Goochland County, Virginia
|Goochland County, Virginia|
Goochland County Courthouse
Location in the state of Virginia
Virginia's location in the U.S.
|Named for||Sir William Gooch|
290 sq mi (751 km²)
284 sq mi (736 km²)
6 sq mi (16 km²), 1.92%
60/sq mi (23/km²)
Goochland County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2010, the population was 21,717. Its county seat is Goochland. It is located in the Richmond-Petersburg region and is a portion of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
Native Americans had lived along the waterways for several thousand years. Siouan-speaking tribes were the ones encountered by English colonists. Their numbers were sharply reduced by European infectious diseases to which they had no immunity, which caused widespread social disruption.
In 1634, the colonial government organized the territory of Virginia into eight shires, to be governed as shires were in England. Henrico was one of these shires. Goochland was founded in 1728 as the first county formed from Henrico shire, followed by Chesterfield County in 1749. Goochland was named for Sir William Gooch, the royal lieutenant governor from 1727 to 1749, at which time the nominal governor, the Earl of Albemarle, remained in England. Goochland originally included all of the land from Tuckahoe Creek, on both sides of the James River, west as far as the Blue Ridge Mountains.
As the colonists moved into the Piedmont west of Richmond, they first developed tobacco plantations like those of the Tidewater. They depended on enslaved Africans for the labor-intense cultivation of the lucrative commodity crop. After the Revolution, tobacco did not yield as high profits. 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 US Census and Slave Schedules, the total population of the county was 10,656. Of that number, 57.6%, or 6139 people, were enslaved African Americans. By 1870 after the Civil War, the total population decreased slightly to 10,313, but the number of blacks 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 for better jobs and opportunities in the North. By 2000, African Americans comprised only 26% of Goochland County's population, then nearly 19,000 people.
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. Then once more in the early-19th century the courthouse was moved to its current location along Rt. 522 in central Goochland.
During the early part of 1781, Lord Cornwallis marched his sizable army through the boundaries of Goochland. They occupied and thoroughly destroyed Elkhill, a small estate of Thomas Jefferson, slaughtering the livestock for food, burning barns and fences, and finally burning down the house. They took 27 slaves as prisoners of war, and 24 died of disease in the camp.
One point along the James River 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.
General Lafayette returned 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."  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.
Almost 100 years after Cornwallis marched his army through Goochland, the county was the site of another battle. By the year 1864, the young Union Colonel Ulric Dahlgren was a distinguished officer. He had a daring plan to secretly infiltrate central Virginia, liberate nearly 12,000 Union prisoners on Belle Isle in Richmond, the Confederate capital, and destroy the city. On March 1, 1864, Dahlgren's forces reached Sabot Hill, Dover, and Eastwood in eastern Goochland.
Eastwood was then occupied by Plumer Hobson and his wife, the daughter of Brigadier General Henry A. Wise. On the previous night General Wise had arrived at Eastwood. When a Union detail arrived at Eastwood looking for him, his daughter said that he was in Charleston, South Carolina. Instead, he was riding rapidly southeast to Richmond to warn the troops of the Union raiders. Dahlgren went to Sabot Hill, the home of James Seddon and his wife, who answered the door and invited the officer in for some wine and Southern hospitality. She knew that Wise was on his way to Richmond and wanted to delay Dahlgren. Ultimately, due to the quick thinking by the families in Goochland, Wise was able to warn forces in Richmond and defeat Dahlgren's raid.
When the war broke out, James Pleasants, a native of the county, insisted he replace his uncle in the Goochland Light Dragoons (known during the war as Co. F, 4th Virginia Cavalry). In 1861, he was allowed to take his uncle's place. In the winter of 1864, any troops who were close to home were allowed to return to recruit more soldiers. On Pleasants' first night home, Dahlgren's raiders stole his horses but did not search the property. When Pleasants found out what happened, he grabbed his carbine and started off on foot after the raiders. Hearing a noise, he hid in the woods, and then ordered the Union cavalryman to surrender. Pleasants mounted the man's horse, and forced the soldier to walk in front of him to search for more soldiers. Within a short amount of time, Pleasants had captured several Union prisoners and took them as prisoners back to Bowles' store. In all, he captured 15 Union soldiers, recovered 16 horses, and shot one officer who refused to surrender.
Sponsored by the Daughters of the Confederacy, a monument to the Confederate effort 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. 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.
In St. James Northam Parish there were three early churches: Dover Episcopal, Beaverdam Episcopal, and Lickinghole Episcopal. Dover was the first, being built in 1724, and it closed sometime after the Revolutionary War. Its location and closing date are unknown. Beaverdam was located near what is now Whitehall Road, but its exact location is also unknown.
One notable church is Byrd Presbyterian Church. The congregation has some members descended from worshipers organized by Samuel Davies, a theologian and future Princeton University president, 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 the numerous churches include several Episcopal, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and non-denominational Christian churches.
Portions of the historic 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. The modern-day U.S. Route 250 roughly follows this route from Richmond to Charlottesville.
- Tuckahoe Plantation - One of the older James River plantation mansions in the county, it has grounds that include a private schoolhouse where Thomas Jefferson and his Randolph cousins were educated.
- Sabot Hill - It was built in 1855 and owned by James A. Seddon, the Secretary of War for the Confederate States of America (CSA) during the Civil War. The large home was damaged in Dahlgren's Raid.
- Woodlawn - This is a Georgian Colonial-style home built prior to 1760 by Josiah Leake. In 1834 it was purchased by Colonel Thomas Taylor, a Mexican-American War hero.
- Clover Forest Plantation - In 1714, the land on which Clover Forest stands was first part of the several thousands of acres patented by Charles Fleming which would eventually become the neighboring plantations of Rock Castle, Snowden, Howard’s Neck and the site of Elk Island. Circa 1761, the central core of the home was built in 1807-1811 by Captain Thomas Pemberton of the Continental Dragoons and member of the Society of the Cincinnati 
Other historic homes and mansions in Goochland can be found through the Goochland County Historical Society (see links below).
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 County's 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the county are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees||Community|
|1||Capital One||5,600||West Creek Business Park|
|2||CarMax||987||West Creek Business Park|
|4||Virginia Farm Bureau||300||West Creek Business Park|
|5||Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond||200||West Creek Business Park|
|6||Performance Food Group||180||West Creek Business Park|
|7||Hermitage Country Club||150||Manakin-Sabot|
|10||Tucker Psychiatric Clinic||100||Sandston|
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.
- Louisa County - north
- Hanover County - northeast
- Henrico County - east
- Powhatan County - south
- Cumberland County - southwest
- Fluvanna County - west
As of the census 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.
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
- Thomas Jefferson, b. 1743 at Shadwell, then within the boundaries of the county. As a child he was schooled along with his friend Thomas at the Randolphs' Tuckahoe Plantation.
- Thomas Mann Randolph (b. 1768), Governor of Virginia
- James Pleasants (b. 1769), Governor of Virginia
- Edward Bates, served in the cabinet of Lincoln
- James Seddon, served as the Confederate Secretary of War under Jefferson Davis.
- George Inness, 20th-century landscape painter, completed eight works while visiting Goochland.
- Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers starting pitcher, off-season resident.
No incorporated communities are located in Goochland County. Unincorporated communities include the following:
- Goochland County Historical Society
- . Weldon Cooper Center 2010 Census Count Retrieved September 9, 2011
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Agee, Helene. Facets of Goochland County's History, Richmond, VA: Dietz Press, 1962
- Places: "Elkhill", Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia, Monticello, accessed 10 January 2012
- Bullard, Cece. Goochland Yesterday and Today: A Pictorial History, Virginia Beach, VA: The Donning Company, 1994
- "Tuckahoe Plantation", Official Website
- Elie Weeks, “Clover Forest” Goochland County Historical Society Magazine 5-A, 1973 p. 7-13
- County of Henrico CAFR
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Information Site for Goochland County, Virginia
- Goochland County Historical Society
- Tuckahoe Plantation
- Goochland County Public Schools
- Goochland County Chamber of Commerce
- Goochland Yellow Pages
- The Goochland Gazette
- Historical Census Browser
||Louisa County||Hanover County|
|Fluvanna County||Henrico County|
|Cumberland County||Powhatan County|