A Guide to the Highland County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1864-1924 Highland County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1864-1924 0007310625

A Guide to the Highland County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1864-1924

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number: 0007310625


Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
Phone: (804) 692-3888 (Archives Reference)
Fax: (804) 692-3556 (Archives Reference)
Email: archdesk@lva.virginia.gov(Archives)
URL: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/

© 2012 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Library of Virginia staff

The Library of Virginia
Barcode number
Highland County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1864-1924
Physical Characteristics
.45 cu. ft. (1 box)
Highland County (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Highland County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1864-1924. Local government records collection, Highland County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA 23219.

Acquisition Information

These items came to the Library of Virginia in shipments of court records from Highland County.

Historical Information

Highland County was named for its mountainous terrain. It was formed from Bath and Pendleton Counties in 1847.

The separate office of coroner appeared in Virginia about 1660. The judicial duty of the office is to hold inquisitions in cases when persons meet sudden, violent, unnatural or suspicious death, or death without medical attendance. The coroner would summon a jury to assist him in determining cause of death. Prior to November 1877, the jurors numbered twelve. Between November 1877 and March 1926, the jurors numbered six. The jury viewed the body of the deceased and heard the testimony of witnesses. The coroner was required to write down witness testimony. After seeing and hearing the evidence, the jury delivered in writing to the coroner their conclusion concerning cause of death referred to as the inquisition. After March 1926, only the coroner determined cause of death. He could require physicians to assist him with determing cause of death. If a criminal act was determined to be the cause of death, the coroner was to deliver the guilty person to the sheriff and the coroners' inquests would be used as evidence in the criminal trial.

Scope and Content

Highland County (Va) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1864-1924, are investigations into the deaths of individuals who died by a sudden, violent, unnatural or suspicious manner, or died without medical attendance. Causes of death found in coroners' inquisitions include murder, infanticide, suicide, domestic violence, exposure to elements, drownings, train accidents, automobile accidents, and natural causes, or as commonly referred to in the 19th century, visitation by God. Documents commonly found in coroners' inquests include the inquisition, depositions, and summons. Criminal papers such as recognizance bonds can be found in coroner inquisitions. Information found in the inquisition include the name of the coroner, the names of the jurors, the name and age of the deceased if known, gender and race of the deceased, and when, how, and by what means the deceased came to his or her death. If the deceased was African American, the inquest would identify the deceased as a slave or free person if known. If the deceased was a slave, the inquest would include, if known, the name of the slaveowner and the slaveowner's residence. Information found in the depositions include the name of the deponent and his or her account of the circumstances that led to the death of the deceased. Slaves were deponents in coroner investigations.


Chronological by date coroner filed inquisition in the court.

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

  • Highland County (Va.) Circuit Court
  • Subjects:

  • African Americans--History
  • Coroners--Virginia--Highland County
  • Death--Causes--Virginia--Highland County
  • Murder victims--Virginia--Highland County
  • Murder--Investigation--Virginia--Highland County
  • Suicide--Virginia--Highland County
  • Women--Virginia--Highland County
  • Geographical Names:

  • Highland County (Va.)--History
  • Genre and Form Terms:

  • Death records--Virginia--Highland County
  • Local government records--Virginia--Highland County
  • Reports--Virginia--Highland County

Selected Coroners' Inquisitions of Interest

1884 January 14, Death of E.D. Atchison:

Died by being taken from the Highland Co. Jail by a mob of ten armed men; immediate cause of death was a gunshot wound in the neck after he had been hanged by the neck from a tree. The inquest also includes testimony stating that the men wore "disguises" and "lynched" Atchison. No mention is made of why the mob wanted to kill Atchison or why he was initially placed in jail.

1921 September 17, Death of George Beverage:

Died by by willfully drinking, in a "perverted state of mind", carbolic acid. George's wife, Lillie was writing a letter to her sister, when George became upset and told her not to write the letter. He grabbed the tablet away from her and after threatening her life, an argument and tussle ensued. First he tried to split his head open with an axe, but was stopped by a neighbor. Later, he bought some Carbolic Acid, and drank it. His wife testified that she noticed his mind was bad about four weeks prior.