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Charles City County, Virginia

Charles City County is home to the oldest plantation in Virginia. Shirley Plantation was started in 1613 just six years after the founding of nearby Jamestown. The plantation also happens to represent the oldest family-owned business in North America (1638). Today Shirley Plantation serves today as the home for the original descendents of Anne Hill Carter and like many of the county's historic plantations, is open to the public.

The stretch of James River between Jamestown and Richmond originally served as the first highway of Colonial America. It was along this stretch that other plantations and farms evolved over the early years of the country.

Upriver another historic plantation open to the public is Berkeley. It was on this site in 1619, that the first official Thanksgiving in America took place. It also served as the birthplace for Benjamin Harrison, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and President William Henry Harrison, our nation's ninth president.

Some of the other plantations in the county include Edgewood Plantation and Harrison's Mill, Westover Plantation, Belle Air Plantation, Piney Grove at Southall's Plantation, North Bend Plantation, and Sherwood Forest Plantation.

Charles City Shire was formed in 1634 and was changed to Charles City County in 1643. There is no Charles City or any incorporated city or town in the entire county making this a quiet rural area. Today the county includes approximately 204 square miles and had 6,926 residents counted during the 2000 census.
In Charles City County:
  • Approximately 750 Native Americans of the Chickahominy tribe live here

  • Lott Cary, the first black American missionary to Africa and founding father of Liberia, was born here

  • One of the first free black communities in America was located here

  • This rural county has no stop light

  • You may spot bald eagles and blue herons flying overhead

  • Virginia Commonwealth University has established a 343 acre living research laboratory, the Inger and Walter Rice Center for Environmental Life Sciences

  • Parts of the county have been inhabited for the better part of 10,000 years


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