The state of West Virginia was for many years part of the state of Virginia, that portion in the Appalachian Mountains. It seceded from Virginia in 1861-62 to become the 35th state of the Union on June 20, 1863. When researching ancestors who lived in that region prior to 1863 you would need to check the archives of Virginia, which are very complete records.
The West Virginia Archives and History Department has placed online the databases with births-marriage and death records (BMD) for West Virginia. The original records are scanned in digital format. Each type (birth-marriage and death) of record is in a separate link.
The counties of West Virginia and the dates available for each category vary. The good news is that were are also some records for some counties that are prior to 1863. An example for birth records there is Kanawha County with dates of
1853 – 1863 and 1865 – 1911 and Ohio County has 1822, then 1853 to 1911. With each category there is also a search box. You can just place a family surname or a full ancestor’s name. When you are unsure of a time frame or a county it is best to select all the counties.
If you find a name of interest you can then click on it to view the actual original record. On births the child’ name, birth date, parent’s names, where the parents lived and even a mark if the baby was not born alive. A nice additional is the occupation of the father.
On each category to the right is a listing of the counties and which years are available. Marriages for Monroe County go back to 1799, Hardy County to 1792 and Berkeley County to 1780. Of course these dates are when it was part of Virginia and the counties names would have been different. The marriage records are individual marriage certificates. Any scanned images of records you want to download just right-click to save as to your computer.
A common pre-1863 document with marriages was the bond, a fee paid to the Commonwealth of Virginia to secure permission for a future wedding between two people. My gr gr grandaunt, Elizabeth Groff had such a document. The fee paid was $150 on September 9, 1847 by the future groom, William H. Brantner and the bride’s father, Daniel Groff.
The death records are mostly scanned with 2 to 4 on an image, so do scroll up and down and left to right for the ancestor’s name. These death records also will have what they person died of in most cases. That is very good information to have for personal family health history.
Photo: Image of 1869 marriage record of Zachary Brantner and Ann Rebecca Chambers.< Return To Blog