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Grayson County, Virginia


Grayson County, Virginia

Grayson County, Virginia
Present day courthouse of Grayson County
Seal of Grayson County, Virginia
Map of Virginia highlighting Grayson County
Location in the state of Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting Virginia
Virginia's location in the U.S.
Founded 1793
Named for William Grayson
Seat Independence
Largest town Independence
 • Total 446 sq mi (1,155 km2)
 • Land 442 sq mi (1,145 km2)
 • Water 3.8 sq mi (10 km2), 0.8%
 • (2010) 15,533
 • Density 41/sq mi (16/km²)
Congressional district 9th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website .com.graysongovernmentwww

Grayson County is a county located in the southwestern part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 15,533.[1] Its county seat is Independence.[2] Mount Rogers, the state's highest peak at 5,729 feet (1,746 m), is in Grayson County.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Adjacent counties 2.1
    • National protected areas 2.2
    • Major highways 2.3
  • Demographics 3
  • Economy 4
  • Government 5
    • Board of Supervisors 5.1
    • Constitutional Officers 5.2
    • Legislative representation 5.3
  • Education 6
    • Public sigh schools 6.1
    • Private high schools 6.2
  • Culture 7
  • Communities 8
    • Towns 8.1
    • Unincorporated settlements 8.2
  • Notable residents 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Grayson County was founded in 1793 from part of Wythe County. It was named for William Grayson,[3] delegate to the Continental Congress from 1784 to 1787 and one of the first two U.S. Senators from Virginia.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 446 square miles (1,160 km2), of which 442 square miles (1,140 km2) is land and 3.8 square miles (9.8 km2) (0.8%) is water.[4] The southernmost point in Virginia lies in Grayson County.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

Major highways


As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 17,917 people, 7,259 households, and 5,088 families residing in the county. The population density was 40 people per square mile (16/km²). There were 9,123 housing units at an average density of 21 per square mile (8/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 91.70% White, 6.79% Black or African American, 0.12% Native American, 0.07% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.70% from other races, and 0.60% from two or more races. 1.55% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 7,259 households out of which 26.40% had children under the living with them, 57.60% were married couples living together, 8.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.90% were non-families. 26.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.77.

In the county, the population was spread out with 19.50% under the, 7.60% from 18 to 24, 29.80% from 25 to 44, 26.20% from 45 to 64, and 16.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 107.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.70 males.

The Old Grayson County Courthouse, now used as a museum and site for public events.

The median income for a household in the county was $28,676, and the median income for a family was $35,076. Males had a median income of $24,126 versus $17,856 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,768. About 10.00% of families and 13.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.80% of those under age 18 and 16.30% of those age 65 or over.


Grayson is economically isolated, without an Interstate Highway and surrounded by mountains. It struggled to attract and retain business; a situation made much worse beginning in 2009 with the recession. Losses of jobs in the furniture and textile sectors resulted in an unemployment rate of 14.6%. As part of the reformation of county government beginning in 2009, the new but idle River North Correctional Center was activated by the state brought in several hundred jobs. County government efforts were successful in retaining Core Fitness' Nautilus facility as the largest employer in the county and integrating local businesses as part of their supply chain. Independence Lumber suffered significant losses in a fire in November 2012 which forced it to relocate operations to North Carolina. Efforts by the county led to the company rebuilding and reopening its facility in 2014 with 125 jobs. The county succeeded in attracting Henson Turbines to relocate from North Carolina in 2014 bring more economic growth to the county. By 2014 a focus on job creation brought additional business operations and 300 more jobs to the county and resulted in an unemployment rate of only 6.9%.[11]


In 2009, the county, in dire financial condition from mismanagement and the failing economy, hired Jonathan Sweet as County Administrator. The county debt was $18.3 million and operational expenses were being paid by added borrowing. By 2015 the county had reversed its fiscal direction, revitalized the business climate, and begun to regain the confidence of its citizens. The county fund balance was 35% of its operating expenses and government operations were financially stable with reduced debt.[11]

Board of Supervisors

  • At-Large District: David M. Sexton (R)
  • Elk Creek District: Brenda R. Sutherland (D)
  • Oldtown District: Kenneth Ray Belton (R)
  • Providence District: John Kirk Brewer (R)
  • Wilson District: Glen "Eddie" Rosenbaum (R)

Constitutional Officers

Office Person Political party
Clerk of the Circuit Court ‡ Susan M. Herrington (R)
Commissioner of the Revenue Larry D. Bolt (R)
Commonwealth's Attorney ‡ Douglas S. Vaught (I)
Sheriff ‡ Richard A. Vaughan (I)
Treasurer R. Kelly Haga (D)
Positions shared with Galax City.

Legislative representation

Grayson is represented by Republican H. Morgan Griffith in the U.S. House of Representatives.


Public sigh schools

Grayson County High School, Independence

Private high schools

Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson


Located in the Appalachian region of the United States, Grayson County has long been famous for its traditional, or "old-time" music and musicians. Although the entire Appalachian region is known for its music, the region around Mount Airy, North Carolina and Galax, Virginia is one of the areas where this music has remained strongest, even among young people. The Old Fiddler's Convention, one of the most prominent traditional music contests in the United States, has been held annually in Galax since 1935.[2] Grayson County is also the home of other fiddlers' conventions and old time and bluegrass festivals such as the Grayson County Fiddlers Convention, Fries Fiddlers Convention, and the Wayne C. Henderson Guitar Festival. The Whitetop Mountain Band, The New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters, The Wolfe Brothers String Band, and the Konnarock Critters are among many of the best known old time bands of the area.



Unincorporated settlements

Notable residents

  • Henry Whitter (1892–1941) – early country musician
  • Wade Ward (1892–1971) – old-time country music banjo player and fiddler
  • Estil C. Ball (1913–1978) – singer-songwriter, fingerstyle guitarist, and country, gospel and folk musician
  • Wayne Henderson (luthier) – guitar maker and fingerstyle guitar player
  • Kenneth Y. Tomlinson former editor of the Reader's Digest
  • Robert Kyle Poole former VA state Delegate

See also


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 142. 
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  10. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  11. ^ a b Prall, Derek (July 2015). "Home is where the heart is". American City & County 130 (7): 16–23. 

External links


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