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The county is named for Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, a British statesman (1730–1782). He was Prime Minister of Great Britain twice, and a keen supporter of constitutional rights for the colonists. During his first term, he repealed the Stamp Act of 1765, reducing the tax burden on the colonies. Appointed again in 1782, upon taking office, he backed the claim for the independence of the Thirteen Colonies, initiating an end to British involvement in the American Revolutionary War. However, he died after only 14 weeks in office.
County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts
Settlement of the county began in 1727, when Adam Miller (Mueller) staked out a claim on the south fork of the Shenandoah River, near
the line that now divides Rockingham County from Page County. On a trip through eastern Virginia, the German-born Miller had heard reports
about a lush valley to the west which had been discovered by Governor Alexander Spotswood's legendary Knights of the Golden Horseshoe
Expedition, and then moved his family down from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. In 1741, Miller purchased 820 acres (3.3 km2), including a
large lithia spring, near Elkton, Virginia, and lived on this property for the remainder of his life.
Much-increased settlement of this portion of the Colony of Virginia by Europeans began in the 1740s and 1750s. Standing between the Tidewater and Piedmont regions to the east in Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley and the area beyond (known in old Virginia as the "Transmountaine") were the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rather than cross such a formidable physical barrier, most early settlers came southerly up the valley across the Potomac River from Maryland and Pennsylvania. Many followed the Great Wagon Trail, also known as the Valley Pike (US Route 11 in modern times).
Rockingham County was established in 1778 from Augusta County. Harrisonburg was named as the county seat and incorporated as a town in 1780. Harrisonburg was incorporated as a city in 1916 and separated from Rockingham County (all cities in Virginia are independent cities), but it remains the county seat.
Rockingham County, Virginia formed from Augusta 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.]
Rockingham County was named for Charles Watson-Wentworth, a second marquis of Rockingham, who supported the colonists in their disputes with Great Britain. It was formed from Augusta County in 1778. Its area is 871 square miles, and the county seat is Harrisonburg.
Rockingham County is the third largest county in Virginia. As reported by the Census Bureau, the county
has a total area of 853 square miles (2,210 km2), of which, 851 square miles (2,204 km2) of it is land and 2 square
miles (6 km2) of it (0.25%) is water.
Bordering counties are as follows:
Bridgewater College Bridgewater, Virginia
Eastern Mennonite University Harrisonburg, Virginia
James Madison University Harrisonburg, Virginia