Roanoke County, Virginia Genealogy

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Guide to Roanoke County, Virginia ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, and military records.

County Facts
County seat: Salem
Organized: 01 May 1838[1]
Parent County(s): Botetourt
Neighboring Counties
Bedford  • Botetourt  • Craig  • Floyd  • Franklin  • Montgomery
See County Maps
Location Map
Location of Roanoke County, Virginia.png

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

Roanoke County is located in the western portion of the Commonwealth of Virginia and its name comes from the Indian word "Rawrenock," which means wampum. These were white shell beads worn by native Americans.[2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Roanoke County Courthouse
305 East Main Street
PO Box 997
Salem, VA 24153-0997
Phone: 540-387-6168
Roanoke County Website

Clerk Circuit Court has marriage, divorce, probate, court and land records from 1838[3]

Roanoke County, Virginia Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[4]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1853 1838 1853 1838 1838 1838 1810
* Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1912.
General compliance year is unknown.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

  • Lost census: 1890

For suggestions about research in places that suffered historic record losses, see:

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[7]

Unincorporated communities
Census-designated places

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Roanoke River.png

The county is named after the Roanoke River.[8]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

For databases and indexes, see Virginia Bible Records.

Biographies[edit | edit source]

Business, Commerce, and Occupations[edit | edit source]

  • Cutten, George Barton. The Silversmiths of Virginia (together with Watchmakers and Jewelers) from 1694 to 1850. Richmond, Va.: The Dietz Press, Incorporated, 1952. Available at FHL. [Includes a section on Salem silversmiths.]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Roanoke County, Virginia online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See Virginia Cemeteries for more information.


Census Records[edit | edit source]

For databases, indexes, and information online, see Virginia Census.

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1840 5,499
1850 8,477 54.2%
1860 8,048 −5.1%
1870 9,350 16.2%
1880 13,105 40.2%
1890 30,101 129.7%
1900 15,837 −47.4%
1910 19,623 23.9%
1920 22,395 14.1%
1930 35,289 57.6%
1940 42,897 21.6%
1950 41,486 −3.3%
1960 61,693 48.7%
1970 67,339 9.2%
1980 72,945 8.3%
1990 79,332 8.8%
2000 85,778 8.1%
2010 92,376 7.7%
Source: "".


  • Burton, Charles T. Botetourt County, Va., 1785 Enumeration. Troutville, Va.: Burton?, 1972. FHL Collection; digital version at Ancestry ($). All of part of present-day county of Roanoke is included.


  • Douthat, James L. 1840 Mountain Empire of Virginia Census. Signal Mountain, Tenn.: Mountain Press, 2001. FHL Collection 975.5 X2d 1840. Surname list. Includes Roanoke County.


1890 Union Veterans

  • Virginia's Union Veterans: Eleventh Census of the United States 1890. By Ronald Ray Turner. FHL book 975.5 X2t 1890; film 1425065, item 14. Includes residents of this county.
  • 1890 Veterans Schedules of the U.S. Federal Census. Online at: Ancestry ($). Includes residents of this county.

Church Records[edit | edit source]

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Early Baptist churches (with years constituted):

  1. Catawba (1780)[9]
  2. Salem (1784)[9]

Roanoke County fell within the bounds of the New River Association.

Court Records[edit | edit source]

Online Court Indexes and Records
Library of Virginia's Virginia Memory: Chancery Records Index can be used to search Roanoke County chancery records for the years 1839-1942. Digital images are available and some post-1912 originals are located at the Library of Virginia. The majority of unindexed post-1913 records are available at the Circuit Court Clerk's Office.

Directories[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

For databases and immigrant groups, see Virginia Emigration and Immigration

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

African American

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

Compiled Genealogies by Surname


Compiled Genealogies for Multiple Families

  • A list of surname files at the Virginia Room, Roanoke Pubis Library: website.
  • Prillaman, Helen R. A Place Apart: A Brief History of the Early Williamson Road and North Roanoke Valley Residents and Places. Baltimore, Md.: Reprinted for Clearfield Co. by Genealogical Pub. Co., 2007. Available at Virginia Historical Society. Watts, Garst, Harshbarger, Betts, Oliver, Read, Williamson, Nelms, Moomaw, Bushong, Nininger, Petty, Fellers, Andrews, Bowman, Coulter, Epperley, Prillaman, Hansbrough, Hunt, Riley, and Woodson families.[10]

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]

For land indexes, records, and databases, see Virginia Land and Property, including Colonial and State Land Grants.

Online Land Indexes and Records
Early settlers maps are available for Roanoke County. Hildebrand plots the locations of pioneers from original land grants, farm owners (1825-1875), etc. The Family History Library has copies: FHL Map 975.5792 E7hi, FHL Map 975.5792 E7hj, and FHL Map 975.5792 E7h.

Grants and Patents
Land patents (pre-1779), land grants (after 1779) and surveys are available online at the Library of Virginia website. For step-by-step instructions on retrieving these records, read the Virginia Land and Property article.*Hudgins. 231 patents dated 1742-1855 in what is now Roanoke County, Virginia placed on a map. DeedMapper. 2005. Names of those who received land patents, dates, land descriptions, and references may be viewed free of charge (click "Index" next to the county listing); however, in order to view the maps, it is necessary to purchase Direct Line Software's DeedMapper product.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

  • Jack, George S. History of Roanoke County. Roanoke, Va.: Stone, c1912. FHL; digital versions at Ancestry ($).
  • McCauley, William. History of Roanoke County, Salem, Roanoke City, Virginia, and Representative Citizens, 1734-1900. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1902. FHL; digital version at Ancestry ($).
  • Prillaman, Helen R. Places Near the Mountains: From the Community of Amsterdam, Virginia Up the Road to Catawba, on the Waters of the Catawba and Tinker Creeks, along the Carolina Road as it Aproached Big Lick and Other Areas, Primarily North Roanoke [Botetourt and Roanoke Counties, Virginia]. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2002. FHL; digital version at Ancestry ($).
  • Salem and the Roanoke Valley: A Circular of Information, Location, Railroad Facilities, Business Interests, Manufacturing Prospects, Water Power, Mineral wealth, Fertile Lands, Healthful Climate, Social, Moral, Religious and Educational Advantages. Salem, Va.: Times-Register Power Press Print, 1884. FHL; digital version at Ancestry ($).

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

County and state maps, historical and more current, are valuable research tools. For map collections, online and in libraries, see Virginia Maps.

Salem (Independent City)Roanoke (Independent City)Bedford (Independent City)Bedford CountyFranklin CountyFloyd CountyMontgomery CountyBotetourt CountyCraig CountyVA ROANOKE.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War

  • A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services: With their Names, Ages, and Places of Residence, as Returned by the Marshals of the Several Judicial Districts, Under the Act for Taking the Sixth Census]. 1841. Online at: FamilySearch Digital Library, Internet Archive, Ancestry ($). 1967 reprint: FHL Book 973 X2pc 1840. See Virginia, Western District, Roanoke County on page 136.

War of 1812

  • List of Pensioners on the Roll, January 1, 1883; Giving the Name of Each Pensioner, the Cause for Why Pensioned, the Post-Office Address, the Rate of Pension Per Month, and the Date of Original Allowance... Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1883. FHL Collection 973 M2Lp v. 5; online at: Internet Archive, Ancestry ($). See Vol. 5, Virginia, Roanoke County, pp. 100-101. Identifies War of 1812 veterans living in this county in 1883.

Civil War

Regiments. Civil War service men in Roanoke County served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were specifically formed here:

- 14th Regiment, Virginia Cavalry (Confederate). Company F (2nd) and Company G (Border Rangers).[11]
- 25th Regiment, Virginia Cavalry (Confederate). Company F.[12]
- 28th Regiment, Virginia Infantry (Confederate). Company F (Botetourt Springs Rifles) and Company K (Roanoke Grays).[13]
- 42nd Regiment, Virginia Infantry (Confederate). Company E (Dixie Grays).[14]
- 54th Regiment, Virginia Infantry (Confederate). Company K (The Roanoke Guards).[15]

World War II

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

For online newspaper resources, see the Virginia Newspapers page.

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Miscellaneous Records

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

For probate records, indexes, and databases, see Virginia Probate Records.

Online Probate Indexes and Records

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

For additional online collections and the value and use of Virginia's tax lists in your research, see Virginia Taxation.

Online Tax Indexes and Records

Online Roanoke County, Virginia Tax Lists
Type Index Images
Free FHC Fee Free FHC Fee
Personal Property - - - - 1838-1850 -
Land - - - 1845-1863, 1885, 1889 (gaps) - -
Personal Property 1882 - - - - -
  • 1882 Big Lick District Personal Property Tax List, 1882, Virginia Appalachian Notes. Roanoke VA: Nov 1982. Vol. 6 Iss. 4; online at Roanoke Public Library - free.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

For additional indexes, databases, and details, see Virginia Vital Records.

Birth[edit | edit source]

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Death[edit | edit source]

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Listed below are archives in Roanoke County. For state-wide facilities, see Virginia Archives and Libraries.

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Listed below are libraries in Roanoke County. For state-wide library facilities, see Virginia Archives and Libraries.

Museums[edit | edit source]

Societies[edit | edit source]

Listed below are societies in Roanoke County. For state-wide genealogical and historical societies, see Virginia Societies.

Websites[edit | edit source]

  • FamilySearch Catalog – The FamilySearch catalog contains descriptions and access information for all genealogical materials (including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications) in their collection.  Use Historical Records to search for specific individuals in genealogical records.

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

  • "A Guide to the Counties of Virginia: Roanoke County," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 21, No. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1977):285-286. Available at FHL; digital version at American Ancestors at NEHGS ($).

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Newberry
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Iowa.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Iowa.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  5. Newberry
  6. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Iowa.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "Roanoke County,_Virginia," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Virginia#Communities accessed 25 February 2020.
  8. Wikipedia Contributors, "Roanoke County, Virginia," in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia,,_Virginia, accessed 13 January 2012.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Robert Baylor Semple and George William Beale, A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Virginia (Pitt and Dickinson, 1894), 349. Online at: FamilySearch Digital Library, Internet Archive.
  10. Online Catalog, Virginia Historical Society, accessed 15 November 2011,
  11. Robert J. Driver, 14th Virginia Cavalry (Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, c1988). FHL Book 975.5 M2vr v. 47.
  12. Dobbie E. Lambert, 25th Virginia Cavalry (Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, 1994). FHL Book 975.5 M2vr v. 106.
  13. Frank E. Fields, 28th Virginia Infantry (Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, 1985). FHL Book 975.5 M2vr v. 15.
  14. John Chapla, 42nd Virginia Infantry (Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, 1983). FHL Book 975.5 M2vr v. 5.
  15. George L. Sherwood and Jeffrey C. Weaver, 54th Virginia Infantry (Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, 1993). FHL Book 975.5 M2vr v. 91.