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Price Family Papers

History

The Price Family Papers reflect the findings of extensive genealogical research efforts conducted by members of the Jennings family, headed by Nora Pierce Jennings Price of the Jennings Family Record organization of Richmond, Virginia. Consulting engineer Charles Loeber described the organization’s goal in 1929: “to write a complete and accurate history of the families and trace their ancestors back to the beginning in Virginia.”

In compliance with England’s laws requiring a firm proof of lineage, the Jennings Family Record collected court documents relating to the Jennings ancestors. After collecting the family histories of living relatives, the Jennings Family Record traced the family’s history through court records with each preceding generation. Once completed, this outline was to be sent to England to obtain the Jennings coat of arms and official confirmation of the family history.

The huge task of tracing the family’s history to early ancestors in Virginia was for years clouded by tales of a massive fortune awaiting those who could prove their Jennings lineage. The Jennings Family Record also battled years of false information, both handed down through families and published by outside sources, and garnered attention from the public about a link to a supposed fortune.

Stories of the Jennings fortune persisted for centuries across many countries, claiming William Jennings, who died a bachelor in England in 1774, left behind a wealth owed to living descendents. The story took hold in the United States in the 19th Century, after which many families desperate for the supposed fortune were taken advantage of, having paid a heavy fee in exchange for false information linking their immigrant ancestors to the late William Jennings. The matter of the fortune had long since been settled, and the Jennings Family Record shut down rumors when confronted by the public and struggled to pave a way through a family history marred with mystery and lies.

Provenance

The collection was likely donated to the library by Nora Woolridge Price of Gainesville, Texas.

Scope and Contents Note

The collection contains copies of court records, family lineage charts, publications, and correspondence tracing the genealogy of the Jennings family since their arrival in America. The series contains material from 1635 - 1947 and measures 1.80 linear feet (5 boxes).

  • Series I: Correspondence (1925 - 1947) - Contains letters exchanged among family members, interested parties, and professional agencies. Most correspondence was conducted by Jennings Family Record, represented by Jane Pierce Jennings Wilson and Charles Loeber. Folders are arranged first alphabetically by correspondent, then chronologically.
  • Series II: Family Records (1635 - 1932) - Consists of records relating to the Jennings family heritage. This series contains genealogical outlines and copies of court records compiled by the Jennings Family Record. The series also deals with public issues related to the family at the time, such as newspaper clippings and publications regarding the supposed Jennings family fortune. Records are grouped by subject and organized alphabetically.

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Last updated: Oct. 2, 2014