The Library of Virginia, in partnership with the Frederick County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, is pleased to announce that the digitization of Frederick County’s historic chancery causes, 1860-1912, is now complete. Both the index and images are available to researchers via the Chancery Records Index on the LVA’s Virginia Memory site.
The Frederick County chancery collection covers the years 1745 through 1926 (with digital images posted from 1860 through 1912). The chancery, or equity cases, are a valuable source of local, state, social, and legal history and serve as a primary source for understanding a locality’s history.
They often contain correspondence, property lists (including slaves), lists of heirs, and vital statistics that reveal details that help tell the story of Virginia. Cases contain useful biographical, genealogical, and historical information and document a broad spectrum of citizens—rich and poor, black and white, slave and free.
Frederick County Chancery Cause 1867-007, Administrator of Hiram A. Jordan vs. Margaret Swann, etc., tells the story of how prior to the Civil War, Catherine Jordan, a free African-American, purchased her husband, Sylvester, but never technically freed him, and their son who attempted to buy his wife. Chancery cause 1899-058, Board of Supervisors of Frederick County, etc. vs. City of Winchester, etc. chronicles a dispute over whether the city or the county controlled the court house property they shared. The city wanted to turn a portion of the property into a park. The county wanted to continue to use the area as a parking lot for horse drawn wagons. Chancery Cause 1903-058, Columbia Wagon Co. vs. John G. Crisman & Co., etc., includes an advertisement booklet with images and descriptions of several different wagons and buggies. Cases are often humorous, such as chancery cause 1871-010, a divorce case in which a witness recalled that Rebecca J. Jacobs referred to her husband as a “nasty, dirty, stinking, ill begotten, turkey trotting, fly blown, maggot eaten, son of a gun.”
The Frederick County Chancery Causes, 1860-1912, join the growing list of localities whose chancery causes have been preserved and made available through the Library’s innovative Circuit Court Records Preservation Program (CCRP). Frederick County chancery causes, 1745-1859, were processed in the 1990s and are available on microfilm. Chancery causes, 1913-1926, are available in their original format at the Library of Virginia.
-Sam Walters, Former Local Records Archivist