Research at the Albemarle County Courthouse
    by Amelia Hughes and Holly Martin



Thank you to the Albemarle County Courthouse and the workers of the Clerk's office for helping us to search through the deeds, land records, wills, and other archived information about the area.

Land Deed, 1770, Archives at Ablemarle Courthouse


Upon arriving at the Clerk's office, the class had a number of questions we wished to answer, including:

• What years were the original settlement and the Birdwood Mansion built?

• When was the property given the title "Birdwood," and what areas of land were associated with the house?

• What was the ownership history of the property?

At the Albemarle County Courthouse our class found a variety of resources in the archives to help us with our research. One of the main questions we wanted to investigate was the history of the land and its ownership. We hoped that learning more about this would help us understand more about when the original settlement on the property was built and who lived there. We were also eager to search for any information that would give us clues as to when the mansion at Birdwood was built. In order to answer these questions, we looked at the archival records of land deeds in Albemarle County. We were able to find documentation of land bought and sold by the Garth family as far back as 1770. Since the Garths were a prominent family in the area for many years, there were a great deal of deeds for them in the archives. We decided to focus mainly on those that showed the land moving from Thomas Garth Sr to other member of his family as we felt those were most likely to be related to the Birdwood property.

The courthouse had a variety of other fascinating resources that we were able to use to research the Garth family and attempt to gain a better understanding of their life at Birdwood. Students in the class looked at the wills of Thomas Garth Sr and William Garth to learn more about how much land and property each man owned at the time of their deaths. We also looked at Confederate Army records, archived land survey maps, and marriage licenses for the Garth family. In our previous research we had learned of a court case involving William Garth and an enslaved individual he owned named Randolph, who had run away and was found on another family’s plantation. We were interested to learn more about this court case so we searched through the Albemarle County Court Order archives to see if we could find any records of the case. While we found several other court case records involving the Garth family, we were unable to find a record of the case involving Randolph. Since this case ultimately went to the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, we think the records pertaining to it may be located in the courthouse in Richmond. Given the time frame of the class we were unable to look for the records at the Virginia Supreme Court in Richmond, but it would be very interesting to follow up on this in the future.


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