Archeological and historical research throughout the state of Virginia has determined that the area was inhabited by Native American people groups for at least 3,000 years prior to European discovery. Among the groups that thrived there were the Siouan, the the Iriquoin, and the Algonquin, which was the largest people group of all, whose numbers exceeded 10,000. The arrival of the first settlers, in 1607, began a trend that would change the face of Virginia.

Though the native tribes originally assisted the newcomers and even introduced the farming of tobacco to them, the increase in their number and the reduction of woodland for use by the natives eventually led to conflicts such as the Jamestown Massacre in 1622 and another in 1646. By the middle of the 17th century, the number of Native Americans in the area had decreased significantly and today, a a small fraction of th original inhabitants' descendents maintain reservations in King William County, in eastern Virginia.

Among Staunton, Virginia's earliest immigrants were those of German, Irish, and English descent, each eventually enriching the New World with their diverse culture and traditions. Staunton founded in th e 1740s in Augusta County, which once incorporated much of the state of Virginia. It is set along the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, once the major route south through the Shandandoah Valley.  Interestingly, in 1825 Staunton became the home of the Western Lunatic Asylum, following the example of Williamsburg, which established the first publicly supported mental hospital in the New World in 1773. Crazy, but it's true.

The creation of the asylum, the establishment of the Augusta Female Seminary in 1842, and the construction of a school for the deaf and blind in 1846 established Staunton as a center of humanitarianism.