Russell County, Virginia Genealogy

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Russell County

Guide to Russell County Virginia ancestry, family history, and genealogy. Birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, immigration records, and military records.


Russell County, Virginia
Boundary map of Russell County, Virginia
Map of Virginia highlighting Russell County
Location in the state of Virginia
Map of the U.S. highlighting Virginia
Location of Virginia in the U.S.
Founded 1785
County Seat Lebanon

Russell County, Virginia Courthouse

Russell County Courthouse
P O Box 435
Lebanon, Virginia 24266
Phone:  540-889-8023

Clerk Circuit Court has marriage records from 1853,
divorce and court records from 1786, probate records
from 1803 and land records from 1787[1]

Beginning Dates for Russell County, Virginia Genealogy Government Records
Birth Marriage Death Census Land Probate
1853 1853 1853 1820 1787 1803

Russell County, Virginia History

Parent County

1785--A petition to form Russell County was submitted by citizens of Washington County in Dec 1785. Russell County was formed on 2 Jan 1786. The county's first court met on 9 May 1786 at Castle's Woods, later known as Castlewood.
County seat: Lebanon [1]

Boundary Changes

Lee, Scott, Wise, and Buchanan Counties were formed either in whole or in part from Russell County.

For animated maps illustrating Virginia county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Virginia County Boundary Maps" (1617-1995) may be viewed for free at the website.

Record Loss


1872 A fire in the clerk's office destroyed the county's first marriage register and many loose papers in 1872. Bound volumes of deeds, orders, and wills (except Will Book 1) still exist.[2]

  • Censuses lost: 1790, 1800, 1810, 1890

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

Russell County, Virginia Places/Localities

Populated Places

  • Belfast (unincorporated)
  • Castlewood (unincorporated)
  • Cleveland
  • Dante (unincorporated)
  • Honaker
  • Lebanon
  • Rosedale (unincorporated)
  • St. Paul
  • Swords Creek (unincorporated)
  • Willis (unincorporated

Neighboring Counties

Russell County, Virginia Genealogy Resources

Research Guides

  • "A Guide to the Counties of Virginia: Russell County," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Apr.-Jun. 1978):131-133. Digital version at FHL; digital version at American Ancestors ($).

African American

Freedmen's Bureau Letters or Correspondence, 1865-1872

Kegley, Mary B. Free People of Colour: Free Negroes, Indians, Portuguese and Freed Slaves. Wytheville, Virginia: Kegley Books, 2003. Available at FHL; digital version at FamilySearch Books Online. [Includes information from Russell County.]

Bible Records

Images of the Virginia Historical Society's family Bible collection have been digitized:

Additional Bible records include:


Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county Family History Library
VAGenWeb WorldCat Billion Graves
VAGenWeb Archives
Tombstone Project
Virginia Gravestones
Billion Graves
See Virginia Cemeteries for more information.
  • Knisely, Mary Jane. "Russell County, Virginia, Family Cemeteries," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Apr.-Jun. 1977):111-112. Available at FHL; digital version at American Ancestors ($).
  • Russell County Cemeteries (Russell Co. GenWeb)


For tips on accessing Russell County, Virginia Genealogy census records online, see: Virginia Census.

Historical populations
Census Pop.

1790 - Lost, but a subsitute is available, see Taxation.

1800 - Lost, but a subsitute is available, see Taxation.

1810 - Lost, but a subsitute is available, see Taxation.


  • Sutherland, Elihu Jasper. Russell County, Virginia, Census of 1820. Clintwood, Va.: unknown, 1940. FHL; digital version at Ancestry ($).


  • Douthat, James L. 1840 Mountain Empire of Virginia Census. Signal Mountain, Tenn.: Mountain Press, 2001. FHL Collection 975.5 X2d 1840. Free online surname index and purchase details at Mountain Press website. [Includes Russell County.]


Census takers uncharacteristically recorded the birth town or county of residents this census year.[3]




1890 Union Veterans

Church Records


Early Baptist churches (with years constituted):

  1. Castlewoods (1806)[4]
  2. Copper Creek (1808)[4]
  3. Glade Hollows (1788)[4]
  4. Russel (1805)[4]
  5. Stony Creek (1802)[4]

Russell County fell within the bounds of the Holston and Mountain Associations.



More than 100 genealogies have been published about Russell County families. To view a list, visit Russell County, Virginia Compiled Genealogies.

Land and Property

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.


Local Histories

Russell County Lookups (Russell Co. GenWeb)

  • Albert, Ethel Evans. Southwest Virginia Kin, Vol. 1.
  • Chafin, Andrew. Russell County (Images of America series). Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2008. Google Books page | WorldCat page
  • The Heritage of Russell County, Virginia 1786-1986, 2 vols. Russell County Heritage Book Committee, 1989. Google Books page | WorldCat page
  • Sutherland, Elihu J. Pioneer Recollections of Southwest Virginia.



Tom Rudder produced a map of the "First Land Owners in Castles Woods (Russel County, Virginia)," which as published in The Appalachian Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 1 (Mar. 2006):59-62. FHL Book 975.5743 D25a v. 12. Rudder's map includes supporting documentation.


Pre-Revolutionary War
Revolutionary War
  • Kegley, Mary B. Revolutionary War Pension Applications of Southwest Virginia Soldiers. n.p.: M.B. Kegley, 1997. Available at FHL. [Includes Russell County pensioners.]
  • A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services: With their Names, Ages, and Places of Residence, as Returned by the Marshalls of the Several Judicial Districts, Under the Act for Taking the Sixth Census]. 1841. Digital version at Google Books. 1967 reprint: FHL Collection 973 X2pc 1840. [See Virginia, Western District, Russell County on page 136.]
  • Rejected or Suspended Applications for Revolutionary War Pensions. Washington, D.C., 1852. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1969, and 1991. Reprints include "an Added Index to States." FHL Book 973 M24ur; digital version at Ancestry ($). [Includes veterans from this county; Virginia section begins on page 238.]
  • Crouse, Randy F. McNew, "Michael Sword Ancestry and Historical Narrative, A Revolutionary War Veteran and Resident of Russell County, Virginia."($), 2012. 87 pages.FHL Film 1035668 Item 10 ISBN: 9781105710063. Avaialable at FHL and Lulu($). The purpose of this book is to prove the ancestry of Michael Sword and to document his Revolutionary War record. Michael Sword is the descendant of German immigrants who first arrived in Philadelphia in 1737. He served in the Revolution in the Army and was in battles at Brandywine, Germantown, and Charleston,SC. Includes a tabulated summary of all the muster and pay roll records found for him at NARA, data is extracted and listed in chronological order to reconstruct his military experience. This includes several battles and two periods when he was held prisoner.This book will be of interest to genealogists interested in the Sword family of Russell County, Virginia and especially of interest to those researching military history. Indexed. IMPORTANT, be sure to check the companion book, The Revolutionary War Diary of Major William Croghan($) FHL. Michael Sword was under the command Maj. Croghan and was with him on the 800 mile epic march to Charleston. Maj. Croghan records the minute and fascinating details of their daily activities during this march and during the battle for Charleston. This Revolutionary War itinerant diary is a must have, first-person, contemporaneous account that provides amazing insights into the military service of the Virginia Continental soldiery.
War of 1812

Russell County men served in the 72nd Regiment.[5]

  • 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; digital versions at Google Books and Internet Archive. [See Vol. 5, Virginia, Russell County, p. 102. Identifies War of 1812 veterans living in this county in 1883.]
Civil War

Regiments. Service men in Russell County, Virginia Genealogy 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 in Russell County, Virginia Genealogy:

- 2nd Regiment, Virginia State Line (Cavalry) (Confederate). Companies A, E, and H.
- 13th Battalion, Virginia Reserves (Confederate). Company G.[6]
- 16th Regiment, Virginia Cavalry (Confederate). Company A and Company B.[7]
- 21st Regiment, Virginia Cavalry (Confederate). Company E 1st.[8]
- 22nd Regiment, Virginia Cavalry (Bowen's Virginia Mounted Riflemen) (Confederate). Company A, Company D, Company E, Company I, and Company K.
- 29th Regiment, Virginia Infantry (Confederate). Company A.[9]
- 37th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry (Dunn's Battalion, Partisan Rangers) (Confederate). Company K.[10]
- 37th Regiment, Virginia Infantry (Confederate). Company C, Company G, and Company I (New Garden Fearnots).[11]
- 48th Regiment, Virginia Infantry (Confederate). Company C (Russell Guards).[12]

Records and histories are available, including:

World War I and Later
  • Military discharge records from World War I and later are housed in the courthouse

Miscellaneous Records


Virginia Naturalization Petitions, 1906-1929


The Virginia Newspapers Project identifies local Russell County, Virginia Genealogy newspapers.


Watauga Association of Genealogists Bulletin

Genealogical articles with abstracts of Russell County, Virginia records have been published in the Watauga Association of Genealogists Bulletin (39+ vols., 1972-present), the journal of the Watauga Association of Genealogists. The organization has posted tables of contents for most volumes on their website. Back issues are available for purchase. The Family History Library has a complete collection FHL US/CAN Books 976.897 B2w, including Margaret W. Hougland and Betty Jane Hylton's Bulletin Subject Index: The First Thirty Years, 1972-2001 (Johnson City, Tenn.: Watauga Association of Genealogists, 2002) FHL US/CAN Book 976.897 B2w index 1972-2001.

Private Papers

  • Knisely, Mary Jane. "An Old Account Book of Russell County, Virginia," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 21, No. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1977):310. Available at FHL; digital version at American Ancestors ($).

Probate Records


How can Virginia tax lists help me?

Russell County's original personal property tax books are held at the Library of Virginia. The years 1787 through 1850 were microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah in 1993: FHL US/CAN Films 1905718-1905720.

Digitized images for select years are available online and abstracts of many of these records have appeared in print:

Vital Records

Indexes to Russell County, Virginia Genealogy births, marriages, and deaths are available online. These collections are incomplete, but are easy to search. Most records can also be ordered electronically online as well. Courtesy: FamilySearch - free. See also How to order Virginia Vital Records*Russell County Vital Records (Russell Co. GenWeb)

  • 1660-1959 - Virginia, United States Marriages at FindMyPast — index $
  • 1740-1850 Virginia Marriages 1740-1850 (Ancestry) ($).
  • 1849-1911 Licenses or permissions, Russell County Public Library
  • 1853-1908 Russell County Marriages, 1853-1908 (Russell Co. GenWeb)
  • 1848-1853 Lost Marriage Records of Russell County, Virginia 1848-1853 (Russell Co. GenWeb)
  • 1853-1908 Russell County Marriage Index 1853-1908. Batch M868666 at FamilySearch - free.</ref>
  • 1936-1988 - Virginia, Marriage Certificates, 1936-1988 at FamilySearch — index and images
  • Marriage Register of Rev. Alexander Little (Russell Co. GenWeb)
  • Some Early Divorces of Russell County, Virginia (Russell Co. GenWeb)
  • Some Early Russell County, Virginia Marriage Clues (Russell Co. GenWeb)
  • 1900-1935 - Crouse, Randy F. McNew "Russell County, Virginia Marriages, Vol. 1, 1900-1923; vol. 2 1923-1935, 2012-2015. 248 pages. Available at Lulu ($) and FHL. Family History Library Call Number: 975.5755 V22. A transcription of the Russell County, Virginia marriage register, two volumes, covering the years from 1900-1923 and 1923-1935. A total of 7,846 marriages are included in the two volumes with separate indices sorted by groom surname and by bride surname. The register also contains the names of the parents, ages, birthplaces, marital condition, the groom’s occupation and residences of the parties. Marriage and Proportional Occupational Statistics are compiled for each year and there is a summary table and graphs. This will be a valuable aid to genealogical researchers trying to trace family history in Russell County in the early 20th century and also to those interested in social dynamics, demographics, and population statistics of the era. Full color front and back covers. Figures and graphs printed in full color (Hardcover version only, gray-scale in softcover) with black and white text. Available in Full color print version with a handsome Casewrap-hardcover binding and also in a black-and-white, economy softcover, “Perfect Bound” edition. ISBN volume 1: 9781105658839;  ISBN volume 2: 9781312934078.
  • 2000-present - All marriage licenses after May 2000 are electronic with no paper records at the courthouse
Vital Record Substitutes

Russell County, Virginia Genealogy Societies and Libraries

  • General William Campbell Chapter SAR
    19770 McCray Drive
    Abingdon, VA 24211
    Phone: 540-623-2442

Branches located in Lebanon and Honaker. Visit website for details.

Family History Centers

Family history centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes. See family history center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.

Russell County, Virginia Genealogy Websites


  1. 1.0 1.1 Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Russell County, Virginia. Page 721 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. Lost Records Localities: Counties and Cities with Missing Records, 6, in Library of Virginia (accessed 4 April 2014).
  3. Alycon Trubey Pierce, "In Praise of Errors Made by Census Enumerators," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 81, No. 1 (March 1993):51-55. FHL Book 973 B2ng
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Robert Baylor Semple and George William Beale, A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Virginia (Pitt and Dickinson, 1894), 358-359. Digital version at Google Books.
  5. Stuart Lee Butler, A Guide to Virginia Militia Units in the War of 1812 (Athens, Ga.: Iberian Pub. Co., 1988), 192. FHL Book 975.5 M2bs.
  6. William C. Pendleton, History of Tazewell County and Southwest Virginia, 1748-1920 (Richmond, Va.: W.C. Hill Printing Company, 1920), 629-630. Digital version at Google Books.
  7. Jack L. Dickinson, 16th Virginia Cavalry (Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, 1989). FHL Book 975.5 M2vr v. 60.
  8. John E. Olson, 21st Virginia Cavalry (Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, c1989). FHL Book 975.5 M2vr v. 57.
  9. John Perry Alderman, 29th Virginia Infantry (Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, 1989). FHL Book 975.5 M2vr v. 53.
  10. J.L. Scott, 36th and 37th Battalions Virginia Cavalry (Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, 1986). FHL Book 975.5 M2vr v. 24.
  11. Thomas M. Rankin, 37th Virginia Infantry (Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, 1987). FHL Book 975.5 M2vr v. 37.
  12. John D. Chapla, 48th Virginia Infantry (Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, 1989). FHL Book 975.5 M2vr v. 54.
  13. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at