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 free 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 a unofficial announcement on a remote WEB site in the
county, Brantley explained, in a letter to Historical Society, Lynda
Updike, the massive project, conveying the potential harvest and
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
In this directory, see several of the books now, on-line and
most in various stages of indexing. These will ultimately be seen
only on the official Southampton County WEB site, but can, instead,
be linked to from this site.
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