Amherst County
Amherst County Courthouse
Amherst County Courthouse
Official seal of Amherst County
Map of Virginia highlighting Amherst County
Location within the U.S. state of Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting Virginia
Virginia's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 37°37′N 79°08′W / 37.61°N 79.14°W / 37.61; -79.14Coordinates: 37°37′N 79°08′W / 37.61°N 79.14°W / 37.61; -79.14
Country United States
State Virginia
Founded1761
Named forJeffery Amherst
SeatAmherst
Largest townAmherst
Area
 • Total479 sq mi (1,240 km2)
 • Land474 sq mi (1,230 km2)
 • Water4.9 sq mi (13 km2)  1.0%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total31,307
 • Density65/sq mi (25/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district6th
Websitewww.countyofamherst.com

Amherst County is a county, located in the Piedmont region and near the center of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. The county is part of the Lynchburg Metropolitan Statistical Area, and its county seat is also named Amherst.[1]

Amherst County was created in 1761 out of Albemarle County, and it was named in honor of Lord Jeffery Amherst, the so-called "Conqueror of Canada". In 1807 as population increased, the county was reduced in size in order to form Nelson County. Tobacco was the major cash crop of the county during its early years. The labor-intensive crop was worked and processed by enslaved Africans and African Americans before the American Civil War.

As of the 2020 census, the population of the county was 31,307.[2]

History

Jeffery Amherst, called the "Conqueror of Canada", for whom the county was named
Jeffery Amherst, called the "Conqueror of Canada", for whom the county was named

Beginning thousands of years in the past, Native Americans were the first humans to populate the area. They hunted and fished mainly along the countless rivers and streams in the county. With the establishment of the Virginia Colony in 1607, English emigrants arrived in North America. By the late 17th century English explorers and traders had traveled up the James River to this area. Early trading posts were established between 1710 and 1720. By 1730, many new English colonial families moved into the area currently known as Amherst County, drawn by the desire for land and the good tobacco-growing soil.

Amherst County was formed in 1761, from part of southwestern Albemarle County. The original county seat had been in Cabelsville, now Colleen, in what would later become Nelson County. The county was named for Lord Amherst, known as the "Conqueror of Canada", who commanded the British forces that successfully secured Canada from the French during the Seven Years' War. Jeffery Amherst had previously been named as Governor of Virginia, although he never came to this colony.

In 1806 the county took its present proportions, when Nelson County was formed from its northern half. At that point, the county seat was moved to the village of Five Oaks, later renamed Amherst. The present county courthouse was built in 1870 and has served the county ever since. Amherst County produced more Confederate soldiers per capita than anywhere else in the Confederate States of America[citation needed].

In the early days, the major crop raised in Amherst County was tobacco. Apple orchards were part of mixed farming that replaced tobacco, especially in the late 19th century. Timber, mining and milling were also important industries. The introduction of the railroad in the late 19th century greatly influenced the county's growth. The county contains many good examples of 18th, 19th and early 20th century rural and small town architecture. The downtown area of Amherst is a classic example of early 20th century commercial architecture.

Recreation and attractions

Recreational attractions are located throughout the county. There are four recreational and public lakes, namely Mill Creek, Thrashers Lake, Otter Lake and Stonehouse Lake, which offer opportunities to fish, canoe or kayak.[3] There are many parks and trails in the county, including about 25 miles of the Appalachian Trail, which runs through the George Washington National Forest.[4] Offshoot trails lead to peaks in Amherst, such at Mount Pleasant, Cole Mountain, and Tar Jacket Ridge.[4]

Festivals in the area

Geography

Looking toward U.S. 29 in Madison Heights
Looking toward U.S. 29 in Madison Heights

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 479 square miles (1,240 km2), of which 474 square miles (1,230 km2) is land and 4.9 square miles (13 km2) (1.0%) is water.[5]

Adjacent counties / Independent city

National protected areas

Major highways

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
179013,703
180016,80122.6%
181010,548−37.2%
182010,423−1.2%
183012,07115.8%
184012,5764.2%
185012,6991.0%
186013,7428.2%
187014,9008.4%
188018,70925.6%
189017,551−6.2%
190017,8641.8%
191018,9326.0%
192019,7714.4%
193019,020−3.8%
194020,2736.6%
195020,3320.3%
196022,95312.9%
197026,07213.6%
198029,12211.7%
199028,578−1.9%
200031,89411.6%
201032,3531.4%
202031,307−3.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790–1960[7] 1900–1990[8]
1990–2000[9] 2010[10] 2020[11]

2020 census

Amherst County, Virginia - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010[10] Pop 2020[11] % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 24,491 22,967 75.70% 73.36%
Black or African American alone (NH) 6,104 5,346 18.87% 17.08%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 296 243 0.91% 0.78%
Asian alone (NH) 153 182 0.47% 0.58%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 7 25 0.02% 0.08%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 44 145 0.14% 0.46%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 633 1,561 1.96% 4.99%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 625 838 1.93% 2.68%
Total 32,353 31,307 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.


2000 Census

As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 31,894 people, 11,941 households, and 8,645 families residing in the county. The population density was 67 people per square mile (26/km2). There were 12,958 housing units at an average density of 27 per square mile (11/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 77.67% White, 19.79% Black or African American, 0.81% Native American, 0.35% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.41% from other races, and 0.94% from two or more races. 0.96% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 11,941 households, out of which 31.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.00% were married couples living together, 12.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.60% were non-families. 24.00% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.90% 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 2.95.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 23.50% under the age of 18, 9.70% from 18 to 24, 27.70% from 25 to 44, 25.30% from 45 to 64, and 13.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $37,393, and the median income for a family was $42,876. Males had a median income of $31,493 versus $22,155 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,952. About 8.00% of families and 10.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.20% of those under age 18 and 11.60% of those age 65 or over.

Government

The Board of Supervisors are elected from single-member districts.

Board of Supervisors

Constitutional officers

Amherst County is represented by Republican Tom A. Garrett, Jr. in the Virginia Senate, Republican T. Scott Garrett and Republican Ronnie R. Campbell in the Virginia House of Delegates, and Republican Ben Cline in the U.S. House of Representatives.

United States presidential election results for Amherst County, Virginia[16]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 11,041 64.93% 5,672 33.35% 292 1.72%
2016 9,719 63.13% 5,057 32.85% 620 4.03%
2012 8,876 59.29% 5,900 39.41% 194 1.30%
2008 8,470 57.62% 6,094 41.46% 136 0.93%
2004 7,758 61.11% 4,866 38.33% 71 0.56%
2000 6,660 56.86% 4,812 41.09% 240 2.05%
1996 5,094 46.63% 4,864 44.53% 966 8.84%
1992 5,482 50.26% 4,101 37.60% 1,325 12.15%
1988 6,507 64.10% 3,567 35.14% 77 0.76%
1984 7,004 66.51% 3,409 32.37% 117 1.11%
1980 5,088 57.56% 3,476 39.32% 276 3.12%
1976 3,956 50.87% 3,675 47.26% 145 1.86%
1972 4,909 73.94% 1,512 22.77% 218 3.28%
1968 2,656 39.80% 1,543 23.12% 2,475 37.08%
1964 2,675 49.45% 2,730 50.46% 5 0.09%
1960 1,455 38.83% 2,280 60.85% 12 0.32%
1956 1,529 42.59% 1,933 53.84% 128 3.57%
1952 1,407 40.20% 2,078 59.37% 15 0.43%
1948 460 18.65% 1,481 60.06% 525 21.29%
1944 442 14.54% 2,585 85.06% 12 0.39%
1940 292 12.44% 2,048 87.26% 7 0.30%
1936 236 11.94% 1,734 87.75% 6 0.30%
1932 195 9.85% 1,764 89.09% 21 1.06%
1928 447 23.66% 1,442 76.34% 0 0.00%
1924 129 9.72% 1,092 82.29% 106 7.99%
1920 168 13.23% 1,094 86.14% 8 0.63%
1916 93 7.46% 1,142 91.58% 12 0.96%
1912 64 7.13% 765 85.28% 68 7.58%


Education

Amherst County is served by Amherst County Public Schools, which operates one central high school, two middle schools, and several elementary schools.[17] Temple Christian School is a private school located on the grounds of Temple Baptist Church.[18] Sweet Briar College is also located in Amherst County, just south of the town of Amherst.

Communities

Town

Census-designated place

Other unincorporated communities

Notable residents

See also

References

  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  2. ^ "Amherst County, Virginia". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  3. ^ "Lakes". Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Trails". www.countyofamherst.com. Amherst County, Virginia. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  6. ^ "Census of Population and Housing from 1790-2000". US Census Bureau. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
  7. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  8. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  9. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  10. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Amherst County, Virginia". United States Census Bureau.
  11. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Amherst County, Virginia". United States Census Bureau.
  12. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  13. ^ a b "Staff Directory / Browse Staff / / Amherst County, VA".
  14. ^ a b "Staff Directory / Browse Staff / / Amherst County, VA".
  15. ^ "Staff Directory / Details / / Amherst County, VA". www.countyofamherst.com. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  16. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  17. ^ "Schools". Amherst County Public Schools. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  18. ^ "About Our School". Temple Christian School. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  19. ^ a b c d e Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607–1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963.
  20. ^ "10 Great Places To Go On A Haunted Hike". USA Today. July 28, 2006.
  21. ^ "AllTrails: Trail Guides & Maps for Hiking, Camping, and Running".
  22. ^ Perry, Tristan. Ghostly Legends of the Appalachian Trail. Wever, Iowa: Quixote Press, 2008. Pages 93-102.