THE POST-BELLUM PERIOD
ST. GEORGE’S CHURCH was without regular services for
two years after the Reverend Mr. Randolph was evacuated
from Fredericksburg in November, 1862. Then Miss Mary
Thorn collected sufficient funds to support a provisional rector,
the Reverend Magruder Maury, and services were resumed on
December 2, 1864, in the basement lecture room of the shell-torn
The son of Richard B. Maury, Magruder was born in Fredericksburg.
Thus this graduate of the University of Virginia and
of Virginia Seminary was the first, and to date the only, native
ever to be rector of St. George’s. A chaplain in the Confederate
Army, he later married Leila Andrews, the daughter of a prominent
clergyman, the Reverend Charles Vol. Andrews, D.D., rector
of Trinity Church, Shepherdstown, (now) West Virginia.’
Shortly after the end of the war Maury was sent north by the
vestry to solicit funds for the repair of “our dismantled sanctuary.”
The Bishop of New York graciously gave him a letter
to the clergy and laity of that diocese and he obtained $514 in
New York City and $900 in Cold Spring, New York, with a
promise of further aid, if required, from a Mr. Parrott of that
village. The Reverend Mytton Maury was the rector at Cold
Spring. In mid-July 1865 the vestry of St. George’s Church
congratulated Magruder Maury on his successful fund raising
On August 15, 1865, he resigned his position as temporary
rector and received an appointment as rector effective September
1.4 To secure funds for his salary and to defray incidental expenses
the vestry on April 13, 1866, authorized the assessment of an
annual tax not to exceed $20 on each pew. At the same meeting
it ordered a collection to be taken in church every third Sunday,
the proceeds to be used for paying the debt due on the rectory.
A year later the vestry levied for church expenses an assessment
of eight per cent of the original cost of each pew.5
1 Vestry Minutes, [III], 9 verso; Journal, 1865, p. 85.
a “A Partial List of the Descendants of John De La Fontaine,” Brock, op. cit.,
pp. 127.,.128; W. A. R. Goodwin, op. cit., II, 191-192.
S Journal, 1865, p. 85; Vestry .M:inutes, [III], 9 verso, 10 recto.
4 Ibid., [III], 10 verso.
5 Ibid., [III], 12 verso, 14 verso; Letter from G. MacLaren Brydon to Carrol H.
Quenzel, Oct. 13, 1950. In the period before and immediately after the Civil
War a collection for the minister’s salary and current expenses was not usually
taken during church services. All offerings at church services were intended to
be for charity, missions, or other benevolences. Money for the minister’s salary
and for the support of the church was given outside, directly by the donor to the
44 The History of St. George’s Episcopal Church
In April, 1867, Mr. Maury tendered his resignation because
the term for which he had been elected rector was about completed
and because he had received a call to locate permanently elsewhere.
The vestry refused to accept his resignation and reappointed
him as rector.6 On May 5, 1868, the vestry voted to
place a suitable tablet on the wall of the church in memory of
Reuben Thom-a vestryman for more than fifty years.7 This
memorial is still there.
The diocesan convention was held in St. George’s Church in
May, 1869, with General Robert E. Lee, the lay delegate of
Latimer Parish, Lexington, as one of the chief attractions. General
Lee stayed at Judge William Barton’s on the site of the
Princess Anne Hotel. Mrs. J. W. Timberlake, a communicant
of St. George’s, has a lock of the General’s hair which he gave to
Miss Clara Boggs at a breakfast during the 1869 convention.
Miss Boggs was the daughter of Lewis A. Boggs, the lay delegate
from Berkeley Parish, Spotsylvania County. She was one of a
party of fourteen men and women who had made the wagon trip
from the Livingston communitY.s
At the 1870 diocesan convention the Reverend Mr. Maury
reported that during the preceding twelve months he had delivered
one hundred and ninety-five sermons and addresses, and
conducted six communion services and twenty-four catechetical
exercises.’ In July, 1870, the vestry authorized Mr. H. R. Robey
and his neighbors to build an Episcopal cha_pel approximately
six miles west of Fredericksburg and within the parochial bounds
of St. George’s Parish.Io
In a letter dated Easter Monday, 1871, Maury requested
that his salary be raised from $1250 to $1600. Rejecting this
request, the vestry voted to increase his salary to $1500. Whereupon
Maury asked that his resignation be accepted, if he had been
correctly informed that his salary request had been rejected, not
because a majority of the vestrymen considered the amount unreasonable
or the church unable to pay, but because general dissatisfaction
in the congregation towards him had caused them to
use this method of forcing his resignation. On April 24 the vestry
accepted his resignation and instructed the treasurer to pay him
treasurer, or by the payment of pew rents to him. It was therefore something
unusual when the vestry adopted the plan of asking for collections in church
services for the payment of the parish debt. The poverty of the post-bellum
period was obviously the cause.
6 Vestry Minutes, [III], 14 verso, 15 recto.
7 Ibid., [III], 16 recto.
S Letter from Betty Lewis Boggs to Nannie Scott, June 2, 1869; Journal,
1869, p. 17.
9 Ibid., 1870, p. 167.
10 Vestry Minutes, [III], 23 recto.
The post-Bellum Period 45
an additional $350 so that his salary for the year ending on
Easter Sunday, 1871, would be $1600.”
Little is known about Maury after he left Fredericksburg.
He was rector of Meade Parish in Fauquier County and Johns
Parish in Loudoun County in 1874 and 1875.” In his Council
address in May 1876, Bishop Johns reported that he had deposed
Mr. Magruder Maury from the ministry, but he did not give the
date or the cause. According to one conjecture Maury was
ousted because he was one of the four clergymen in the diocese
of Virginia who went into the Reformed Episcopal Schism. He
opposed bitt.erl’y. Bishop ) ohns’ successful effor~ to bring the
diocese of Vlrglma back mto the Protestant EpIscopal Church
of the United States of America from its former affiliation with
the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Confederate States of
America. He died at his residence in Philadelphia on Tuesday,
May 8, 1877, in his forty-second year.”
At a meeting of the vestry on July 4, 1871, the Reverend
Walter Vol. Williams of Georgetown received six votes to five for
the Reverend Edward C. Murdaugh, whereupon Judge Barton,
the nominator of Murdaugh, moved that the election of Mr.
Williams be made unanimous. This motion carried but Williams
declined the call. On July 29 the vestry set the rector’s salary
at $1800 and unanimously elected the Reverend Mr. Murdaugh
The clergyman thus called to St. George’s was a Virginian
who had been ordained deacon by Bishop Cobb in Alabama on
January 6, 1845. After laboring in that diocese for several years,
he had served successively as rector of Martin’s Brandon and
Southwark Parishes in Prince George and Surry Counties, Virginia,
and of St. James’ Church, Herring Creek, Maryland,
before moving to FredericksburgY
At the suggestion of the new rector the vestry held a called
meeting on January 8, 1872, to consider means of utilizing the
laity of the parish. In an effort to achieve this the vestry adopted
Judge Barton’s resolution which provided for the organization
of a male and a female church aid society.16
Murdaugh’s health was so p09r in the fall of 1872 that he
tendered his resignation to the vestry. Instead of accepting it
that body formally
11 Ibid., [III], 25 verso, 26 recto and verso.
12 Journal, 1874, p. 8.
IS The Virginia Star, May 16, 1877~
14 Vestry Minutes, [III], 28 recto and verso.
. 15 Journal, 1859, p. 93; ibid., 1862, p. 8; ibid., 1865, p. 6; ibid., 1868, p. 33;
zbid., 1869, p. 27; ibid., 1887, p. 27.
16 Vestry Minutes, [III], 29 recto.
46 The History of St. George’s Episcopal Church
Resolved, that we should on OUf own behalf and on
behalf of this Congregation deeply deplore the severance
of the relations now existing with our beloved Rector who
has become so endeared to us by his faithful and devoted
labors among us, the fruits of which are, under the Divine
blessing, so manifest to us all.
That we … most earnestly request that he will not
insist upon his resignation which we are most unwilling
to accept~That for many reasons we desire that our
present relations, so harmonious and pleasant, so beneficial
to this congregation and the welfare of this church
may long continue to OUf mutual comfort and spiritual
The vestry authorized Dr. Murdaugh to employ an assistant
minister “so long as he may think such assistance desirable.”
In July, 1874, the vestry voted $250 to reimburse the rector
partially for the salary he had paid the “late assistant minister.”
Mrs. Mary Green Browne resigned as organist on March 29,
187t and the vestry coupled its acceptance with a statement
describing her as a zealous, faithful and satisfactory organist.
This ,tribute tb her many years of service was richly deserved as
we have quoted earlier a contemporary comment on her playing
when the present St. George’s_ was consecrated on April 22. 1849.
11iss Hattie Slaughter was selecte”d–as-J’V[Fs. Browne’s successor.18
lil11:pril, 1874, the St. George’s Benevolent Society of Fredericksburg
was incorporated by an act of the legislature to hold
property not to exceed $100,000 for the purpose of benefiting
the poor of the town of Fredericksburg and assisting needy
widows and orphans. The founders of the Society envisioned an
ambitious program, as the act of incorporation empowered the
board to establish asylums for the aged and. the pOof, orphanages,
reformatories and schools.
The greater part of the funds held in trust by the Society
today, $7,250, comes from a bequest of the Peck family in 1874.
A. Wellington Wallace left $6,100 to the Society for the “benefit
of needy, poor widows of the city of Fredericksburg over fifty
years of age, in the months of December, January, February, and
March for their imminent need each year.”
At the present time the Society is assisting in the education
of two boys at the Blue Ridge School, contributing to the support
of a person crippled with arthritis, and supplementing the State
Welfare allotment to ten widows in the community,
The major part of the trust funds of St. George’s Church
earmarked for charitable purposes in the community, $35,000, is
17 Ibid., [III], 31 verso.
18 Ibid., [III], 32 recto, 40 verso, 33 recto, ante, p. 35.
The Post-Bellum Period 47
administered by “The Charity School Board,” whose founding in
1795 has been previously mentioned. Although the act of the
legislature did not establish it as an Episcopal Church fund, the
Board has always been composed of members of St. George’s
Originally, the school established through the income from
this fund was named the “Male Charity School of Fredericksburg.”
Subsequently it was changed to the “Female Charity School of
Fredericksburg,” under which title it operated until the School
was closed in 1930. Formerly located on Hanover Street just
back of the Masonic Lodge, it was moved in 1835 to what is now
the southeast corner of Caroline and Lewis Streets. During the
last twenty-five years of the school’s history, Miss Sally M.
Braxton, great-great granddaughter of Chief Justice John Marshall,
was the efficient president of the board. “Her wise management
and deep interest in the welfare of the children contributed
much to the success of the school during its final years.”
After its discontinuance the funds intended for the maintenance
of the school, were dispensed by a board of eight women
to supply good homes and education to needy children. Under
the presidency of Mrs. J. Conway Chichester the board is now
financing four girls in foster homes. In addition, the board
contributed $50.00 to a dental clinic in 1948 and the same sum in
1949 to the James Monroe Parent Teacher Association for tonsillectomies
for poor pupilsyi
In July, J874″ the vestry assented to the proposal that St.
George’s should part with its old organ in partial payment for a
new one. Almost a year later the vestry formally thanked 1\1rs.
Belle S. Taylor and some other ladies for securing $3,000 to pay
for the “noble” new organ.20 On July 31, 1876, the choir was
given permission to b..!;.ild an addition to the organ loft providing
the vestry would be reheved of any financIal responsibility for
the project.21 Informed in November, _~that many present
and former members of the congregation of St. George’s desired
“to place a handsome window in the chECh” as a memorial to
the Reverend Edward C. McGuire, D-:D., the vestry appointed
a committee to receive voluntary contributions for this purpose.22
In April, 1876, Bishop John Johns, of the diocese of Virginia,
died and as a token of respect the vestry had St. George’s Church
draped with mourning for thirty days. At the expiration of this
time the mourning was distributed amongst the poor of the town.23
19 Acts and Jo-int Resolutions Passed by the General Assembly of the State of
P-irginia at the Session of 1874 (Richmond, R. F. Walker, Supt. Public Printing
1874), pp. 152-153; “Trust Funds for Benevolences,” Zoe. c-it., p. 7. ‘
Z() Vestry Minutes, [III], 4-0 verso, 44 recto; Journal, 1875, p. 185.
21 Vestry Minutes, [III], 49 recto and verso.
22 Ibid., [III], 50 recto and verso.
23 Ibid., [III], 48 recto and verso.
48 The History of St. George’s Episcopal Church
At a meeting on April 6, 1877, Judge Barton read the following
letter dated April 3:
The Vestry of St. George’s Church
The Rectorship of the Parish which you represent
is in your hands. I herewith lay before you my
resignation. For such tolerance and support as you have
given me please receive my thanks. The tolerance was
more than I deserved and of the support I regret to have
made so little use. May the Lord of the Vineyard send
you a Minister who shall be the bearer of blessings to you
and to all the people of St. George’s.
Believe me Gentlemen to be
your most abet servant
In Christ Jesus and His Church
Edward C. Murdaugh”
By a vote of six to three the vestry accepted the resignation.
When the vestry met again on April 11, 1877, it was presented
with a long list of members who insisted that Dr. Murdaugh be
called to the rectorship of St. George’s and with a letter from
Judge R. C. L. Moncure expressing the same sentiments. After
a lengthy discussion Judge Barton’s motion that Murdaugh be
elected rector was defeated seven to four.25
The official minutes of the vestry give no reasons for Murdaugh’s
resignation or its acceptance by the vestry. The vestry
merely adopted the following resolution on April 24:
Resolved, That in accepting the resignation of Revd.
Dr. E. C. Murdaugh, the Vestry are sensible of, and fully
realize the loss of a faithful, laborious minister, whose
labours for a series of years past have been crowned with
a full measure of success.
That their late minister will carry with him into the
fields of future usefulness, which he may enter, the kindest
feeling of this body…”
Accompanying this resolution was a gift of money which Murdaugh
returned with his thanks.
If documentary material providing an objective explanation
of the resignation ever existed, it has not survived. In its absence
24 Ibid., [III], 53 verso, 54 recto; The Firgin£a Star, April 7, 1877.
25 Vestry Minutes, [III], 54 verso.
26 Ibid., [III], 55 recto and verso; The Firginia Star, June 16, 1877.
The Post-Bellum Period 49
one is reduced to surmising-a hazardous exercise. Apparently
Murdaugh was somewhat more ritualistic than some of the extremely
low church vestrymen. It ha~ also been suggest~d that
his social gospel was more comprehensIve than that to whIch the
communicants of St. George’s had been accustomed. As we will
learn later, Murdaugh’s successor was so disturbed by a few
parishioners’ slighting remarks about the policy of bringing the
lower classes into the church, that the vestry formally assured
him that all “classes and colors” were welcome.27 Murdaugh
has written that before coming to Fredericksburg he had had no
experience with the workings of a city church.2s Differences in
temperament may also have created friction.
On June 4 Judge Barton offered a resolution stating that
inasmuch as the vestry approved every movement tending to
spread the Gospel, it would welcome another Episcopal Church
in Fredericksburg into fraternal relations and cooperate with it in
obtaining diocesan recognition. Laid over for “further consideration,”
the resolution received no further notice. In July, 1877,
more than fifty communicants, who were opposed to the acceptance
of Murdaugh’s resignation, organized Trinity Church and
made him its rector.29 The new congregation received from the
Methodists a two-year rent-free lease of the building known as
Hanover Church on the condition that the Episcopalians would
make the necessary repairs. -Within a year one hundred and
twelve communicants transferred from St. George~s to Trinity,
including Judge W. S. Barton, Judge J. B. Jett, George B. Scott,
John L. Stansbury, George B. Pearson, R. B. Shepherd, John F.
Tackett, John S. Berry, Dr. John R. Taylor, William K. Howard,
Monroe Kelly, F. W. Johnson and W. R. Mason. Trinity Church
stressed the fact that it was a free-seat church.so
Dr. Murdaugh had a stroke of paralysis in the fall of 1885,
but he continued as rector of Trinity until his death on Sunday
afternoon, November 7, 1886. His passing evoked many tributes
including the assertion that
No man had a stronger hold on the affections of our
people, irrespective of .denomin-ation. His charity knew
no bounds; the poor in our midst knew him as their true
The Reverend Churchill J. Gibson, D.D., of Grace Church,
Petersburg, the Reverend Mr. Shield of Kentucky and the Reverend
John K. Mason of St. George’s officiated at Dr. Murdaugh’s
funeral. Trinity Church was “densely packed” during the
27 Vestry :tvfinutes, [III], 76 verso.
28 The Virginia Star, June 16, 1877.
29 Vestry Minutes, [III], 56 recto; The Virginia Star, July 21, 1877.
30 Slaughter, 1890, p. 72; Journal, 1878, p. 215; ibid., 1880, p. 218.
50 The History of St. George’s Episcopal Church
services, and an “immense concourse” followed the remains to the
city cemetery where they were interred with full 11asonic rites.
The unusually numerous “elaborate and exquisite” floral arrangements
included ,a dove and “an elegant pillow” of chrysanthemums,
white roses and feathery silver moss with the words “Brother
Ned” in blue violets.31
As Murdaugh’s successor at St. George’s, the vestry selected
the Reverend Robert J. McBryde, a South Carolinian. After
completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia,
he had served in the Confederate Army, been graduated
from the Virginia Theological Seminary and held parishes in
Amherst County and the chaplaincy of the University.
‘Vhen the register of the St. George’s Vestry wrote to Charlottesville,
he was advised that McBryde’s sermons were “faithful,
searching and practical,” concerned exclusively with the vital
truths of the Gospel, and delivered with such “directness, earnestness
and unction” that they invariably created a solemn and
salutary impression. He was further informed that the young
clergyman’s gestures were easy and natural, if not conspicuously
graceful, and his voice distinct and strong, if not musical. The
register’s informant felt that a “constant and consuming desire
to win souls to Christ,” was the motive prompting everything
McBryde said. He added that outside of the pulpit, the rector
was so amiable and polished a gentleman that he had endeared
himself to every family within his charge. Furthermore, McBryde’s
usefulness was promoted by the popularity of his wife,
a “lovely person, in character and manners, as in appearance.”32
While McBryde was rector of St. George’s, the church received
several large gifts. Mrs. A. E. Ficklin donated $500
towards painting the church, provided the requisite amount
be raised to complete the job. Mrs. Agnes Gordon Knox Soutter
of New York City gave a handsome surplice and vestment, and
Major J. Temple Doswell of Fredericksburg, a black walnut
case for the communion service. Major Doswell also personally
paid for the repairs to the west end of the lecture or Sunday
School room. On December 3, 1877, A. Wellington Wallace
was elected to the vestry to fill the vacancy created by the resignation
of Monroe Kelly.as
At a vestry meeting on March 4, 1878, a motion was made,
and apparently carried, setting aside an entire block of seats in
the gallery for the colored people. The hours for the annual
election of the vestry on April 1, 1878, were from 4 P.M. to 6
P.M. The following year eighteen votes were polled for vestry-
31 The Fredericksburg Star, Nov. 10, 1886.
32 Letter from 1. S. Davis to Dr. James F. Thompson, June 7, ~877.
33 Vestry Minutes, [III], 63 recto, 80 recto, 72 recto, 60 recto.
The Post-Bellum Period 51
men. In May, 1878, St. George’s reported a Sun,day School of
twenty teachers and one hundred and fifty scholars.34
Telling the vestry on May 16, 1879,. that he wa? greatly co’;cerned
by criticism from a few o~ ,hIs commumcants of hIs
policy of bringing the lower classes mto the church as members,
McBryde asked for an expression of the sense of the vestry upon
that subject. Whereupon that body
Resolved, That the Vestry of St. George’s Church
Speaking in b~half,. as. they believe .of the entire congregation,
cord.lallY.Invlte ~ll calss~s [SIC] an~ colors of D.ur
Citizens to jam wIth us III publIc worshIp and partIe:
ipation in all the benefits and sacraments of our Church.so
In response to several requests for information concerning
the records of St. George’s Church, Miss Catharine Thorn wrote
a highly informative letter on the subject to the Reverend Mr.
McBryde in April, 1878. In stating that the vestry minutes of
St. George’s Parish from 1726 to 1817 were found by John Minor Y
IV in the Court-house atW,lliamsburg, she agreed with the
account m the firsflli’Sto:-rY”Dt-St:-B–eorge’s, that by the Reverend
Philip Slaughter. Miss Thom placed the date of the discovery
of the two large and mutilated volumes containing the minutes
at more than thirty years before 1878. Since Slaughter’s history
was published in 1847 the minutes must have been found that
year or earlier. They were in the custody of Reuben Thorn
until his death in 1868 when they were kept by John Coakley.
At his death the vestry placed them in the vault of the National
Bank of Fredericksburg until the first volume was lent to the
R~-d-iVlr. Slaughter to assist him in writing the history of
St. Mark’s Parish. In 1878 the other volume was in Judge
William Barton’s law office.
According to Miss Thorn, the parish register used by the
Reverend Mr. McGuire and other church records (probably the
vest:;z minutes from. 1817 to 1862) were. taken by Dr. James
Cooke tC[Rlclimoml–jjct86Tai1clDur2::’~d0ihe store of Purcell
and Ladd when that Clty was evacua y-rhe Confederate
Army in 1865. When Mr. Randolph took charge of the parish a
new register was purchased and the names of all of the living
communicants were copied therein by Dr. Cooke.36
Early in 1879 the vestry bought seventy-five new benches
for the Sunday School from a Baltimore firm and the Baltimore
and Fredericksburg Line of steamers transported fifty of them to
Fredericksburg free of charge. The vestry authorized the wardens
34 Ibid., [III], 62 verso, 64 recto, 75 recto, 67 recto.
35 Ibid., [III], 76 verso.
36 Ibid., [III], 67 verso, 68 recto.
52 The History of St. George’s Episcopal Church
to lencl some old unused box benches to the Sons of Sobriety
for their meeting rcamP On May 16, 1879, the vestry passed a
formal resolution expressing its unanimous opposition to the
division of the diocese of Virginia and approving the appointment
of an assistant bishop.58That Fredericksburg was definitely more rural in 1880 than
it is today, is evidenced by the vestry’s appropriation of $18
to erect a cow house for the rector and $20 to put the rectory
green-house in order.39
McBryde was plagued with poor health in the fall of 1880
and the vestry suggested that he officiate exclusively in St.
George’s Church and there only to the extent he 9.eemed advisable.
The rector’s ill health persisted; so in February, 1881, the vestry
granted him a two months vacation. At the same meeting the
vestry directed the wardens to designate eight ladies to solicit
funds from the members of the congregation for the support of a
supply minister.4o Dr. James Carmichael, who served during the
rector’s absence, reported that he held fifty-five services, including
forty-nine at which he preached; prepared nine candidates for
confirmation; officiated at four baptisms; and conducted two
Dr. McBryde resumed his duties in April, 1881, but he con-
tinued to suffer from throat trouble; so his physician recommended
in July that he spend a month at Healing Springs. This leave
was granted with the understanding that he was to secure someone
to conduct services each Sunday morning because the vestry felt
it was important to have “the Church open in part” to keep its
finances in a healthy condition.” In May, 1882, he reported that
he had suspended four communicants.43
He left St. George’s in 1883 because the bishop felt that
McBryde’s great influence with young men made him peculiarly
qualified to be the rector at Lexington, Virginia. In his letter
of resignation McBryde asserted that he had been sent to Fredericksburg
to harmonize as far as possible all discordant elements
in St. George’s. He had been assured that he was leaving an
The Reverend John Kercheval Mason, of St. John’s Church,
Heber Parish, Liberty (now Bedford city), was highly reCOffi,
mended as a rector to suit the St. George’s congregation. He
was unanimously elected rector of St. George’s on March 27,
37 Ibid., [III1. 71 verso, 72 recto and verso.
38 Ibid., [IIII. 76 verso.
39 Ibid., [Ill], 83 recto.
40 Ibid., [III]. 83 verso, 84 verso, 85 recto.
411bid., [IIIl, 86 recto.
421bid., [III], 89 verso, 90 recto.
4S Journal, 1882, p. 223.
M Ibid., 1883, p. 32; Vestry Minutes, [III], 96 recto.
The Post-Bellum Period 53
1883. Subsequently St. John’s recalled Mason as its rector and
requested the St. George’s vestry to release hIm from the call he
had accepted. This request was politely refused, and he apparently
reported to his new charge on May 15, 1883″
When Fredericksburgers inquired about their new minister
they learned that he had been born or: December 3, 1847, at
“Westview” in BrunswIck County, Vlrglma, to Dr. George
Mason a physician and “large cotton planter,” and Lucy Binns
Jones Mason. While John was still a young boy, he moved
with his family to “Homestead,” the old Mason plantation in
Greensville County. He received his secondary education at
Bingham Latin School in North Carolina. On August 27, 1864,
he had been appointed a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute
and he was a member of the corps when it was mustered into the
Confederate Army and assigned to the defense of Richmond.'”
After the war Mr. Mason matriculated at Hampden-Sydney
College on a scholarship that his father had established before
1861. Receiving his B.A. degree there in 1870, he returned to
a rapidly disintegrating plantation to make enough money to
permit him to study theology. For two years he did double
duty, working in his father’s fields and teaching in the free schools
of Greensville and Sussex C mnties. His success as an educator
helped the public schools become an organized system and he
was the first superintendent of schools of Greensfield County.
Entering the Virginia Theobgical Seminary in 1874 he was
graduated and ordained deacon in 1876 and priest the following
year. He began his ministry at Mt. Jackson and Middletown,
and during the three and half years there he did much mountain
missionary work and retrieved church property that had fallen
into disuse. In 1879 he moved to an urban environment in another
state when he accepted a call to St. Peter’s Church, Charlotte,
North Carolina. In that year he also married Claudia Hamilton
Norton, the daughter of the Reverend George Hatley Norton
and Ann Burwell Marshall. In time the John Kercheval Masons
had five children, Dr. Hatley Norton Mason, the Richmond
physician, and four daughters. Mason returned to Virginia when
he moved to St. John’s in 1881.47
Mr. Mason took his stewardship of church propelty seriously
and in each charge his care for individuals within and beyond
his congregation went hand in hand with his efforts to keep the
“House and Service of the Lord beautiful.” In the first year
45 Ibid., [III], 98 verso, 99 recto and verso; The Fredericksburg Star, May 23,
1883; Journal, 1883, p. 32.
46 Letters from H. Norton Mason, M. D., to Carrol H. Quenzel, May 19,
1950; Feb. 23, 1951.
47 Ibid., Letter from David C. Wilson, Registrar of Hampden-Sydney College,
to Carrol H. Quenzel, June 14, 1950; W. A. R. Goodwin, op. cit., II, 154.
54 The History of St. George’s Episcopal Church
of his ministry at St. George’s the ladies of the congregation
raised $1,839 for building renovation.48
Being a musician himself, Mr. Mason’s “enthusiasm and
~lt, informed effort brought about ,the accep~ance of paid sin.gers in
. 411 the choir.” The vestry authorIzed two smgers to be retamed at
“not more than $100 per annum each.”49
In March, 1886, the expenses of the church exceeded its
income. Furthermore, the base of church support was undesirably
small. Of a congregation of one hundred and ninety-three communicants
and many non-communicants, there were only sixty
regular subscribers by the envelope system, during the twelve
month period ending in March, 1886. The total amount collected
for the support of the church, exclusive of the contributions of
the sixty, was a mere $350, or not more than an average of four
cents a Sunday from all the other members and attendants.
The vestry requested the rector to read to the congregation a
resolution embodying this data and urging everyone who attended
-services regularly at St. George’s to contribute to its
Joseph Walker was elected sexton on October 11, 1886,
to replace the ailing Washington Wright, who was sexton at
the time of the battle of Fredericksburg and probably considerably
earlier. Joseph had been born a slave on the farm of Colonel
\:Villiam Goodwin in Spotsylvania County on December 17,
1854. This property and the adjoining McCool estate later
formed the “Bloody Angle” where one of the fiercest battles of
history was fought.
Coming to Fredericksburg in 1871, he worked a short time
in the paper mill and then became a butler in the home of Judge
William S. Barton. Joseph was hired as the janitor of the National
Bank of Fredericksburg when the present president, Hugh D.
Scott, “was a boy,” and he was still employed there in 1938.
At the time of his appointment as sexton, he had been a deacon
in the Shiloh Baptist Church for almost nine years and he was
destined to retain that position down to the eve of World \Var II.
Subsequently, Joseph became a property-owner, voter, juror,
and the contractor for hauling the mail between the postoffice
and the railway stations.51
In view of modern trends in illumination it is somewhat
amusing to note that a vestry meeting was held on May 27,
1889, for the specific purpose of deciding _whether to continue
lighting the church with electricity or to change to gas. Electricity
lost, the vestry formally voting not to use that illuminant.
48 Journal, 1884, p. 207; Mason, loco cit., F.eb. 23, 1951.
49 Vestry Minutes, [III,] 107 verso, 108 recto and verso; Mason, loco cit.
so Ibid., [III], 109 recto and verso.
S1 [Warren Farmer], “Fredericksburg Personalities,” Free Lance Star, July
The Post-Bellum Period 55
Mr. Mason was happy in Fredericksburg, but about 1890
he became convinced that the special work for which he had
been called to St. George’s was complete. On March 18, 1890,
he resigned because he had accepted a call to St. James’ Church
in Marietta, Georgia. The vestry accepted the resignation,
hut ten days later it unanimously delegated two of its members
to request the St. James’ vestry to permit Mason to withdraw
his letter of acceptance. He did not move to Georgia.52 However,
when in Octoher of that year, he was called to be associate rector
with the Reverend Joshua Peterkin at St. James’· Church in
Richmond he felt that the larger duty lay there.”
In 1891 he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity
from his alma mater, Hampden-Sydney College. After
Dr. Peterkin’s death in 1892, Dr. Mason served St. James’ as
rector until 1896. He then accepted a call to St. Andrew’s
Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where he was rector of the church
and delegate to four General Conventions in “an ever growing
usefulness to the Episcopal Church until his death” on December
18, 1910, in Louisville. He was buried in St. Paul’s Cemetery,
The Reverend William Meade Clark, who succeeded the
Reverend Mr. Mason at St. George’s in 1890 and at St. James’
Church, Richmond, in 1896, was born in Halifax County, Virginia.
His father, the Reverend John T. Clark, was the rector
of Roanoke Parish in that county and the owner of a large plantation.
During part of 1862 Dr. Sparrow, of the Seminary
faculty, and his family made their home with the John T. Clarks
and the Seminary student body of four lived and pursued their
William Meade Clark received his early education in schools
near his home and from tutors, including William Meade Dame
who later was rector of Memorial Episcopal Church, Baltimore.
Clark’s obituary stated that he was a graduate of the University
of Virginia. This is not corroborated by the records of the
University as they attest to his attendance during the sessions
of 1874-75, 1875-76 and 1876-77, but do not indicate that he
was awarded a degree.55 During his college days he sustained
injuries in a railroad accident that were sufficiently serious to have
reduced the typical man to incompetence. Instead, he overcame
his handicaps and in the process he developed extraordinary
52 Vestry Minutes, [III], 129 recto and verso, 130 recto and verso.
53 Ibid., [III], 133 recto.
54 H. Norton Mason, loco o’t.; David C. Wilson, loco cit.; W. A. R. Goodwin,
op. cit., II, 124.
55 Vestry Minutes, [III], 134 recto; Fredericksburg Star, July 15, 1896; Daily
Star, April 30, 1914; W. A. R. Goodwin, op. o’t., II, 186; Letter from George O.
Ferguson, Jr., Registrar of the University of Virginia, to Carrol H. Quenzel,
July 3, 1950.
56 The History of St. George’s Episcopal Church
fortitude and admirable habit of punctuality. “His fixed determination
to trouble nobody with his ailments turned his mind
to things outside of himself.” Naturally social, he took a lively
interest in the people about him, and ignoring his own pains and
troubles he adopted the best course to make others forget them.56
While a student in the Virginia Seminary at Alexandria,
he was an editor of The Seminarian, an eight page monthly,
and he conducted services at Olivet Chapel on the “Bush Hill”
estate in Fairfax County. Upon his graduation from the Seminary,
Clark was ordained deacon by Bishop Whittle on June
25, 1880. A year later he was ordained priest.”
Before his call to St. George’s he was successively rector of:
St. James’ Parish, Boydton, Mecklenburg County, 1880-1881;
Lexington Parish, Amherst County, 1881-1886; Chapel Hill and
the Church of the Good Shepherd, Raleigh, North Carolina,
Clark was still new at St. George’s when the vestry voted
to appeal to every member of the congregation over fourteen to
contribute to the cost of re-roofing the church, a project costing
approximately $500. Also in 1891 St. Georgians were proud that
their rector was chosen to preach the annual sermon before the
Seminary Alumni Association. Taking his text from 2 Timothy
1 :7, he spoke on “Timidity.”” In 1892 Clark prepared a booklet
entitled St. George’s Cemetery: An Historical Sketch which was
published and sold by the Ladies’ Cemetery Guild of St. George’s
Apparently some members of St. George’s Church considered
the choir inadequate in November, 1892, as a called meeting
was held to devise means of securing an ~;ntly needed leaAill.g
soprano. The following April the ~-pl~-cra;:k’s disposal
as many of the unappropriated pews as he could have
upholstered. Evidently he was interested in enlarging the
number of free pews and in improving the appearance of the
The rector lost his wife during the winter of 1893-1894.
In September, 1894, Mr. Clark reported that the ceiling in the
church galleries was in bad condition, and he stated that if the
vestry would give him its authorization he would raise the money
for replastering. The next month the vestry approved his acceptance
of an invitation to teach history at the Virginia Seminary
56 Journal, 1914-, p. 35.
57 W. A. R. Goodwin, op. cit., I, 378,423; Journal, 1914, p. 91.
58 Ibid., 1881, p. 8; ibid., 1882, p. 7; ibid., 1884, p. 7; ibid., 1887, p. 32.
59 Vestry Minutes, [III], 137 recto; W. A. R. Goodwin, op. cit., II, 91.
60 Vestry Minutes, [III], 14-5 recto, 147 verso.
The Post-Bellum Period 57
for a few months while Dr. Carl E. Grammer was recovering
from a severe attack of typhoid fever. These new duties did
not prevent Clark from conducting services at St. George’s.
Four years later he declined the professorship of Church history
at the Seminary.” In 1895 Mrs. Annie T. Harrison of Philadelphia,
a generous friend of St. George’s on numerous occasions,
presented the congregation with “a very beautiful and costly
antique brass” lectern.62
Late in 1895 the Reverend Mr. Clark declined the rectorship
of St. Paul’s Church, Petersburg. In July, 1896, he declined a
call to Monumental Church, Richmond, but he accepted the
rectorship of St. James’ Church in the same city. Clark’s resignation
was effective as of August 31, 1896.63
The move to St. James’ was his final one as he served that
congregation until his death on April 29, 1914. Clark was an examining
chaplain of the diocese of Virginia, 1898-1913; editor of
the Southern Churchman, 1899-1914, and a member of the General
Board of Missions. He had the distinction of being a clerical
deputy to six General Conventions. Washington and Lee University
conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity on
Clark on June 15, 1910.”
His funeral was held at St. James’ Church on Friday morning,’
May 2. The services were conducted by Bishops Robert A.
Gibson and Alfred M. Randolph and four other clergymen. The
interment was in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond.65
To replace Clark as rector of St. George’s the vestry appointed
William Dickinson Smith, a native of Clarke County, Virginia,
and the son of William D. and Agnes P. Smith. Born on November
19, 1863, the future clergyman was educated at the University
of Virginia and the Virginia Theological Seminary. He was
ordained deacon in 1891 and priest in 1892. He was assistant
minister of Christ Church, Brooklyn. At the time of his call to
St. George’s Smith was rector of St. Paul’s Church, Brambleton
Parish near Norfolk. He assumed his duties at St. George’s
on January 3, 1897.”
61 Ibid., [III], 151 verso, 156 verso, 157 recto and verso; W. A. R. Goodwin
62 Vestry Minutes, [III], 159 recto.
63 The Fredericksburg Star, Jan. 1, 1896; July 15, 1896; Vestry Minutes
[III], 165 recto. ‘
64 Journal, 1914, p. 91; W. A. R. Goodwin, op. cit., II, 96, 407, Letter from
C. L. Green, Registrar, Washington and Lee University, to Carrol H. Quenzel,
July 11, 1950.
65 Fredericksburg Daily Star, Apr. 30, 1914.
66 Journal, 1945, pp. 34, 86; Vestry Minutes, [III], 170 recto and verso, 17
recto; The Frederick.rburg Star, Dec. 12, 1896.
58 The History of St. George’s Episcopal Church
In his first month in his new charge Smith secured the
vestry’s consent to the replacement of the lectern with a “handsome
pulpit” by some of “the ladies” of the parish. The community,
as well as the congregation, was saddened in October,
1897, by the drowning in the Rappahannock River of Miss
Jea!!l’lle..S-Br~ St. george’s organist. IThe final two years
-6tthe Nineteenth Century were a fruitf}il, if somewhat uneventful,
period in the annals of St. George’s’ Church.57
67 Vestry Minutes, [III], 171 verso, 175 verso.
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