Waddell's Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871



A history of religious denominations is an essential part of the annals of a county, and we regret that we cannot give a more detailed account of the various churches in Augusta. Efforts to obtain information, however, have signally failed. There has been a strange neglect on the part of the officers and members of most congregations to preserve the history of their respective organizations.

The first settlers of the county having been almost unanimously Presbyterians, the congregations and meeting-houses of that denomination ante-date all others by many years. We have given such accounts as we have of the earliest Presbyterian congregations,—Augusta (or Stone Church), Tinkling Spring, Hebron (or Brown’s meeting-house), Rock Spring, and Bethel. Mossy Creek church was organized in 1767. All these congregations have had a succession of worthy, and in some cases eminent, pastors, besides many heretofore mentioned, including the Rev. William Brown, Rev. F. M. Bowman and Dr. Handy, of the Augusta church; and the Rev. Messrs. B. M. Smith, R. L. Dabney, C. S. M. See and G. B. Strickler, of Tinkling Spring. There was no regular Presbyterian church organization in Staunton till 1804. At first the Presbyterians living in town were connected with Tinkling Spring. From 1804 to about 1824, or 1825, Staunton and Hebron united in the support of a pastor. The first church building of the denomination in the town was erected in 1818. Before the Revolution, Presbyterian ministers preached occasionally in the court-house, and after the war, up to the year 1818, they officiated on alternate Sundays in the old parish church. The Rev. Joseph Smith was the first pastor of the Staunton church, when it became a separate, or self-sustaining organization, from 1826 to 1832. The present house of worship was erected in 1871, the  old church being then turned over to the Augusta Female Seminary.

A second Presbyterian church was organized in Staunton in 1875, and its church building erected in 1876.

The first Presbyterian church {typo corrected} in Waynesborough was erected about 1798, which was superseded by another in 1824. Until 1847, Waynesborough was associated with Tinkling Spring in the support of a

{footnote continued from preceding page} to come chiefly from that quarter. Moreover, the dam at the Fair Ground and an embankment on Brew’s farm, Middlebrook road, broke and the water which had accumulated being discharged, carried destruction in its course. A family of four negroes living near the stone railroad bridge on the Middlebrook road, were drowned, their house having been washed away. From that bridge to the depot of the Valley Railroad was, next morning, a scene of desolation. Many buildings fell or were swept off, and from 30 to 40 horses and mules were drowned. In the midst of the storm, the electric and gas lights were extinguished, and the town was left in pitch darkness. The fire bell was rung to call people to the rescue of others who were in peril, but in the darkness and flood little could be done. As never before our people realized the meaning of the words “the terror by night.”

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