Genealogical research is most often straight forward. You find out where the person lived and then gather records about the person and their family in that area. However, occasionally you run into a search that is hampered by record loss in the research area. That is what has happened with the Woodall family in Buckingham County, Virginia.
On the 26th of February 1869, the Buckingham courthouse burned down with all of its records. Margaret A. Pennington, in her book The Courthouse Burned, mentions that the speculations put forward were that lawyers burned it so that they could gain fees for recording new deeds and papers. Or perhaps it was to prevent the loss of property by those who could not pay their taxes. Whoever it was, they caused mighty problems for genealogists trying to track families through Buckingham County.
Does this mean that there are no records of the Woodall family? Not at all, but the hunt for records can lead to unusual locations and record types.
Returning to Obediah Woodall, after he was listed in the 1800 Tax list he was next found in the 1810 census for Buckingham County. His listing consisted of the following persons:
U.S. federal census. Year: 1810; location: Buckingham County, Virginia; p. 826.
1 male less than 10 years old (Obediah newborn)
1 male 16 to 25 years old
1 male 26 to 44 years old (Obediah ~40)
1 female 16 to 25 years old (Mildred about ~20)
15 persons total
There are some interesting conjectures that can come from this census listing. In Mildred’s death record, it says that she was born about 1790. So she and Obediah were probably fairly recently married in 1810. If so, who was the young man who was 16 to 25 years old? Also, the birth dates estimated for two of Obediah’s sons were 1799 and 1800, which if they are anywhere close to accurate could not be the children of Mildred. So was Mildred Obediah’s second wife? So far no records have shown up with information about a previous wife, but Obediah was 20 years older than Mildred, so it was certainly possible and the young man could have been one of his sons because the age spread is wide enough. And where were Obediah’s sons, James and William?
Obediah owned 11 slaves so he was probably fairly well to do. One other interesting item can be seen when looking at the census page. He is listed directly after his father, David Woodall and before his brother, Isaac. William may have been another brother or possibly an uncle because he was listed as 45 and older.
In 1815 Obediah was listed as having land adjacent to D.W., possibly David Woodall. Then in 1821, he bought 18 and 1/2 acres in Appomattox from David.
Obediah and David were again listed near to each other on the 1820 census. They were listed as a part of the town of New Canton. Obediah’s listing was for 6 persons.
U.S. federal census. Year: 1820; location: New Canton, Buckingham County, Virginia; p. 118.
1 male 10 to 15 years old (Obediah 9-10)
1 male older than 45 years old (Obediah ~50)
2 females older than 45 years old (Mildred ~30, ?)
1 free colored male 14 to 25 years old
1 free colored female 14 to 25 years old
David, Obediah’s father, died about 1830 and in 1832 Obediah was listed as owning 140 acres on Duckers Creek, his part of David Woodall’s estate. However, David’s will, if he had one, was probably gone with the courthouse.
Notes and Sources:
Margaret A. Pennington and Lorna S. Scott, The Courthouse Burned (Waynesboro, Virginia: McClung Printing, Inc., 1986).
Roger G. Ward, Land Tax Summaries & Implied Deeds, Vol. 2 (Athens, Georgia: Iberian Publishing Company, 1994).
United States Coast Survey, Krebs, C. G., Lindenkohl, H. & Rusling, J. F. (1864) Middle Virginia and North Carolina. [Washington, D.C.: The Survey] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/lva0000030/.