Classes Available to Learn More About the History of Your Community and Family

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Provided by Prince William County

Did you know that Dumfries was the site of official importance during Colonial Prince William County? During that time, the town was a bustling port and the county seat.

“It’s where the courthouse was, so all of the activities in Prince William County leading up to the beginning of the Revolutionary War happened in Dumfries,” said historian Jim Bish, a long-time social studies teacher who retired from Woodbridge High School. Bish will discuss the county’s involvement in the Revolutionary War during his talk “Revolutionary Prince William County, 1765 to 1781” at the Ruth E. Lloyd Information Center for Genealogy and Local History (RELIC) at the Bull Run Regional Library at 7:00 p. m. on Tuesday, Aug. 21.

A document called “The Prince William Resolves” protests the closing of Boston Harbor after the Boston Tea party. That document was signed in Dumfries, said Bish. “It was also in Dumfries where they began to form the first Prince William County independent cadet company, which was the independent company that preceded the official Virginia regiments. George Washington was the head of Prince William County’s independent company in 1774 up through the time he became Continental Commander in 1775.”

That’s not all that’s happening this month at RELIC.  Don Wilson will discuss “Genealogy 201: Beyond the Basics” at 11:00 a. m. on Thursday, Aug. 16. The class delves into the intricacies of advanced genealogy research, which can be a tricky business.

Old Census records, for instance, can be confusing, Wilson said. “When you’re using Census records, it’s not just a matter of plugging in a name and getting the answer,” Wilson said. “Many times you plug in the name you want and you don’t get any results because many of the old clerks didn’t ask you how you spelled your name; they spelled it phonetically. Then when the indexers got hold of the list, they misread the names. It could have ended being almost anything.”

Wilson said people who attend the class will also learn how to use newspapers, passenger lists, maps, books, military records and manuscripts for research and to add detail to family history. “It’s the kind of research you would be doing to write a biographical article about anyone whether you are trying to find someone in the 20th century or someone in the 17th century.”

Wilson said people find RELIC useful for the amount of documentation at the library. “We have access to a wide variety of research materials and have trained staff who can show people how to use those sources to find the answers they are looking for.”

While it’s not absolutely necessary, Wilson suggests that people attend “Genealogy 101: Getting Started” before attending the 201 class. RELIC tries to run both events about once a quarter.

To register for these events, call 703-792-4540 or email


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