Augusta County is a United States county located in the Shenandoah Valley on the western edge of the Commonweatlh of Virginia. It is the second-largest county in Virginia by total area, and it surrounds the independent cities of Staunton and Waynesboro. The Augusta county seat is Staunton, although most of the administrative services have offices in neighboring Verona.
The county was created in 1738 from part of Orange County, Virginia, and was named after Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. It was originally a huge area, but many parts of Augusta County were carved out to form other counties and several states, until the current border was finalized in 1790.
As of the 2010 census, the county population was 73,750, which represented an increase of more than 34 percent over the 1990 figure. In addition, Augusta County is part of the Staunton–Waynesboro, VA Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Augusta County was formed in 1738 from Orange County, although, because few people lived there, the county government was not organized until 1745. It was named for Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, Princess of Wales and mother of the future King George III of the United Kingdom.
Originally, Augusta County was a vast territory with an indefinite western boundary. Most of what is now West Virginia as well as the whole of Kentucky were formed from it, and it also claimed the territory north and west of those areas, theoretically all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
A series of maps show the formation and division of Augusta County from 1738 through 1791.
Reductions in its extent began in 1770, when its southern part became Botetourt County. In 1776 part of western Augusta County, an area also known as the District of West Augusta, became Monongalia County, Ohio County, and Yohogania County (abolished in 1786). In 1778 the portion of Augusta County west of the Ohio River became Illinois County (abolished in 1784); the northeastern part of what was remained became Rockingham County, and the southwestern part was combined with part of Botetourt County to form Rockbridge County. In 1788 the northern part of the county was combined with part of Hardy County to become Pendleton County. Augusta County assumed its present dimensions in 1790, when its western part was combined with parts of Botetourt County and Greenbrier County to form Bath County.
During the Civil War, Augusta County served as an important agricultural center as part of the "Breadbasket of the Confederacy." The Virginia Central Railroad ran through the county, linking the Shenandoah Valley to the Confederate capital at Richmond. One of the bloodiest engagements fought in the Shenandoah Valley took place on June 5, 1864 at the Battle of Piedmont, a Union victory that allowed the Union Army to occupy Staunton and destroy many of the facilities that supported the Confederate war effort. Augusta County suffered again during General Philip H. Sheridan's "Burning," which destroyed many farms and killed virtually all of the farm animals.
Staunton, the county seat for many years, was incorporated as a city in 1871 and separated from Augusta County in 1902. However, it remained the county seat.
Note: Staunton city, formed from Augusta County. Annexation after 1980 from Augusta (1980 population 2,980).. Waynesboro city, formed from Augusta County (1948). Annexation after 1980 from Augusta (1980 population 3,234).
Chalkley, Lyman, Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish, Settlement in Virginia: Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County, 1754-1800, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980). This book is available online by searching from Google.books.
Early Settlers of Augusta County
A listing of some of the early settlers of Augusta County, Virginia is included at the following link: Early_Settlers_of_Augusta_County,_Virginia