The Junior Brotherhood of St. Andrew – Boys in Service 1905-1907


One morning in May, 2012, I opened a package received from former Parishioner Thomina (“Tommi”) Reneau in Florida. She had called the previous week and said she had some records from the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. Would I like to donate it to the local archives? I said “sure” but first I would like to review them.

Some background on the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood of St. Andrew wanted to make Christ known and they made it very simple – bring men to Church.  It arose in 1883 at a time of the industrialization of America with the rapid growth of cities and people learning to cope with this new environment. In seven years the Brotherhood was flourishing with more than 15,000 members in 17 countries. This doubled the size of the turn-of-the-century Episcopal Church and resulted in an increase of more than fifty percent in the number of churches and missions.

When I opened the slim brown volume I found a social/religious gold mine – as well as a solution to a mystery from 3 years earlier. 

Opening up the volume was a magazine article on the chapter that appeared in 1907 in the St. Andrew’s Cross, the magazine of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. The article included a picture of some of the members with a priest.  I had seen that photo in our archives!  I remember taking a “picture of the picture” in 2009, but there were many questions then – What group was it? Who was the priest? Where was it taken?   Three years later I had the answers.

The magazine article said it was taken on May 27, 1906 with Rev. Robert W. Forsyth of St. Paul’s Episcopal in Richmond. It was the occasion of a mass meeting of 175 boys at St. George’s. The picture was possibly taken in the gallery though it is open to debate. We know it was framed for 30 cents. The purpose of the meeting was “to make other fellows feel their usefulness in going to church.”

The brown volume I was reading contained the records of the Junior Chapter of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew from December, 1905 until July 31, 1907. The journal was in excellent shape with no torn pages or faded ink.    

This is a valuable find. Other than the Women’s Auxiliary we have no meeting records of this group or any small group in the first decade of the 20th century. We also know the names of the key members. Names of youth are difficult to come by except at the Christmas Sunday School celebrations or graduations from Sunday school.

Any photo of the church in 1906 or its parishioners is also unusual. The only other one is an inside picture of the sanctuary with no people. Another interesting addition was a one page report of their activities in 1905 and 1906 that was typed! 

The junior chapter was chartered on November 11, 1898 with Rev. W. D. Smith and five boys. It is not clear what ages were represented though in 1905 they reported losing members going off to college. 

The 1905 report was specific as to their mission. “The purpose of our Society is to ask all who do not attend any church at all to come to our services; to act as ushers and to be on hand to welcome strangers.”  There were two rules – the rule of prayer and service. “The rule of prayer is to pray daily for the spread of Christ’s kingdom among boys. The rule is to take some part in the work, worship or study of the church and to try each week to bring other boys to do the same.”  Their maximum membership was 25 but they lost 11 to college or work. The membership in 1905 was 14 with an average attendance of 10. They also tracked which of their members attended church which was considered part of their activities.

The meetings usually opened with a hymn, the Apostles’ Creed and prayers. Hotel work was reported faithfully and sometimes included numbers. There were finances to deal with including “collectors” to be selected.  Several times they mentioned monthly rent to be paid.  There was usually a reading of the St Andrew’s Cross, the publication of the larger society. They also had members read something of their own selection.  One of the best entries was “Archie Smith read a nicely gotton up report.”  In 1906 they held a lawn party with the ladies of the church to raise funds to send two delegates to the Memphis Convention of the Brotherhood.

“Hotel work” was an important of their work and was included in their 1906 report. “Two of us go to the hotel both morning and night to extend a personal invitation to men who may be there and bring them to our services. We have averaged one person a Sunday in the past year…”  They never listed the hotels visited in Fredericksburg. However, at the time of the society there were five hotels in operation within 5 blocks of the Church.

A record in the back of the journal listed 29 people brought to the church over the period. They posted cards with the times of the service at the hotel and added one in the Narthex.

One of their other roles in the church was working with the Sunday school. They also brought boys to Sunday school, and they took up the offering there.

Another activity which was part of Outreach was helping with the City Mission. “Four or five of them are helping in the work of the City Mission.”   The City mission was organized by our own Rev. W. D. Smith and Mrs. J. B. Ficklen in 1901. The purpose of the society was to look after the needy.  They functioned like a Goodwill, the Mary Washington Shop and Salvation Army or possibly our School Dressing Days. They gathered up second hand clothing and sold or gave the clothing away.

The journal contained records of 38 meetings though the last four of the meetings did not have attendance records.  They took roll both at the meetings and at Church. The meetings appear to have been every other week on a Friday night. (Try to get 21st century teenagers to the Church on a Friday night!). 

The heart of the membership of the club included two sets of brothers – Lewis and Audin Wooding, Charles and Sidney Ruck and Richard Moncure. They attended over 30 of the meetings (except for Charlie Ruck, just under 30). Another four boys attended over 20 of the meetings – Archie Smith, Thomas Jenkins, Menard Doswell and Archie Smith. Jenkins also had a brother, William B. Jenkins who was also a member. Other members of note included James Latine, Willie Herndon, and Frank Beal. This included 12 which are close to the 14 members mentioned in 1905.  By April, 1907, Rev. McBryde, then the rector gave a “very encouraging talk in the way our work had been heard out-side of town.”

Why did the journal stop?  It stopped in the heart of the summer with complaints of warm weather and other things to do.  We don’t know how long the Junior Brotherhood continued.  There is still a Junior Brotherhood within the larger group of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew outside of St. George’s.

What happened to them after the Junior Brotherhood? Information was collected on 15 of the boys:

Aubin Wooding (1888-1941)

Aubin became a dry goods merchant for 22 years, A. C. Wooding and Son. He organized and conducted the Wooding orchestra as a drummer with his brother Lewis. He married Emma Beck from Elkins WVA at St. George’s and they had one daughter.

At St. George’s he was a member of Vestry, Treasurer and Assistant Superintendent of Sunday Schools and sang in the choir. He lived at 205 Canal Street and 1303 Washington Avenue.

Lewis Wooding (1890-1934)

Brother of Aubin. Lewis worked with his father as a grocer until his father died. He played bass in the Wooding orchestra and managed the Woolright store, a stationery store, until his death. He also was a member of St. George’s choir. He never married. His home was on Prince Edward Street

Converse Johnson (1890-1962)

Johnson is the grandfather of Bill and Fitz Johnson and Ginny Branscome. He is the only member of the group with descendants at St. George’s.

We know little about him. Ginny thinks that Converse is “the second from the right on bottom row only because he looks like Rick (Johnson).”

Spottswood B. Hall  (1887-1954)

Norfolk businessman in the coal business. He was the son of Dr. Marshall and Lily Braxton Hall, last family operator of J. B. Hall Drug store on the corner of William and Caroline Streets.

Rev. Menard Doswell (1893-1927)

One of two boys who went into the ministry.  He was born in New Orleans but spent time with father Major James T. Doswell in Fredericksburg and graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary. He was described as a “young man of splendid character, a bright and cheerful disposition and of marked ability.”  He served at St. Johns’ Episcopal Church in Jacksonville, FL. Tragically, he died on the operating table during surgery for the treatment of appendicitis.

Rev. Sidney T. Ruck (1886-?)

Born 1886, he was the second boy who ventured into the ministry. He served St. Eustice in NY for 40 years,  1916-1956. I have not been able to locate his death records from the church, Diocese of Albany, Social Security or church pension records.

Charles Ruck (1891-1973)

Brother of Sidney.  His parents, George and Sarah Rock were from England.

Thomas F. Knox (1889-1919)

Son of Douglas Knox, Loula Knox both parishioners. He died of Pneumonia in Washington. He worked in Milford as businessman though his last job was US Ordinance Department as a draftsman .

R. C. L. Moncure IV (1892-1968)

Lived at 1203 Charles Street and worked in the Confederate Cemetery.  Our “Three Marys at the Tomb” stained glass window was dedicated  to Moncure’s  great grandfather, Judge R. C. L. Moncure 1805-1882 by his wife.

Thomas H. Jenkins (1893-1976)

He owned two groceries – Commerce  Street/Sophia and another on National Boulevard. The one on Commerce was operated by two of his sisters and was a “cash and carry”. He managed the one on National Boulevard and accepted credit.   

Archie Smith (1890-1975)

Lived at 1010 Prince Edward. One of founders of the Sunshine Laundry and Chairman of the Board.

Holmes Turner (1890-1945)

Head of Masonic Home of Virginia for 21 years.

William B. Jenkins (1880-?)

Married in 1910 by St. George’s rector R. J. McBryde who had been at many of the Chapter’s meetings.  He opened a grocery in 1912.

James Morton Dickinson  (1889-1906)

His death was noted in the journal. Died of Typhoid. Clerked in Dry Goods Store.

James Latane (1888-1988)

His life span was the longest of the group. He was a farmer and bank official. He was a director the Bank of Westmoreland from 1932 until 1980.

The Junior Brotherhood journal provides a fascinating view into a small group that played a significant role in the life of this church in newcomer activities, outreach and mission work. Two of their number became ministers.

We gain insights of Fredericksburg and life there. Youth meetings on Friday night and Sunday evening services are foreign to us today.  The number of hotels indicates Fredericksburg was still a way station for travel and commerce.

It was a community that was centered around churches. The Brotherhood met on Friday nights and there was a regular Sunday evening service, typical of the time.

One footnote. The Adult society at St. George’s gained notoriety in the middle 1980’s when its efforts led to the creation of Hope House.   That’s a future story.