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History

Making History in Louisa County Since 1742

Louisa County lies in the heart of the Piedmont and in the heart of Virginia’s history. The main roads leading to the mountains from the Tidewater still bring travelers into Louisa County, just like they did around 1720 when settlers first ventured above the fall line into the Piedmont. Scattered throughout our soil are stone tools, spear points and arrowheads, left behind by native peoples displaced by colonists moving ever westward toward the mountains.

By 1742, the area had grown to the point that a new county named Louisa was created from Hanover County. Farms large and small continued to develop. Traveling today along trails like the Old Mountain Road, you will see many homes that date from the colonial period. Portions of the road are now named for Jack Jouett, the young man who sped past those same homes on horseback the night of June 3, 1781, from Cuckoo Tavern to Charlottesville. He arrived just in time to warn Governor Thomas Jefferson that British General Braddock was coming up the new Mountain Road to capture Jefferson.

Prior to the Revolutionary War, Louisa County was well known for its fierce independence. Patrick Henry made his reputation for defying the power of Great Britain in 1763 by defending Louisa County’s citizens in the famous Parson’s Cause. Henry was serving as Louisa County’s representative in the House of Burgesses when he introduced the Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions in words so bold some said they smacked of treason. Dabney Carr, born in 1743 at Bear Castle near Lake Anna, created the Committees of Correspondence to help unify colonial resistance to the Crown.

In May of 1836, The Central Virginia Railroad became the lifeline for shipping wheat, iron ore, tobacco and other goods produced in the county to Richmond. The railroad also drew Union troops into Louisa County during the Civil War in numerous raids to destroy the rail line. The largest all-cavalry battle of the war was fought in and around Trevilian Station, just west of the Louisa Courthouse. The Sargeant Museum in the Town of Louisa is the orientation spot to the Civil War in Louisa County, as well as the place to view other exhibits about the county’s history and its place in Virginia’s larger story. Also in Louisa is the Old Jail Museum, open seasonally from April through October.

The late 1800s were a time of growth for the only two towns in the county: Louisa and Mineral. Louisa grew from a small courthouse village to the Town of Louisa in 1873. The northern portion of Louisa County, that once boasted gold and iron ore mines before the Civil War, saw new growth around 1900 as big companies mined silver, lead, zinc and sulfur. The quiet crossroads known as Tolersville became the boomtown of Mineral City, incorporated in 1902. The mines closed by 1920, but the Town of Mineral began a new chapter in its history in 1970 with the creation of Lake Anna and the Dominion Power facility on the lake. The Mineral Historic Foundation museum in the old Baptist church tells the story of mining and the town and is open for special town events and by appointment.

Louisa County is one of those places where the heartbeat of history still beats strong in a modern world. The well-preserved Historic Green Springs District, on both sides of Rt. 15, has over 250 original 18th and 19th century buildings cared for under private ownership. Beautifully restored homes cover the countryside around the county and historic churches built as early as 1747 still house active congregations. Re-enactors create the sights and sounds of the Battle of Trevilian Station each June. Costumed interpreters perform hearth cooking and colonial dances. If you are lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of Jack Jouett riding once again toward Charlottesville to save the patriot cause.

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