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In 1863, Union Army Captain William A. Treadwill of the 4th New York Regiment took a book of court records from a Virginia county courthouse and shipped it north to Boston, presumably to keep the book as a relic.  The book made its way from Boston to Jersey City, where it remained in the Jersey City Free Public Library for the past 150 years.  The book was recently unearthed while librarians were parsing through the library's holdings in order to prepare for an upcoming exhibit to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  It contains transcribed summaries of court records from 1749 to 1755.

Carl Childs, the director of Local Record Services at the Library of Virginia, was thrilled to hear of the book's discovery.  The vast majority of pre-Civil War records from the Stafford County Court were destroyed, so this book helps shed some light on that period.

Some interesting entries in the book include:

  • A judge's order that a man is paid 50 pounds of tobacco for serving as a witness for two days.

  • A lawsuit of an unhappy widow who challenged the decision that she be awarded a dowry of just one-third of her late husband's estate.

  • Details of a case in which someone being fined for cursing in church.

The book was given to Childs, and back to Virginia, last week.  It will be copied for the public, and then bound and restored to be kept in the Library of Virginia.

Jersey City library returns spoils of Civil War, a 220-year-old book of court records, to Virginia county