Madison County was granted a charter in December 1792 well after the earliest colonists had settled the area. It was named for the Madison family that owned a tract of land along the Rapidan River. This family produced one of our nation’s early presidents, James Madison, whose estate is in neighboring Orange County.
Madison County has been a crossroads of history for over 11,000 years. Paleo-Indians, the royal governor Alexander Spottswood and the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe, as well as Civil War Generals Stonewall Jackson and J. E. B. Stuart along with their men have all been visitors to Madison County. Trails and early roads led through the Piedmont area of Madison and up into the Blue Ridge Mountains enabling 18th and 19th century travelers to enter the Shenandoah Valley. Early settlers included German, English and Scots/Irish families in the 18th century. Descendants of these families still live in Madison.
President Herbert Hoover bought land in the mountain area of Madison and built his summer camp there. His official visit to the town of Madison in August 1929 is commemorated annually. The county has retained its rich agricultural tradition and has maintained the architectural heritage of 18th and 19th century buildings and homes. Museums offer a view to the past for history buffs of all ages and a walking tour of the town of Madison enables visitors to appreciate its beauty. Travel through the county will bring the visitor into the unique blend of country life today amidst the historical evidence of years gone by.
For some information on historic markers in Madison County, visit Marker History.