June 2019 - The Ruth E. Lloyd Information Center for Genealogy and Local History (RELIC)
Start your historical journey here. RELIC's email newsletter highlights upcoming free events and happenings. Genealogy and local Virginia history are our specialty as a service provided by the Prince William Public Library. We're located at Bull Run Regional Library and you can always find more about us at pwcgov.org/relic.

When Alexandria, Virginia became Union territory shortly after the start of the Civil War, escaped slaves known as contrabands began to flee to the city from all over Virginia. This refugee crisis eventually led to overcrowded conditions and high mortality rates for those seeking freedom and protection from their former masters. More than 1,700 contrabands died between 1864 and 1868. They were buried on the southern edge of Alexandria in a cemetery that was largely forgotten until it was rediscovered in 1996. Please join us as author and genealogist, Char McCargo-Bah, presents her newest book, Alexandria's Freedmen's Cemetery: A Legacy of Freedom, which examines the struggles of these men and women and the search for their descendants. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.


Land Records
Land records contain a wealth of genealogical, historical, and legal information. Depending upon the type and time period, they may offer new insights about your ancestors and family history. In addition to providing location and date of settlement, records may attest to one's age, place of birth, citizenship, military service, literacy, and economic status. They may even include similar details about other family members and lead you to other genealogical records, RELIC's Darlene Hunter, Certified Genealogist (CG), will provide examples of various land records and explain how to locate them

Register at 703-792-4540 or [email protected]
The County lost an important historic landmark in December 1987.
Oak Grove Meeting House

On Christmas morning at 3:00 a.m., the clapboard structure commonly known as Bacon Race Church collapsed in a heap after "four decades of weather and neglect." Neighbors clearly heard the crash. 
At some time while the site was being cleared away, a visitor selected a chunk of wood found near the pulpit to preserve it as a memento. They later donated the timber to RELIC, where it may be seen today. It appears to be a dressed log that contains several mortise-and-tenon joints. Whether it is a piece of the pulpit or part of the building, we can't say.

The building, also called Oak Grove Meeting House and Occoquan Primitive Baptist Church, had an institutional history going back to 1765 when William Veale gave three acres of land for the erection of a church "near Bacon Race Ground." Some later deeds describe the property as being "at the head of Bakon Race." The origin of the name is obscure: those early records might suggest it was named for a horse racetrack or a millrace.
Although the congregation goes back to the 18th century, and we have church minutes as early as 1794, it is unlikely that this artifact goes back that far. W. R. Morris, whose family helped found the church, wrote in 1936 that "[t]here has been three church buildings erected where the present church now stands, it being one hundred years since it was built (1836), and is in fairly good condition." [W. R. Morris, Folk Lore of Early Settlers of America, v. 3 (Fancy Gap, Va.: Author, 1958), p. 192] More recent historians have provided estimates ranging from 1810 to 1880.
Because of strict religious beliefs, the congregation abandoned the church in 1938 after the death of its last pastor, Elder William Smoot. They never again hosted services inside this building. Today, the outline of the church is all that remains, surrounded by the well-kept graves of Bacon Race Cemetery.
RELIC's Darlene L. Hunter, CG, has written History of Occoquan Baptist Church, Prince William County Virginia (Manassas: RELIC, 2013). A free digital copy can be read in RELIC's Digital Archives. Darlene has also transcribed and indexed the various surviving records of the church, which are listed in our online catalogDarlene's research has turned up a narrative, written about 1874 by Elder Smoot, which refers to the meeting house having been destroyed "during the recent war."  In 1868 the surviving members had joined the Quantico Baptist Church, but were now returning to the Bacon Race site. Despite what was said in 1936, it is likely that the last structure was built in 1874. [Occoquan Baptist Church Meeting Minutes 1868-1916, p. 1-2]

When the Going Gets Tough
Dead end. Brick wall. It has many nicknames, but it all means frustration! Don't give up until you try these tips and tricks to get past your genealogical research roadblocks. Your madness just needs a method. Genealogist Katie Derby will teach you how to construct a "preponderance of evidence" and the best records to turn (or return) to in order to get out of a rut. Bring your thinking caps!

Register at 703-792-4540 or [email protected]


American Military Records
Learn how to locate your ancestor's military records from each period in American history, including draft registrations, enlistments, muster rolls, payrolls, hospital records, pensions files, and land bounties. Discover what unit your ancestor belonged to and what campaigns they fought in. Presented by RELIC's Don Wilson.

To read the latest lists of new materials available, please click on What's New in RELIC.

Unless otherwise stated, all of the preceding programs will take place at Bull Run Regional Library, 8051 Ashton Avenue, Manassas, Virginia. Programs may last from 60 to 90 minutes. You may register for any of these free programs at 703-792-4540 or [email protected]   

You may also register online by clicking here and selecting the program date. Funding for selected RELIC programs is provided by the Friends of Bull Run Library.* To be notified of upcoming library programs and activities, you may sign up for the PWPLS newsletter.
[email protected] or 703-792-8150
Questions and comments are always welcome.
Prince William Public Library System, 13083 Chinn Park Drive, Prince William, VA 22192