Thursday, March 6, 2008

Legislative Petitions Database

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the completion of theLegislative Petitions Database. Over 25,000 petitions were entered into the database between 2001 and 2007 and are available to search through the Library of Virginia's website at

Petitions to the General Assembly were the primary catalyst for legislation in the Commonwealth from 1776 until 1865. Public improvements, military claims, divorce, manumission of slaves, division of counties, incorporation oftowns, religious freedom, and taxation were just some of the concernsexpressed in these petitions. The petitions often contain hundreds of signatures and are a useful tool in genealogical research. Frequently,the petitions contain supplementary support documents useful inresearch, including maps, wills, naturalizations, deeds, resolutions,affidavits, judgments, and other items.The database lists the name of the primary petitioner(s), locality, dateof presentation, description, reel number, box number, and folder number. In addition, each petition has been assigned one or more topics for indexing purposes. The petitions have been assigned with the following topics: Agriculture / Livestock / Farming; Appropriations/ Salary Increases; Banks & Banking; Bridges; Canals; Charters / Incorporations; Churches / Religious Issues; Citizenship / Naturalizations; Commerce;Constitutional Conventions; Courts/Judicial System; Division of County / New County; Divorce; Elections; Ferries / Packets; Fishing/Oyster Industry; Free Negroes; Indians; Land/Real Estate; Manufacturers / Manufacturing Companies; Militia / Public Guard; Mining / Mining Companies; Miscellaneous; Name Changes; Navigation / Navigation Companies; Organizations; Paper Money;Pardons/Release from Fines, Judgments, etc; Private Relief / Compensation; Prohibition / Temperance; Railroads / Railroad Companies; Revenue / Taxation; Roads/Turnpike Companies; Schools/Universities; Slaves / Slavery; Tobacco Inspection / Industry; Towns; War Claims/Pensions; and Wills / Administrations.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

2009 Sesquicentennial Anniversary of Abolitionist John Brown’s Raid

HARPERS FERRY — Four states and four counties have begun preparations to commemorate the 2009 sesquicentennial anniversary of abolitionist John Brown’s raid on the arsenal at Harpers Ferry. On the evening of Oct. 16, 1859, Brown led a group of abolitionists on a six-mile march from the Kennedy Farm in Washington County, Md., across the railroad bridge into Harpers Ferry and seized control of the town in order to steal weapons from the old federal armory so they could be used in the cause against slavery. But because a passing train reached Frederick, Md., a telegram notifying the army of the attack enabled soldiers to respond before Brown could accomplish his goal. He was later hanged in Charles Town for his attack. “The most important historical event that has ever occurred in Jefferson County and in Harpers Ferry was the John Brown raid,” said Bob DuBose, a former member of the Harpers Ferry Town Council and current board member of the Historic Town Foundation. Most historians believe the raid and reactions to it galvanized the nation and helped spark the Civil War. What was going on in Dinwiddie County & Petersburg during Sept. & Oct. 1859?