Iberian Publishing Company's On-Line Catalog: Shenandoah County Virginia
Shenandoah County was first called Dunmore County, and it was formed from the southern portion of Frederick County in 1772. As was the custom for many new counties, it was named for the sitting governor of the colony, John Murray, Earl of Dunmore. However, during the Revolution, the Governor's Loyalist stance caused the name to be changed to Shenandoah, probably for the early Indian name of the Great River which flowed through the valley. In 1831 a portion of Shenandoah was cut off to form part of Page County. In 1836 another portion was taken to form part of Warren County.
Like most other valley counties, settlement began early, during the 1730s, consisting of both German elements and a few Scotch-Irish. But the Germanic element predominated in this region, and German was the native language until well into the nineteenth century. No better evidence of this is available than Reverend Peter Muhlenberg, the rector of the Established church's Beckford Parish. Muhlenberg had been brought from Pennsylvania by the parish vestry specifically because of his ability to preach both in English and German to the Anglican churches in the region.
Shenandoah's fertile vallies provided grain to the commercial markets of Fredericksburg and Alexandria for decades, but during the Civil War, it attracted the attention of the Federal forces. General Philip Sheridan was sent raiding through the Valley in what has come to be called by local residents as "The Burning", and many of the old German farms were razed. However, the fertility of the soil could not be destroyed, and the county recovered quickly from the ravages of war.