Goochland County, Virginia

Goochland County, Virginia
Goochland County, Virginia
Seal of Goochland County, Virginia
Map of Virginia highlighting Goochland County
Location in the state of Virginia
Map of the U.S. highlighting Virginia
Virginia's location in the U.S.
Founded 1728[1]
Seat Goochland
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

290 sq mi (751 km²)
284 sq mi (736 km²)
6 sq mi (16 km²), 1.92%
 -  Density

60/sq mi (23/km²)

Goochland County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2010, the population was 21,717.[2] Its county seat is Goochland[3]. It is located in the Richmond-Petersburg region and is a portion of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).



Dover Mills, depicted in 1865

"In 1634, the entire occupied territory of Virginia was divided into eight shires, which were to be governed as shires in England. Henrico was one of the eight shires established." [4] Goochland was founded in 1728 from Henrico shire, and was the first county to split from Henrico (followed by Chesterfield County in 1749). Goochland was named after Sir William Gooch, the royal lieutenant governor from 1727-1749 (the nominal governor, the Earl of Albemarle, remained in England without much authority). At the time of its founding, Goochland included all of the land from Tuckahoe Creek, on both sides of the James River, west to the Blue Ridge Mountains.[1]

As the colonists moved west of Richmond, they first created tobacco plantations, like those of the Tidewater. They depended on the labor of enslaved Blacks to manage its intense cultivation. After the Revolution, tobacco was not so lucrative a crop. In Goochland, as in other areas of Virginia, many planters switched to growing wheat and mixed crops. They continued to rely heavily on the labor of slaves for the full range of plantation tasks.

According to the 1860 Census and Slave Schedules, the total population of the county was 10,656. Of that number, 57.6%, or 6139 people, were enslaved Blacks. By 1870 after the Civil War, the total population decreased slightly to 10,313, but the number of Black freedpeople rose to 6610, or 64% of the total. In later years agricultural work decreased and more people migrated to Richmond and other towns. In the early decades of the 20th century, many Blacks left Virginia in the Great Migration North for better jobs and opportunities. In 2000, they comprised only 26% of Goochland County's population.

Goochland Courthouse

The first court in Goochland County was held in May 1728. The exact location of this first court is unknown, but researchers believe that the first courthouse was constructed in Goochland between 1730 and 1737. In the mid-18th century, the location of the first courthouse was moved.[4] Then once more in the early-19th century the courthouse was moved to its current location along Rt. 522 in central Goochland.

Revolutionary War

Lord Cornwallis

Goochland County witnessed several major events in U.S. history. During the early part of 1781, Lord Cornwallis marched his sizable army through the boundaries of Goochland. There is one particular point along the James River that came to be known as Cornwallis Hill. "It is said that the British General, who paused here on his way to Yorktown, remarked that this spot with its magnificent vista of the James River Valley would make an ideal site for a house.[5]

General La Fayette

General Lafayette returned later in life to visit Virginia during his grand tour of the United States in 1824 and 1825. On November 2, 1824, General Lafayette "left Richmond on his way to Monticello to visit Mr. Jefferson." [4] On the way, Gen. Lafayette stopped at Powell's Tavern in Goochland. ("I spent some time at the Tavern and there was much celebration at his arrival.") While there, the general met with American officers and many citizens of the county.

Civil War

Dahlgren's Raid

Almost 100 years after Cornwallis marched his army through Goochland, the county witnessed yet another war on its soil. Colonel Ulric Dahlgren was a young, distinguished officer by the year 1864. He had a daring plan to almost single-handedly defeat the South. On March 1, 1864, Dahlgren "reached the hill at Dover Mills, on the farm of James A. Seddon" (Confederate Secretary of War). His plan was to secretly infiltrate central Virginia, liberate nearly 12,000 Union prisoners on Belle Isle in Richmond, the Confederate capital, and then easily destroy the city. At this point, Colonel Dahlgren had arrived at the homes of Sabot Hill, Dover, and Eastwood in eastern Goochland. Eastwood was occupied at the time by "Plumer Hobson, whose wife was the daughter of Brigadier General Henry A. Wise. On the previous night General Wise...arrived at Eastwood." [4] When a detail arrived at Eastwood looking for Gen. Wise, his daughter lied and said that her father was in Charleston, South Carolina, when in reality he was running southwest to Richmond to warn the troops. Dahlgren himself then went to Sabot Hill, the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Seddon. When Dahlgren knocked on the door, Mrs. Seddon answered. Using her southern charm, she lured Dahlgren inside to have some wine, long enough so that Gen. Wise could get to Richmond before Dahlgren. Ultimately, due to quick thinking by the families in that area, Richmond was warned and was able to stop Col. Dahlgren.

James Pleasants

Of all the contributions that Goochland made during the Civil War, one of the most remarkable is that of James Pleasants, who was born and raised in Goochland County. When the war broke out, he insisted that he take his uncle's place in the Goochland Light Dragoons (known during the war as Co. F, 4th Virginia Cavalry). After much consideration, in 1861, Pleasants was allowed to take his uncle's place. In the winter of 1864, any troops that were close to home were allowed to return there and help recruit soldiers. On his first night home, Dahlgren's raiders stole his horses, but did not search the property. When Pleasants found out what happened, he did not wait for reinforcements, but rather grabbed his carbine and started off on foot after the raiders. When he heard a noise, he hid in the woods, and then ordered the Union cavalryman to surrender. Pleasants then mounted the man's horse, and forced the soldier to walk in front in search of more enemies. Within a short amount of time, James Pleasants was taking numerous soldiers back to Bowles' store as prisoners. In all, James Pleasants had single-handedly captured 15 Union soldiers, recovered 16 horses, and shot one officer that refused to surrender.[4]


Sponsored by the Daughters of the Confederacy, a monument was erected on the Goochland Courthouse green. It was unveiled on June 22, 1918. Among those in attendance was Robert E. Lee, grandson of General Robert E. Lee.


In 1720, there were two parishes in Henrico County, St. James and Henrico Parish. When Goochland County was formed, St. James Parish fell within the boundaries on both sides of the James River and westward. When Albemarle County was formed from Goochland in 1744, the Parish was divided into three parishes. St. Anne's Parish covered Albemarle, St. James Southam Parish covered the south side of the river (now Powhatan County), and St. James Northam Parish covered the rest of Goochland.[4]

In St. James Northam Parish there were three original churches, Dover Episcopal, Beaverdam Episcopal, and Lickinghole Epsicopal. Dover was the first, being built in 1724, and it closed sometime after the Revolutionary War. Its exact closing and location are unknown. Beaverdam was located near what is now Whitehall Road, but its exact location is also unknown.

One notable church is Bryd Presbyternian Church. Byrd Presbyterian Church's congregation is descended from worshipers, organized by theologian and future Princeton University president Samuel Davies at Tucker Woodson's farm in 1748. By 1759 the group had its own building on Byrd Creek. In 1838 descendents of the original congregation began worshiping here when the existing structure was built. Byrd Presbyterian is a notable example of the simple brick churches constructed in Virginia during the 19th century. The building retains some of its original architectural features, including its slate roof and interior window valances, as well as its cemetery.

Today there are numerous churches of different denominations including several Episcopal, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and non-denominational Christian churches.

Three Chopt

Portions of Three Chopt Trail, a Native American trail, run through a large portion of the county. The trail was marked by three hatchet chops in trees to show the way. Modern day U.S. Route 250 roughly follows this route as it makes its way from Richmond to Charlottesville.

Historic homes

  • Tuckahoe Plantation

It is one of the older James River plantation mansions in the county. Grounds include a private schoolhouse where Thomas Jefferson and the Randolph children were educated.[6]

  • Sabot Hill - This was built in 1855 and owned by James A. Seddon, the Secretary of War for the Confederates States of America (CSA) during the American Civil War. The large home was damaged in Dahlgren's Raid.


Woodlawn is a Georgian Colonial style home built prior to 1760 by Josiah Leake. In 1834 it became the home of Colonel Thomas Taylor, a Mexican-American War hero.


There are many more historic homes and mansions in Goochland that are not listed here. For a more complete list, please contact the Goochland County Historical Society (see links below).

School buses

In 1973, Wayne Corporation of Richmond, Indiana introduced a safer design in school bus construction, the Lifeguard. Shortly afterward, the manufacturer held a nationwide contest to gain ideas to improve school bus safety, with the grand prize to be the award of a new Lifeguard school bus. Pearl P. Randolph, the first black member of the Goochland County School Board, created the winning entry.

As a result, the Goochland County Public Schools received the new school bus. Her idea was to install sound baffles in the ceilings of school bus bodies to help reduce driver distraction. Compact forms of such equipment were later developed in the 1980s by Wayne and other bus manufacturers when diesel engines (and their greater noise) became commonplace.

West Creek Business Park

Contributors to Goochland's increased growth in the early 2000s was the construction of the West Creek Business Park, as well as the completion of Richmond's semi-circumferential State Route 288. The latter connected the county to the major travel corridors of I-64 and I-95. The industrial park began attracting many businesses, including the corporate headquarters for Farm Bureau of Virginia and Performance Food Group (PFG), as well as Hallmark Youth Care, CarMax, and Capital One.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 290 square miles (751.1 km2), of which 284 square miles (735.6 km2) is land and 6 square miles (15.5 km2) (1.92%) is water. Goochland County is drained by the James River.

Adjacent counties


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1790 9,053
1800 9,696 7.1%
1810 10,203 5.2%
1820 10,007 −1.9%
1830 10,369 3.6%
1840 9,760 −5.9%
1850 10,352 6.1%
1860 10,656 2.9%
1870 10,313 −3.2%
1880 10,292 −0.2%
1890 9,958 −3.2%
1900 9,519 −4.4%
1910 9,237 −3.0%
1920 8,863 −4.0%
1930 7,953 −10.3%
1940 8,454 6.3%
1950 8,934 5.7%
1960 9,206 3.0%
1970 10,069 9.4%
1980 11,761 16.8%
1990 14,163 20.4%
2000 16,863 19.1%
2010 21,717 28.8%

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 16,863 people, 6,158 households, and 4,710 families residing in the county. The population density was 59 people per square mile (23/km²). There were 6,555 housing units at an average density of 23 per square mile (9/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 72.71% White, 25.64% Black or African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.47% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.20% from other races, and 0.77% from two or more races. 0.85% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

The largest ethnic/ancestry groups in Goochland County are: English (16.3%), "American" (13.0%), German (11.8%), Irish (9.3%), Scots-Irish (4.0%) and Scottish (3.9%).[8]

There were 6,158 households out of which 29.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.60% were married couples living together, 8.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.50% were non-families. 19.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the county, the population was spread out with 21.30% under the age of 18, 5.30% from 18 to 24, 32.10% from 25 to 44, 28.90% from 45 to 64, and 12.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 101.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $56,307, and the median income for a family was $64,685. Males had a median income of $41,663 versus $29,519 for females. The per capita income for the county was $29,105. 6.90% of the population and 4.30% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 7.70% are under the age of 18 and 8.10% are 65 or older.

Notable natives and residents

(should only be those with Wikipedia articles)


No incorporated communities are located in Goochland County. Unincorporated communities include the following:

See also


  1. ^ a b Goochland County Historical Society
  2. ^ [1]. Weldon Cooper Center 2010 Census Count Retrieved September 9, 2011
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Agee, Helene. Facets of Goochland County's History. Richmond, VA: Dietz Press, 1962
  5. ^ a b Bullard, Cece. Goochland Yesterday and Today: A Pictorial History, Virginia Beach, VA: The Donning Company, 1994
  6. ^ a b "Tuckahoe Plantation", Official Website
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  8. ^

External links

Coordinates: 37°43′N 77°56′W / 37.72°N 77.93°W / 37.72; -77.93

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