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About the Project
In April 2008, Brantley Association founder and president, Kenneth Brantley, met with the new Probate Clerk of Southampton County, Virginia; the honorable Richard Francis. The Brantley family once resided in the county but little had been gleaned from the records there because few were indexed and published.
Eager to see this remarkable collection made available to researchers of the Brantley family as well as thousands of other researchers whose ancestry had traversed the County, Mr. Brantley made a bold commitment. He agreed to digitize and, at least attempt, to facilitate through the Association the indexing of the entire court records there from 1749 through the early 1880s, under the condition that the county would (1) either display the records on a web site for no charge or (2) provide for the Brantley Association or its assignee the right to display the same.
Mr. Brantley knew that this was a considerable undertaking, as there were an estimated 60,000 pages of court pages and well over one million name entries within the covers of the ancient books. He did, however, feel strongly that there would be support by many faithful researchers who would embrace the idea of such a project and volunteer to participate in the indexing of the valuable records.
Mr. Francis, a historian and genealogy enthusiast, recognizing the potential for findings in both areas of research, agreed to pursue the project by agreement and to provide for the expenses of the necessary personal to come to Southampton County and digitize the records. Final details we worked out over the next 10 months and the digitizing of the records began in mid February 2009.
Making an unofficial announcement on a remote web site in the county, Brantley explained in a letter to Historical Society President, Lynda Updike, the massive project, conveying the potential harvest. She relayed the promise made by probate clerk Francis that the county would forever recognize not only the Association's sponsorship of the project but all those who participated in the indexing of the names in the respective court book covers and on-line indexes.
Within just a few hours of the release of this letter several volunteers came forward and agreed to not only participate in indexing the names, but to take upon themselves the responsibility to index entire court books. Before his return from Courtland, just 10 days later, over 30% of the project had been committed to by volunteers. Others have since come forward, although no other announcement has been made until this writing. A project originally projected to take 3 to 5 years to complete, could be conceivably be accomplished within the next 12 months. This will be the first county court house in American history to have all its records digitized, made available on-line, and indexed by every man woman and child as well as land sites. The potential benefit in both historical findings and genealogy research is believed to be momentous.
Many images are unacceptable for permanent display. There are cases of missing pages and flawed images and will be retaken in the coming months. Indexes will be periodically revised reflecting the correct names of some presently undistinguishable. Feedback from researchers identifying these is welcomed.
To learn even more about how the Southampton Project was undertaken, read here.
Help us index these important records
Would you like to volunteer? If you would be interested in participating in this historical project please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let us know if you have ever indexed before or have any other experience so that we can best help you to help us! Thank you in advance.
Found a Treasure?
To get a certified, authenticated copy of any of the records seen, send your specific, written request along with a sufficiently stamped, (large) self-addressed envelope to:
Richard L. Francis, Clerk
Requests mailed with "Brantley Association" on the envelope, will be directed straight to the Clerk.
The cost is 50 cents per page and $2.00 per document to be "certified".
Make checks payable to Richard L. Francis, Clerk
Copies are generally made on 11x17" paper, but can be reduced if requested and if the text material is not lost in the process (Clerk's call).
If you reference "Brantley Association" in your request, any Certified copies requested will bear the embossed Southampton County Clerk's Seal and will be stamped on the reverse of one of the pages with a statement bearing the Clerk's Signature, certifying the document as a true copy of a record in the Southampton Circuit Court.
Copy/Certification questions should be directed to Richard Francis at:
View the Southampton courthouse records