Rockingham County (Virginia, USA)
Rockingham County, Virginia (population in the late 1950s, 45,889; 67,725 in 2000; area 853 sq mi (2,209 km²), is beautifully located in the Shenandoah Valley on the far western side of the state, between the Blue Ridge Mountains on the east and the Appalachian Mountains on the west, bounded by Augusta County on the south, and Shenandoah and Page counties on the north. The chief towns are Harrisonburg, the county seat (seat of Eastern Mennonite College and Madison State Teachers College), Timberville, Broadway, Edom, Mt. Clinton, Keezletown, Elkton, Dayton, Mt. Crawford, and Bridgewater (seat of Bridgewater College of the Church of the Brethren). It was formed in 1777 out of Augusta County. The area had an early settlement of the German element from Eastern Pennsylvania and still has many people of German descent. Mennonites, and the Church of the Brethren coming a little later, have always formed a substantial part of the population.
Rockingham County is the location of the oldest permanent settlement and largest part of the Mennonites in Virginia. Eighty per cent of the membership in the base congregations in the Shenandoah Valley are in this county, and 20 per cent in Augusta County. Fifty-two per cent of the total conference membership lives in Rockingham County. The first Mennonite settlers were probably Daniel Stover and John Shenk who came in 1773, and Henry Funk from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, who came in 1780. The Mennonites came largely from the Pennsylvania counties of Montgomery, Lancaster, and York. The oldest present congregations date from 1820-30, Trissels near Broadway (1822), and Pike (1825) and Weaver (1827), both near Harrisonburg, but there is reason to believe that there was an organized congregation at least as early as 1790 in this area. In 1957 there were 15 congregations in the county with a membership of 1,832, and 12 rural mission churches with 613 members and two city missions, one for Negroes and one for whites, with a combined total of 25 members, a total of 2,470. The above churches are responsible for 27 meeting places outside the county. All these are organized into two bishop districts, established about 1840, called the Middle and Northern districts. This is the heart of the Virginia Mennonite Conference. Here are located Eastern Mennonite College (since 1917) and the Virginia Mennonite Home for old people (since 1954). Singers Glen on the west side of the county was the location of the Joseph Funk Mennonite press circa 1847-62. An Old Order Mennonite schism formed in 1900 has two congregations in the county with 300 members. The Church of the Brethren has 20 congregations in the county with about 5,000 members.
Brunk, Harry A. History of Mennonites of Virginia, 2 vols. Harrisonburg, VA: 1959-72.
Kercheval, Samuel. A History of the Valley of Virginia, 4th ed. Strasburg, Virginia, 1925, first edition 1833.
Peyton, J. Lewis. History of Augusta County, Virginia. Bridgewater, 1953.
Showalter, Noah D. Atlas of Rockingham County, Virginia. Harrisonburg, 1939.
Strickler, Harry M. Old Tenth Legion Marriages: Marriages in Rockingham County, Virginia, from 1778 to 1816. Dayton, Virginia, 1928.
Wayland, J. W. A History of Rockingham County, Virginia. Dayton, Virginia, 1912.
Wayland, J. W. Virginia Valley Records: Genealogical and Historical Materials of Rockingham County, Virginia, and Related Regions. Strasburg, Virginia, 1930.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 347-349. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Bender, Harold S. "Rockingham County (Virginia, USA) ." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/rockingham_county_virginia_usa.
APA style: Bender, Harold S. (1959). Rockingham County (Virginia, USA) . Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/rockingham_county_virginia_usa.