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St. Mark's Parish, Culpepper County.
This parish was originally in Spottsylvania, when that was the frontier county, and was a part of St. George's parish. The restry-book, from whence I derive my information concerning it, thus begins in 1730:-" In pursuance to an Act of the General Assembly holden at Williamsburg the 21st day of May, 1730, entitled An Act for dividing the parish of St. George, in the county of Spottsylvania, and that all the other parts of the said parish be known by the name of St. Mark: according to the said Act, the freeholders and housekeepers of the said parish of St. Mark did meet at the church at Germanna, in the said parish, on the 1st day of January, and there did elect and choose twelve of the most able and discreet persons of their parish to be vestrymen.--viz. : Goodrich Lightfoot, Henry Field, Francis Huntley, William Peyton, James Barber, (now Barbour,) Robert Slaughter, John Finlason, Francis Slaughter, Thomas Staunton, Benjamin Cave, Robert Green, Samuel Ball.” Robert Slaughter and Francis Slaughter were the first churchwardens, William Peyton clerk, and William Peyton, William Philips, and John MacMath were continued lay readers at the several churches and chapels they formerly read at.
At the meeting of the vestry in March, 1731, the church at Germanna is ordered to be repaired and the roof tarred; the Fork Chapel and the Mountain Chapel ordered to be swept and kept clean. Three houses of worship are recognised as being in use before the division, that at Germanna being the church, the others the chapels. The church seems to have required repairs. This was doubtless the house built by Governor Spottswood for the German settlers, who, like the Huguenots on James River, had been patronized by Government and allowed certain immunities. * By this time, howerer, they had removed higher up the river, into what is now Madison county. Colonel Burl, in his visit to General Spottswood in 1732, speaking of Germanna, sars, " This famous
Germanna was so called after this settlement by the Germaus, as Sp-ttsylraria was so calleiafter G rerner Spittsw...
town consists of Colonel Spottswood's enchanted castle on one side of the street and a baker's dozen of ruinous tenements on the other, where so many German families had dwelt some years ago, but are now removed some ten miles higher up the Fork of Rappahannock, to land of their own. There had also been a chapel about a bow-shot from the Colonel's house, at the end of an avenue of cherry-trees, but some pious people had lately burnt it down, with intent to have one built nearer to their own homes.” Mr. Byrd's writings being full of such remarks, we may conclude that he does not always expect us to receive them as historical verities. No doubt the locality of the church was inconvenient, and many did not lament its destruction, as another would be built nearer to the body of the congregation.
Before we proceed further in the history of this parish, it may be well to state what information we have in relation to this German settlement which Governor Spottswood had cherished on his estate at Germanna, which estate, it is said, was only a part of a tract. of forty-five thousand acres on which he worked a number of ironore furnaces. From the letter-book of the Venerable Society in England for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, we obtain the following document, headed
CASE OF THE GERMAN FAMILIES IN THE YEAR 1720.
“ The case of thirty-two Protestant German families settled in Virginia humbly showeth :—That twelve Protestant German families, consisting of about fifty persons, arrived April 17th, in Vircinia, and were therein settled near the Rappa hannock River. That in 1717-seventeen Protestant German families, consisting of about fourscore persons, came and set down near their countrymen. And many more, both German and Swiss families, are likely to come there and settle likewise. That for the enjoyment of the ministries of religion, there will be a necessity of building a small church in the plice of their settlement, and of maintaining a minister, who shall catechize, read, and perform divine offices among them in the German tongue, which is the only language they do yet understund. That there went indeed with the first twelve (iernan families one minister, named Henry Hæger, a very sober, honest man, of about seventy-five years of age; but he being likely to be past service in a short time, they have empowered Mr. Jacob Christophe Zollicoffer, of St. Gall, in Switzerland, to go into Europe and there to obtain, if possible, some contributions froin pious and charitable Christians toward the building of their church, and bringing over with him a young Gernan minister to assist the said Mr. Hæger in the ministry of religion, and to succeed him when he shall die; to get him ordained in England by the Right Rev. Lord-Bishop of London, and to bring over with him the Liturgy of the Church of England translated into High Dutch, which they are desirous to use in the public worship. But this new settlement consisting of but meau
perso:is, being utterly unable of themselves both to build a church aud to make up a salary sufficient to maintain such assisting minister, they humbly implore the countenance and encouragement of the Lord-Bishop of London and others, the Lords, the Bishops, as also the Venerable Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, that they would take their case under their pious consideration and grant their usual allowance for the support of a minister, and, if it may be, to contribute something toward the building of their church.
“And they shall ever pray that God may reward their beneficence both here and hereafter."
Whether they did succeed in their effort, and how long after this they continued at Germanna, and what was their history after their removal, we are not able to state. One thing we have ascertained from one of the oldest men now living in Culpepper,—that within his recollection, their descendants, when without a Lutheran minister, would come a long distance to receive the sacrament from an Episcopal minister at Buckrun Church, not many miles from Culpepper Court-House. It is very certain that at one time they had a large church, a flourishing congregation, a fine organ, and good music.
In passing on to our notice of the churches and ministers of St. Mark's, we cannot but express some surprise at not finding the name of General Spottswood among those of the vestry, although it is mentioned in the vestry-book, as he always appeared while Governor to be much interested in Church affairs. It may be that, as he lived on the outskirts of the parish, and the new church was now removed so far from him, he declined an active part in its concerns.
In a few years after this he died. His widow and children continued to live at Germanna, and were within the pastoral charge of its ministers. We shall see hereafter that Mrs. Spottswood became the wife of one of them.
Previous to the year 1728, we ascertain that a Rev. Mr. Staige had officiated at Germanna, and after him a Rev. Rodham Kennor. Between the years 1731 and 1733 we find a Rev. Mr. De Butts and a Rev. Mr. Pruit often preaching in St. Mark's, but neither of them was elected. In May, 1733, the Rev. Mr. Beckett was regularly elected and continued minister until the year 1739.
In the year 1732, the vestry built a church at the Two Springs, on the Germanna Road, at the cost of thirty-six thousand-weight of tobacco. In the year 1633, the choice of a pew in the new church is offered to Colonel Spottswood. In the same year twentyseven thousand pounds of tobacco are voted for building a new church in the Southwest Mountains; also, another, “twenty feet square, near Batley's Quarter, where David Cave be lay reader."
In the year 1735, a chapel is ordered between Shaw's Mountain and the Devil's Run. Ordered the same year "that the ministers preach as the law directs at every church and chapel.”
In the year 1739 we find the following order :-“That the churchwardens agree with the Rev. Mr. McDaniel, if he please to serve the parish, and if not, some other minister, except Mr. Beckett." From something on the vestry-book a year or two before, there would seem to have been a serious cause of complaint against Mr. Beckett. In the year following—1740—the Rev. John Thompson comes, recommended by Governor Gooch, and is accepted. In this year also the parish of St. Mark, which was still in the county of Orange, was divided, and St. Thomas formed out of it. Mr. James Barber and William Cave being in the new parish of St. Thomas, Mr. William Triplett and William Russell were chosen in their room. Mr. John Catlett had been previously added to the vestry in place of one decease:l. The estimate in which Mr. Thompson was held appears at once by the increased attention paid to the glebe-houses. In the year 1741, Mrs. Spottswood presents a velvet pulpit cloth and cushion to the church, and Goodrich Lightfoot is chosen vestryman in place of Thomas Stanton, deceased. In 1742, a church was resolved on in Tenant's old field. In the year 1743, an addition of twenty-four feet square is ordered to the Fork Church. In 1746, Benjamin Roberts and Philip Clayton appear on the vestry. In the year 1747, Robert Slaughter, Jr. is appointed vestryman in place of W. Finlason, deceased, and William Green in place of Robert Green, deceased. In the year 1750, a chapel is ordered at the Little Fork, where an old chapel stood. In the year 1751, Abraham Field is on the vestry, also Thomas Slaughter in place of Robert Slaughter, Jr., who removed out of the parish, and James Pendleton in place of Samuel Ball, deceased. In 1744, large additions are made to the glebe-houses. In 1752, Bloomfield parish cut off froin St. Mark's, and services at the court-house instead of at Tenant's Church. In 1752, Thomas Stubblefield and John Hackley on the vestry. In 1752, the site of the new chapel, which was ordered on the Little Fork, is changed to one in Freeman's old field, and to be called a church. In the same year,–1752,-a church ordered on Buckrun upon Colonel Spottswood's land, to cost fiftyfour thousand pounds of tobacco. Some leaves being torn out, the next meeting of the vestry is in 1757,- Mr. Thompson still the minister. Nathaniel Pendleton and James Pendleton are each clerk of one of its churches. In 1758, Thomas Slaughter and Anthony Garnet elected vestrymen. In 1760, an addition ordered to the
Little Fork Church, thirty-two by twenty-two feet. Williarc Williams vestryman in 1761. In the year 1763, William Ball vestryman in place of James Pendleton, deceased. Henry Field, Jr., in place of Henry Field, Sen., resigned. In the year 1764, the Rev. Mr. Thompson obtained leave to build a gallery in the church (that nearest Germanna) for the use of his family and friends. In the year 1766, Samuel Clayton vestryman in place of Philip Clayton, resigned. In 1768, Buckrun Church enlarged. In the year 1770, the old glebe sold to Samuel Henning, and Mr. IIenning allowed to build a pew in the gallery of Buckrun Church. Cadwallader Slaughter chosen vestryman, and John Green in place of William Green, deceased. In the same year new glebe of three hundred acres bought of Francis Slaughter for one hundred and ninety-nine pounds and ten thousand-weight of tobacco. In 1771, Philip Pendleton appointed clerk of the vestry in place of William Peyton, deceased. He was also lay reader, as two others of the name had been, and others have been since elsewhere. In the same year French Strother and John Gray vestrymen, in place of Goodrich Lightfoot, resigned, and Henry Field, removed. Another addition to the Little Fork Church of the same dimensions with the last. In 1772, a glebe-house ordered, forty-eight feet long by thirty-two,-eight rooms,—for thirty-five thousand nine hundred weight of tobacco. In the midst of these preparations for the comfortable entertainment of the Rev. Mr. Thompson, his labours were ended by death, after a ministry of thirtytwo years
of uninterrupted harmony with his parishioners, and of laborious duty in a most extensive parish. Judging from the number of churches and chapels, and their frequent enlargement, and the benches we read of as placed at the doors, he must have been a most acceptable minister. His is one case added to a number which might be adduced, from the vestry-books, in proof that where the minister is faithful to his duty the people do not wish to exchange him. Some few exceptions doubtless there were. Of so exemplary a man as Mr. Thompson the reader will desire to know as much as can be furnished. Mr. Thompson was from Scotland, and took the degree of Master of Arts in the University of Edinburgh. On the 28th of October, 1739, he received Deacons' Orders in Duke Street Chapel, in the parish of Westminster, from the hands of Nicholas, the Bishop of St. David's. On the 4th of November of the same year, he received Priests' Orders from the same Bishop in the Chapel of St. James, within the palace royal of St. James of Westminster. On the following year we find him settled as minister in St. Mark's parish, where he continued until his death,