Archive for April, 2011

Digitalization of Southampton County Virginia Records Opens New Doors for African American Research

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

The entire Court Order book collection of the Southampton County, Virginia Court from 1749 through the early 1880s has been digitalized. This includes 57,000 pages, involving approximately one million names.  This information is free online at:,_Virginia.  This collection is a goldmine for African Americans tracing their ancestors who once lived in Southampton County.  Many of the books that have been digitized were 300 to 700 pages.  Court Order books from the 1700s to the end of the slave trade lists the names of Africans when they were first brought to the area, their ages, owner’s names, and in a few cases the ships on which they were brought over.  Wills and estate settlements lists the names of slaves, descriptions and family relationships.  If your ancestors came from Southampton County, Virginia, you must check out this collection.  Thanks go to Southampton Circuit Court Clerk, Richard Francis, and the volunteers of the Brantley Association of America who undertook this huge project in 2009 and 2010.  

Portraits of Gardner Ancestors Revealed at 76th Gardner Family Reunion

Monday, April 11th, 2011
Daniel Gardner 1839-1911

Daniel Gardner 1829-1911

Melissa Boisseau Gardner 1838-1931

Melissa Boisseau Gardner 1838-1931


In August 2010 the Gardner family celebrated their 76th annual family reunion.  The festivities included a tour of Wessyngton Plantation. Aaron Gardner born 1804, his wife Betty born 1814, and their three sons Daniel Gardner 1829-1911, George Gardner 1830-1906, and Jackson Gardner Washington born 1831 were enslaved on the plantation from 1839 to 1865.  After emancipation George Gardner purchased 169 acres of land, which he willed to his nephew Will Gardner.  Daniel Gardner and his wife Melissa Boisseau Gardner were the parents of eighteen children.  Many of their descendants remain in the Robertson County area.  There are more African Americans carrying the Gardner surname than any other surname in the county. Two original portraits of Daniel and Melissa Gardner were revealed to descendants at the 76th Gardner family reunion.