West Virginia Land Records
This entry was originally written by Johni Cerny, in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
West Virginia is a State-Land State.
Speculators who formed land companies after 1744 settled much of western Virginia. Companies were awarded 1,000 acres of land for each family they moved into the area. The survey made of each parcel of land was sold to individuals, who then received title to the land in the form of a patent from the secretary of the colony. After 1779, the Virginia Land Office issued the patents. Edgar Barr Sims, Index to Land Grants in West Virginia (1952, reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2003), lists the names of grantees by county. See also the supplement to this index, Making a State: Formation of West Virginia; and Gertrude E. Gray, Virginia Northern Neck Land Grants, 4 vols. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1987–1993), particularly volume two, which contains abstracts of grants encompassing the area now comprising Hampshire and Berkeley counties in West Virginia.
Some western Virginia lands were redeemed by Bounty Land Warrants issued to Revolutionary War soldiers. Some settled on the land they were granted, but many sold their warrants. Original surveys, grants, and sales of land in West Virginia can be found at the Office of State Auditor, Capitol Bldg., West Wing 231, Charleston, WV 25305. Other records, on file at the Library of Virginia, appear at www.lva.lib.va.us/siteindex/index.htm.
When the person who received a land grant or patent sold that land, the transaction was recorded in deed books in the county where the land was located. Generally, those deed books have been indexed by grantor (seller) and grantee (buyer). Some county clerks have compiled master indexes to all of their deed books. Copies of deed can be obtained from county clerks; however, the deed books, and other county records, for most West Virginia counties have been microfilmed and can be searched at the Archives and History Library in Charleston: the link to the county records available on microfilm http://www.wvculture.org/history/archives/countrec.html and the FHL. The West Virginia and Regional History Collection includes the West Virginia Court Record Index (actually a list by county of records filmed at the courthouse), which can be found at www.libraries.wvu.edu/wvcollection/countycourt/index.htm.