By Jeannette Holland Austin
A trip into the area was worth a sack of gold! Nansemond County records burned, leaving nothing until about 1863. There was a lot going on in that region during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 when the British were known to have burned records in Washington, D. C. The only records before 1863 are the Fee Books, which are tax records. There was a lot of ink bleed-through in these books, however, they are worth the effort. The entries contain some helpful data. Here is an example: " Henry Holland the elder" and Henry Holland the junior". That separates the families and the generations. I was able to clarify much of my genealogy in this county by studying the fee books, then comparing them with the vestry records of the local church. The original land grants of course provide vague information. However, a trip to the area was worth a sack of gold. Using these three resources (plus using the local roads and viewing the actual setting and how the old homes were situated, I could follow the vestry records and determine property lines. Finally, I made a list of each person's acreage and followed them down through the years. When certain tracts were listed under another person with the same surname, it was obvious that was the heir! John Holland, a son of Gabriel Holland, the immigrant to Jamestown received a number of land patents in old Nansemond County. Of course, there is no longer a county, as it is part of Suffolk, Virginia. Yet, the rather large town of Holland, Virginia continues to thrive with the Holland descendants. The land grants stretched from Chuckatuck, Virginia to the North Carolina line. After examining the tax records and comparing those entries with the records of the parish church, it was easy to trace the various properties. The old dirt roads still existed when I visited there (now a peanut capitol) and land boundaries were rather prominent. Actual seeing the land visualizing the remains of old family homes and structures played heavily in the identification process. The land which once flourished with tobacco crops, was depleted before the American Revolution. Today, the loamy fine sand is ideal for growing peanut crops. As the lucrative tobacco crops disappeared, families moved on in search of more fertile soil.
County and Probate Records to Help you Find your Virginia Ancestors