Powhatan County is an ideal community in which to live, work, raise a family, and enjoy a variety of recreational opportunities. The County’s high quality of life and excellent programs and services are among the many reasons that more than 28,000 people now call Powhatan home.
More and more people are discovering the charms of Powhatan, making it one of the fastest growing communities in the state. The area is graced with beautiful single family homes on farms and estate size lots, with a wide spectrum of styles that range from historic Revolutionary War period houses to new subdivisions that boast the latest in modern amenities.
Some residents opt for the convenience of in-town living with easy access to the local shops and services within the Village of Powhatan. Scottville at Powhatan Courthouse, a housing development for active adults in the Village of Powhatan that features smaller lots, neighborhood shops and walking paths.
Although easy highway access and the reputation as an excellent place to raise a family are bringing more people, the rural character and friendliness of small town America remains at the heart of the community.
For more information about Powhatan please visit: powhatanva.gov
First discovered by European explorers in the early 1600’s, officially declared a county by Virginia’s Governor Patrick Henry in the Revolutionary War era, named for Indian Chief Powhatan, father of the famous Indian princess, Pocahontas, and surrounded by historically significant important Civil War sites, Powhatan County is steeped in American history.
In 1608, a band of approximately 120 men led by Christopher Newport made an expedition up the James River to a point as far west as Maidens Bridge.
They were forced to turn back because of hostile Monacan Indians who occupied the area at the time. Very little is known about the Monacan Indians. They had an open settlement of huts up and down the riverbank which were abandoned.
What is known is that they were hunters and farmers. That they were farmers is indicated by the fact that the word “Monacan” is derived from the Algonquin word signifying a stick or spade.
Between the years 1699 and 1705, some five to seven hundred Huguenot refugees fleeing from persecution in France settled on the James River near Manakin in the then- abandoned Monacan Indian villages. They soon scattered throughout the area, building fine homes, some of which are still standing in the County.
In May 1777, the Virginia General Assembly created the County of Powhatan out of land from the eastern portion of Cumberland County between the Appomattox and James Rivers. In 1850, a small portion of Chesterfield County was annexed, creating what today is the 273-square mile County of Powhatan.
In Virginia, there are nine counties bearing Indian names. Only one, Powhatan, is named for an Indian chief. “Chief Powhatan,” father of the famous Indian princess, Pocahontas, was one of the greatest, and is today one of the best known of the Indian chiefs.
After the formation of the County, the first court was held on July 17, 1777, in the home of Littlebury Mosby (1729-1809). Mosby was an important figure in the history of Cumberland and Powhatan Counties. Before and after 1777, he was a gentleman Justice. He was also a vestryman and senior warden of Peterville Church, a colonel in the militia, a tavern keeper, and a high sheriff in the county. His home still stands and is a private residence at the intersection of Route 60 and Old Tavern Road.
At the first session of the court, plans were considered for laying off the County seat to be known as Scottville in honor of General Charles Scott, a Revolutionary War hero and personal aide to General George Washington at Valley Forge. Two granite markers, which still stand today, were placed at the south and north ends of the village to serve as meridian markers. The name of the County seat was changed to Powhatan in 1836 and the present courthouse building was erected in 1848. Due to the lack of public transportation, small villages sprang up around the County, each of which served their immediate areas. General stores were stocked with local produce, while dry goods were hauled by packet boat (operated by independent boat companies) on the Kanawha Canal, located on the north side of the river.
Each store was responsible for ordering its own supplies and picking them up at the river. These goods were then brought across to the Powhatan side of the river boat or ferry and hauled by teams or wagons to various locations through the county. According to a directory from that period, in 1852 there were 16 merchants in the County as well as 13 attorneys and 13 physicians.
During the War Between the States, Powhatan was spared the battle that raged around Richmond, but became significant during the waning days of the Confederacy.
After the fall of Richmond, retreating Confederate forces passed through the Courthouse area. Robert E. Lee also lived in the county during the summer immediately following the war. Today, there are five sites throughout the county that are part of the Civil War Trails system, and bring tourism to the area.
Several significant educational institutions have been associated with Powhatan. Schools specifically created for the higher education of African-Americans were established at Belmead in the northwest part of the county. The University of Richmond traces its roots to Powhatan in 1830. Many historically significant homes and churches are found throughout the county, including 17 sites listed on the National or Virginia Historic Registry.