Ancestry's search doesn't seem to realize this.
Many of my paternal ancestors are from the counties of Gilmer and Lewis in West Virginia. Both of these counties were originally in Virginia. When searching census records on Ancestry from 1870 to 1930, I have no problem choosing an exact search for one of these counties.
However, once I reach the 1860 census, at which point these counties were part of Virginia, I ran into problems. From the search screen, typing in Lewis County in the location box brings a dropdown which gives me the option of choosing the one in Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Tennessee, Washington or West Virginia. I can't choose Lewis County, Virginia.
|Search screen at Ancestry. As you can see, there is no option in the dropdown to choose Lewis County, Virginia|
When I tried researching Aaron Schoolcraft (my current person of interest who I happen to know was in Lewis County in 1830 and 1840) and narrowing the results down to only census and voter lists, it only gives me three results. One is the Census returns of Lewis County, (West) Virginia for 1850: copied from the original federal census records in the Census Bureau database. The other two are from the 1920 census for unrelated people.
|Results of search for Aaron Schoolcraft using Lewis County, West Virginia as an exact location and narrowing it down to only census and voter lists.|
On the surface, this sounds okay, but if you click on the result, it only gives you only the heads of household and the number of people in the household. This won't work for a variety of reasons. One, it's only a transcription, which means there may be errors. I want to see the actual image. Two, it's only an index so it doesn't give all the information from the actual census record. I want to see what else is in the record.
After giving it some thought, I approached the search screen once again with a new tactic. Instead of including a county, I put only Virginia in the location box and marked exact search. Then I went down to the keyword box and put in Lewis as an exact keyword.
|Search screen using Aaron Schoolcraft with Virginia as exact location and Lewis as exact keyword|
|Success! Using the state as location and adding the county as keyword will pull up the actual census records.|