’s Most Excellent Majesty.” The earliest entry records the birth of Abraham Smith on 29 December 1792.

The Rockingham County Chancery collection is housed in more than 530 Hollinger boxes and 14 oversize boxes. It spans the years 1783-1913. It is currently closed for processing in order to bring the collection up to current standards so that it can be digitized. These pages from the Smith family Bible will be professionally conserved by the LVA’s in-house conservation lab.

To read more about chancery court records and efforts to preserve and digitize them click here.

-Dale Dulaney, Local Records Archival Assistant

Dale Dulaney

Former Archival Assistant


  • Barbara S. Smith says:

    Way to go Dale!! Who says we just work with dusty records. Miss you guys; have been in Salida for a couple of weeks and am still looking at boxes; but weather is much better than VA. Barbara PS hi to all

  • Travis Henderson says:

    I am a descendant of the Smith family of Rockingham county, Virginia and came across this article. Unfortunately none of the images were viewable anymore. I am hoping to speak with Dale Dulaney or find out about getting a copy of the images of the bible pages.

    Thank you,
    Travis Henderson

    • Jessi Bennett says:

      Good evening Travis,

      You have come across one of our older blog posts that we are in the process of migrating to our new site – hence why the pictures are not currently showing up. Please email us at and we will get you a copy of the images from this post.

      Thank you for your comment and interest.

      Jessi Bennett, Digital Collections Specialist

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