Part 2: The First Ragland in America

More About Where Evan Ragland Lived

1654—Orange County, Virginia

According to Wikipedia[1], New Kent County is located in the eastern part the Commonwealth of Virginia. New Kent County is included in the Greater Richmond Region.

History of Kent County

New Kent County was established in 1654, using territory annexed from York County and was organized and settled by William Claiborne. The county’s name originated because several prominent inhabitants, including William Claiborne, recently had been forced from their settlement at Kent Island, Maryland by Lord Baltimore upon the formation of Maryland. Claiborne had named the island for his birthplace in Kent, England.

Birthplace to Two US Presidents’ Wives

New Kent County is the birthplace of two US presidents’ wives – Martha Washington and Letitia Christian Tyler. The church where George and Martha Washington are believed to have been wed, St. Peter’s, still holds services today. The Chickahominy Indians frequented this area as well as nearby Charles City County, and two tribes are still well-established in this area.

Among the earliest settlers of New Kent County was Nicholas Gentry, who settled in New Kent in 1684. The parish register books of St. Peter’s Parish show that Nicholas Gentry’s daughter was baptized in the church in 1687. The records also reflect other Gentrys, probably Nicholas Gentry’s relations, Peter and Samuel Gentry.  As the result of arson confessed to by John Price Posey and Tho Green, and, allegedly, involving “a negro boy belonging to W. Chamberlayne” on July 15, 1787, many later county records were burned, making identifying relationships between family members difficult. 

In 1720, a portion of New Kent County known then as St. Paul’s Parish was formed into a separate county, now Hanover County


The northeast border of the county is defined by the meanderings of the Pamunkey River, and the southwest county border is similarly defined by the Chickahominy River. The county terrain consists of rolling hills, either wooded or devoted to agriculture, and carved by drainages.. The terrain slopes to the east and south, with its highest point on the west border at 174’ (53m) ASL. The county has a total area of 223 square miles, of which 210 square miles is land and 14 square miles (6.23 percent) is water.

The Chickahominy River borders the county to the south, the Pamunkey and York rivers border it to the north and east.

Adjacent counties 

  1. King William County – north
  2. King and Queen County – northeast
  3. James City County – southeast
  4. Charles City County -south
  5. Henrico County – southwest
  6. Hanover County – west

Orange County, Virginia?

Note: Some records pertaining to the early Ragland’s in America mention Orange, Virginia. I think the following explains why. Later references to the first Ragland’s in Virginia refer to Kent County.

The first European settlement in what was to become Orange County was Germanna, formed when Governor Alexander Spotswood settled twelve immigrant families from Westphalia, Germany, there in 1714; a total of forty-two people. [2]

Orange County, as a legal entity, was created in August 1734 when the Virginia House of Burgesses adopted An Act for DividingSpotsylvania County. Unlike other counties whose boundaries had ended at the Blue Ridge Mountains, Orange was bounded on the west “by the utmost limits of Virginia” which, at that time, stretched to the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. The colony of Virginia claimed the land, but very little of it had yet been occupied by any English. For this reason, some contend that Orange County was at one time the largest county that ever existed. This situation lasted only four years; in 1738 most of the western tract was split off into Augusta County. The expansiveness of the county boundaries was to encourage settlement further westward as well as to contend against the French claim to the Ohio Valley region.[8]


  • Wikipedia

Debora Buerk
Writer, Editor. and
sometimes family historian