Goochland County is a county located in the U.S. state — officially, "Commonwealth" — of Virginia. As of the 2000 census, the population was 16,863. Its county seat is Goochland. It is located in the Richmond-Petersburg region and is a portion of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
"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." 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.
As the colonists moved west of Richmond, they first created tobacco plantations, like those of the Tidewater. They depended on the labor of enslaved African Americans 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 African-Americans. By 1870 after the Civil War, the total population decreased slightly to 10,313, but the number of African-American 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 African Americans left Virginia in the Great Migration North for better jobs and opportunities. In 2000, they comprised only 26% of Goochland County's population.
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-1700s, the location of the first courthouse was moved. Then once more in the early-1800s the courthouse was moved to its current location along Rt. 522 in central Goochland.
Several prominent people were either born in Goochland County or spent some of their lives within the County. Thomas Jefferson
was born in 1743 at Shadwell, which was then well within the boundaries of Goochland County. He spent his childhood years at Tuckahoe, where he received his early education. Both Thomas Mann Randolph (b. 1768) and James Pleasants (b. 1769) were born in Goochland and served as Governors of Virginia
. Goochland also produced cabinet members for both sides of the Civil War
. Edward Bates served in the cabinet of Lincoln, and James A. Seddon served as the Confederate Secretary of War under Jefferson Davis
. Famous 20th century landscape artist George Inness
also painted as many as eight paintings while visiting Goochland.
Goochland County witnessed several major events in U.S. history. During the early part of 1781, Lord Cornwallis
marched his sizeable 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.
General La Fayette
General La Fayette returned later in life to visit Virginia
and the United States. On November 2, 1824, General La Fayette "left Richmond on his way to Monticello to visit Mr. Jefferson." On the way, Gen. La Fayette 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 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 secretely infiltrate central Virginia
, liberate nearly 12,000 Union prisoners on Belle Isle in Richmond, and then easily destroy the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. 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." 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 south-west to Richmond to warn the troops. Dahlgren himself then went to Sabot Hill, the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Seddon. When Dahlgrent 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.
Of all the contributions that Goochland made during the Civil War, one of the most remarkable is that of James Pleasants. James Pleasants 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, James 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 their and help recruit soldiers. In 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 singled handedly captured 15 Union soldiers, recovered 16 horses, and shot one officer that refused to surrender.
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 on 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.
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.
Today there are numerous churches of different denominations. Of those include several Episcopal, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Christian churches.
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
Built is one of the older James River mansions in Goochland. The plantation has an H-shaped mansion and a schoolhouse where Thomas Jefferson and the Randolph children were educated.
Sabot Hill was built by James A. Seddon, Confederate Sec. of War, in 1855. It was a large home that saw much of the area 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).
, Wayne Corporation
of Richmond, Indiana
introduced a new safer design in school bus
construction. Shortly after the Lifeguard
was introduced, the bus manufacturer held a nationwide contest soliciting ideas to improve school bus safety, with a new Lifeguard school bus as the grand prize. The winning entry was submitted by Mrs. Elwood (Pearl P.) Randolph, a school bus driver from Goochland County. Goochland County Public Schools received the new school bus. Her idea was to install sound baffles
in the ceiling of school bus bodies to help reduce driver distraction. Compact forms of such equipment were later developed used by Wayne and other school bus manufacturers when diesel
engines (and their greater noise) became commonplace for school buses in the 1980s.
West Creek Business Park
One major contributor to Goochland's tremendous growth in the early 2000s was the construction of the West Creek Business Park and the completion of Richmond's semi-circumferential State Route 288
which connected it to I-64
. This industrial park
began attracting many businesses, including the corporate headquarters for Farm Bureau of Virginia and Performance Food Group
(PFG), as well as significant employers such 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
), of which, 284 square miles (737 km²) of it is land and 6 square miles (14 km²) of it (1.92%) is water. Goochland County is drained by the James River
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
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.
No incorporated communities are located in Goochland County. Unincorporated communities include the following: