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== Pittsylvania County, Virginia History  ==
== Pittsylvania County, Virginia History  ==
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[[File:William Pitt 1st Earl of Chatham.JPG|180px|right]]  
The county was named after the [,_1st_Earl_of_Chatham 1st Earl of Chatham, William Pitt] (1708-1778). Pitt was serving as Great Britain's Prime Minister at the time Pittsylvania County was organized.  
The county was named after the [,_1st_Earl_of_Chatham 1st Earl of Chatham, William Pitt] (1708-1778). Pitt was serving as Great Britain's Prime Minister at the time Pittsylvania County was organized.  

Revision as of 15:39, 17 January 2020

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


Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Boundary map of Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Map of Virginia highlighting Pittsylvania County
Location in the state of Virginia
Map of the U.S. highlighting Virginia
Location of Virginia in the U.S.
Founded 1766
County Seat Chatham

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

Pittsylvania is the largest county (per square miles) in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is situated in the South-Central Piedmont plateau region. The County was named for William Pitt, First Earl of Chatham, a British Statesman who served as Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1766 to 1768[1].

Pittsylvania County, Virginia Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Pittsylvania County Courthouse
1 South Main Street
Chatham, Virginia 24531
Phone: 804-432-2041

Clerk Circuit Court has marriage, divorce,
probate, court and land records from 1767[2]

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[3]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1853 1767 1853 1767 1767 1767 1810
Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1912.
General compliance year is unknown.

Pittsylvania County, Virginia History[edit | edit source]

William Pitt 1st Earl of Chatham.JPG

The county was named after the 1st Earl of Chatham, William Pitt (1708-1778). Pitt was serving as Great Britain's Prime Minister at the time Pittsylvania County was organized.

Parent County[edit | edit source]

1766--Pittsylvania County was created 6 November 1766 from Halifax County.
County seat: Chatham [4]

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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

  • Lost censuses: 1790, 1800, 1810

Pittsylvania County, Virginia Places/Localities[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

Neighboring Counties[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

  • "A Guide to the Counties of Virginia: Pittsylvania County," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Apr.-Jun. 1976):119-123. Available at American Ancestors ($).
  • Boisseau, Mary Leigh. "Research Opportunities in Danville and Pittsylvania County," The Virginia Genealogical Society Newsletter, Vol. 18, No. 5 (Sept.-Oct. 1992):1-3. Available at FHL; digital version at Virginia Genealogical Society website.
  • Sweeney, Alice J. "Bassett Historical Center," The Virginia Genealogical Society Newsletter, Vol. 28, No. 4 (Aug. 2002):1-3. Available at FHL; digital version at Virginia Genealogical Society website.

African American[edit | edit source]

In 1860, Pittsylvania County had one of the largest slave population in the state (14,340 slaves). Ten years later in 1870, it had one of the largest African American populations in Virginia (16,084) - the town of Danville in particular.[5]

  • Freedmen's Bureau Letters or Correspondence, 1865-1872
  • Griffith, Alva H. Pittsylvania County, Virginia, Register of Free Negroes and Related Documentation. Maryland: Heritage Books, 2001.
  • Heinegg, Paul. "Pittsylvania County Personal Property Tax List, 1782-1823," Free African [Heinegg abstracted free blacks listed in these records.]
  • Randolph, John. "Letter to Walter Coles, Pittsylvania," 1821. [Incomplete citation from Google Books; discusses one of Randolph's slaves.]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

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

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

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.
  • 1800-1986 - Virginia, Jewish Cemetery Records Index, ca. 1800-1986 at FamilySearch — index
  • Bennett, Harold B. "Siloam Methodist Church Cemetery, Pittsylvania County, Virginia," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 25, No. 2 (Apr.-Jun. 1981):83-87. Digital version at American Ancestors ($).
  • Bennett, Harold B. "Walker Cemetery, Climax, Pittsylvania Co., Va.," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 25, No. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1981):248. Digital version at American Ancestors ($).
  • Sutherlin, Elijah T. "Beck Family Cemetery, Pittsylvania County, Virginia," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1964):148. Digital version at American Ancestors ($).

Census[edit | edit source]

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

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1790 11,579
1800 12,697 9.7%
1810 17,172 35.2%
1820 21,323 24.2%
1830 26,034 22.1%
1840 26,398 1.4%
1850 28,796 9.1%
1860 32,104 11.5%
1870 31,343 −2.4%
1880 52,589 67.8%
1890 59,941 14.0%
1900 46,894 −21.8%
1910 50,709 8.1%
1920 56,493 11.4%
1930 61,424 8.7%
1940 61,697 0.4%
1950 66,096 7.1%
1960 58,296 −11.8%
1970 58,789 0.8%
1980 66,147 12.5%
1990 55,655 −15.9%
2000 61,745 10.9%
Source: "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau.

1782 Enumeration

1785 Enumeration

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.

1820 - Exists, but the National Archives microfilm copy of Pittsylvania County, Virginia omits page 63. The missing names have been published in The Virginia Genealogist:

  • Petty, Gerald M. "Virginia 1820 Federal Census: Names Not on the Microfilm Copy," The Virginia Genealogist 18, no 2 (April-June 1974):136-139.
The list is also available online at the Shenandoah County GenWeb Project.

1890 Union Veterans

Church Records[edit | edit source]

General[edit | edit source]
  • Clement, Mrs. N.E. "Ministers Bonds of Pittsylvania Co.," The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 4 (Apr. 1912):292-294. Available at JSTOR ($). [Identifies the names and religions of Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian ministers from bonds dated 1785 to 1843.]
  • Wood, Candace Mattox. The Restoration Movement in Pittsylvania, Henry, and Franklin Counties, Virginia. Dissertation. [Incomplete citation from Google Books.]
Baptist[edit | edit source]

Early Baptist churches (with years constituted):

  1. Bennett's (1790)[6]
  2. Birch Creek (by 1769).[6][7] Edwards published a membership list dated 1769 in Materials Towards a History of the Baptists... (1772), 24. Edwards states many of these families had moved to Pittsylvania County from Fauquier County.
  3. Black Water (by 1768).[8]
  4. County Line (1771)[6]
  5. Dan River (by 1767). Edwards published a list of early members in Materials Towards a History of the Baptists... (1772), 52.
  6. Double Creek (1803)[6]
  7. Fall Creek (1771). Edwards published a membership list dated 1770 in Materials Towards a History of the Baptists... (1772), 56-57.
  8. Lower Banister (1798)[6]
  9. Mill Church (1770)[6]
  10. Shockhoe (1803)[6]
  11. Stanton (1761).[9]
  12. Stewart's Creek[6]
  13. Stinking River (1800).[6] Records of Stinking Creek Baptist Church (beginning in 1816) were published in VA-NC Piedmont Genealogical Society Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 2 (May 1982) and Vol. 4, No. 3 (Aug. 1982): FHL Film 1697410 Items 1-12.
  14. Union (1789)[6]
  15. Upper Banister (1773)[6]
  16. White Thorn (1791)[6]
  17. Winns Creek (by 1771)[10] Edwards published a membership list dated 1769 in [http://repository.
  18. Zion's Hill (1807)[6]

The 10,000 name petition (dated 16 October 1776) has been digitized at the Library of Congress website. It was signed by people from all over Virginia who wanted an end to persecution of Baptists by the Established Church. Baptists and Baptist sympathizers alike signed the petition. To find your ancestor in this record, first check Hall's transcription in the Magazine of Virginia Genealogy (Vols. 35-38, with annotations in Vol. 39), which is available online at Ancestry ($). It is also available in book form at the Family History Library: FHL Book 975.5 B2vs v. 35-39. Then proceed to the Library of Congress website to see the original images.

Pittsylvania County fell within the bounds of the Roanoke Association.

  • Leek, Charles F. and Pittsylvania Baptist Association. The History of Pittsylvania Baptist Association, 1788-1963. Danville, Va.: Pittsylvania Baptist Association, 1963. FHL Book 975.5665 K2L.
  • Virginia-North Carolina Piedmont Genealogical Society. Abstracts of Mt. Ararat Primitive Baptist Church near Whitmell, Pittsylvania County, Virginia: Includes Biographies of Area Primitive Baptist Ministers. Danville, Virginia : Virginia-North Carolina Piedmont Genealogical Society, 1981. Available at FHL.

An article on Primitive Baptist Churches in Pittsylvania County was published in:

Church of England[edit | edit source]

Gotoarrow.png See also Camden Parish

Meade's 1861 history of parishes in Pittsylvania County is available online.[11]

  • Clement, Mrs. N.E. "Colonial Churches in Pittsylvania County," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Apr. 1914):173-176. Available at JSTOR - free.
Quaker[edit | edit source]

Early monthly meetings (with years of existence):

  • Reedy Island Monthly Meeting (1792-1812)[12]

Court[edit | edit source]


  • Melton, Herman. Pittsylvania County's Historic Courthouse: The Story Behind ExParte Virginia and the Making of a National Landmark. Central Virginia Printing, Inc., 1999.


  • Azariah Bailey (complainant.), George W. Hall (vegetarian.), William H. Shields (respondent.), Nathaniel E. Witcher (respondent.), Virginia. Circuit Court. Record of a Suit in Chancery, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, Azariah Bailey vs. George W. Hall, Wm. H. Shields & Nathaniel N. Witcher. 1858. [Citation from Google Books.]

Genealogy[edit | edit source]

More than 175 genealogies have been published about Pittsylvania County families. To view a list, visit Pittsylvania County, Virginia Compiled Genealogies.

Historic Residences[edit | edit source]

  • Fitzgerald, Madelene Vaden. Pittsylvania: Homes and People of the Past. Danville, Virginia: Womack Press, 1974. Available at FHL.

Immigration[edit | edit source]

  • List of imported servants and transported convicts from Europe who served labor terms in Colonial Brunswick County are online at: Immigrant Servants Database.

Land and Property[edit | edit source]

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.

Record Book

  • Stith, Drury. Entries from an Old Record Book of Drury Stith Concerning Land and Property in Pittsylvania County, 1737-1770. Microfilmed reproduction available at FHL.


  • Tucker, George. To the Freeholders of the Counties of Campbell, Pittsylvania and Halifax. Printed at the Virginian Office, 1824.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

  • Clement, Maud Carter. History of Pittsylvania County Virginia. Lynchburg, Virginia: J. P. Bell Co., 1929. Digital book at Ancestry ($); and World Vital Records ($). Reviewed in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 38, No. 3 (Jul. 1930):280-281. Review available at JSTOR ($).

Maps[edit | edit source]

Danville (Independent City)Martinsville (Independent City)Henry CountyFranklin CountyBedford CountyCampbell CountyHalifax CountyRockingham CountyCaswell CountyVA PITTSYLVANIA.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Bell published records of Pittsylvania County residents who migrated to South Carolina:

  • Bell, Mary McCampbell. "Some Migrations from Virginia to South Carolina," The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Summer 1985):127-129. FHL Book 975.7 B2sc v. 13

Elliott has also created a list of migrants who left the area:

  • Elliott, Katherine B. Emigration to Other States from Southside Virginia. 2 vols. South Hill, Virginia: K.B. Elliott, 1966. Vol. 1 of original edition available at FHL; 1983 reprints (both volumes) available at FHL; 1990-1992 reprints (both volumes) also available at FHL. [Includes individuals who migrated out of Pittsylvania County to other parts of the country.]

Military[edit | edit source]

Colonial Militia[edit | edit source]
  • Bockstruck, Lloyd DeWitt. Virginia's Colonial Soldiers. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988. Available at FHL. [Identifies some Pittsylvania County militia officers (1767-1774); see place name index.]
French and Indian War[edit | edit source]
  • Bockstruck, Lloyd DeWitt. Virginia's Colonial Soldiers. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988. Available at FHL. [Identifies some Pittsylvania County veterans; see place name index.]
Revolutionary War[edit | edit source]

Regiments. Service men in Pittsylvania County served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Pittsylvania County supplied soldiers for the:

- 6th Virginia Regiment
- 14th Virginia Regiment

Additional resources:

Pittsylvania County, Virginia Genealogy residents' participation in the Revolutionary War.[13]

  • Daughters of the American Colonists. Texas Society. The Rose Window of San Jose Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. San Antonio De Bexar Chapter (San Antonio, Tex.), Lucy Alice Posey. Patriots Who Took the Oath of Allegiance, 1777, Pittsylvania County, Virginia: Notarized by Pittsylvania County Clerk. The Chapter, 1977.
  • Hurt, Frances Hallam. An Intimate History of the American Revolution in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Danville, Virginia: Womack Press, 1976. Available at FHL.
  • "Revolutionary Pension Declarations from Pittsylvania County, Va.," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 16, No. 2 (Oct. 1908):174-183; Vol. 17, No. 1 (Jan. 1909):73-80; Vol. 20, No. 3 (Jul. 1912):259-266; Vol. 25, No. 2 (Apr. 1917):149-160. Available at JSTOR ($).
  • Watts, Dorothy Chambers. "Some Pittsylvania County, Virginia, Militia Officers," [1775] The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 23, No. 3 (Jul.-Sep. 1979):225-226. Available at American Ancestors ($).
  • White, Elizabeth Tunstall and VA-NC Piedmont Genealogical Society. Military Records of Pittsylvania County, Virginia, 1767-1783: Taken from Judgment Books, 1-2-and 4 and Deed, Book 4. VA-NC Piedmont Genealogical Society, 1983.
  • 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 versions at U.S. Census Bureau and Google Books et. al. 1967 reprint: FHL Collection 973 X2pc 1840. [See Virginia, Eastern District, Pittsylvania County on page 132.]
  • 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.]
War of 1812[edit | edit source]

Pittsylvania county War of 1812 Soldiers Graves

Pittsylvania County men served in the 42nd and 101st Regiment.[14]

  • Douthat, James L. Roster of War of 1812, Southside, Virginia. Signal Mountain, Tenn.: Mountain Press, 2007. Free online surname index and purchase details at Mountain Press website. FHL Collection 975.5 M2djL. [Includes Pittsylvania County.]
  • 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, Pittsylvania County, p. 98. Identifies War of 1812 veterans living in this county in 1883.]
Civil War[edit | edit source]

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

- 5th Regiment, Virginia Cavalry (12 months, 1861-62) (Mullins') (Confederate). Company C (Danville Cavalry).[15]
- 6th Regiment, Virginia Cavalry (Confederate).[16]
- 18th Regiment, Virginia Infantry (Confederate). Company A (Danville Blues), Company B (Danville Grays), and Company I (Spring Garden Blues).[17]
- 21st Regiment, Virginia Infantry (Confederate). Company H (Chalk Level Grays) and Company I (Turkey Cock Grays).[18]
- 38th Regiment, Virginia Infantry (Pittsylvania Regiment) (Confederate). Company A, Company B (Pittsylvania Vindicators), Company C (Laurel Grove Riflemen), Company D (Whitmell Guards), Company E (Cabell Guards), Company H (Secession Guards), and Company K (The Cascade Rifles).[19]
- 46th Regiment, Virginia Infantry (Confederate). Company A (Liberty Guards).[20]
- 53rd Regiment, Virginia Infantry (Confederate). Company B (Chatham Grays).[21]
- 57th Regiment, Virginia Infantry (Confederate). Companies D (The Galveston Tigers), E (Pigg River Greys), F (Henry and Pittsylvania Rifles), G (Ladies Guard), and I (Pittsylvania Life Guards).[22]

Records and histories are available, including:

World War I[edit | edit source]
  • Williams, Hugh T. and Samuel Gardner Walker. Why Soldiers Do Not Talk About the War: Or, Danville and Pittsylvania County's Part. A History of Company "C", 116th Infantry; Battery "E", 111th Field Artillery; Sixth Company, Coast Artillery; Together with Complete Alphabetical Rosters of Officers and Men. Rosters of Danville and Pittsylvania ... J.T. Townes Print. Co., 1919.
World War II[edit | edit source]

Miscellaneous Records[edit | edit source]

Naturalization[edit | edit source]

Virginia Naturalization Petitions, 1906-1929

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

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

Indexed images of the Virginia Gazette (1736-1780) are available online through the Colonial Williamsburg website. In addition, Professor Tom Costa and The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia have created a database of all runaway advertisements for slaves, indentured servants, transported convicts, and ship deserters listed in this source and other Virginia newspapers (1736-1803), see: The Geography of Slavery in Virginia. These newspapers are valuable resources for all regions of Virginia.

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 Danville silversmiths.]
  • Melton, Herman. Picks, Tracks and Bateaux: Industry in Pittsylvania County 1750-1950. Chatham, Virginia: H. Melton, 1993. Available at FHL.
  • Melton, Herman. Pittsylvania's Eighteenth Century Grist Mills. [Chatham, Virginia?: H. Melton?], 1989. Available at FHL. 1991 edition is also available at FHL.
  • Pittsylvania Historical Society. Visitor's Guide to Early Industry in Pittsylvania County, 1998.

Private Papers[edit | edit source]

Virginia, Historical Society Papers, 1607-2007*[Coles] Randolph, John. "Letter to Walter Coles, Pittsylvania," 1821. [Citation from Google Books; discusses one of Randolph's slaves.]

  • [Shelton] Shelton, William Christopher and R.D. Ricketts. A Diary Kept by William C. Shelton for the Year 1850: The Daily Journal of a School Master and Farmer of Pittsylvania County, Virginia. n.p.: n.p., 199-?. FHL Collection.

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

A free index to Pittsylvania County, Virginia Genealogy wills and administrations (being indexed) is available at the Library of Virginia.

Online Probate Links

Taxation[edit | edit source]

Online Pittsylvania County, Virginia Tax Lists
Type Index Images
Free FHC Fee Free FHC Fee
Tithes 1767 - 1767, 1767 - - -
Tithes 1770 1|2|3|4|5 - - - - -
Personal Property 1782 - - - 1782 1782
Land 1782 - - - - -
Personal Property 1783 - - - 1783 1783
Land Alterations 1783 - - - - -
Personal Property - - - - 1784 1784
Land Alterations 1784 - - - - -
Personal Property - - - - 1785 1785
Land Alterations 1785 - - - - -
Insolvents 1785 - - - - -
Personal Property - - - - 1786 1786
Personal Property - - - - 1787 1787
Personal Property - - - - 1788 1788
Personal Property 1789 - - 1789 1789 1789
Personal Property - - 1790 1790
Personal Property - - - - 1791 1791
Personal Property - - - - 1792 1792
Personal Property - - - - 1793 1793
Personal Property - - - - 1794 1794
Personal Property - - - - 1795 1795
Personal Property - - - - 1796 1796
Personal Property - - - - 1797 1797
Personal Property - - - - 1798 1798
Personal Property - - - - 1799 1799
Personal Property 1800 - 1800 1|2 1800 1800 1800
Personal Property - - - - 1801 1801
Personal Property - - - - 1802 1802
Personal Property - - - - 1803 1803
Personal Property - - - - 1804 1804
Personal Property - - - - 1805 1805
Personal Property - - - - 1806 1806
Personal Property - - - - 1807 1807
Personal Property - - - - 1809 1809
Personal Property - - - - 1810 1810
Personal Property - - - - 1811 1811
Personal Property - - - - 1812 1812
Personal Property - - - - 1813-1850 -

How can Virginia tax lists help me?


Tithe lists for 1773, 1774, 1775, 1776, 1777, 1781, and 1782 are kept at the Library of Virginia.[23]

  • [1767] "First List of Tithables of Pittsylvania County, Year 1767," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Jan. 1915):79-80; Vol. 23, No. 3 (Jul. 1915):303-304; Vol. 23, No. 4 (Oct. 1915):371-380; Vol. 24, No. 2 (Apr. 1916):180-192; Vol. 24, No. 3 (Jun. 1916):271-274. Available at FHL; reprinted in Virginia Tax Records Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1983, which is also available at FHL; digital version at JSTOR; Ancestry ($).
  • [1767] Clement, Maud Carter, The History of Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Lynchburg, Virginia: J. P. Bell