Rockingham Circuit Court ‘Histories Along the Blue Ridge’ Project recognized with prestigious award

Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 4:06 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - A collaborative project between the Rockingham County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office and graduate students with James Madison University has earned recognition from Governor Glenn Youngkin and other officials in Virginia with the Commonwealth Technology Award.

‘Histories along the Blue Ridge’, formerly ‘Exploring Rockingham County’s Past’, began in 2017 to make selected historic records from the Rockingham County Court digitally available to the public. Each year graduate students within the History department at JMU team with Circuit Court Clerk Chaz Haywood and other staff to digitize and preserve collections of documents.

“We have traffic from across the country and I’m sure beyond that as well people are coming here looking and reading about our cases and we are fortunate that the Governor and the Commonwealth have looked at our project here and gave us the COVITS award, which is huge it’s the biggest technology award in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Haywood said.

Haywood said a goal of the project is to not only detail the local cases but discover and dive into the personal stories around them as well, some of which are more surprising than some would expect.

“One of our recent discoveries was the Commonwealth vs. Nicholas Weatherholt case which is from 1779 and it is a local farmer with German origins, a frontiersman if you will, who was a former soldier. He was charged with plotting and conspiring to murder General George Washington and other members of the Continental Congress,” Historical archives and law librarian Deputy Clerk Megan Schoeman said.

‘Histories along the Blue Ridge’ continues to grow beyond Rockingham County through collaborations with neighboring counties along the mountain range.

“The purpose of it is to give a free location just for us to dump all of this great history that’s sitting in courthouses not just in Rockingham but across the Valley and even potentially across the Commonwealth of Virginia as clerks partner with universities as we’ve done,” Haywood said.

Those interested in learning more about ‘Histories along the Blue Ridge’ can visit the website here.