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New society honors Shenandoah Valley settlers

March 2, 2010 at midnight
Updated March 2, 2010 at 9:03 p.m.

Certificates for  the First Settlers of the Shenandoah Valley.

It has been said that all roads lead to Virginia. If that is true, then many of you have ancestors who arrived in America via the ports of Virginia, moved into Virginia from Pennsylvania or the Carolinas, or eventually moved westward past the Blue Ridge Mountains into the Shenandoah Valley, the Valley of the Daughter of the Stars.

Recently, the Virginia Genealogical Society Newsletter announced a new society, the First Settlers of the Shenandoah Valley, and the first 100 members would be designated as Organizing Charter Members. Having personally researched many Virginia ancestors and knowing my paternal forebears moved into the Shenandoah Valley after leaving Germany and landing in Pennsylvania, I eagerly went online to the FSSV Web site at www.firstsettlersshenandoah valley.com and began gathering the data needed for a membership application.

The Society will accept a copy of an approved application from a lineage society such as DAR, SAR, Colonial Dames, etc., as proof. I also completed organizing member applications for my two sisters.

According to the FSSV Web site, "the settlements between the two mountain ranges, Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains, is considered within the Shenandoah Valley. The qualifying First Settler ancestor needed for FSSV membership is a person who resided in an area that is located in present-day Shenandoah Valley before 31 Dec. 1799."

As a nonprofit organization, the FSSV, founded in 2009 desires:

To honor and perpetuate the memory of those hardy, enterprising early settlers who arrived prior to 31 Dec. 1799, and who concentrated their efforts, labor and skills in building the enduring greatness of the Shenandoah Valley.

To recognize and record those early individuals who settled, established residency, owned land or businesses in the Shenandoah Valley.

To collect and preserve historic data of people and settlements, family histories, lineages and tradition of early settlers.

To educate and perpetuate knowledge of the history of the Shenandoah Valley and support patriotic and genealogical, literacy and social activities that further the purposes of The First Settlers of the Shenandoah.

To promote and encourage social and friendly relations among the descendants of The First Settlers of the Shenandoah Valley.

The certificates were commissioned by the society and feature vignettes of Scots-Irish and German settlers, as well as English, Native American and rustic wilderness influences of the early 1700s. A Conestoga wagon symbolizes the vast migration of settlers from Pennsylvania, while a wheat shaft represents the Valley's reputation as the Bread Basket of the South. Soldiers from the French and Indian Wars and American's independents are depicted and the recipient's name is inscribed by a calligraphic artist.

Our ancestors were an important part of American history. And if all roads lead to Virginia, I encourage you to honor your ancestors by including their information in the First Settlers of the Shenandoah Valley. It will be your privilege to record their role in history as they set forth in their quest carving out our nation.

E-mail genealogy queries to Martha Jones at mjones@vicad.com.

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