Local History & Genealogy

The Local History Room at the Culpeper County Library contains volumes on Virginia history and genealogy.  Strictly a reference collection, these materials may be used by library visitors conducting genealogical and historical research on site.

The Local History Room is open during all regular library hours.

The collection includes county histories for Culpeper County and surrounding counties, information on the Germanna colonists, and books regarding colonial Virginia records.  Included in the collection are abstract books of the early will and deed records for Culpeper and Orange counties; these books are the best starting point for those researching ancestors in this area in the 1700's.  We also have a section of compiled family histories and a file collection for Culpeper names and history topics.

Another feature of the Local History Room is a large selection of published works on the American Civil War, including a set of The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

The Local History Room has a reader-printer for microfilm and microfiche.  Copies may be made for $0.25 per page.  Our microfilm collection includes local newspapers going back to the late 1890's.  Among the titles are: The Culpeper Exponent, The Virginia Star, Culpeper Star-Exponent, Culpeper News and Culpeper Times.  

Also available on microfilm are early Culpeper County court records: Will Books (1749-1868), Deed Books (1749-1864), and Marriage Registers (1781-1897).

The Culpeper County Library Digital Collection is an open access repository of materials donated to the library pertaining to Culpeper County, Virginia and the surrounding area. It is the goal of this resource to allow access while preserving materials which have been previously unavailable to the public. This growing collection will contain genealogical information of county families, business records, photographs and other various items. This repository has been made possible by the generous efforts of the Friends of the Culpeper County Library and the Culpeper Foundation through the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation.

For those wishing to research families outside of the state of Virginia, we offer Ancestry.comHeritage Quest, and Fold3.   All three of these historical / genealogical eResources are available to anyone from inside the Library using our computers.  While Ancestry.com is offered for in-Library use only, Heritage Quest and Fold3 are both available remotely through our website for Culpeper County Library card holders.  Fold3 has a separate link for remote users, which is accessible from our list below of Suggested eResources.

The Culpeper County Library also has the "Map of Culpeper County" (2nd ed.) by Eugene Scheel available for sale for $25.  You may purchase a folded or rolled map from our Circulation staff or we can mail you a copy for an additional charge.  For any questions, please contact Julie Bushong at 540.825.8691.           



Remote users click here

Remote users click here

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History of the County of Culpeper:  The first settlers came into the wilderness that would become Culpeper County in the early 1700's to clear homesteads along the forks of the Rapidan, Rappahannock, and Hazel Rivers. Among the earliest were a small group of German miners from the first Germanna Colony of 1714. English settlers were worshipping at the fork chapel, forerunner of Little Fork Episcopal Church, by 1731.

Spotsylvania County, created in 1721, encompassed all lands west to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Orange County was formed from the western part of Spotsylvania in 1734, and Culpeper County created from a western part of Orange in 1749. The westernmost parts of Culpeper were later divided to creat two more counties, Madison in 1792 and Rappahannock in 1833.

The courthouse village, at first named Fairfax, was laid out in 1749 on land owned by Robert Coleman, a high and pleasant situation. Though usually called Culpeper Courthouse, the town did not have its name officially changed to Culpeper until 1870.

When the Colonies began their struggle for independence, local patriots joined the Culpeper Minutemen militia, ready to fight at a moment's notice. Their rattlesnake flag proclaimed "Liberty or Death" and "Don't Tread On Me." The Minutemen helped defeat the British at the Battle of Great Bridge, the first Revolutionary War battle to be fought in the Virginia.

During the first two years of the Civil War, strategically located Culpeper County was contested and alternately occupied by the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union's Army of the Potomac. Both Lee and Grant wintered their armies here. Many skirmishes were fought within the county, and there were several large engagements. Stonewall Jackson met Union General John Pope at the Battle of Cedar Mountain. Jeb Stuart's cavalry fought off a surprise Union attack at the Battle of Brandy Station. The town itself was shelled during the Battle of Culpeper Courthouse.

In recent years, discoveries at a local rock quarry have provided a glimpse into Culpeper's prehistoric past. Preserved in stone were the tracks of dinosaurs which roamed an ancient lake bed here more than 200 million years ago. Thousands of tracks have been found crisscrossing the quarry floor.

Today Culpeper supports a thriving community of both agricultural and commercial interests. According to a 2002 estimate from the U.S. census, about 35,000 people live in Culpeper County, 9900 of them within the town of Culpeper.