Culpeper was established in 1749 from Orange County. The area was originally known as Germanna, formed by immigrant families from Germany in 1714. Orange County became a legal entity in 1734, carved from a portion of Spotsylvania County.
In July 1749, 17-year-old George Washington was commissioned as the first County surveyor. One of his first duties was to lay out the County's courthouse complex, which included the courthouse, jail, stocks, gallows and accessory buildings.