The Town of Hicksford (also sometimes called Hick's Ford) was settled in 1710 in the Virginia Colony, where the Fort Road of eastern Virginia crossed the Meherrin River en route to Fort Christiana. After statehood, the Town of Belfield was established in 1798 on the north bank of the river. The two Greensville County towns merged in 1887 to form the new incorporated town of Emporia, which was named after the town of Emporia, Kansas. The Town Emporia was re-chartered by the Virginia General Assembly as an independent city in 1967.
Emporia has long been a transportation crossroads. Currently, a major north-south railroad line of CSX Transportation crosses with an east-west line of Norfolk Southern. East-west U.S. Route 58 crosses north-south U.S. Route 301 as well.
Emporia is the home to MLB player Jamar Walton, and NASCAR drivers Elliott Sadler and Hermie Sadler. It is also the hometown of writer Michaelene Robinson. Unusual for a small town, the Emporia Bicycling Club hosts regular group rides, including the annual Great Peanut ride which attracts hundreds of bicyclists who ride to visit a peanut farm and are treated to hearty meals and live entertainment at camp. Located at the north edge of the "cotton belt", soybeans, pine and hardwood lumber, and tobacco are also grown around Emporia. Unfortunately, in 2005 and 2006 the town ranked #2 in crime in Virginia based on incidents per 100,000 population, in the state's annual report "Crime in Virginia 2006" (source: www.vancnews.com).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.0 square miles (18.1 km²), of which, 6.9 square miles (17.8 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (1.00%) is water. I-95 and US-58 are the major roads passing through the city, and the city is located about 65 miles south of Richmond, about 80 miles west of Norfolk, and about 60 miles north of Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
There were 2,226 households out of which 29.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.5% were married couples living together, 21.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.8% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.05.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.2% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 20.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 83.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,333, and the median income for a family was $35,743. Males had a median income of $27,772 versus $21,657 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,377. About 11.4% of families and 16.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.5% of those under age 18 and 14.5% of those age 65 or over.