‘Actual yankee blackmail:’ How Prince William VA’s stolen founding-era deeds — thought lost to history — were recovered

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(Inside NoVa) – Two of Prince William County’s earliest records were recently returned to the clerk of the Circuit Court after being stolen from a courthouse in Brentsville during the Civil War and withheld from the county by a northeastern book dealer in the early 20th Century.

The modern-day retrieval of the documents followed a colorful dispute nearly a century ago that was described by an official at the time to be “blackmail” against the county, according to documents.

“We are grateful that, after an arduous journey, these two books containing histories significant to Prince William County and the United States of America have returned to our office through the long-lasting efforts of our community and the Library of Virginia,” Clerk of the Circuit Court Jacqueline Smith said in a statement.

Earlier this year, the documents, contained in a large book that includes the county’s original deeds of land dating back to the early 1730s when Prince William was founded, were discovered to have been handed to the Library of Virginia in Richmond in the 1930s and preserved since.

The book also contains a Dumfries District Court order book from between 1798 and 1799.

The library delivered the original and rare volumes, color…

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