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|Virginia's Independent Cities|
by Combs Researcher Connie Sheets
A Combs &c. Resource for Virginia Researchers
by Connie Sheets
The data for each city was created based on the following sources: (1) The Handybook for Genealogists, 8th Edition, (2) Ancestry's Redbook, 1992 Revised Edition, and (3) Virginia Genealogy Sources & Resources, by Carol McGinnis, 1993. If I could not confirm a statement in one or more of these sources, I deleted it. McGinnis states, and the other sources tend to verify, "City records are found with the city or with the county in which the city is geographically located."
Note: Federal Census Enumerations are always by county, not city, even in Virginia.
Ed. Note: For the purposes of our Virginia Combs Counties of Record, our Independent City records have been deposited in the same file as the latest (most recent) County (as noted below)
- Alexandria: Established 1748; became city 1852. Formerly called Hunting Creek Warehouse, then Belhaven. Located in Arlington and Fairfax Cos. See District of Columbia (Washington) for census records 1800-1840; records begin 1780.
- Bedford: Established 1782, became city 1968. Originally town of Liberty. Bedford Co. See Bedford Co. for records.
- Bristol: Established 1850, became city 1890. Was first called Goodson. Washington Co. Records begin 1890. (See also adjacent Bristol, Sullivan Co, TN)
- Buena Vista: Established 1889; became city 1892. Rockbridge Co. Records begin 1892.
- Charlottesville: Established 1762, became city 1888. Albemarle Co. See Albemarle Co. for records per McGinnis. Per Redbook, land records begin 1871 and court records begin 1888.
- Chesapeake: Became city 1963. The City of South Norfolk and Norfolk Co. became extinct when the City of Chesapeake was created. Records begin 1637.
- Clifton Forge: Established 1861, became city 1906. Formerly called Williamson's Station. Alleghany Co. Records begin 1906.
- Colonial Heights: Established 1910, became city 1961. Chesterfield Co. Records begin 1961.
- Covington: Established 1818, became city 1952. Alleghany Co. See Alleghany Co. for records.
- Danville: Established 1793, became city 1890. Pittsylvania Co. Records begin 1841.
- Emporia: Established 1887, became city 1967. Greensville Co. See Greensville Co. for records.
- Fairfax: Established 1805, became city 1961. First called Providence. Fairfax Co. See Fairfax Co. for records.
- Falls Church: Established 1850, became city 1948. Fairfax Co. Records begin 1988; prior are in county.
- Franklin: Established 1830s, became city 1961. Southampton Co. See Southampton Co. for records.
- Fredericksburg: Established 1727, became city 1879. Spotsylvania Co. Records begin 1782.
- Galax: Established by 1906, became city 1954. Originally called Bonaparte. Carroll and Grayson Cos. (No specific information re: location of records; they apparently can be found in both counties).
- Hampton: Established 1680, became city 1908. City of Hampton, town of Phoebus and Elizabeth City County consolidated 1952. Records begin 1684.
- Harrisonburg: Established 1780, became city 1916. Rockingham Co. See Rockingham Co. for records per McGinnis. Per Everton's and Redbook, records begin in 1778.
- Hopewell: Established 1613, became city 1916. Known as City Point until 1913. Prince George Co. Records begin 1916.
- Lexington: Established 1778, became city 1965. Rockbridge Co. See Rockbridge Co. for records.
- Lynchburg: Established 1786, became city 1852. Campbell Co. Records begin 1805 per McGinnis and Everton's. Per Redbook, court records begin 1787.
- Manassas: Established 1852, became city 1975. Prince William Co. See Prince William Co. for records per McGinnis. Per Redbook, court records begin 1873.
- Manassas Park: Established 1955, became city 1975. Prince William Co. See Prince William Co. for records.
- Martinsville: Established 1791, became city 1928. Henry Co. Records begin in 1942.
- Nansemond: Nansemond Co. became the City of Nansemond in July, 1972. In 1974, it merged with the City of Suffolk.
- Newport News: Established 1880, became city 1896. Located in Warwick Co. until 1952 when that county became extinct. Per Redbook, land and court records begin in 1866. Per McGinnis, the city clerk stated "The only records housed in my office which would be of any use in genealogical research would be marriage licenses for Warwick Co. and the City of Newport News both from the late 1800s and land records for the same period. Our records prior to 1863 were burned by the Union Army. All records prior to 1913, except the above listed, are in the Virginia State Archives."
- Norfolk: Established 1680, became city 1845. Norfolk Co. Records begin 1761.
- Norton: Established about 1787, became city 1954. First called Prince's Flat. Wise Co. See Wise Co. for records.
- Petersburg: Established as Fort Henry 1645, renamed Peter's Point, became city 1850. Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, and Prince George Cos. Records begin 1784 per McGinnis and Everton's. Per Redbook, court records begin 1774 and marriage records begin 1780.
- Poquoson: Established 1885, became city 1976. York Co. See York Co. for records.
- Portsmouth: Established 1752, became city 1858. Norfolk Co. Records begin 1858 per McGinnis. Redbook shows records beginning 1743, with comment that "some pre-1858 records may be of Norfolk Co."
- Radford: Established 1885, became city in 1892. Also called English or Ingle's Ferry, Lovely Mount, Central Depot and Central City. Montgomery Co. Records begin 1892.
- Richmond: Established 1737, became city 1782. Henrico and Chesterfield Cos. Records begin 1782.
- Roanoke: Established 1852, became city 1884. Formerly called Lick. Roanoke Co. Records begin 1884.
- Salem: Established 1806. Roanoke Co. Records begin 1968.
- South Boston: Established 1796, became city 1960. Formerly called Boyd's Ferry. Halifax Co. See Halifax Co. for records.
- Staunton: Established 1748, became city in 1960. Augusta Co. Records begin 1802 per McGinnis and Everton's. Per Redbook, court records begin 1796.
- Suffolk: Established 1742, became city 1910. Nansemond Co. Records begin 1866 per McGinnis. Per Redbook, probate records begin 1734 and court records begin 1774, with comment that there was a record loss in 1866 and records are fragmented.
- Virginia Beach: Incorporated as town 1906, became city 1952. Located in Princess Anne Co. until 1963, when county became extinct. Records begin 1691.
- Waynesboro: Established 1801, became city 1948. Formerly called Teasville. Augusta Co. Records begin 1948.
- Williamsburg: Established 1632/33, became city 1722. Formerly called Middle Plantation. James City and York Cos. Records begin 1854.
- Winchester: Established 1752, became city 1874. Formerly called Opequon and Frederick's Town. Frederick Co. Records begin 1790 per McGinnis. Per Redbook, court records begin 1786 and land records begin 1789.
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