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Virginia Counties
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Virginia Counties

The Commonwealth of Virginia is divided into ninety-five counties and thirty-eight independent cities, which are considered county-equivalents for census purposes.

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Orange County, Virginia

Orange County Education, Geography, and History

Orange County, Virginia Courthouse

Orange County is a county located in the central piedmont region of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 33,481. Its county seat is Orange

Etymology - Origin of Orange County Name

Orange County: Orange is named for William III of England, aka William of Orange.

Demographics:

County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

Orange County History

The area was inhabited for thousands of years by various cultures of indigenous peoples. At the time of European encounter, the Ontponea, a sub-group of the Siouan-speaking Manahoac tribe, lived in this Piedmont area.

The first European settlement in what was to become Orange County was Germanna, formed when Governor Alexander Spotswood settled 12 immigrant families from Westphalia, Germany there in 1714; a total of 42 people. Orange County, as a legal entity, was created in August 1734 when the Virginia House of Burgesses adopted 'An Act for Dividing Spotsylvania County.' Unlike other counties whose boundaries had ended at the Blue Ridge Mountains, Orange was bounded on the west 'by the utmost limits of Virginia' which, at that time, stretched to the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. The colony of Virginia claimed the land, but very little of it had yet been occupied by any English. For this reason, some contend that Orange County was at one time the largest county that ever existed. This situation lasted only four years; in 1738 most of the western tract was split off into Augusta County. The expansiveness of the county boundaries was to encourage settlement further westward as well as to contend against the French claim to the Ohio Valley region.

While no battles of the American Revolution were fought in Orange County, 2 companies of 50 men each from the county were recruited to the Culpeper Minutemen, which fought in the Battle of Great Bridge, among other engagements.

The development of transportation infrastructure, including several railroad routes, up through the mid-nineteenth century helped foster a diversified agricultural economy in Orange County. The final adjustment of the county's boundaries occurred in 1838, when Greene County was created from the western portion of Orange. The Town of Orange was legally established in 1834 (officially becoming a town in 1872) and had already served as the county seat for nearly a century; the Town of Gordonsville officially became a town in 1870.

Orange County, Virginia formed from Spotsylvania County. [Virginia Counties: Those Resulting from Virginia Legislation, by Morgan Poitiaux Robinson, originally published as Bulletin of the Virginia State Library, Volume 9, January, April, July 1916, reprinted 1992 by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, MD.]

Orange County, according to most accounts, was named for William of Orange, the Dutch prince who became William III of England in 1688. It is more probable, however, that the name honored William IV, prince of Orange-Nassau, who married Anne, eldest daughter of George II, in 1734--the year Orange County was formed from Spotsylvania County. Its area is 355 square miles, and the county seat is Orange.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 343 square miles (889 km2), of which, 342 square miles (885 km2) of it is land and 2 square miles (4 km2) of it (0.50%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Albemarle County, VA to the southwest
  • Culpeper County, VA to the north
  • Greene County, VA to the west
  • Louisa County, VA to the south
  • Madison County, VA to the north
  • Spotsylvania County, VA to the east

Education

Orange County High School

Germanna Community College maintains a 65,000 ft2 (6,000 m2) facility on a 100-acre campus in Locust Grove which houses the college's Nursing and Allied Health programs.

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