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Tazewell County, Virginia

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Date: 17 Dec 1799 [unknown]
Location: Virginia, United Statesmap
Surnames/tags: One_Place_Studies Virginia Tazewell_County
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Virginia Counties | Tazewell County, Virginia

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Tazewell County is a county in Virginia in the United States of America.

The western frontier of Tazewell County was divided into several counties in present-day Virginia and West Virginia. Family lines in the counties of Buchanan, Russell, Montgomery, etc. should look in Tazewell County’s records for their ancestors.

This Space is a gathering place for information about the political entity “Tazewell County” because it holds records of genealogical significance for the region. No representation is made as to the relevance of those records to contemporary political borders.


In the spring of 1771, Thomas and John Witten established the first permanent settlement in Tazewell County at Crab Orchard. Tazewell County was created on December 20, 1799. The land for the county was taken from portions of Wythe and Russell counties. It was named after Henry Tazewell, a United States Senator from Virginia, state legislator and judge. Delegate Littleton Waller Tazewell originally opposed the formation of the new county but when Simon Cotterel, who drew up the bill to form the county, changed the originally proposed name of the county to Tazewell's namesake, in honor of his father Henry who had died earlier that year. The bill passed. Jeffersonville was established the following year (1800) as the county seat. On February 29, 1892, Jeffersonville was renamed Tazewell.[1]

17 December 1799 from Russell and Wythe Counties

Portions of the county were subsequently broken out into Bland County and Giles County.

  1. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tazewell_County,_Virginia : 18 May 2017)
See also "Brief County History" by the Tazewell County Historical Society.

Published Sources

Genealogists with family from 19th century Tazewell County can benefit from the public domain sources available, reflecting a high degree of interest at the time among locals in tracking their kinship connections.

A useful source for family historians is Annals of Tazewell County by John Newton Harman (1922). These two volumes compiled early 19th century county records and included genealogies submitted by family historians from around the county. The Annals are a key source for many of the genealogies of the region during this period, but its information should be verified against original records when possible.

The book cites older local histories such as William Cecil Pendleton's History of Tazewell County (1920), The Captives of Abb’s Valley (1854), and George Bickey's History of the Settlement and Indian Wars of Tazewell County (1852).

The genealogies of some people covered inadequately by the Annals can be gleaned from local newspapers such as Clinch Valley News and Tazewell Republican (1897-1912). People who were omitted from Harman’s work, such as later arrivals to the region, railroad workers from out of the region, people of color, and younger generations of the covered families, can be found in the pages of the local periodicals.

Selected volumes of the publication of the Tazewell County Historical Society (1988-1992) can be viewed on familysearch.org from within a Family History library, HERE.

Online Sources

Bible Records


School Yearbooks


In the 19th century some Tazewell residents appear to have been buried in home graveyards and unmarked graves, and few headstones predating the Civil War survive for some families. An active community of cemeterists on FindAGrave.com have documented many of these home graveyards and other burial grounds.

Cemeterist Timothy Vance has an online archive of cemetery transcriptions and photographs.

Family Genealogies

Many family historians have produced works compiling their modern lineages and their best interpretation of older records. Here is a partial list of print and online sources:

  • Barns/Barnes: Rootsweb.com BARNES-L Archives, "Descendants of Robert Barnes - died 1802 Tazewell Co Va" posted by Penny Richardson, 25 May 1997 (unsourced).
  • Crabtree: Rootsweb.com VATAZEWE-L Archives: "Crabtree's Tazewell County, Descendants of William Crabtree b. 1870", posted by Frank Brodzinski, 25 December 2002.
  • Davidson / Draper: Rootsweb.com Davidson/Draper Genealogy, 25 January 2004.
  • Greenup / Witten / Cecil: Jourdan, Elise Greenup, Greenup, Witten, Cecil, (Baltimore : Gateway Press ; Knoxville, Tennessee : E.G. Jourdan, 1989.)
  • Looney: Then Along Came Joe Volume 2, Tree Art Publishers 1995, Descendants of Elizabeth Walker and John Looney, Jr., Wilma Walker Dunlap, Saint Louis, Missouri.
  • Matheny: Gucciardo, Dolores E. Matheny, Matheny Genealogy, (Little Rock, Arkansas : D.M. Gucciardo, 1983)
  • Steele: Rootsweb.com VATAZEWE-L Archives: "[VA-TAZEWELL] Steeles from Tazewell Co, VA", posted by Renee Dauven, 10 Apr 2002, citing 1899 interview with Catherine (Remine) McReynolds.
  • Stiltner: Tripod.com "Southwest VA Family Ties: The Stiltner Family", undated.
  • Witten: Ancestry.com "The Witten Fort" by Karen Salisbury, 1 April 2001.


Families left Tazewell County during the nineteenth century for regions further west, sometimes as complete families. Family historians should look for Tazewell connections for descendants in places such as Gentry, Missouri, and Ogden and "Little Virginia", Utah.

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