Amherst County, Virginia

Amherst County, Virginia

Amherst County Courthouse

Map of Virginia highlighting Amherst County
Location in the U.S. state of Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting Virginia
Virginia's location in the U.S.
Founded 1761
Named for Jeffery Amherst
Seat Amherst
Largest town Amherst
  Total 479 sq mi (1,241 km2)
  Land 474 sq mi (1,228 km2)
  Water 4.9 sq mi (13 km2), 1.0%
Population (est.)
  (2015) 31,914
  Density 68/sq mi (26.3/km²)
Congressional district 6th
Time zone


Coordinates: 37°37′N 79°08′W / 37.61°N 79.14°W / 37.61; -79.14

Amherst County is an American county, located in the Piedmont region and near the center of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The county is part of the Lynchburg, VA Metropolitan Statistical Area, and its county seat is 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". The county was subsequently reduced in size in 1807 in order to give up land to form Nelson County. Tobacco was the major cash crop of the county during its early years.

As of the 2010 census, the population of the county was 32,353, a small increase from the 31,894 people reported in the 2000 census.[2]


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

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 traveled up the James River to this area. Early trading posts formed between 1710 and 1720. By 1730, many new families moved into the land 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. Jeffery Amherst had also previously been named Governor of Virginia, although he never came to the colony. In 1806 the county assumed 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. On a historically interesting note, Amherst County produced more Confederate soldiers per capita than anywhere else in the C.S.A.

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.

Local attractions

There are numerous attractions throughout the county that entertain many people throughout the area. With the three recreational and public lakes being Mill Creek, Thrashers Lake, and Stonehouse Lake, there is plenty to do on the water. Many like to fish, canoe, or kayak in the water or simply have a cookout along the side of the lakes. There are also many trails and parks that anyone is welcome to visit at any time. There is a significant portion of the Appalachian Trail that runs through the George Washington National Forest in Amherst. There are many offshoot trails that highlight peaks in Amherst such at Mt. Pleasant, Cold Mountain, and Tar Jacket Ridge. There are many local restaurants in the county such at the Briar Patch, Travelers, Vitos Grill, Charlies Chicken, and many others that are very popular spots among the locals who frequent the various eateries.

Festivals in the area


Looking towards 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.[3]

Adjacent counties / Independent city

National protected areas

Major highways


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201531,914[4]−1.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]
1790–1960[6] 1900–1990[7]
1990–2000[8] 2010–2013[2]

As of the census[9] 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.


Board of Supervisors

District 1: Donald Kidd (I)

District 2: Claudia Tucker (I)

District 3: Robert Curd (I)

District 4: David Pugh, Jr. (R)

District 5: John Marks (I)

Constitutional Officers

Clerk of the Circuit Court: Roy C. Mayo, III (I)

Commissioner of the Revenue: Jane Irby (I)

Commonwealth's Attorney: Stephanie Maddox (I)

Sheriff: L. J. Ayers, III (I)

Treasurer: Garry Friend (I)

Amherst County is represented by Republican Tom A. Garrett, Jr. in the Virginia Senate, Republican T. Scott Garrett and Republican Ben L. Cline in the Virginia House of Delegates, and Republican Robert W. "Bob" Goodlatte in the U.S. House of Representatives.




Notable residents

See also


  1. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  2. 1 2 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  3. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  4. "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  5. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 11, 2015. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  6. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  7. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  8. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  9. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607–1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963.
  11. "10 Great Places To Go On A Haunted Hike". USA Today. July 28, 2006.
  13. Perry, Tristan. Ghostly Legends of the Appalachian Trail. Wever, Iowa: Quixote Press, 2008. Pages 93-102.
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