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Goochland County, Virginia facts for kids

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Goochland County
Goochland County Courthouse
Goochland County Courthouse
Official seal of Goochland County
Map of Virginia highlighting Goochland County
Location within the U.S. state of Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting Virginia
Virginia's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Virginia
Founded 1728
Named for Sir William Gooch
Seat Goochland
 • Total 290 sq mi (800 km2)
 • Land 281 sq mi (730 km2)
 • Water 8 sq mi (20 km2)  2.9%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density 77/sq mi (30/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 7th

Goochland County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 21,717. Its county seat is Goochland.

Goochland County is included in the Greater Richmond Region


Dover Mills, on the James River & Kanawha Canal, Virginia
Dover Mills, depicted in 1865

Native Americans

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.

Henrico Shire

In 1634, the colonial government organized the territory of Virginia into eight shires, to be governed as shires in England. Henrico was one of these shires.

Formation of Goochland County

Goochland was founded in 1728 as the first county formed from Henrico shire, followed by Chesterfield County in 1749. 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.

Goochland was named for Sir William Gooch, 1st Baronet, the royal lieutenant governor from 1727 to 1749, at which time the nominal governor, the Earl of Albemarle, remained in England. As acting royal governor, Gooch promoted settlement of the Virginia backcountry as a means to insulate the Virginia colony from Native American and New France settlements in the Ohio Country

As the colonists moved into the Piedmont west of Richmond, they first developed tobacco plantations like those of the Tidewater. 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.

Goochland Courthouse

The first court was held in May 1728. The exact location of this first court is unknown, but researchers believe that the first courthouse was constructed in old Goochland County between 1730 and 1737, perhaps at Scottsville—an old county seat which straddles three counties today. When the vast county was divided in 1744, old Albemarle County retained the original county seat. The location of second Goochland County courthouse had to be moved east. Then once more in the early-19th century the courthouse was moved to its current location along Rt. 6 in central Goochland. The Goochland County Court Square was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

Revolutionary War

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

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.

Civil War

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 an officer. He had a plan to infiltrate central Virginia, break out 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 to him.


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 descendants 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.

Three Chopt

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.

Historic homes

  • 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).

School buses

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, a 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.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 290 square miles (750 km2), of which 281 square miles (730 km2) is land and 8 square miles (21 km2) (2.9%) is water. Goochland County is drained by the James River.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

  • I-64
  • US 250
  • US 522
  • SR 6
  • SR 45
  • SR 271
  • SR 288


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 9,053
1800 9,696 7.1%
1810 10,203 5.2%
1820 10,007 −1.9%
1830 10,369 3.6%
1840 9,760 −5.9%
1850 10,352 6.1%
1860 10,656 2.9%
1870 10,313 −3.2%
1880 10,292 −0.2%
1890 9,958 −3.2%
1900 9,519 −4.4%
1910 9,237 −3.0%
1920 8,863 −4.0%
1930 7,953 −10.3%
1940 8,454 6.3%
1950 8,934 5.7%
1960 9,206 3.0%
1970 10,069 9.4%
1980 11,761 16.8%
1990 14,163 20.4%
2000 16,863 19.1%
2010 21,717 28.8%
2015 (est.) 22,253 2.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2013

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.

The largest ethnic/ancestry groups in Goochland County are: English (16.3%), "American" (13.0%), German (11.8%), Irish (9.3%), Scots-Irish (4.0%) and Scottish (3.9%).

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:

Census-designated place

Other unincorporated communities

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