« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
minister of St. Anne's parish. The vestry-book opens in 1772 and closes in 1785, during all of which time, as well as the three preceding years, Mr. Clay was the minister, living at the glebe, somewhere in the Green Mountain neighbourhood, and preaching at the two churches, Ballenger and The Forge, and sometimes at the courthouse, and at various private houses in Albemarle; also, at the Barracks during the war, which was probably the place where the British prisoners under General Philips were kept, first by Colonel Bland, and afterward by General Wood. He also preached in Amherst and Chesterfield occasionally. The places of his preaching I ascertain from the notes on a number of his sermons, which have been submitted to my perusal. The sermons are sound, energetic, and evangelical beyond the character of the times. One of them, on the new birth, is most impressive and experimental. Another on the atonement, for Christmas-day, is very excellent as to doctrine, and concludes with a faithful warning against the profanation of that day by "fiddling, dancing, drinking, and such like things," which he said were so common among them.
In the year 1777, on the public fast-day, he preached a sermon to the minute-company at Charlottesville, in which his patriotic spirit was displayed. "Cursed be he (in the course of his sermon he said) who keepeth back his sword from blood in this war." He declared that the "cause of liberty was the cause of God,"calls upon them to "plead the cause of their country before the Lord with their blood." And yet he said, "There might be some present who would rather bow their necks to the most abject slavery, than face a man in arms." It was at this time and under these circumstances that he became acquainted with Mr. Jefferson, who, having removed into this parish from Fredericksville, was now elected to the vestry of St. Anne's, though it does not appear that he ever acted. This intimacy was kept up until his death in Bedford county, in the year 1824, where he and Mr. Jefferson each had farms, and where, during the visits of the latter, there was much friendly intercourse. During the latter years of his ministry in St. Anne's parish, the connection of Mr. Clay with his vestry was very unhappy. The salary of one year was the occasion of it. There appears to have been some division in the vestry about it. The majority, however, was against Mr. Clay, and a law-suit was the result. The decision was not satisfactory to Mr. Clay, and he refused taking the amount offered, and told the vestry if they would not pay him what he considered right, he would receive none. The vestry ordered Mr. Fry, the collector, to lay it out in a land-warrant,
thinking that he might change his mind. Nothing more appeared on the vestry-book about it, and how it was ended I know not. Mr. Clay must have left St. Anne's in 1784, for we find him representing the Church in Chesterfield in the Episcopal Convention at Richmond, in the year 1785, but never afterward. The Church. was daily sinking, and, his mind being soured perhaps by his controversy with the vestry, and discouraged by the prospects before him as a minister, he moved to Bedford, and betook himself to a farmer's life, only officiating occasionally at marriages, funerals, &c. to the few Episcopalians of that region. He married a most estimable and pious lady of that neighbourhood, who survived him many years and contributed greatly to the revival of the Church under the Rev. Mr. Cobbs of that county. He left a numerous and most respectable family of sons and daughters, who have adhered to the Church of their parents. At his death the Rev. Mr. Ravenscroft performed the funeral services. There was something peculiar in the structure of Mr. Clay's mind, in proof of which it is mentioned that by his will he enjoined, what has been strictly observed, that on the spot where he was buried, and which he had marked out, there should be raised a huge pile of stones for his sepulchre. It is about twenty feet in diameter and twelve feet high, and being first covered with earth, and then with turf, presents the appearance of one of those Indian mounds to be seen in our Western States.
In looking over the vestry-book, which extends from 1772 to 1785, we find nothing requiring notice except the list of vestrymen and what is said of churches.
The list of vestrymen is as follows:-John Coles, Jacob Moore, John Ware, Patrick Napier, James Hopkins, James Garland, Michael Thomas, William Coxe, John Fry, Roger and George Thompson, William Burton, John Harris, John Scott, Thomas Jefferson, Orlando Jones, William Oglesby, Richard Farrar, Philip Mazzei, William Hughes, Samuel Shelton, Wm. Ball, Charles Lewis, Nathaniel Garland, Nicholas Hamner, Richard Davenport, John Old, Joshua Fry, Charles Irving, John Jordan. The vestry appears throughout to have been attentive to the glebe-house and its appurtenances. As to churches, in 1774 it was ordered that a church be built at a place to be chosen by Henry Martin and Patrick Napier, and that Messrs. Roger and George Thompson might each build a pew, adjoining, at their own expense. In 1777 a church was contracted for with Mr. Edward Cobbs, at whose house services had been held. It was not finished for some years. It is also
stated that in 1777 Mr. James Minor, Dabney Minor, and John Napier were appointed to examine a church built by a Mr. Anderson. During the ministry of Mr. Clay there was also a Mr. Holmes acting as a teacher and preacher in Albemarle. He was also American in his feelings, and rejoiced in the capture of Cornwallis. After the resignation of Mr. Clay the Rev. Mr. Darneile performed some services here and in Nelson. We learn that he became involved in debt, and studied law; but, not extricating himself, he left his family, and, going to the South, spent some years there. From the year 1795 to 1812 the Rev. William Crawford occasionally officiated at the churches in St. Anne's parish.
After that period there were no services until the year 1818, when the Rev. Mr. Bausman divided his labours between the few remaining Episcopalians about Charlottesville in St. Anne's parish, and Walker's Church, in Fredericksville. The Episcopal Church, under new auspices, now began to revive a little. The Gospel was preached in a clearer and more forcible manner than had been common in Virginia, and the ministers exhibited more zeal. In the year 1820, the Rev. Frederick Hatch succeeded to Mr. Bausman, and extended his efforts to the Green Mountain, finding a considerable number of the old families still attached to the Church. Old Ballenger Church was in ruins, and that called The Forge was in little better condition. Still, service was held in it for some years. The first time I ever saw it was in company with Bishop Moore, not long after his coming to Virginia. It was a cold, cloudy, stormy day, and the wind whistled not only around but within its tattered walls. The Holy Communion was administered to a few of the old adherents of the church. General Cocke, from Fluvanna, had come that morning from his home, between twenty and thirty miles, to partake of his first Communion, as he has continued to do ever since on Episcopal visitations. The resolve was taken that day, that a new and better house must be provided for the worship of God, which has been faithfully fulfilled. Some miles off, in a more central position and on a beautiful site, a neat and excellent brick church has been erected, and near it, more recently, a parsonage and small glebe have been added. A parish has been established in that part of the county. A succession of ministers either in whole or in part have ministered unto it. The Rev. Mr. Hatch stands first. Then follow the Rev. Zachariah Mead, the Rev. Joseph Wilmer, the Rev. Mr. Boyden, the Rev. Charles Ambler, and their present rector, the Rev. W. M. Nelson. But few of the old fami
lies are represented now. The Fryes, Cobbs, Nicholases, Harrises, Lewises, Garlands, Thomases, Thompsons, Joneses, Napiers, are gone, but the descendants of John Cole, in considerable number, the Tompkinses, Riveses, Carters, Gants, Randolphs, and others, have taken their places, and will, I trust, fulfil them well. In that part of the parish called North Garden, and near which an old church stood, a new brick church was also erected by the zeal and liberality of a few devoted friends, and the same was done also on the road leading from Charlottesville to Staunton, and the two, being brought into one parish, have generally been supplied with a minister. The Rev. Mr. Christian acted for some time as missionary in that part of the county. Then the Rev. William Jackson, who recently fell victim to the fever in Norfolk, was the settled pastor for some years. After him came the Rev. Mr. Slack, and at present the Rev. Mr. Davis, who, as well as most of his predecessors, connect with them the church on Buckmountain, in Fredericksville parish, and sometimes the church at Rockfish, in Nelson county.
To the zeal and enterprise of the Rev. Mr. Hatch, is, under God, to be ascribed the building of the church in Charlottesville, which stands just within the bounds of Fredericksville parish. For a long time the court-house was the only place in Charlottesville or round about for public worship. The four leading denominations in the State equally divided the Sabbaths, and some thought that this was sufficient, and calculated to promote peace and love among them all. Mr. Jefferson used to bring his seat with him on horseback from Monticello, it being some light machinery which, folded up, was carried under his arm, and unfolded served for a chair on the floor of the court-house. But the great body of the people felt the need of a more convenient place of worship, where more persons could be accommodated and in a better manner. It was pro
posed that all denominations should unite in one; but that was found full of difficulties, and was soon abandoned. It was then proposed that two should unite,-the Episcopalians and Presbyterians; which also came to nothing. Mr. Hatch, who was opposed to either scheme, then circulated a subscription for an Episcopal church, which immediately succeeded, and was soon followed with the same success by all the others; and the village is now filled with well-built churches. The plan of the Episcopal church was furnished by Mr. Jefferson, and, though far from being the best, is much better for the purposes of worship and preaching than most of those which now come from the hands of ecclesiological architects, who, if hired to injure the voices and energies of ministers, and
to frustrate the main purposes for which temples of religion are built, could not have succeeded much better than they have done by their lofty ceilings, their pillars, recesses, and angles, besides the heavy debts into which they have led their employers. The church in Charlottesville has been recently enlarged and much improved.
The Rev. Mr. Hatch was succeeded in this parish by the Rev. Zachariah Mead, an alumnus of our Seminary. For the encouragement of young men of weak constitutions to choose a country parish, let me give the experience of Mr. Mead. When he left the Seminary he was thought to be far gone in that disease of which he eventually died,—consumption,—so that he required assistance to get into the stage which was to convey him to the place where it was soon to be determined whether a speedy death or a prolonged life was to be his portion. The latter was his portion. By little and little he enlarged his sphere of labour, until on horseback he rode over the whole hilly and mountainous country of Albemarle, taking charge of all the congregations in both parishes, which now employ, and fully employ, the labours of four ministers, and in less than a year swam the Rivanna River, on horseback, on a bleak day, without taking cold. He became a hearty man, and continued so until he returned to the North, took charge of a congregation in Boston, lost his health, and was obliged to seek its restoration in the milder climate of Richmond and in the editorial chair. Had he returned again to the labours of a country ministry, his days and services might have been prolonged. Mr. Z. Mead was succeeded for two years in the church at Charlottesville by the Rev. Mr. Cobbs, (now Bishop,) while performing the duties of Chaplain to the University. He was followed by the present minister, the Rev. R. K. Meade, who has been in this position ever since his ordination,-more than twenty years. Every fourth year at first, and, of late, every two years in eight, the Chaplaincy of the University is filled by an Episcopal minister, which deserves to be mentioned in the history of the Church in this parish. It was just before the Chaplaincy of Mr. Cobbs, that a circumstance occurred deserving some notice, as it occasioned much excitement at the time, and not a little misapprehension. A pestilential disease had visited the students of the Institution for two successive years, or twice in the same year, sweeping a number of them into untimely graves. There was something most unaccountable, mysterious, and awful in all the circumstances of it. Though there was confessedly much of irreligion and even infidelity in the faculty of that day, yet such an awe rested upon them, that at the