Identified on its cover by the author as "The History of a Southside Virginia County," this book by Gay Neale is a compilation of Brunswick County's historical information gleaned from old books, newspapers, personal papers, and other records belonging to its residents. The book was an unexpected gift from one of my Branch cousins and was a very welcome addition to my genealogy library. Although my cousin is a Virginia native with whom I share a common ancestor who lived in pre-Revolutionary Brunswick County, her family remained in Virginia and the surrounding area, while my third great-grandfather left Virginia to claim land in Mississippi after the War of 1812.
Within the 500 pages that make up her excellent genealogy book, Neale traces the early development of the area that later became Brunswick County from before the building of Fort Christanna to the year 2000. Neale weaves the county's history around the wars that were fought on its soil, including the American Revolution and the Civil War, and includes many details about life in Brunswick County during those difficult periods. In a lighter moment, Neale discusses the origin of "Brunswick Stew," named for the county. The book's 150-plus pages of appendices serve as a treasure chest of names of those who lived in early Southside Virginia, including many who later left the area to colonize other land to the south and the west. Neale, who has a Master's Degree in Library Science from Catholic University, has expertly woven the intricate history of Brunswick County into a valuable reference book of use to family researchers everywhere.