County History

Campbell County, settled in 1736 and incorporated in 1781, is located in Virginia’s south central Piedmont region in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The area is rich in both natural beauty and history. Campbell County was named for General William Campbell, the Revolutionary War hero famous for his leadership in defeating the Tories and Loyalists at the Battle of King’s Mountain in the Carolinas. 

Scotch-Irish Presbyterians first settled in Campbell County in the late 1730s, forming the Hat Creek community. Other colonies soon followed near Flat Creek/Otter River and Concord, and the County grew quickly during the next few years. 

In 1757, John Lynch, son of one of the area’s first Quaker families, initiated a ferry service across the James River, around which the present city of Lynchburg developed. Meanwhile, Lynch’s brother, Charles, developed Green Level (now Avoca), located in present-day Altavista. 

Lynchburg was officially created from Campbell County land in 1786. Fifty acres of land donated by Jeremiah Rust in 1784 became the county seat of Rustburg. Brookneal, a busy intersection of trails on the Staunton River, was founded in 1802. Altavista was a town planned in 1907 by a group of businessmen who realized its potential as a strategic railroad location. 

In 1792, many years after his famous “Give me liberty, or give me death!” speech and after his fifth term as governor of Virginia, Patrick Henry moved to Campbell County, first to Long Island, and then to Red Hill Plantation, which he called “the garden spot of the world.” 

On June 6, 1799, Henry died and was buried at his beloved Red Hill. Almost 200 years later, Red Hill still holds the appearance and charm of its colonial days. 

Tobacco was the basis for the County’s early economic system. Because of its location on the Staunton River, Brookneal served as a major tobacco market for many years. 

In addition to tobacco and other agricultural products, Campbell County has also been supported by manufacturing since its earliest days. Oxford Iron Works (Oxford Furnace) was in operation even prior to the Revolutionary War. The last remaining furnace, shut down in 1875, still stands as a testimony to the County’s early manufacturing operation. 

Campbell County has grown and changed with the times without losing touch with its earliest roots. As we move forward in the 21st century, the County offers a compelling blend of history, natural beauty, culture, and economic opportunity.