West Virginia Probate Records

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This entry was originally written by Johni Cerny, in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the West Virginia Family History Research series.
History of West Virginia
West Virginia Vital Records
Census Records for West Virginia
Background Sources for West Virginia
West Virginia Maps
West Virginia Land Records
West Virginia Probate Records
West Virginia Court Records
West Virginia Tax Records
West Virginia Cemetery Records
West Virginia Church Records
West Virginia Military Records
West Virginia Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
West Virginia Archives, Libraries, and Societies
African Americans of West Virginia
West Virginia Coal Mining
West Virginia County Resources
Map of West Virginia


When West Virginia belonged to the Commonwealth of Virginia, estate records were produced by county and circuit courts. Wills, letters of administration, guardianships, appraisals, and settlements are some of the estate documents recorded by the court. Once a sovereign state, West Virginia continued in the same tradition and heard probate matters in the county courts. Original will books can be searched at the clerk’s office in the county where a person died. Microfilmed estate records dated prior to 1968 can be used at the Archives and History Library in Charleston, the West Virginia and Regional History Collection in Morgantown, and the FHL. See Ross B. Johnston, West Virginia Estate Settlements, 1753–1850 (1969; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2003) and Clayton Torrence, Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632–1800 (1930; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000. Both of these publications can be used to identify the counties where a surname appeared.

A number of early Virginia and West Virginia will books have been abstracted and published. The Archives and History Library in Charleston, the West Virginia and Regional History Collection in Morgantown, and the The Family History Library (FHL) have large collections of these publications.

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