The Native Indians of Virginia are many and varied. One of the largest group was the Algonquian with populations over 10,000. Some of the Algonquian tribes were Doeg, Powhatan, Pohick and Nansemond. They lived in the coastal regions. Moving inland were the Iroquoians with tribes of Cherokee, Nottoway and Meherrin. The Siouan group had the Monacan and Saponi tribes.
The Spanish had tried first to establish a colony in the Virginia area, but failed. With the English arriving in Jamestown in May 1607, it was the Algonquian group, especially the Paspahegh tribe, in the region.
The colonists cleared the land and plants the cash crop of tobacco which would be sold in Europe. As more colonists arrived more land was needed, especially land the Indians also needed. Numerous battles and conflict developed between the colonists and the Indians.
The English Virginia Company had hoped to establish a colony in Virginia for several reasons. First, in order to find gold, which was never located, next to establish a base of support for English pirates against Spanish ships, and finally to spread Protestantism to the New World in competition with Spain’s spread of Catholicism.
It was 1619 that about twenty Africans first arrived in Jamestown. These first African-Americans were indentured servants and worked the tobacco field just like the English indentured servants.
In 1622 there was a huge massacre of 400 colonist by the Powhatan Indians, striking numerous settlements along the James River. Another major battle was in 1644 where a chief was killed. By 1646, the colonists held the power over the Indians.
After the English Civil War of the 1650s, many English immigrants came to live permanently in
Virginia. By 1699, settlements had spread further over the eastern half of Virginia, including the establishing of Williamsburg.
Looking at Virginia genealogy, during the 1700s more emigrates from different locations of Great Britain were arriving and many with different religious beliefs. Those in Virginia who were small farmers without slaves were for the most part Baptists. The wealthy landowner were Episcopalians. Additional ethnic groups arrived, including German Lutherans and the Scots-Irish Presbyterians.
The seed of the American Revolution was in Virginia. There was growing opposition too English rule by people who had been in America for generations. There were battles during the war on Virginia soil. One of the leaders to assist Virginia was the French General Lafayette. It would be at Yorktown that the surrender of the British leader, Cornwallis would take place. In June 1788, Virginia ratified the U. S. Constitution.
After the war, many portions of what had been the Virginia colony were made part of other territories or colonies. The populations were changing in Virginia as well. The population of free blacks in Virginia increased to 13,000 in 1790 and 20,000 in 1800. Many free blacks migrated from rural areas to cities. Slavery had become an economic institution the Virginia planters depended on.
The state in the late 1850s also faced the problem of governing its far western portion. Those Virginian settlers who had gone in the early 1800s to the west side of Virginia felt they were not being treated fairly by the government based in the east. This is when the western portion become its own state in 1862, and named West Virginia.
Virginia secede from the Union in April 1861 and the Confederacy capital city was later set up in Richmond. The Confederate state had soldiers from all economic and social levels, both slaveholders and non-slaveholders, as well as former Unionists, enlisted in great numbers. The only areas that sent few or no men to fight for the Confederacy were along the northern border.
At the war’s end, Virginia had been devastated by the war, with their markets, railroads, hospitals, churches, etc. in ruins. Many plantations were burned out and large numbers of refugees were without jobs, food and supplies.
Over the decades Virginia’s population has increased at a steady rate. In 1800 the population was 807,550 and by 1830 had reached 1 million. The effects of West Virginia’s creation and the Civil war, the population in 1870 was about 1.2 million, like it had been in 1860. In 1900 Virginia was at 1.8 million. By 1940 Virginia had grow to have 2.6 million citizens. In 2009, the state has about 7.8 million people.
The ethnic backgrounds of Virginia’s people are that of English and Irish representing 30 percent. Those of German heritage are 12 percent and the African-American population is 20 percent. They mostly have resided in the southeastern section of the state.
An increased number of Hispanics, coming from the Central American nations have immigrated to Virginia. The Hispanic population is about 6.6 percent, mostly living in the northern portion of the state. Those from Asian nations; Vietnam, Korea and Philippines, now represent about 5.4 percent of the state’s population.
Examining Virginia genealogy, the pattern of locations in the state find the Scots-Irish live mostly in the western portions of Virginia. The Germans are in the northwestern mountainous regions.
The northern section of the state is tied economically to federal governmental agencies and programs, being so close to Washington, D. C.