American History and Genealogy Project

State of Virginia

Virginia, the northernmost of the southern United States, is bounded n. by Pennsylvania and Maryland, from which it is separated by the Potomac; E. by the Atlantic; s. by North Carolina and Tennessee; w. by Kentucky; and n. w. by Ohio. It lies between 36° 33' and 40° 43' n. lat., and between 75° 25' and 83° 40' w. long.; and between 6° 34' w., and 1° 20' e. long, from W. It is 370 miles long, and 200 broad at its greatest width, containing 64,000 sq. miles, or 40,960,000 acres. The population in 1790, was 747,610; in 1800, 886,149; in 1810, 974,622; in 1820, 1,065,366: in 1830, 1,211,272; in 1840, 1,239,797, of which 448,987 were slaves. Of the free white population 371,223 were white males; 369,745 do. females; 23,814 were colored males; 26,020 do. females. Employed in agriculture, 318,771; in commerce, 6,361; in manufactures and trades. 54,147; navigating the ocean, 582; do. canals, rivers, and lakes, 2,952; learned professions, &c, 3,866.

This state is divided into 119 counties, and two districts, Eastern and Western.

County, Population, Capital

Eastern District
Accomac, 17,096, Accomac C. H. Lancaster, 4,628, Lancaster C. H.
Albemarle, 22,924., Charlottesville Loudoun, 20,431, Leesburg
Amelia, 10,320, Amelia C. H. Louisa, 15,433, Louisa C. H.
Amherst, 12,576, Amherst C. H. Lunenburg, 11,055, Lunenburg C. H.
Bedford, 20,203, Liberty Madison, 8,107, Madison
Brunswick, 14,346, Lawrenceville Matthews, 7,442, Matthews C. H.
Buckingham, 18,786, Buckingham C. H. Mecklenburg, 20,724, Boydton
Campbell, 21,030, Campbell C. H. Middlesex, 4,392, Urbanna
Caroline, 17,813, Bowling Green Nansemond, 10,795, Suffolk
Charles City, 4,774, Charles City C. H. Nelson, 12,287, Livingston
Charlotte, 14,595, Charlotte C. H. New Kent, 6,230, New Kent C. H.
Chesterfield, 17,148, Chesterfield C. H. Norfolk, 27,569, Norfolk
Culpepper, 11,393, Culpepper C. H. Northampton, 7,715, Eastville
Cumberland, 10,399, Cumberland C. H. Northumberland, 7,924, Northumberland C. H
Dinwiddie, 22,558, Dinwiddie C. H. Nottoway, 9,719, Nottoway C. H.
Elizabeth City, 3,706, Hampton Orange, 9,125, Orange C. H.
Essex, 11,309, Tappahannock Patrick, 8,032, Patrick C. H.
Fairfax, 9,370, Fairfax C. H. Pittsylvania, 26,398, Pittsylvania C. H.
Fauquier, 21,897, Warrenton Powhatan, 7,924, Scottsville
Fluvanna, 8,812, Palmyra Princess Anne, 7,285, Princess Anne C. H.
Franklin, 15,832, Rocky Mount Prince Edward, 14,069, Prince Edward C. H.
Gloucester, 10,715, Gloucester C. H. Prince George, 7,175, City Point
Goochland, 9,760, Goochland C. H. Prince William, 8,144, Brentsville
Greensville, 6,366, Hicksford Rappahannock, 9,257, Washington
Greene, 4,232, Stannardsville Richmond, 5,965, Richmond C. H.
Halifax, 25,936, Halifax C. H. Southampton, 14,525, Jerusalem
Hanover, 14,968, Hanover C. H. Spotsylvania, 15,161, Spotsylvania C. H.
Henrico, 33,076, Richmond Stafford, 8,454, Falmouth
Henry, 7,335, Martinsville Surry, 6,480, Surry C. H.
Isle of Wight, 9,972, Smithfield Sussex, 11,229, Sussex C. H
James City, 3,779, Williamsburg Warwick, 1,456, Warwick C. H.
King George, 5,927, King George C. H. Westmoreland, 8,019, Westmoreland C. H.
King William, 9,258, King William C. H. York, 4,720, Yorktown
King and Queen, 10,862, King and Queen C. H.  
Eastern District, whites, 369,398, free colored, 42,294, slaves 395,250 total, 806,942.

County, Population, Capital

Western District
Alleghany, 2,749, Covington Monongalia, 17,368, Morgantown
Augusta, 19,628, Staunton Monroe, 8,422, Union
Bath, 4,300, Bath Montgomery, 7,405, Christiansburg
Berkley, 10,972, Martinsburg Morgan, 4,253, Berkley Springs
Botetourt, 11,679, Fincastle Nicholas, 2,515, Summersville
Braxton, 2,575, Braxton C. H. Ohio, 13,357, Wheeling
Brooke, 7,948, Wellsburg Page, 6,194, Surry
Cabell, 8,163, Cabell C. H. Pendleton, 6,940, Franklin
Clarke, 6,353, Berryville Pocahontas, 2,922, Huntersville
Fayette, 3,924, Fayetteville Preston, 6,866, Kingwood
Giles, 5,307, Giles C. H. Pulaski, 3,739, Newbern
Grayson, 9,087, Greensville Randolph, 6,203, Beverly
Greenbrier, 8,695, Lewisburg Roanoke, 5,499, Salem
Hampshire, 12,295 Romney Rockbridge, 14,284, Lexington
Hardy, 7,622, Moorefield Rockingham, 17,344, Harrisonburg
Harrison, 17,669, Clarksburg Russell, 7,878, Lebanon
Jackson, 4,890, Ripley Scott, 7,303, Estiuville
Jefferson, 14,032, Charlestown Shenandoah, 11,618, Woodstock
Kanawha, 13,567, Charleston Smythe, 6,522, Marion
Lee, 8,441, Jonesville Tazewell, 6,290, Jeffersonville
Lewis, 8,151, Weston Tyler, 6,954, Middlebourne
Logan, 4,309, Logan C. H. Warren, 5,627, Front Royal
Marshall, 6,937, Elizabethtown Washington, 13,001, Abingdon
Mason, 6,777, Point Pleasant Wood, 7,923, Parkersburg
Mercer, 2,233, Princeton Wythe, 9,375, Wytheville.
Western District, whites 371,570, free colored 7,548, slaves 53,737 total, 432,855.

Richmond is the capital of the state, situated on the N. side of James River, at the head of tide-water, and just below its lower falls.

This state has a great variety of surface and soil. From the Atlantic to the lower falls on the rivers, which includes a tract of from 110 to 130 miles in width, the country is low and flat, in some places marshy, but extensively sandy, covered with the pitch pine. On the margin of the rivers, the soil is often rich. This is denominated the low country, and is unhealthy from August to October. Between the head of tidewater and the Blue Ridge, the country becomes uneven and hilly, and more so as it approaches the mountains. The soil in this region is some of it sandy and poor; some of it is fertile, particularly on the margins of the rivers. Toward the mountains the country is stony and broken, though the soil is often rich. The first ridge of mountains in this state is generally about 150 miles from the ocean. Beyond this the country is mountainous, traversed by successive ridges of the Alleghany, which occupies a greater breadth of country in Virginia than in any other state. Between the various ridges, however, there are long valleys or table land, parallel with them, often of considerable breadth, and containing some of the best and most pleasant land in Virginia. The farms are here smaller than in other parts of the state, better cultivated, and there are fewer slaves. The climate in this region is very healthy.

The soil in the tidewater country is generally poor, producing Indian corn, oats, and peas. Wheat is raised in some parts of it, and a little rice in the swamps in its southern part. Between tidewater and the mountains is the tobacco country; but in the northern upland counties wheat has extensively superseded tobacco; and south of James river, sufficient cotton is raised for homo consumption. The southeastern counties produce apples and peaches in great abundance. Among the mountains, the farmers raise large numbers of cattle and hogs. Indian com is cultivated throughout the state. The country west of the mountains toward the Ohio, is rough and wild, sometimes, but not generally fertile; but very rich as a mineral region.


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There were in this state in 1840, 326,439 horses and mules; 1,024,148 neat cattle; 1,293,772 sheep; 1,992,155 swine; poultry to the value of $754,698. There were produced 10,109,716 bush-els of wheat; 87,430 of barley; 13,451,062 of oats; 1,482,799 of rye; 243,822 of buckwheat; 34,577,591 of Indian corn; 2,538,374 pounds of wool; 10,597 of hops; 65,020 of wax; 2,944,660 bushels of potatoes; 364,708 tons of hay; 25,594 of hemp and flax; 75,347,106 pounds of tobacco; 2,956 of rice; 3,494,483 of cotton; 3,191 of silk cocoons; 1,541,833 of sugar. The products of the dairy were valued at $1,480,488; of the orchard $705,765; value of lumber produced $538,092; 13,911 gallons of wine were made.

The mineral wealth of Virginia is very great. Gold, copper, lead, iron, coal, salt, limestone, and marble are found, together with a number of valuable mineral springs. An attention to the business of mining has recently been excited, and in 1840, 2,000 persons were employed in it. The belt of country in which gold is found, extends through Spotsylvania county and the adjacent country, and in a s. w. direction, passes into North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. The gold in this state is not sufficiently concentrated to render it profitable, excepting in a few places, to engage in mining it. The coal fields in Virginia are very extensive, and afford both the bituminous and the anthracite. Large quantities have been obtained and exported from the vicinity of Richmond. Salt springs have been found in various places, and salt has been extensively manufactured on the Great Kanawha River, near Charleston. The warm springs, at Bath, the hot springs, a few miles distant, the sulphur springs, in Greenbrier and Montgomery counties, and the sweet springs, of Botetourt County, are much resorted to by those in pursuit of health and of pleasure.


The natural bridge, in Rockbridge County, and Weyer's cave, in Augusta County, are great curiosities.

The staple productions of the state are wheat and tobacco

The Potomac River separates this state from Maryland. James River is the largest which belongs to this state. It is 500 miles in length, and flows from the mountains in the interior, behind the Blue Ridge, through which it passes. It is navigable for sloops 120 miles, and for boats much fur-ther, and enters into Chesapeake Bay. The Appomattox is 130 miles long, and enters James River 100 miles above Hampton roads, and is navigable 12 miles, to Petersburg. The Rappahannock rises in the Blue Ridge, is 130 miles long, is navigable 110 miles for sloops, and enters into the Chesapeake. York River enters the Chesapeake 30 miles below the Rappahannock, and is navigable 40 miles for ships. The Shenandoah enters the Potomac just before its passage through the Blue Ridge. Of the rivers w. of the mountains, the Great Kanawha rises in North Carolina, passes through this state and enters the Ohio. The Little Kanawha also enters into the Ohio. The Monongahela rises in this state, though it runs chiefly in Pennsylvania.


The lower part of Chesapeake Bay lies wholly in this state, is 15 miles wide at its mouth, and enters the Atlantic between Cape Charles and Cape Henry. Norfolk, 8 miles from Hampton roads, has a fine harbor, much the best in the state, spacious, safe, and well defended; and it is the most commercial place in Virginia: but Richmond and Petersburg are more populous, and have an extensive trade. Besides these, Wheeling, Lynchburg, Fredericksburg, and Winchester, are principal places.

The exports of this state in 1840, amounted to $4,778,220; and the imports to $545,685. There were 31 commercial and 64 commission houses engaged in foreign trade, with a capital of $4,299,500; 2,736 retail drygoods and other stores, with a capital of $16,684,413; 1,454 persons employed in the lumber trade, with a capital of $113,210; 931 persons engaged in internal transportation, who, with 103 butchers, packers, &c, employed a capital of $100,680; 556 persons employed in the fisheries, with a capital of $28,383.

The manufactures of Virginia are not so extensive as those of some states inferior to it in territory and population. There were in 1840, domestic or family manufactures to the amount of $2,441,672; 41 woolen manufactories and 47 fulling mills, employing 222 persons, producing articles to the amount of $147,792, with a capital of $112,350; 22 cotton manufactories, with 42,262 spindles, employing 1,816 persons, producing articles to the amount of $446,063, with a capital of $1,299,020; 42 furnaces producing 18,810 tons of cast-iron, and 52 forges, &c, producing 5,836 tons of bar-iron, the whole employing 1,742 persons, and a capital of $1,246,650; 11 smelting houses employed 131 persons, and produced gold to the amount of $51,758, employing a capital of $103,650; 5 smelting houses employed 73 persons, and produced 878,648 pounds of lead, employing a capital of $21,500; 12 paper manufactories, producing articles to the amount of $216,245, and other paper manufactories producing $1,260, the whole employing 181 persons, and a capital of $287,750; 3,342 persons manufactured tobacco to the amount of $2,406,671, employing a capital of $1,526,080;


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hats and caps were manufactured to the amount of $155,778, and straw bonnets to the amount of $14,700, the whole employing 340 persons, and a capital of $85,640; 660 tanneries employed 1,422 persons, and a capital of $838,141; 982 other leather manufactories, as saddleries, &c, produced articles to the amount of $826,597, and employed a capital of $341,957; 4 glass-houses, and 2 glass-cutting establishments employed 164 persons, producing articles to the value of $146,500, with a capital of $132,000; 33 potteries employed 64 persons, producing articles to the amount of $31,380, with a capital of $10,225; 36 persons produced drugs, paints, &c, to the amount of $66,633, with a capital of $61,727; 445 persons produced machinery to the amount of $429,858; 150 persons produced hardware and cutlery to the amount of $50,504; 262 persons manufactured 9,330 small-arms; 40 persons manufactured granite and marble to the amount of $16,652; 1,004 persons produced bricks and lime to the amount of $393,253; carriages and wagons were manufactured to the amount of $647,815, employing 1,592 persons, and a capital of $311,625; 1,454 distilleries produced 865,725 gallons, and 5 breweries produced 32,960 gallons, employing 1,631 persons, and a capital of $187,212; 764 flouring mills produced 1,041,526 barrels of flour, and with other mills employed 3,964 persons, producing articles to the amount of $7,855,499, with a capital of $5,184,669; ships were built to the amount of $136,807; 675 persons manufactured furniture to the amount of $289,391; 402 brick or stone, and 2,604 wooden houses were built, employing 4,694 persons, and cost $1,367,393; 50 printing offices, and 13 binderies, 4 daily, 12 semi-weekly, and 35 weekly newspapers, and 5 periodicals, employed 310 persons, and a capital of $168,850. The whole amount of capital employed in manufactures in the state was $11,360,861.


William and Mary College, at Williamsburg, is the oldest in the state, and one of the oldest in the country, and was founded in 1691. Hampden Sidney College, in Prince Edward County, was founded in 1783, and is flourishing. Washington College, at Lexington, was founded in 1812. Randolph Macon College was founded at Boydton in 1832. There are theological schools at Richmond, in Prince Edward County, and in Fairfax County. But the most important literary institution in the state is the University of Virginia, at Charlottesville, founded in 1819. Its plan is extensive, its endowment has been munificent, and it is a prosperous institution. In all these, with a few smaller institutions, there were in 1840, 1,097 students; there were in the state, also, 332 academies, with 11,083 students; 1,561 common and primary schools, with 35,331 scholars; and 58,787 white persons over 20 years of age who could neither read nor write.

The Baptists, the most numerous religious denominations, have about 437 churches; the Presbyterians 120; the Episcopalians, 65 ministers; the Methodists 170. There are also a few Lutherans, Catholics, Unitarians, Friends, and Jews.

In January, 1840, there were in this state 8 banks and branches, with a capital of $3,637,400, and a circulation of $2,513,412. At the close of the same year the public debt amounted to $6,857,161.

There is a state penitentiary located at Richmond.


The first constitution of Virginia was formed in 1776. This was altered and amended by a convention assembled for that purpose, in 1830. The executive power is vested in a governor, elected by the joint vote of the two houses of the general assembly. He is chosen for three years, but is ineligible for the next three. There is a council of state, elected in like manner for three years, the seat of one being vacated every year. The senior councilor is lieutenant-governor. The senators can never be more than 36, and the delegates than 150; and both are apportioned anew among the counties every 10 years, commencing with 1841. The senators are elected for 4 years, and the seats of one fourth of them are vacated every year. The delegates are chosen annually. All appointments to any office of trust, honor, or profit, by the legislature, are given openly, or viva voce, and not by ballot. The judges of the Supreme Court of appeals, and of the superior courts, are elected by the joint vote of both houses of the general assembly, and hold their offices during good behavior, or until removed by a joint vote of two thirds of the legislature.

The right of suffrage is extended to every resident white male citizen of 21 years of age, entitled to vote by the former constitution; or who owns a freehold valued at $25; or a joint interest in a freehold to that amount; or who has a life estate, or a reversionary title to land valued at $50, having been so possessed for 6 months; or who shall own, or be in occupation of, a leasehold estate, having been recorded 2 months, for a term not less than 5 years, to the annual value or rent of $200; or who for 12 months shall have been a housekeeper and head of a family, and paid the taxes assessed by the commonwealth.


Virginia has undertaken several important works of internal improvement, by chartering private companies, several of which have been liberally aided by the state. The Dismal Swamp canal connects Chesapeake Bay with Albemarle Sound, extending from Deep creek to Joyce's creek, 23 miles, at a cost of $879,864. It has branches of 11 miles. The Alexandria canal extends 7½ ms. from Georgetown to Alexandria. The James River and Kanawha canal extends 175 miles, from Richmond to Buchanan. The Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac railroad extends 75 miles, to Aquia creek. Louisa branch, 25 miles from Richmond, proceeds 49 miles, to Gordonsville.

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Richmond and Petersburg railroad, from Richmond, extends 23 miles, to Petersburg. Petersburg and Roanoke railroad extends from Petersburg, 59 miles, to Weldon. Greensville railroad extends from near Hicks, for 18 miles, to Gaston, N. C. City Point railroad extends from Petersburg, 12 miles, to City Point. Chesterfield railroad extends from Coal Mines, 131 miles, to Richmond. Portsmouth and Roanoke railroad extends from Portsmouth, 8 miles, to Weldon, N. C. Winchester and Potomac railroad extends from Harper's Ferry, 32 miles, to Winchester.

Virginia is sometimes denominated the Ancient Dominion, having been settled in April, 1607, at Jamestown, on James River, which was the first white settlement in the United States. It was named Virginia, in honor of Queen Elizabeth, by Sir Walter Raleigh, to whom she granted the country. He attempted a settlement of it, which failed. The grant was vacated by the execution and attainder of that nobleman, under James I. The country was then granted to two companies, the London Company and the Plymouth Company, and called South and North Virginia. By the former the country was settled, and Jamestown was named in honor of their royal patron. This country suffered many disasters arising from the turbulence of its citizens, the wars with the Indians, and the tyranny of the royal governors. Virginia was a very loyal province, and was attached to the royal party in the revolution of 1688; and was among the first to proclaim Charles II., at the restoration. The Church of England was established by law, in 1662. Virginia had the high honor, in 1732, of being the birth-place of George Washington, and it was as an officer of her colonial militia that he commenced his career of military glory. This state was among the first to resist the aggressions of the mother country, and her sages and her yeomen bore a distinguished part in the struggles of the revolution. Her Patrick Henry, as a revolutionary orator, her Washington, as the greatest and the best in the field and in the cabinet, and her Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, as presidents of the United States, and her Marshall, as chief-justice, have conferred distinguished honor on their country. In convention, June 25th, 1788, the constitution of the United States was adopted, yeas 89, nays 79; majority, 10. It will be found that the constitution was adopted with most difficulty where the spirit of freedom was the most jealous.

Table of Contents

Source: A Complete Descriptive And Statistical Gazetteer Of The United States Of America, By Daniel Haskel, A. M and J. Calvin Smith, Published By Sherman & Smith, 1843

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