by Trip Wiggins
Trip is our archivist, tour guide of the graveyard, researcher and archivist of the church as well as Sunday morning Christian education teacher.
Although St. George’s was established about 1720, we only have Parish Records (Baptisms, Confirmands, Communicants, Marriages, and Burials) since about 1858. Why? The Civil War.
When war came to the region, two persons took all church records for “safe keeping.” One took the Vestry Books home – they still exist but mainly contain the business meeting minutes of our history. The parish records – containing the life of the parish – went to Richmond. It was there, on April 2, 1865, with the Union army at the outskirts of the city, that the Confederate army burned the town to keep it from falling into Union hands. Alas, all of our records before about 1858 went up in smoke.
I have been interested in preserving our records and making them available to researchers. To that end I have transcribed all surviving records up until about World War I.
But I was intrigued to find anything to piece together the people prior to the Civil War. So I began going through records outside the church. You’ll see the sources I consulted on each page of the transcribed records. The bulk came from Minister Returns for marriages furnished annually by all local ministers to the town/county courthouses. The next biggest source was local newspaper records. (FEW are digitized and indexed but just about all are on microfilm in the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in Fredericksburg.)
This is a “work in progress” so I’ll next focus on marriages up to about 1950 and deaths up to about 1965. Keep watching.
A wonderful local on-line resource for local records is a site developed by the History & Historic Preservation Departments at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. They developed a web site called “Fredericksburg Research Resources” (http://resources.umwhisp.org/fredburg.htm). On it you can search INDEXES of many local records, but you will NOT find many original records. For that you’ll have to take what you find and go to the library/local courthouse to get copies of the records themselves.
As always, if you have additional sources, or find errors, please contact me and we’ll add them to this repository.
Trip Wiggins/JWAC volunteer archivist/540-371-3906/