Virginia Pioneers




Colonial Script is a Lost Art



Colonial Handwriting


The task of interpreting the handwriting of our ancestors during the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries can be troublesome. However, cursive writing began to change dramatically during the 20th century, and today, has no design to it whatsoever. It is simply a sloppy scribbling of choice. One can use a chart to discern letters in the colonial hand-writing, but try and read a 20th century death certificate! Without structure, then, we seem to be losing our interpretative skills. Hence, the skills of the past are being lost in the 21st century. I personally spend many long hours trying to read the script of yesterday. It is important to me to intepret the old records because those people are my ancestors. They were fluent in Latin, French and English, and their verbage and writing styles reflect an education and skills far superior than what we have today. If you do not believe me, read the old wills and inventories of the colonial estates which reflect a massive effort of building communities around their farms and promoting supportive economies of farm stores and trades. Such a reading is helpful in understanding the work which was required to build a new country out of wilderness terrain.

North Carolina Wills

1870 Handwriting.

Europeans Settled the Shenandoah Valley

First, the Pennsylvania Germans came into the Shenandoah Valley. Then the Scots-Irish were attracted by the tall grass. Because of the physical barrier of the Allegheny Front on the West the settlers were steered South into Virginia. Actually, it was the Blue Ridge Mountains which deterred the English from moving into the Shenandoah Valley. Those in the valley imported merchandise from europe, such as cloth, guns, glass and wine. Like other colonists, they acquired sugar and rum from the West Indies. They exported were grain and other foodstuffs to the eastern towns.

John Lederer Explores the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains

John Lederer Map

Johann Lederer was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1644 and studied medicine at the Hamburg Academic Gymnasium where he matriculated in 1662. In 1668 he immigrated to Virginia, well-versed in French, Italian and Latin in addition to German. However, he had to learn English. Lederer came to know the colonial Governor of Virginia, who believed, as other Europeans, that the passage westward could easily be traveled by sea. Sir William Berkeley who was anxious to find that passage to the West and the Indian Ocean. Therefore, he commissioned three expeditions expeditions into the Appalachian mountains. On 9 March 1669, Lederer left Chickahominy, an Indian village located near the headwaters of the York River and traveled northwest to Eminent Hill. During this expedition, Lederer and the three members of his small party became the first Europeans to crest the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the first to lay their eyes upon the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and the Allegheny Mountains beyond. During May of the following year Lederer left Fort Charles (now Richmond) and followed the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains south into what is now North Carolina. He was accompanied by Major Harris who commanded twenty white men and five Indian guides. At that point, twenty-one members of the party turned back, but Lederer pushed on with Jackzetavon, one of his five Iroquoian-speaking Susquehannock guides and explored North Carolina as far as the Catawba River near what is now Charlotte. It was not until the middle of July before this company returned to the frontier post of Fort Henry which was located on the Appomattox River, but in August they he set out again, this time with Colonel John Catlett. They departed a small settlement south of the Rappahannock River and followed the Rappahannock River valley north, where Lederer wrote these words "vast herds of red and fallow deer which stood gazing at us". Unable to cross the Blue Ridge by horseback, they left their mounts with some Indians in the party and climbed the mountains by foot. When they reached the heights, they sighted the Allegheny Mountains beyond the Shenandoah Valley.


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Traced genealogies and family histories of Shenandoah County available to Members !

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How Emigrants Settled Western Virginia and Beyond

1763 Proclamation Map When we consider researching our ancestors, it is important to do a thorough review of the history of settlements in the American colonies. The reason is, to find the port of embarkation from Ireland, Scotland, England and Germany into the country. If we know across what terrain emigrants moved, then we can ascertain the landing ports. Next, take up a map and trace the historical groups searching for a home. During the seventeenth century the frontier was advanced up the Atlantic river courses just beyond what was known as the "fall line." As a result, the tidewater region was settled. However, during the first half of the eighteenth century another, traders followed the Delaware and Shawnese Indians into Ohio country. Thus, in 1714, Governor Spotswood of Virginia made an expedition across the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Scotch-Irish and the Palatine Germans moved into the Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia; also settling along the Piedmont region of the Carolinas. Meanwhile, the Germans in New York pushed the frontier up the Mohawk River to the German Flats. In Pennsylvania the town of Bedford indicates the line of settlement. Settlements soon began on the New River, or the Great Kanawha, and on the sources of the Yadkin and French Broad. In 1763, the King of England attempted to arrest the advance by his proclamation of 1763 which forbade settlements beyond the rivers flowing into the Atlantic, however, in vain. The 1763 Proclamation Line of King George II defined the boundary intended to separate colonists from Native Americans. After Virginia relinquished its claims to the Northwest Territory across the Ohio River to the Congress in 1781 and Kentucky became an independent state in 1792, Virginia no longer claimed lands that were still occupied by Native American tribes. By the time of the Revolution the frontier crossed the Alleghanies into Kentucky and Tennessee, and the upper waters of the Ohio were settled as well. When the first census was taken in 1790, the continuous settled area was bounded by a line which ran near the coast of Maine and included New England except for a portion of Vermont and New Hampshire, New York along the Hudson and up the Mohawk about Schenectady, eastern and southern Pennsylvania, Virginia well across the Shenandoah Valley, and the Carolinas and eastern Georgia. Meanwhile, continuous settlements occurred in Kentucy, Tennessee and Ohio, with only the mountains intervening between them and the Atlantic area.


Do the Magic Centipede



Map of Shenandoah County Virginia

Shenandoah County Genealogy, Wills, Estates, Probate Records

Shehandoah Valley

Shenandoah County was established in 1772 and was first named Dunmore County for Virginia Governor Lord Dunmore. The county was renamed Shenandoah in 1778, being named after the Senedos Indian tribe.

Shenandoah County Wills, Estates, Marriages available to members of Virginia Pioneers

Miscellaneous
  • McKay, George, LWT (1797)
  • McKay, James, LWT (1797)
Indexes to Probate Records
  • Wills and Inventories 1772 to 1784
  • Wills and Inventories 1783 to 1789
Digital Images of Wills 1772 to 1784
  • Abell, Joseph
  • Andrews, Frederick
  • Bell, Samuel
  • Darling, Adam
  • Dellinger, Christian
  • Downey, William
  • Durst, Isaac
  • Garret, Philip
  • Guyger, Jacob
  • Hoop, Peter
  • Hoy, John
  • Hurst, William
  • Miller, William
  • Nively, Anthony
  • Odell, Jeremiah
  • Offenbacher, Jacob
  • Peters, Ulrich
  • Pickenberger, Abraham
  • Pfifer, Henry
  • Prantz, Susan
  • Rohrer, Jacob
  • Slaughter, Francis
  • Snapp, Lawrence
  • Suddell, John Sr.
  • Surf, John Macon Sr.
Digital Images of Wills 1783 to 1789
  • Allen, Jackson
  • Ather, Henry
  • Barnett, Michael
  • Baughman, Henry
  • Beyer, Jacob
  • Calfee, John
  • Campbell, Alexander
  • Cloud, Henry
  • Denton, John
  • Derk, Simon
  • Dodson, John
  • Garber, John Sr.
  • Hackman, Benjamin
  • Harrow, David
  • Holeman, Jacob
  • Houburt, Nicholas
  • Huddle, David
  • Kagy, Henry Sr.
  • Keesling, Winny
  • Keller, George
  • Kiser, Henry
  • Lambert, Christopher
  • Layman, Benjamin
  • Loghmiller, George
  • McCarty, James
  • Mathis, Alexander
  • Miller, Henry
  • Mowren, Mary
  • Nulen, David
  • Oberhold, Samuel
  • Oldenbrouch, Daniel
  • Ruddell, Archible
  • Ryan, Edward
  • Stephens, William
  • Taylor, Charles
  • Volckner, Allen
  • Woolman, David
Jamestown Map
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