Rockingham County, Virginia
VAGenWeb Project

A History of Rockingham County
John W. Wayland Ph.D.

Chapter XIV








     In the following pages a sketch, largely in tabular form, is given of each denomination in the county.  The several sketches are arranged in alphabetical order, according to the respective headings.




Baptist Churches in Rockingham  (1912).


1.  Bridgewater:  Constituted 1873; Sundayschool organized 1878.

2.  Broadway:  Constituted 1892.

3.  Harrisonburg:  Constituted 1869; present church erected 1896.

4.  Mt. Crawford:  Constituted 1841.  The church originally stood on the east side of the Valley Pike, just at the north end of town; the present church is located near Mt. Crawford Station (North River).

5.  Riverview:  Near Cootes’ Store; constituted 1908.

6.  Singer’s Glen:  Constituted 1876; present church dedicated 1888.

7.  Turleytown:  Constituted 1859; present church dedicated July 12, 1885.

     The following paragraphs are copied from a valuable paper recently prepared by Dr. C.S. Dodd, who for several years past has been a zealous worker in the Baptist churches of northern Rockingham.

     As early as 1743 the English settlers had established a Baptist church at Mill Creek (now Page County), and on August 6, 1756, Linville and Smith Creek churches in Rockingham County were constituted.

     Linville Creek was disturbed by the Indians in 1757,




and received such cruel treatment that many of the member fled to Eastern Virginia for safety; so some time elapsed before the remnant had service again.

     Foremost of these Baptists who came to Rockingham as missionaries was Elder John Koontz, whose brother had preceded him to Rockingham a few years.  He and Elder John Alderson, Sr., were preaching here about the same time. This being a new doctrine, it met with opposition from many quarters. Mr. Koontz was severely beaten on several occasions for preaching this faith.

     Another co-laborer was Elder Andrew Moffett, who also suffered for this cause as a malefactor and was committed to jail; nor was he the last of his family to be persecuted for his convictions; for Rev. John Moffitt, who fell by the hand of an assassin in 1892, because of his stand against the saloon in the city of Danville, was a relative.

     Linville Creek ordained Elder John Alderson, Jr., in 1775, and for two years he served the church as pastor.  He then moved to Greenbrier County (now in W.Va.), where he was destined to do a work that few men accomplished.

     Conspicuous among the Rockingham Baptists stood the life of Elder John Ireland for being maltreated by the Established Church.  He was sent to Culpeper Jail for preaching without a permit.  In prison there he suffered many things.  From 1838 to 1842 the Baptists church throughout the South was torn asunder over missions.  One wing, self-styled Old School, or Primitive Baptist, was and still is anti-missionary in spirit; protests against Sunday school as being without scriptural support, does not have any salaried ministers, etc.  This body now separated from the church, causing much confusion and contention over church property.  The other body was afterwards known as Regular, or Missionary, Baptists.

     When the division was made (about 1840) the Old, or Primitive, Baptists had churches located in this county as follows:  one near Dayton; Linville Creek; Mt. Pleasant; and Runions Creek; the latter two being in Brock’s Gap.  At the time of this writing the Runion Creek Church, in Brock’s




Gap, which has a small membership, with Elder Reuben Strickler of Page County as pastor,  is the only surviving church of this faith in this county.

     Rev. John E. Massie and Rev. V.L. Settle were the first Missionary Baptists to visit this county, and they awakened the missionary spirit in the remnant; and then soon Mt. Crawford, Linville Creek, and Turleytown churches were organized as Regular Baptist churches.  Mr. Massie moved the old Linville Creek Church from near Green Hill to a far more convenient site, where it now stands, and for this he was sued in the Rockingham Court by one of the trustees.  Mr. Massie plead his own case, and Mr. Jacob Myers, who was present, quotes him as saying:  “I admit I moved the building, but I beg to state that I placed it in a more convenient place where more people can and will attend services.”  He won his case.

     Turley Town may truly be called the mother church, since Singers’ Glen, Broadway, Cootes’ Store (River View), also North Mill Creek and South Mill Creek, of Grant county, W. Va., are her offspring, and many churches in the far west now have in their membership those who joined Turley Town before leaving this state.  The first fruits of the evangelical work of these missionaries were Timothy, Solomon, Benjamin, and John Funk, sons of Joseph Funk, a Mennonite layman of Singers’ Glen.  All except John were called to the ministry of the churches, and for many years they preached in the county and elsewhere.  They were lovers of music and taught it as well as preached the Gospel.  Rev. Timothy Funk for more than 50 years taught music and preached, going as far east as Orange County, Va.




     Mr. Joe K. Ruebush of Dayton has located the site of the Primitive Baptist Church at that place.  It stood just out of town, toward the southwest, near the point where the railroad now crosses the Warm Springs Pike.

     Silas Hart, a native of Pennsylvania, high sheriff of Augusta in 1764, and senior justice of Rockingham in 1778, was a Baptist (1)





     Since about 1882 there has been an organization of the Brethren Church (Progressive Dunkers) in Rockingham.  They at present have four houses of worship:  One in Dayton; Bethlehem, a mile and a half southwest of Harrisonburg; Mt. Olive, near McGaheysville, and one at Arkton, east of Tenth Legion.

     Bethlehem was dedicated in February, 1894, by Eld. E. B. Shaver; John Thompson, Lee Hammer, and J.H. Hall being the building committee.

     Among the pioneers of this church in Rockingham were Eld. E.B. Shaver, of Maurertown, Va., and S.H.Bashor.  A history of the denomination at large was published in 1901 by Eld. H.R. Holsinger, of Lathrop, Cal.  The membership in Rockingham is about 350.




Christian Churches in Rockingham (1912)


1.  Antioch:  A mile and a half south of Greenmount; organized by Rev. I.N. Walter about 1832; present house erected in 1880.

2.  Bethlehem:  At Tenth Legion; admitted to conference in 1851; original deed dated Sept. 21, 1844.

3.  Linville:  Organized June 10, 1871, by Rev. D.A. Long; dedicated 3d Sunday of January, 1873.

4.  Concord:  Organized in 1891 by Rev. E.T. Iseley; house built in 1893.  Located 3 miles north of Tenth Legion.

5.  New Hope:  Three miles southeast of Harrisonburg; organized in 1895 by Rev. E.T. Iseley; house built in 1896.


(1)  See Waddell’s Annals of Augusta, pp. 204, 238; Semple’s History of Virginia Baptists, 1810 edition, p. 192.




6.  Bethel:  Four miles northwest of Elkton; organized August 25, 1896, by Rev. J.W. Dofflemyer; house built in 1899.

7.  Beulah:  Five miles southeast of Harrisonburg; organized in 1898 by Rev. W.T. Herndon; house built in 1899.

8.  Mayland:  Organized in 1899 by Rev. W.T. Herndon; house built in 1900.

9.  Mt. Olivet:  Two miles southwest of McGaheysville; organized in 1899 by Rev. W.T. Herndon; house built in 1900.

10. Island Ford:  House built in 1905.


     For most of the facts embodied in the foregoing statements regarding the Christian Church in Rockingham, I am under obligation to Rev. A.W. Andes, of Harrisonburg.  he has also supplied a list of ministers, which will be found in the Directory at the end of the volume.

     Mr. C.O. Henton of Harrisonburg has loaned the deed made in 1833 at Antioch.  This deed is before me.  It bears date of May 4, 1833, and is signed by Martin Croomer, who made his mark.  It conveys a lot containing 10,84 square feet of land to john Kratzer, Sr., John Higgens, Peter Paul, Martin Burkholder, and Jacob Burkholder, Jr., trustees, for the use of the Christian Church and all other religious denominations that might obtain consent of the trustees to preach there.  The lot was bounded as follows:  Beginning on the lands of the said martin Croomer, near the residence of Martin Burkholder, at a stone where there was formerly a white oak, corner made for the school house lot, by the said Martin Croomer and Molly his wife, in the year 1810, thence with the patent line S. 10 degrees W. 113 feet to a walnut, thence S. 80 degrees E. 96 feet, crossing the big road to a white oak, thence N. 10 degrees E. 113 feet to intersect the line of the school house lot, thence with the said line N. 80 degrees W. 96 feet to the beginning.

     The consideration was one dollar; and a building was already erected on the land. Daniel Bowman, Jacob Burkholder, Jr., and David Lawman signed as witnesses.

     From the published minutes of the Valley Christian Con-




ference, held in Edinburg, Shenandoah County, and Antioch, Rockingham County, in August 1869, it appears that Antioch and Bethlehem in Rockingham were represented.

     The following items have been gleaned from the files of the Rockingham Register:

     In June 1866, a new Christian church was dedicated at Cedar Grove, 2 1/2 miles from Harrisonburg.  This must have been in the vicinity of the present New Hope Christian Church.

     In August, 1868, the Valley Christian Conference met at Bethlehem.  John Burkholder presided; and the following Rockingham churches were represented:  Antioch, Bethlehem, and Cedar Green (Grove).

     At the organization of the Linville Church in 1871, Rev. D.A. Long presiding, DeWitt C. Beery was secretary, H.C. Beery was treasurer, and A.R. Rhinehart, John C. Williams, and H. C. Beery were deacons.  The building committee was composed of Col E. Sipe, Isaac Stone, John C. Williams, Harvey Simmers, John Fridley, and D.C. Rhinehart.

     In November, 1874, Eld. Benj. Seever, of the Christian Church, “who used to preach in this part of Rockingham from 1843 to 1849,”  visited Harrisonburg.

     On April 3, 1877, died David Ralston, aged 74, who had been “for more than thirty years a member of the Christian Church at Antioch.”

     On January 24, 1897, the Christian Church east of Harrisonburg, at Mt. Vernon school house, E.T. Iseley, pastor, was dedicated.  This evidently refers to New Hope.

     The membership of the Christian Church in Rockingham at the present is about 700.





Church of the Brethren (Dunker) Church Houses in Rockingham (1912).


1.  Garber’s:  “The Old Meeting House”; two miles west of Harrisonburg; built about 1820; rebuilt recently.

2.  Linville Creek:  One mile east of Broadway; house built in 1828 or 1830.

3.  Beaver Creek:  First minister, John Brower; Martin Miller made elder April 5, 1855; house burned June 13, 1869; new church used for communion meeting Nov. 13, 1869.

4.  Mill Creek:  Congregation organized in 1840, Isaac Long (1815-1895) and Daniel Yount being present; new house erected in 1860.

5.  Greenmount:  Built in 1859; rebuilt 1898.  In 1872 at Greenmount died Benj. Bowman, aged 87 years, who had been a minister for 50 years.

6.  Pine Grove:  Two miles northeast of Linville; built about 1850.

7.  Plains:  A union house, the Brethren having precedence on fourth Sundays; a schoolhouse as early as 1827; present building erected 1857.

8.  Bridgewater: Built in 1878.  In September, 1892, Eld. Solomon Garber died near Bridgewater, aged over 80.

9.  Dayton:  House built in 1851 by the Lutherans, and used by them, the Methodists, and the United Brethren prior to 1861.

10.  Timberville:  House completed in 1879.  The first Dunker meetings in Timberville began about 1820 in John Zigler’s barn; his brick house, built in 1832, was arranged for meetings.

11.  Mt. Olivet:  Three miles northeast of Cootes’ Store. On Lake’s map (1885) a Dunker church is shown at this point.

12.  Montezuma:  Old schoolhouse, used as a church for a number of years.

13.  Fairview:  Two miles north of Mt. Clinton.

14.  Fairview:  Two miles northeast of Tenth Legion.

15.  Newdale:  One mile north of Tenth Legion.

16.  Bethel:  At Mayland.

17.  Cedar Run:  Two miles west of Broadway.

18.  Brock’s Gap:  Organized in 1895.

19.  Oak Grove:  Three miles west of Cootes’ Store.

20.  Mt. Zion:  Two miles northeast of Singer’s Glen.




21.  Melrose.

22.  Mt. Pleasant:  Near Peale’s Cross Roads.

23.  Harrisonburg:  Mission opened by Eld. P.S. Thomas and others about 1900; church built in 1907.

24.  Hinton Grove:  Formerly Trinity; present church built at Hinton about 1900.

25.  Rawley Springs.

26.  Briery Branch.

27.  Bridgewater College Chapel:  In use since 1884.

28.  Pleasant Run:  Near Pleasant Valley.

29.  Sunnyside:  Two miles west of Port Republic.

     The Brush Meeting House was erected in 1843, west of Broadway, and an old church used to stand near Ft. Hoover.

     On May 10, 1798, Martin Garver, certifying a marriage he had performed, subscribed himself as “Minister of the Duch Babtist Susiety.”

     In 1875 it was stated in the Register that there were at that time 35 Dunker ministers in Rockingham County.

     Among the leaders of the church in Rockingham, not already named, may be mentioned Peter Nead (1795-1877), John Kline (1800-1864), Samuel H. Myers (1832-1897), and Daniel Hays (1839).

     The anti-slavery and anti-war principles of the Dunkers are well known, and they, with the Mennonites, suffered not a little in Rockingham during the civil war by arrest, imprisonment, etc.

     The establishment of a school in 1880, now well known as Bridgewater College, has done much to give efficiency and distinction to the work of the Brethren in the Valley of Virginia and adjacent sections.  The membership of the church in Rockingham totals about 2500. (2)


(2)  For more particulars regarding the Church of the Brethren, the reader is referred to the following publications:  Howard Miller’s Record of the Faithful; Wayland and Garber’s Bridgewater College, Past and Present; Hays and Sanger’s Olive Branch; D.H. Zigler’s History of the Brethren in Virginia; Two Centuries of the Church of the Brethren, Chapter II.






     There are two church houses of the Church of Christ in Rockingham, one on E. Market Street, in Harrisonburg, the other in Dayton.

     In July, 1871, a Christian church was organized in Dayton, with 16 members, by Rev. D.A. Long.  What the connection is between this organization and the present Church of Christ in Dayton is not known.  The present church was dedicated July 15, 1883. (3)

     the church in Harrisonburg has been opened more recently.  The pastor of both churches is Rev. Geo. C. Minor, who lives in Harrisonburg, and who is an active worker in all departments of religious activity.  One of the pioneer workers in Rockingham, as well as in Shenandoah and other counties in Virginia, was Rev. J.D. Hamaker, who is still and active leader.  His home is in Strasburg.

     There are members of the Church of Christ at Lacey Sprints, Keezletown, Elkton, and other places in the county, as well as in Harrisonburg and Dayton, the total number being about 150.





     Rockingham Parish in Virginia was organized some years prior to the breaking out of the American Revolution in 1776; the exact year is not known, and up to that time was under the charge of the Rev. Mr. Balmaine, with two houses of worship, one at Dayton, and the other close to the present Union Church near Cross Keys.

     During the long weary years of that memorable struggle for American independence the parish seems to have decline, and after the close of the war both of the above mentioned houses of worship were neglected and allowed to go to ruin, and for more than sixty years there is no record of any regularly organized religious work being done in the parish by


(3)  It is assumed that the church dedicated In Dayton, July 15, 1883, by the Disciples of Christ was the same as that now known as the Church of Christ.


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Episcopalians, although it is very probable that occasional services were held at or near Port Republic.

     In 1850 an effort was made to revive the parish, and the Rev. James B. Goodwyn was placed in charge as minister; and after him the Rev. John C. Wheat, Vice-Principal of the Virginia Female Institute at Staunton, Va., preached regularly in the parish at great cost of labor and inconvenience to himself.

     In 1865, after the close of the Civil War, the parish was re-organized at Port Republic, Va., with the Rev. John C. Wheat still serving as minister, and on March 8, 1866, a meeting of the members of the parish and other contributors was held in Harrisonburg with Mr. John F. Lewis, one of the old vestry of Rockingham parish, presiding; when the following named gentlemen were elected as vestrymen; General Samuel H. Lewis, John F. Lewis, Samuel H. Lewis, Jr., Andrew Lewis, John R. Jones, Wm. H. Effinger, Frank Boylan, Joshua Wilton, Foxhall A. Dangerfield, Algernon S. Gray, Dr.  George W. Kemper, Jr., and Edward H. Stevens.  John F. Lewis of Port Republic and Andrew Lewis of Harrisonburg were elected wardens, and Wm. H. Effinger secretary and treasurer. At this meeting the resignation of Rev. John c. Wheat was accepted, and a resolution of thanks for his untiring efforts and Christian zeal in behalf of the Protestant Episcopal Church here was passed and directed to be communicated by the secretary to Mr. Wheat.  The next business in order being the choice of a rector, the Rev. Henry A. Wise (son of Henry A. Wise, ex-governor of Virginia) was called, and a notice in due form, signed by the wardens, was directed to be sent to the Bishop of the Diocese.  Mr. Wise accepted the call and was duly installed as rector, holding services on alternate Sundays in Harrisonburg and Port Republic, the services in Harrisonburg being held in the second story of a frame building on Main Street just north of what was then known as the old School Presbyterian Church.  This frame building was then owned by Mr. Samuel Shacklett, the lower floor being used as a wareroom.  The upper




story was called Shacklett’s Hall, where services were held once a month on Sunday afternoons by the Old School Baptists.

     In May, 1867, Mr. Wise resigned to become rector of Christ’s Church, Baltimore, and the following October the Rev. Thomas Underwood Dudley, Jr. Deacon, afterwards Bishop of Kentucky, was sent by the Right Rev. John Johns, Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, to minister during his diaconate.  From October 1 to December 1, 1867, services were held on alternate Sundays by Mr. Dudley at the points where Mr. Wise, his predecessor, had previously officiated, till, owing to the severity of the weather, the services at Port Republic were discontinued and then held twice each Sunday at Harrisonburg, the vestry having in the meantime rented at $15.00 per month the brick church on North Main street formerly owned and used by the New School Presbyterians (Rev. T.D. Bell, Pastor).  This church stood on the ground now occupied by the Post Office and U.S. Court House.

      In March, 1868, Rev. Dudley, at the request of the vestry, started on a tour through some of the Northern States soliciting funds for the new church building, and succeeded in procuring about $3500.  At the same time subscription papers were circulated in the town and throughout the parish, by which means about $1500 was promised, and the ladies of the parish, ever ready and at all times doing their part and doing it well, had already raised some eight hundred dollars.  With these several sums of money in hand and promised, the rector and vestry undertook to build the church, and on the 24th of June 1868, the corner stone was laid with appropriate Masonic ceremonies by Rockingham Union Lodge No. 27 A. F. and A. M., Mr. Joseph  T. Logan acting as Grand Master, on which occasion and appropriate and eloquent address was




delivered by the Rev. James D. McCabe, D.D.  On the same day the ladies of the congregation held a dinner and fair in the basement of the Methodist church on German Street, from which they realized the handsome sum of six hundred dollars.

     Mr. Dudley having tendered his resignation, preached his last sermon on the last Sunday night in December, 1868, using the same text from which his first sermon was taken, viz:  “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish”; and to the very great regret of his people removed to Baltimore, where he assumed charge as rector of Christ’s Church in that city, as the successor to Rev. Henry A. Wise, deceased.

     On the first Sunday in 1869, the Rev. John Cosby, having accepted the call of the vestry, preached his first sermon in the New School Presbyterian Church, and on February 7, 1869, he began to hold regular services in the basement of the new church and continued to use that room as a chapel until August 1, 1869, when the first service was held upstairs in the church proper.

     The foregoing paragraphs have been copied from a valuable paper, recently prepared, on the Episcopal Church in Rockingham, by Mr. J. Wilton, of Harrisonburg.  The rectors at Harrisonburg since 1869, as recorded by Mr. Wilton, are the following:

          Alexander W. Waddell, 1870-1875.

          David Barr, 1875-1879.

          T. Jervis Edwards, 1879-1881.

          O.S. Bunting, 1881-1889.

          W.T. Roberts, 1889-1892.

          O.M. Yerger, 1893-1899.

          W.J. Morton, 1900-1902.

          Robert U. Brooking, 1903-1908.

          Dallas Tucker, 1908-1909.

          John L. Jackson, 1910---

     Mr. Wilton refers to the old chapel at Dayton. On May 6, 1911, Mr. Joe K. Ruebush pointed out to me the site formerly occupied by this chapel, agreeing with the following,




copied from a letter written September 10, 1912, by Capt. J. A. Herring:

     “My grandmother and grand-aunt told me a great deal about the history and people of the early days.  [The Herrings were among the pioneers in the Dayton section.]  There was an Episcopal chapel near the north end of the graveyard [north side of Dayton].  Under the English rule it was the established church. Parson Bellmain ministered to the people there. When the war of the Revolution came on he went as a chaplain to the army, and never returned. The old people said there was never any Episcopal service there after he left. I can remember the old building, but it was removed long ago.”

     In East Rockingham at present there are at least four Episcopal churches or chapels:  Sandy Bottom, St. Stephens, Rocky Bar, and Grace Memorial. These are in charge of the Rev. J.R. Ellis, who is also doing a splendid work in the adjacent sections of the Blue Ridge in connection with mission schools. Mr. Ellis in forms me that the services of the church in this section of the county have been kept up connectedly since colonial times.

     A short distance southwest of Port Republic, on a beautiful situation overlooking the river plain and valley bordered with mountains, is Madison Hall, the birthplace of James Madison, first Episcopal bishop of Virginia.  His father was John Madison, cousin of President Madison, and first clerk of Augusta County. His mother was a Miss Strother, whose sisters married Thomas Lewis and Gabriel Jones. He was born August 27, 1749, at Port Republic, and died March 5, 1812 at Williamsburg.  He graduated at William and Mary in 1772; studied law; was admitted to the bar, but soon turned to theology and teaching. From 1777 to 1812 - for 35 years - he was president of William and Mary College. He had at least three brothers, Thomas, Rowland, and George. Thomas, born in 1746, was a captain, and married Susanna,




youngest sister of Patrick Henry.  George was a governor of Kentucky. (4)

     The membership of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Rockingham in 1906 was reported as 163.




     The first Jewish families that settled permanently in Rockingham County emigrated from Austria in 1859. Among them were Messrs. Leopold Wise and Herman Heller, who settled in Harrisonburg; Samuel Loewner, who settled in Dayton; and Jonas Heller, who located in Mt. Crawford.

     There may have been Jewish settlers previous to those mentioned above, as the early court records of Rockingham County disclose a certain transaction in which it is expressly mentioned that one of the parties thereto was a Jew; but as to when and where they may have settled, we have no knowledge.

     When the civil war broke out, Messrs. Albert and Herman Wise, Emanuel Lowner and Jonas Heller enlisted in the Confederate army, serving under General Jackson. After the close of the civil war the Jewish community was increased by a number of emigrants from Germany and Austria, among who were Messrs. B. Ney and Joseph Ney, Simon Oestreicher, and William Loeb.

     These few families met from time to time at the residence of Leopold Wise on W. Market Street for divine services, which were conducted by Samuel Lowner, Adolph Wise, and Simon Oestreicher in accordance with the orthodox ritual. Later the Jewish community organized itself under the name of the Hebrew Friendship Congregation of Harrisonburg, bought ground for a cemetery, and rented a room in the Liskey building, on W. Market Street, which was used


  (4) On Bishop Madison, Madison Hall, etc. see: Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography, Vol. 4; Tyler’s Williamsburg; Waddell’s Annals of Augusta, pp. 112, 113; Cartmell’s Shenandoah Valley Pioneers, p. 446; Thwaites and Kellogg’s Dunmore’s War, p. 280; Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 13, p. 360.




for a temporary place of worship as well as a Sunday school for the young.

     As the Congregation grew in numbers and became more prosperous, more desirable quarters were secured in the Sibert building on Main Street, the ladies began to take an active interest in the congregation by organizing themselves into an Auxiliary Society, and helping to establish a permanent choir, with the result that the services became more impressive and modern in spirit. The first class was confirmed by Major Hart of Staunton, in the new place of worship.

     Thus were continued the activities of the Congregation for tow decades, messrs. Samuel Loewner, Adolph Wise, and Simon Oestreicher devoting their time and energy to promote the spiritual welfare of the Congregation.

     In 1890 the Congregation began devising ways and means to erect a permanent House of Worship, and with that end in view, a lot was purchased on North Main Street, and a building committee was appointed, with Mr. B. Ney as chairman.

     The members were enthusiastic over the new undertaking, and through the indefatigable labors of the building committee, in conjunction with all the members of the congregation, and the Ladies’ Auxiliary Society, funds were realized from the proceeds of a fair given in Harrisonburg, to which the people of the different denominations responded liberally. Additional funds were raised by soliciting some of the prominent Jewish congregations of the East for contributions to the worthy cause. When, in 1892, the Temple was dedicated by Dr. Shoanfarber of Baltimore, it was free and clear of debt. It was a gala occasion for the Jewish community of Harrisonburg; the dedicatory services were attended by the Jewish people of Staunton and Charlottesville, and many of the prominent people of Harrisonburg participated in the festivities.

     The new Temple stimulated a keener interest in congregational life, yet the community was not large enough to be






able to procure the services of a Rabbi; so Messrs. Adolph Wise and Simon Oestreicher continued to minister to the spiritual needs of the congregation, and it is principally due to the untiring efforts of these two gentlemen that the congregation continued its spiritual activities.

     In 1910 the congregation deemed it advisable to procure the services of a Rabbi; accordingly Rev. J. Schvanenfeld of Baltimore was unanimously elected, and since then the congregation has started on its new career.

     The religious status of the congregation had remained unchanged during four decades, from the time of its organization; but in pursuance of the Rabbi’s advice, the ritual used by all modern American Hebrew congregations was introduced; a new constitution and by-laws, similar to those in vogue in the prominent American congregations, were adopted. The entire congregational machinery was reorganized with the result that he religious life of the congregation has been reawakened. The congregation is conducted by a Board of Managers consisting of Messrs. Adolph Wise, President; Simon Oestreicher, Vice-President; Joseph Ney, Treasurer; V.R. Slater, Secretary; B. Ney, Bernard Bloom, Abraham Miller, Charles Loewener, and Herman Wise. The President appoints the various committees to look after the material welfare of the congregation; the Rabbi looks after the spiritual welfare of the congregation by conducting services on Sabbaths and holidays; preaching to the old, and teaching the young.

     The Ladies’ Auxiliary Society is also active in commendable work by having a standing committee to look after the poor and the stranger, to whom financial aid and advice are given irrespective of race or creed. The Auxiliary also proves its usefulness in decorating the Temple on special occasions and providing the Sunday school children with entertainments.

     The foregoing excellent account of the hews in Rockingham was prepared for this work by Rabbi J. Schvanenfeld.

     In 1877-8 Rabbi Sterne was with the congregation in




Harrisonburg; and in 1883 Rabbi M. Strauss was called to conduct weekly services and teach a school. Neither of these remained long.

     In 1906 the U.S. Census Bureau reported 20 Jews, heads of families, in Rockingham; and in 1910 a religious census of Harrisonburg showed a membership of 87 in the Jewish church.




Lutheran Churches in Rockingham (1912).


     1. Rader’s: Near Timberville; organized, by Lutherans and Reformed, as early as 1762; log house replaced in 1806; present church built in 1878-9; in hands of Lutherans since 1881.

     On May 20, 1765, Adam Reider and Alex. Painter deeded 3 acres of land for a church to Peter Scholl, in behalf of the Presbyterian church, and to Michale Neice, in behalf of the Lutheran church. Abram Bird was witness. “Presbyterian” in this case is doubtless “Reformed.” In 1872 and Act of Assembly was passed making the above deed valid to the Lutherans and Reformed.

     2. Friedens: Organized perhaps as early as 1748; still held jointly by the Lutherans and Reformed; the Dinkles, Shanks, Wises, and Huffmans were among the organizers.

     3. McGaheysville: Peaked Mountain Church, built in 1769, and held jointly by the Lutherans and Reformed, stood at or near the site now occupied by the old union church. The latter is said to have been built about 1800 by Nicholas Leap, and to have been dedicated May 25, 1804, by Christian Streit and John Brown; used only by the Lutherans since 1885.

     4. St. Peter’s: Four miles north of Elkton; perhaps called in early times Lower Peaked Mountain Church; dedicated in June, 1777; remodeled in 1910.

     5. Spader’s: Near Pleasant Valley; and old church.

     6. St. John’s: Near Singer’s Glen; present house dedicated in 1887.




     7. Harrisonburg: Built before the civil war; used as hospital, barracks, etc., during the war; rededicated in 1868; services conducted by Rev. J. I. Miller, assisted by Revs. Snyder, Holland, McClanahan, and Keller, of the Lutheran Church; A.P. Boude, of the Methodist Church; and S. Funk, of the Baptist Church; Rev. G.W. Holland installed as pastor.

     8. Bridgewater: Dates back to 1866 or before; present house dedicated in 1881.

     9. Trinity: East of Melrose.

     10. Edom: In 1871, a new church, replacing an old one, was dedicated at Edom for the use of the Lutherans, Southern Methodists, and Presbyterians.

     11. St. Paul: Two miles north of Tenth Legion.

     In 1851 the Lutherans built the church in Dayton now owned by the Church of the Brethren. In Lake’s Atlas (1885) a Lutheran church is located on the Back Road, three miles northeast of Cootes’ Store. In the same atlas and “Old Dutch Church” is located at Paulington. This may have been Lutheran.

     In 1891 Rev. J.P. Stirewalt organized a Lutheran congregation, 37 communicants, near Hupp P.O. This is identified with St. Paul.

     Many of the oldest settlers of Rockingham were Lutherans or Reformed, and a number of the first churches were held jointly by these two denominations.

     Rev. Geo. S. Klug (see pp. 46, 47)was perhaps the first Lutheran preacher to labor in what is now Rockingham County. Rev. Paul Henkel (1754-1825) doubtless did much work in Rockingham. The Henkel (Lutheran) Press, established at New Market, so near to Rockingham, in 1806, has had a potent and wide influence.

     The eminent Joseph A. Seiss, born in Maryland, preached for a year or so in Rockingham about 1842. Two young men who heard him at Friedens and Cross Keys (Union Church) were Peter and Joseph I. Miller, who were born near Mt. Crawford Depot (as now named), the former September 18,




1828, the latter June 2, 1831. Both, having conquered hard fortune in securing an education, entered the ministry in 1858. Both became distinguished as educators and preachers. Rev. J.I. Miller served churches in Clear Spring, Md., Shepherdstown, W.Va., Staunton, and elsewhere. He was the pioneer in the field of higher education for women in the Lutheran Church in the South; founded and conducted schools for women at Staunton, Luray, and Buena Vista. His brother, Rev. Peter Miller, having been a teacher and preacher for more than fifty years, is still about his Father’s business among his people at Rio, W.Va.

     The eminent Dr. C. Armand Miller, now of Charleston, S.C., is a son of Rev. J.I. Miller.

     The Lutherans in Rockingham number between 600 and 700. (5)





Mennonite Churches in Rockingham (1912).


     1. Trissel’s: Four miles west of Broadway; first house built in 1822; first ministers, Henry Rhodes, Henry Funk, Henry Shank.

     2. Pike: First known as Moyer’s; located two miles east of Dayton; house built in 1825; first ministers, Fred. Rhodes and Abram Nisewander.

     3. Brenneman’s: Two miles west of Edom; built 1826; first ministers, Michael Kauffman and Samuel Shank.

     4. Weaver’s: Two miles west of Harrisonburg; built in 1827; first called Burkholder’s; first ministers, Peter Burkholder, Martin Burkholder, and Samuel Coffman.

     5. Bank: One mile north of Rushville; first ministers, David Rhodes and John Weaver.


   (5) In February and March, 1895, and February and March, 1897, articles appeared in the Rockingham Register dealing with the early history of Friedens Church. The published address of Gen. J.E. Roller, made October 25, 1897, at Hagerstown, Md., also presents interesting matter concerning it. The Shenandoah Valley, New Market, Va., of January 2, 1908, gives an account of St. John’s Lutheran Church.




     6. Mt. Clinton: One mile west of Mt. Clinton; house built in 1874; first ministers, David Showalter, Jacob Driver, Jos. N. Driver.

     7. Zion: Near Daphna Station; house built 1899; first minister, Henry Wenger.

     8. Lindale: Near Edom; house built in 1899; first minister, Henry Wenger.

     9. White Hall: House built in 1875.

     Services are also conducted at Newdale, Dry River, Peak Schoolhouse, and Gospel Hill. The total membership in the county is about 600.

     There were probably three Mennonites at Massanutten as early as 1730 (see pp. 36, 37). One of the three, Michael Kauffman, is likely the man who, as a minister of that name, settled later on Linville Creek. In 1748 the Moravian missionaries found a number of Mennonites at Massanutten (see Page 47). The Mennonites were among the earliest settlers, therefore, in what are now Rockingham and Page counties.

     Up to about 1840 the Mennonite preaching and singing were exclusively in the German language. In or about 1816 Joseph Funk, of Mountain Valley (now Singer’s Glen), a Mennonite, published a music book in German, entitled, “Choral-Music,” It was printed in Harrisonburg, and was doubtless one of the first music books printed in Virginia. In 1882 Funk sent out the first edition of “Genuine church Music,” later famous under the title “Harmonia Sacra.” In 1847 he opened at Mountain Valley what is said to have been the first Mennonite printing house in America. Ten years earlier he, with Peter Burkholder, had published a large volume on Mennonite history and doctrine.

     Although not many of the early Mennonites in Rockingham favored higher education, it is an interesting fact that provision was made from the beginning at Brenneman’s and Weaver’s for the erection of a schoolhouse on the church lot.

     In the Mennonite Church, as in all other churches, there have been occasional differences of opinion that have resulted in separate organizations. In Rockingham, about ten years




ago, a part of the Mennonite church perfected a separate organization, and erected a church a short distance southeast of Rushville. This church is called Pleasant View, and represents what may be termed the Old Order. The house was built in 1902-3, and the membership numbers 90 or 100. (6)





Methodist Churches in Rockingham (1912)


     1. Harrisonburg: Organized as early as 1788; church lot donated by Robert and Reuben Harrison in 1789; first church finished in 1794. The Methodist Mission at the north side of Harrisonburg was established in April, 1899.

     2. Bridgewater: Organized prior to 1866, since a Methodist church was in Bridgewater in that year.

     3. Dayton: Present church opened April, 1899; the organization ante-dates the civil war.

     4. Clover Hill: Church dedicated in November, 1886.

     5. Spring Creek: Church dedicated June 14, 1885.

     6. Rushville: Present church dedicated in December, 1896. The first church there was likely erected about 1858, since on March 3, 1858, an Act of Assembly was passed authorizing the trustees of Gospel Hill meeting house, on Muddy Creek (now Mt. Clinton), to sell the church for the benefit of the M.E. church to be erected within the Rushville circuit.

     Churches 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 constitute the Bridgewater Circuit.

     7. Mt. Crawford: Date of organization unknown. There was a union (or free) church in Mt. Crawford as early as 1835.

     8. Fairview: Two miles southeast of Mt. Crawford.

     Churches 7 and 8 compose the Mt. Crawford Circuit.


   (6) For more particulars concerning the Mennonites in Virginia and elsewhere, the reader is referred to the following: A History of he Mennonite Conference of Virginia and its Work, by L. J. Heatwole, C. H. Brunk, and Christian Good; Hartzler and Kauffman’s Mennonite Church History; C.H.Smith’s Mennonites of America; the Rockingham Register, June 14, 1895, etc.




     9. Keezletown: A new Methodist church was being erected at Keezletown in 1869. In November, 1883, a Methodist church, likely the present one, was dedicated.

     10. McGaheysville: It is said that a Mr. Bader built a Methodist church in McGaheysville in 1835.

     11. Fellowship: Three miles east of Linville.

     12. Linville: Church dedicated in September, 1890.

     13. Edom.

     Churches 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 make up the Rockingham Circuit.

     14. Elkton: Said to date back to 1821, when Conrad Harnsberger and Col. Miller donated 4 acres of land for church site and cemetery, and Wm. Monger hewed the logs and built the church. This house was evidently the same as the famous old Elk Run Church, which stood until recently opposite (north of) Cover’s tannery.

     15. Mt. Hermon: Two miles west of Elkton; corner stone laid September 22, 1893.

     16. Mt. Pleasant: Two miles east of Elkton.

     17. Port Republic: Date of organization unknown. As early as 1835 there was a union (free) church in Port Republic.

     18. Grottoes.

     19. Timber Ridge: Three miles northwest of Port Republic.

     Churches 17, 18, and 19 constitute the Port Republic Circuit.

     20. Broadway: Church dedicated in October, 1881.

     21. Lacey Springs.

     22. Glass’s Church.

     Churches 20, 21, and 22 belong to the New Market (Shenandoah County) Circuit.

     23. Furnace: Four miles northeast of Elkton.

     Church 23 belongs to the Shenandoah City (Page County) Circuit.

     In the Rockingham Register of January 5, 1866, appeared




 the statement that Long’s school house, which stood on land in the southern part of Rockingham belonging to the heirs of Ephraim Whitmer, and which had been erected some 50 years before (to wit, about 1816), had been used in early days as a church by the Methodists; later, by the United Brethren.

     In 1872 the Baltimore Conference, M.E. Church, South, made appointments to the following charges in Rockingham County: Harrisonburg, Bridgewater, Rockingham, E. Rockingham, and Rockingham Mission.

     In the latest available census reports, the membership of the M.E. Church, South, in Rockingham County, is given as 2560.

     The first Methodist church in Harrisonburg, which was also the first in the county, so far as known, stood on the hill west of the county court house, on the site now occupied by the Church of the Brethren. In this house the school established in 1794 under the direction of Bishop Asbury, noticed more fully in Chapter XV, was conducted. The divisions, etc., incident upon the civil war caused certain changes in organization, and the natural course of circumstances has brought about various changes in the construction and location of church houses. At present the Harrisonburg Methodists are just completing a splendid brown-stone church on the west corner of Main and Bruce streets. When the cornerstone of this structure was laid, September 1, 1911, Rev. H. H. Sherman, pastor, read an extended and interesting paper on the history of Methodism in Harrisonburg, which paper was published in full at the time by the local press.

     On September 17, 1821, a meeting was held by the official members of the Methodist Church in the Rockingham Circuit, at which the following resolutions were passed:


     Resolved that it Shall be the farther duty of the Same Committee [Peachey Harrison, Joseph Cravens, Geo. W. Harrison, Reuben Harrison, and Gerard Morgan] to prepare a petition to the next General Assembly of this State praying that Body to pass a law for the better protection of Camp meetings and that G. W. Harrison be the Chairman thereof.

  Jos. CRAVENS,                            LOUIS R. FECHTIG,

     Clerk.                                         Presiding Elder.




     The campmeetings at Taylor’s Springs and other places had been much disturbed by disorder, the sale of liquor, etc. On February 19, 1822, the committee reported to the quarterly conference that a memorial had been prepared and forwarded to the legislature.

     Says Mrs. Carr:


     The camp meeting was one of the great features at that time. It was looked forward to with even greater pleasure than general muster day. Everybody that could raise money enough to get materials for a tent was sure to be there with their families. A good many would go if they had to stint themselves for months. For many years it was held on Taylor Spring grounds. The water was so good and healthy that many people stayed there all summer to drink the water. George W. Harrison had a nice two-story frame house on the corner of the campground. Those that did not have a tent would go out in the morning to stay all day, and take their lunch along.


     From 1815 to 1820, as the old minute book shows, the quarterly conferences for Rockingham Circuit of the Methodist church were concerned frequently with the question of slavery. According to the rules of the church and a prevailing sentiment, there were persistent efforts to secure the gradual emancipation of slaves belonging to members of the church; and there was evidently a marked disposition on the part of the Rockingham Methodists to make a test on this point with persons applying for membership. About 1816 an elaborate memorial was draw up, addressed to the General conference in Baltimore, deploring the existence of slavery among members of the church, together with the fact that the General Conference had authorized the Annual Conferences “to make whatever regulations they Judged proper respecting the admission of persons to official stations in our Church!” The memorial concludes:


     Therefore we most ardently desire that the General Conference would adopt some plan that would enable us to look forward to the day when this great evil shall be removed and the Methodist Church shall become the Glory of all the Churches; If nothing better should be thought of, Permit us, to suggest the following plan; That no person shall be admitted to official stations in our Church, Who holds Slaves, without emancipating them when the Laws of the State shall admit of Emanci-




pation, and in case they cannot Emancipate them in the State where they may live, to give the Slave the offer of liberty by going to some of the States that will receive and protect free people of Colour, whenever he or she may choose to go,--

     And that all persons coming forward to Join our societies, holding Slaves, shall be informed, that we will take them on trial for Twelve Months, and offer them every information in our power, on the Subject -- And if they will submit to the same plan of Emancipation as in the case of Official Members, we will consider them Acceptable Members, of Our Church; But if not, they can have no place among us--

     And also that the General Conference, Strongly recommend to all our members, conscienciously to avoid Hiring Slaves, in all cases where it can be dispensed with, as this practice tends Indirectly to incourage that sin which we long to be delivered from.


     Another interesting incident connected with the history of Methodism in Rockingham was the formation of the Armenian Union Church, August 12, 13, 1847, at Dry River Church, by Benj. Denton, a minister of the M. E. Church, John L. Blakemore, formerly of the Lutheran Church, and others. Later, Denton and Blakemore seem to have separated; and Denton, endeavoring to get things more to his notion, organized another synod at Dry River Church in 1849. The members of this body were Benj. Denton, ordained preacher; John D. Freed, licentiate preacher; Algernon E. Gilmer, Madison Tyler, and John Denton, delegates. A house was built at Dry River, near the old one, in 1850, and services kept up for some time. The old Dry River church was originally Methodist. Denton published a little book on his movement. (7)




Presbyterian Churches in Rockingham (1912)


     1. Cook’s Creek: New Erection; organized in the 18th century; called “New Erection” because an older establishment was, or had been, at Dayton; second church at New Erection built in 1834; present one in 1912.


   (7) I am under obligation to Dr. H. H. Sherman for the loan of old records of the Methodist Church, of books, etc., and for direct information; to Bishop L. J. Heatwole for access to a copy of Denton’s booklet, etc., and to Rev. John W. Rosenberger for aid.




     2. Harrisonburg: First preaching by Presbyterians said to have been done about 1780; congregation organized in 1789; first church built (on E. Market St.) about 1793; present church erected (northeast side of Public Square) in 1907-8.

     3. Cross Keys: For many years a union church; present church erected about 1872.

     4. Broadway: Church dedicated June 5, 1870; Rev. T. D. Bell, D.D., organizer and first pastor.

     5. Edom: A new church, replacing and old one, was dedicated in 1871 for use of Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians.

     6. Massanutten: At Peale’s Cross Roads; dedicated in November, 1874.

     7. Bridgewater: Congregation organized in June, 1878; church dedicated in December, 1889.

     8. Dayton: Replaces Old Erection.

     9. Mt. Olive: On Rawley Pike, 9 miles west of Harrisonburg; dedicated January 3, 1897.

     10. Elkton.

     11. Mabel Memorial Chapel: Two miles southeast of Harrisonburg; dedicated 1899.

     It is probable that Presbyterian ministers were sent into this part of Virginia from Pennsylvania prior to 1750. In 1752 the congregations of North and South Mountain, Timber Grove, North River, and Cook’s Creek are mentioned in the records of the Philadelphia Synod. In 1756 the Cook’s Creek congregation made application to the synod that Rev. Alex. Miller might be sent them as pastor, and in 1757 he came. He was installed as pastor for Dayton (Old Erection) and Peaked Mountain (probably Cross Keys).

     The church at Dayton was finally abandoned, apparently for New Erection; and about 1780 the old church was torn down. Later, a dam was built across the creek below, and the waters backed up and spread out until the site of Old Erection, with the graves about it, was lost in Silver Lake.

     The following table will not only give interesting information regarding the history of one church, but will also




show how “division and reunion” have been part and parcel of the experiences of Rockingham Presbyterians.


                        HARRISONBURG PASTORS.

                      1789-1808---Benjamin Erwin.

                      1809-1813---A. B. Davidson.

                      1818-1821---Daniel Baker, D. D.

                      1822-1826---Joseph Smith.

                      1827-1837---Abner Kilpatrick.

                      1837-1839---J. W. Phillips.




      Old School                                           New School

1840-1850--Henry Brown                1837-1839--J.W. Phillips

1853-1856--J.H. Bocock, D.D.        1840-1841--A.H.H. Boyd, D.D.

1858-1867--D.C. Irwin.                   1842-1844--T.L. Hamner.

                                                      1846-1867--T.D. Bell, D.D.



                      1867-1884--John Rice Bowman, D.D.

                      1885-1887--J.H. Smith.

                      1887-1892--L.B. Johnson.

                      1893-1904--E.P. Palmer, D.D.

                      1905-    --Benjamin Wilson, D.D.


     The following description of the little stone church on East Market Street, and of the services held in it, is copied from the manuscript of Mrs. Carr, whose account of Harrisonburg in olden days is of such rare interest.


     Next comes the old stone Presbyterian church. The lot on which it was built was taken from Harriet Graham’s part of her portion which her father gave her afterwards. John Graham’s land furnished the land on which the church was built. The last ten feet on the W. side was where the principal entrance was; there was also a door on the E. and S. ends. My grandfather paid a great deal more than his share towards the erection of this church.

     There were four high pews in each corner of the building, each pew having one a foot or two below it. My grandfather’s pew was in the N. W. corner, and Sam Henry had one under it. Mr. Scott had the S.W. corner; and I do not remember who had the pew below his, unless it was




the Herrons. The S.E. corner was Dr. Waterman’s, with Robert Gray’s below his; the N.E. was Mr. Jerry Kyle’s. The pulpit was very high, and half way between the E. and the W. on the N. side of the church. Under it, a little distance from the floor, was the enclosure of perhaps six or seven feet where the elders sat. In front of the pulpit stood a man who led the singing, giving out two lines of the hymn at a time, the congregation joining in the singing. The rest of the seats were on a level with the floor. The high pews were entered by doors. The upper part of the pews were of turned balustrades--two steps leading up to the high pews and one step to the low pews.

     The communion was administered twice a year; long high benches were placed in the aisles, in front of the pulpit, with clean white linen placed on them; then on either side were low benches for the communicants to sit on. Every communicant brought a small square piece of copper called a token, and when they were seated at the table laid it before him. The elders came around and took them all up; then a solemn hymn was sung beginning, “On that dark and doleful night.” The elders after the singing handed around the bread and wine. Afterwards an address was delivered by the preacher, and a few more verses were sung, when those at the table would retire and make room for others; there were usually four or five tables. It was certainly a more solemn ceremony than at the present day.


     The Presbyterians in Rockingham at the present time number between 1000 and 1200. (8)





Reformed Churches in Rockingham County (1912)


     1. Friedens: Termed a mother church by Gen. J.E. Roller (Hagerstown address, 1897), and identified with the “New Germantown” visited in 1748 by the eminent Michael Schlatter. Still held jointly by the Reformed and Lutherans. Repaired and rededicated in 1894.

     2. St. Michael’s: Three miles south of Bridgewater;


   (8). For aid in securing the foregoing information, I acknowledge special obligation to Mr. Milo Custer, Bloomington, Ill., and Dr. B.F. Wilson and Judge George Grattan, of Harrisonburg.

     Reference is made to the following publications: Webster’s History of the Presbyterian Church in America (Phila., 1857); Custer’s Alexander Miller and Descendants; Year Book of the Harrisonburg Presbyterian Church; and files of the Young Virginian, published in 1874-5, etc., by Rev. W.T. Price, pastor at New Erection.




organized (as Lutheran or as Lutheran and Reformed) in 1764; house had dirt floor; Rev. Benj. Henkel (Lutheran) said to have been buried under the chancel, about 1794; in 1830 the old log house was remodeled; in 1876 it was torn down, and present brick church was built.

     3. Brown Memorial: At McGaheysville; build [sic] in 1885, after a separation of the old Reformed and Lutheran congregation.

     4. Mt. Crawford: Congregation organized and church built in 1842.(9)

     5. Timberville: Cornerstone laid in 1881; church dedicated June 1, 1884; built by the Reformed congregation that had previously worshiped [sic]at Rader’s Church.

     6. Pleasant Valley.

     7. Harrisonburg: Congregation organized 1894-5 by Rev. J.S. Garrison; church built in 1897.

     The most famous leader of the Reformed Church in Virginia was Rev. John Brown, preacher, organizer, author, reformer, born in Germany, 1771. Having come to America, he began the study of theology at Chambersburg, Pa., in 1798; about the same time he visited the Reformed churches in the Valley of Virginia. In 1799 or 1800 he came to be pastor of the Rockingham churches - walking all the way from Pennsylvania. He labored at St. Michael’s, Friedens, McGaheysville, and elsewhere. In 1818 he had a 400-page book printed in Harrisonburg (intended as a “Circular”), in which he advocated Bible societies, foreign missions, freedom, and peace. In 1850 he died at Bridgewater, having served his people 50 years. No wonder they called him Father Brown.

     Another beloved pastor was John C. Hensell, who died March 29, 1894, at Mt. Crawford, aged 85. For many years he had preached at Mt. Crawford, St. Michael’s, Friedens, McGaheysville, and other neighboring places.


   (9). I am indebted to Mr. S.H.W. Byrd, of Bridgewater, for the particulars given regarding St. Michael’s Church and Mt. Crawford Church.




     The Reformed Church members in Rockingham number about 600.(10)





     There have doubtless been some Roman Catholics in Rockingham from very early times. The present church organization seems to date from about 1865. In this year, perhaps earlier, the Catholics had a chapel in Harrisonburg. In July, 1866, their chapel was on German Street, - a school-house shortly before occupied by Miss Mary J. McQuaide. Father McGuire, of Maryland, and Father Joseph Bixio held occasional services in Harrisonburg in 1865 and 1866. In 1867 a Sundayschool was conducted, and Father Weed of Staunton held services each 4th Sunday. In November, 1867, Right-Rev. Bishop McGill of Richmond preached in Rev. Mr. Bell’s (Presbyterian) church in Harrisonburg. Mass was celebrated in the Catholic chapel at 10 a.m., November 5. In the summer of 1873 Father Kane, of Washington or Baltimore, and Right-Rev. James Gibbons,(11) of Richmond, visited Harrisonburg and stimulated the movement for building a church. The Rockingham Register of September 5 and October 31 contains lists of names of those persons subscribing to the enterprise. In June, 1876, it was reported that the Catholics had purchased the church formerly belonging to the Methodists. In August following the church was dedicated, Bishop Gibbons preaching the sermon. In the evening Father O’Keefe preached. Special music was furnished by the St. Francis choir of Staunton.


   (10). On Brown Memorial Church, see Our Assistant, May, 1899, published at Mt. Crawford; on Father Brown, Rockingham Register, March 29, 1895, and March 12, 1897; on St. Michael’s Church, the Register, April 26, 1877; on Rader’s Church, etc., the Harrisonburg Daily News, May 22, 1909, supplement.

   I acknowledge information received from Mr. S.H.W. Byrd concerning Father Brown.

   Rev. J.S. Garrison, of Harrisonburg, is preparing to publish a history of the Reformed Church in Virginia.

   (11). Now Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore.




   The church purchased was the one erected about 1863 by the Northern Methodists. It stood on the bank opposite the B. & O. passenger station, on the site now occupied by the large Snell building. For several years, about 1868 and following, it had been used as a place of worship by the Baptists. This church burned in April, 1905, and about a year later the present handsome Catholic church on Main Street was erected.

     The total number of Catholics in Rockingham is about 250.





United Brethren Churches in Rockingham (1912)


     1. Mt. Hebron: Formerly Whitesel’s Church; oldest in the county; located a mile or so southeast of Pleasant Valley. Rededicated in February, 1876, by Bishop J.J. Glossbrenner.

     2. Pleasant Grove: On the Valley Pike, two miles south of Mt. Crawford.

     3. Dayton Station: Dayton. Church dedications: June, 1878; September, 1904. The congregation was organized prior to the civil war. In 1866 there was a United Brethren Church in Bridgewater, 3 miles south of Dayton. --See Rockingham Register, June 28, 1866.

     4. Ottobine: About 1 1/2 miles north of Spring Creek.

     5. Pleasant Valley.

     6. Mt. Horeb: A short distance southwest of Hinton; dedicated in August, 1875.

     7. Mt. Clinton.

     8. Harrisonburg: Lot on W. Market Street purchased in July, 1894, first service in new church, January 5, 1896.

     9. Cedar Grove: A mile and a half east of Harrisonburg. Church dedicated in November, 1886.

     10. Mt. Sinai: Three miles south of Harrisonburg.

     11. Keezletown.

     12. Singer’s Glen: Donovan Memorial Church, dedicated in May, 1906. Salem, formerly located one mile north of Singer’s Glen, was founded during the civil was, said to have been the only U.B. Church erected within the Confederate States during the war.




     13. Herwin: One mile east of Linville.

     14. Cherry Grove: Three miles northeast of Singer’s Glen.

     15. Lacey Springs.

     16. Mt. Bethel: On the Keezletown Road, four miles south of Lacey Springs.

     17. Mountain Valley: Two miles east of Lacey Springs.

     18. Broadway: Church dedicated in 1893.

     19. Cootes’ Store: Union church.

     20. Mt. Carmel: Three miles west of Cootes’ Store.

     21. Keplinger’s Chapel: Near Crider’s.

     22. Shady Grove: Two miles northwest of Port Republic.

     23. Mt. Zion: Three miles northeast of McGaheysville. Church dedicated in 1899.

     24. Elkton.

     25. East Point: Two miles west of Elkton.

     26. Mt. Hebron: Near Beldor.

     27. Swift Run: On Swift Run, southeast of Elkton.

     In the Rockingham Register of Feburary [sic] 26, 1864, appeared this paragraph:

     “Virginia annual conference of the United Brethren in Christ will meet at Freeden’s Church, Rockingham County, Va., on the 11th of March.”

     Inasmuch as Whitesel’s Church is near Friedens, the former may be the one referred to in the above notice.

     The United Brethren have been at work in Rockingham for more than a century. In 1809, when the Baltimore Methodist Conference met for the second time in Harrisonburg, Christian Newcomer, who succeeded Otterbein and Boehm as bishop of the United Brethren, was present in the effort to arrange for the union of the two churches. Although the plan for union was never formally consummated, Asbury received Newcomer warmly, and cordial relations have always existed between the two bodies. The United Brethren have frequently been called German Methodists. Practically all of their preaching up to 1820 was in the German language, and the teaching is like that of Methodism.




     Like the Mennonites, the Dunkers, the Methodists, and at least some of the Lutherans and Reformed, the United Brethren opposed the institution of slavery. Their well-known attitude on this question subjected them to no little unpopularity and to some persecution. In 1830 there were only three church houses in all Virginia, one of these being Whitesel’s Church. So heavily did the storms of the civil war fall that Bishop Markwood, in 1865, or thereabouts, is said to have exclaimed, “There is no United Brethren church in Virginia.” In view of this statement, and the discouraging situation that warranted it, the present large number of churches in Rockingham and adjacent sections of the State is the more remarkable.

     One of the indefatigable leaders in building up the waste places after the war was Rev. John Williams Howe. He was born December 4, 1829; and lived long enough to see much rejoicing in the blessings that followed his labors. He died June 17, 1903. A fitting sketch of his life and work is given in the second volume of “Our Heroes,” by W.M. Weekley and H.H. Fout. The same book contains an extended tribute to Rev. James L. Hensley, another leader of the church, a native of Rockingham. The establishment of a church school at Dayton,(12) in 1876, which has since grown to large proportions and influence, contributed greatly to the success of the religious work now so much in evidence. In this connection the influence of the Ruebush-Kieffer publishing house at Dayton should also be mentioned.

     The membership of the United Brethren churches in Rockingham in 1906 had reached a total of 2917.(13)





     So far as ascertained, there are eight colored churches in Rockingham: Two Baptist, two Methodist, and four United Brethren.


   (12). Now Shenandoah Collegiate Institute and School of Music.

   (13). For aid in securing information regarding the United Brethren Church in Rockingham, I am under special obligation to Rev. A.S. Hammack and Mr. Joe K. Ruebush, of Dayton.




     The colored Baptists in Harrisonburg have had a church organization for many years. Shiloh Church was dedicated July 11, 1875; and again in June, 1882. The Baptists of Bridgewater erected a church on Mt. Crawford Avenue, near Main Street, about ten years ago.

     The colored Methodists of Harrisonburg dedicated John Wesley Church November 25, 1866. In January, 1870, they purchased the “brick church on the hill” shortly before relinquished by the Baptist congregation (supposedly the colored Baptists), for $2500;(14) and in January, 1880, they purchased Andrew Chapel, on the west side of German Street, of the white Methodists.

     The colored Methodists of Bridgewater used to meet in an old school house that stood on the southwest side of the river, not far from Warm Spring. In May, 1879, they first used the present house of worship, west of Main Street.

     In 1879, Mt. Moriah, the colored M.E. church at Mt. Vernon Forge, was burned.

     The four United Brethren churches are the following:

     1. Harrisonburg: Organized in April, 1876, by Rev. A.H. Wells.

     2. Linville.

     3. Long’s Chapel: Near Lacey Sprints; used as early as 1885.

     4. Dungee’s Chapel: Near Pleasant Valley.

     Reliable statistics of membership of the colored churches have not been available.


     The date when and the place where the first Sunday school was organized in Rockingham have not been ascertained; but abundant evidence is at hand to show that ever since the civil war Sunday schools have been numerous.

     In the published obituary of John Hinton Ralston, who died in 1874, at the age of 80, it is asserted that he had been one of the first persons in his community to encourage Sunday schools, and to engage earnestly in the work, when many


   (14). Rockingham Register, February 3, 1870.




good people opposed them on conscientious grounds. -Mr. Ralston was a ruling elder at New Erection.

     In June, 1866, it was stated in the Register that there were 41 Sunday schools in the county, and 2500 scholars.

     At a county Sundayschool convention held in Harrisonburg, October 26, 1866, the following statistical report of certain schools in Rockingham County was made:

                                      Scholars     Classes     Books

M.E. School, Hbg.,             226              21          188

Presbyterian, “                   120              23          585

Episcopal,                        -                  -            -

Harmony,                          66                11          100

Fellowship,                        93                11          -

Linville’s Creek                 77                9            -

Cross Roads,                     70                10          150

Mt. Crawford (Union),       157              18          500

            (Bap.),                 75                15          -

McGaheysville,                  104              18          300

New Erection,                   40                8            -

Dry River (Union),             75                10          75

Elk Run,                            75                13          200

Edom (Union),                   92                8            40


                        Verses Committed.

           Edom school,                        15,462

           Dry River school,                  6,669

           Harmony school,                   10,503(15)


     In February, 1867, the following statement appeared:


     We learn from Rev. F.W. Stanley, agent for the A.T.S., that there are in Rockingham county over twenty-nine Sunday Schools in operation. In 29, the statistics show 322 teachers and 3016 scholars. Within the past year, in these twenty-nine schools, there have been 200 conversions.


     This is a winter report.


     In July, 1898, a Sundayschool Union of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County was organized in Assembly Hall, Court


   (15). Rockingham Register, Nov. 8, 1866.




House, J.P. Houck being made president, and J.C. Staples, secretary.

     This is a summer report.

     For several years Mr. Henry N. Whitesel of Harrisonburg, now deceased, was the enthusiastic president of the county Sundayschool organization. He was succeeded in office by Prof. Geo. H. Hulvey, who held the presidency till 1910.

     The most remarkable development in efficient organization, extending from the county force to the district officers, and from the latter to the individual schools, has been witnessed during the last two years. Not only has the county association made itself vital in all its parts, but it has also set a pace for other counties of the State. According to the reports of the State officers, based upon careful comparisons of statistics, the Rockingham County Sundayschool Association, for efficiency and thoroughness of work, is now second to none in Virginia. It is also an acknowledged fact that this condition must be credited mainly to Dr. E.R. Miller, of Harrisonburg, who has been president of the organization since 1910. It would be difficult for any one not acquainted with the facts at first hand to appreciate the value of his services, or to realize how much time and labor he has devoted to the work; but the results speak for themselves, and are patent to all. The county convention this year was attended by 1000 people, and practically every school in the county was represented by delegates or letter. From the reports presented it appears that there are in the county 142 Sundayschools, with 1415 officers and teachers, and 12,184 scholars: a total enrollment of 13,599. Of this number, 3972 are in Ashby District; 3349 in Central; 1622 in Linville; 2139 in Plains; and 2517 in Stonewall.

     The table on the opposite page has been prepared from statistics collected by the president of the Association during the past two years, and will be convenient for reference. It shows that all the churches are awake to the importance of the Sundayschool work.







Magisterial Districts






























Church of Brethren







Church of Christ




















5 ½


























3 ½


6 ½

United Brethren























     The Sundayschool map presents the above conditions in a still more graphic manner.




     The present (1912-13) officers of the county Sundayschool association are the following:

     Dr. E.R. Miller, president.

     Mr. W.J. Dingledine, vice-president.

     Rev. J.S. Garrison, secretary.

     Dr. W.T. Lineweaver, Treasurer.


     Elementary Division, Mrs. P.S. Thomas.

     Secondary Division, Mr. J.D. Alexander.

     Adult Division, Prof. J. Owen Long.

     Home Department, Miss Vada Funk.

     Teacher-Training Department, Rev. A.W. Andes.




     In December, 1860, there was a Young Men’s Christian Association in Harrisonburg, with Geo. O. Conrad, president, J.B. Odor, secretary; and the organization was preparing to hold its 4th annual meeting in the M.E. Church on January 5, 1861.

     In May, 1873, there was another organization of the Y.M.C.A. in Harrisonburg, F.A. Berlin being made president; Jos. T. Logan, vice-president; D.H. Lee Martz, secretary; J. Wilton, treasurer; Frank L. Harris, librarian.

     There seems to have been another revival of the organization in 1884; at any rate it was in operation in 1885, and until sometime in 1886, when it was discontinued. For three years it lapsed; but in March, 1889, a new start was taken. E.T. Dadmun of Staunton came down as a special aid: Judge Grattan was made president, J.C. Staples, secretary; and a ladies’ auxiliary gave assurance of support. From this revival the work seems to have gone on for 14 years - that is, till March or April, 1903.

     As early as 1827 a Rockingham County Bible society, with John Brown as president, was in operation. In September, 1866, a county Bible society was organized at Harrisonburg, in a joint meeting of the several churches. In November, 1874, Col. D.H. Lee Martz was president of the society; Rev. Cline, of Broadway, and other ministers in the county, were vice-presidents. In 1875 the society was active. J.J. Miller was colporteur for the county, and was expected to visit every family. In the Register of February 11 (1875) he made an interesting report.




     In March, 1844, Marshall Division No. 3 of the Sons of Temperance, a national order, was organized at Harrisonburg, with Wm. G. Stevens, Jacob R. Stevens, J.M. Conrad, W. McK. Wartmann, John W. bear, L.W. Gambill, Chas. D. Gray, and Henry T. Wartman charter members. During the next four years 153 men were initiated into the chapter. Some of the well known names that may still be seen upon the roll are these: Alg. S. Gray, Geo. O. Conrad, St. Clair Kyle, Jacob E. Harnsberger, P. Liggett, J.N. Liggett, John H. Graham, Morgan Switzer, and John G. Effinger.

     In 1846 Worth Division No. 44, Sons of Temperance, was organized at Port Republic, and was kept going till the civil war. In January, 1873, it was revived and reorganized. On Christmas Day, 1860, the Sons of Temperance at Bridgewater had an elaborate procession, the Mt. Crawford Cavalry under command of Capt. Jordan, taking part.

     Mt. Crawford for many years seems to have been a potential center of temperance sentiment. As early as 1838 the village had a live temperance society. On May 20, 1854, a large convention of temperance advocates was held in the Mt. Crawford Reformed Church, Dr. M.H. Harris presiding. C. Coffman Bare and J.B. McGill were secretaries. A committee of gentlemen in each precinct in the county was appointed to obtain signatures to a petition to the court, praying the court not to grant any license for the sale of “ardent spirits” in the county. Frequently during the years of Reconstruction Mt. Crawford was heard from regarding temperance, when the “Friends of Temperance” were organizing councils.

     The following paragraph, which appeared in the Register of March 19, 1868, will give an idea of what was being done for temperance at that time.




     “We are gratified to notice that our talented and intelligent young friend, E. Roller, Esq., of Harrisonburg, is exerting himself actively in behalf of the cause of Temperance in the Valley. We see that he has proposed organizing Councils of Temperance in Woodstock, Strasburg, Edinburg, Mt. Jackson and New Market, in our sister county below us. he has already organized a number of flourishing Councils in Rockingham and Augusta counties. This is a new organization with the same objects of the old order of Sons of Temperance, an institution that flourished and did much good before the war.”

     Mt. Crawford was honored in this tribute, for “E. Roller, Esq.,” now well known as Gen. John E. Roller, grew up in the vicinity of Mt. Crawford.

     In March, 1868, Harrisonburg Council No. 37, Friends of Temperance, elected J.S. Harnsberger president, and A. Poe Boude chaplain. In July following the same council elected J. Ed. Pennybacker president, J. Wilton associate, T.U. Dudley chaplain, and J. Gassman secretary. In the fall of 1869, at Petersburg, J. Ed. Pennybacker (1844-1912) was elected president of the State council.

     During the decade from 1873 to 1883 the Good Templars were active in Rockingham, having organizations in many parts of the county. In January, 1882, a county local option alliance was organized at Harrisonburg. The same year a local option petition, 18 feet long, with a double row of names, was on exhibition at the store of Houck & Wallis. In 1884 a women’s temperance reading room was established in the old clerk’s office. it was during the later 80’s that the saloons in Harrisonburg and certain other parts of the county were closed a little while by local option.

     For a number of years past the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League have had active organizations in Rockingham.

     Benevolent societies and temperance societies have not been wanting among the colored people of Rockingham. For example, in 1875, 1876, etc., organizations of the Sons of Jonadab, the True Reformers, and the Sons of Purity were effected in various parts of the county. (16)


   (16) General acknowledgment is made to Dr. E.R. Miller, D. H.H. Sherman, Rev. L.J. Heatwole, and Hon. James Hay for aid on this chapter.