Francis Asbury came to America in 1771 to spread the gospel through Methodism. As he criss-crossed the countryside, he made many trips through the Shenandoah Valley and to Harrisonburg-Rockingham. He often referred to Harrisonburg as Rocktown.
Saturday, June 1 . We came to Staunton, a very unpleasant place to me. There are an Episcopal church, a courthouse, good taverns, and stores here. We went to Mr. —-‘s, expecting to find a friend; after making the trial, we thought it best to return and take lodging in a tavern. Thence we proceeded on to Rocktown, a beautiful place; here I felt myself stiff, and weary, and troubled with rheumatic pains: sweet sleep was quite welcome.
In 1853, the Richmond Enquirer reprinted an article from the Rockingham Register which had been written by General Samuel H. Lewis. Lewis had been in conversation about the naming of Rockingham County and felt it was time to set the record straight. He wrote that he had “been surprized to hear the idea expressed that the name of the county was suggested by the character of the soil, or rather from the limestone visible upon its surface. This notion was probably derived from the fact that in by gone days the town of Harrisonburg was frequently called by the country people, “Rocktown.“