Essex County Museum and Historical Society Collections

An Introduction to the Collection

The largest family document collection held by the museum and historical society comprises over 3000 items which had been stored for generations at Epping Forest, home of the Rouzies and Bairds in upper Essex. Purchased from a Tappahannock antiques dealer in 2005, these papers, spanning the years 1766-1928, largely reflect activities of Edward Rouzie and Benjamin Baird, as details of their lives are revealed in personal letters, day books, account ledgers, slave lists, tax records, wills, business transactions and numerous other records and ephemera. Although the documents have not been scanned, a catalog record for each document is available on our website.

Ours is not the only known collection of Rouzie-Baird family papers. In the Manuscripts Department at the Swem Library of the College of William and Mary, are housed two document collections placed there by the family. Noted as 65 B16 and 65 R67, they contain a variety of records from the 1600s as well as some interesting correspondence written during the Civil War.

Essex County Museum and Historical Society received a grant from the Gwathmey Memorial Trust to have the collection cataloged by a professional librarian and an assistant. The arrangement of this collection is chronological with documents also being placed in four categories: Personal, Business, Estate/Guardian, Education and Horses. Each catalog record contains, when it was possible to determine, the latest date of the document, the creator of the document, to whom the document was sent, and a description of its contents.

For accountability purposes, every document is assigned an individual identification number which is affixed to the archival sleeve of the document. Using this number, the document can be easily located. For example, since every document in the collection begins with the collection accession number, 2005.074, the document labeled 2005.074.02.05-3 can be interpreted as being in the Rouzie-Baird Family Papers Collection in box #2, folder #5, and it is the third (3) item in that folder. Some boxes at the end of the collection are not arranged in folders or given individual identification numbers, but are housed as loose items.

You may make an appointment to have someone at the museum assist you in accessing the Rouzie-Baird Family Papers by calling Essex County Museum and Historical Society at 804-443-4690 or by emailing

Please note that these catalogs are very large and using the search bar at the top of the page is highly recommended. To locate items in the collections using your browser, open the appropriate catalog: Objects, Photos, Books or Archives, and perform a search.
Be aware that historical documents often have spelling variations that develop overtime so that the keyword selected may not reveal all occurrences – try out as many variations of the name to make sure all items are located.

Archives: Rouzie-Baird Family Documents