Saturday, May 22, 2010

Get To Know The Rich History Of Henrico County Virginia

Among the oldest political designations in the country, Henrico County, Virginia was the site of the second settlement in the colony and today occupies about one-third of the greater Richmond metropolitan area.

Captain Christopher Newport led the first group of English explorers into the area and claimed the land north of Jamestown in the spring of 1607. Four years later Sir Thomas Dale left Jamestown and settled Henricus, or the City of Henrico, as the second settlement established by the New World colonists.

In 1612 the economy was established when John Rolfe introduced a new strain of tobacco. Two years later Rolfe married Pocahontas, the daughter of Powhatan, and that was enough to establish a temporary peace agreement with the Native Americans in the area. The couple is believed to have lived at Varina Farms plantation, which was the original county seat and remained so until 1752 when the City of Richmond was given that designation.

In 1619, the City of Henrico was included as one of seven settlements established and those in charge saw fit to set aside 10,000 acres as the site for the first English university in America. Later that year the seven plantations sent a contingent to Jamestown to attend the General Assembly. This is the first example of representative legislature being exercised in any British colony.

Henrico became one of eight original counties established in Virginia in 1634. It was named for Henry, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of James I, the King of England at the time.

It was Henrico planter Nathaniel Bacon, Jr. Who led one of the first revolts against the crown in 1676. The movement known as Bacon's Rebellion would serve notice that Virginians were not going to sit back and put up with anything they viewed to be unfair policies set forth by any governing body.

The economy of the county throughout the early years of the 19th century depended on milling, farming and coal mining. At that time, slaves were relied upon as the primary labor source. What is thought to be the most elaborate slave uprising ever conceived was organized in Henrico County by a slave named Gabriel. When several slaves spilled the beans, Gabriels Rebellion was effectively shut down.

Henrico County is the site of seven major Civil War battles during the Peninsula Campaign in 1862. The Overland Campaign took place in 1864 and the fighting that took place during the Siege of Petersburg eventually led to the fall of Richmond. General J. E. B. Stuart was mortally wounded there in May 1864 during the Battle of Yellow Tavern.

Many reconstruction efforts in Virginia were centered around education and central to the efforts was Virginia Randolph, who was born five years after the Civil War ended as the daughter of a slaves. Known largely for her help in the advancement of vocational education, she founded the Virginia Randolph Training School in 1915.

Home to nearly 300,000 people today, the country embraces its rich heritage and through various preservation efforts, several county sites are recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

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