The History of Slash Church, St. Paul's Parish, Hanover
The Oldest Frame Colonial Church in Continuous Use in Virginia.
church site - 2 services every Sunday.
Updated 09/29/2015 DAJ
This document includes information on the entire formation
of the original parish.
11353 Mt. Hermon Rd, Ashland, VA. 23005
Slash Church/Slash Church History 1729 - 2010Vertical2pg_doc.pdf
Slash Church History 1729 - 2010 - Word Doc
by Dianne A. Jones - Historian
1634 - 1728: There were eight original
divisions of land - Shires/Parishes - in Va. set by the Colonial Government in
Williamsburg which divided into named counties (government part) with Parish
Identities (church part). We are descended from the Charles River Shire. The
parish name for this large shire was Blisland or Blissland. In 1654 New Kent
County created from the Charles River/York shire and identified as St. Peter's
Parish 1679: was too large and was
divided as follows: King & Queen 1691, King William 1701-2, Hanover 1720-21.
Louisa came from Hanover County in 1742. Hanover officially
became solely identified as St. Paul's Parish in 1704.
This too was
divided into St. Martin's Parish 1727 - western Hanover, Ashland Parish 1923,
and Old Church Parish 1952. The community of Old Church however had been the
Lower Parish church since 1679 and a new wood building was erected in 1718.
Slash and the church in Old Church were joined together to serve one
rector/pastor in order to support this pastor. This sister church is :
http://www.immanueloc.org/history.htm Rectors served the entire parish
area, riding to a different church each week. Rectors serving St. Paul's Parish
are listed in the back of this document. Each landowner became part of an
Anglican Parish, the Church of England's system of providing "Cannon Law (church
law)" and English Law. Individuals answered to the Rectors (Pastors) of these
parishes and the Vestry as elected (by each other) became a branch of the
Colonial Government. The Vestry appointed Church Wardens (only landowners could
be vestry or wardens) who collected taxes and held "court" in parish churches
with the monies and records being forwarded to Williamsburg. Each landowner was
required by law to attend church so a legal head count could be maintained for
tax purposes. Failure to attend church resulted in fines that were based on the
number in your household including slaves. The residents of each parish
constructed the churches but the ownership belonged to the British Crown and the
Colonial Government. Landowners also received their Grants of Land from England.
Vestry records state, "Upon the petition of the upper inhabitants of this parish
laying down that they are very remote from the church, it is ordered that a new
church or chappell be built on the upper side of Mechumps Creeke adjoining the
Kings road. Mr. John Kimburrow assuming to this Vestry that he will give two
acres of land convenient to the said road and a spring and likewise all manner
of timbers for building the said church…" This log church/chappell (20' x 40')
was approximately one and a half miles north of the present Slash Church, near
the present Hanover Station site, and served this parish until around 1730.
Eventually, the " Mechumps Creek" church was boarded up and abandoned, possibly
burned during the War Between the States. The Rev. Brook reported in 1724 to the
Bishop of London that St. Paul's Parish was 12 miles wide and 60 miles long,
encompassing 1200 families and 4 churches, with their congregations averaging
between 200 and 300 individuals. These statistics indicated both the population
growth and the resultant need for more churches.
1729: The Vestry of St. Paul's Parish convened June 16,
1729, offering to purchase three acres of land from the southeast corner of the
farm of William Alsop, Jr., which farm had been conveyed July 9, 1724 by a 400
acre land grant along Stony Run, a branch of Mechumps Creeke. Mr. Alsop was paid
600 pounds of tobacco. This site was selected for a new church, because the land
occupied a nice hill with a number of trees and included a spring with a
bountiful supply of water. Just a month later, on July 17, 1729, the Vestry
reconvened and authorized the construction of a large Upper Church about four
miles from the present Hanover Courthouse (built 1735) area. "Saturday, July 19,
1729, gave the order to employ workmen to undertake and build a new church, and
that publick notice be given thereof. Ordered that Mr. Thomas Pinchback and Mr.
Edward Chambers, Jr. build a Church in the upper part of this parish Sixty feet
in length and twenty six foot in breadth; and sixteen foot in height in the Body
from the Floor, of the Alley to the Ceiling; and that the Mr's. Thomas Pinchback
and Edward Chambers, do meet Cap. Wm. Fleming & Cap. Charles Hudson, on Saturday
the Thirtieth of August next, at Col. David Meriwether's, to enter in Articles
with the said Fleming, and Hudson, concerning the said Church; and to give Bond
and Security for the performance of the said Articles, the said Workmen to have
for building the Said Church Sixty thousand pounds of Merchantable sweet Scented
Tobacco with Cask, to be paid convenient in this parish, in two equal payments,
the first to be paid November next, and the Other, the next November Following."
*St. Paul's Vestry Book pg.122-3. Payment actually was made Sept. 27, 1729 and
Sept.16, 1730. At that time, only receipts for these transactions were tendered,
these receipts being used in place of real currency and being the established
practice of the era.
The topography of Pine Trees, sandy clay soil that drained
poorly, numerous ravines/slashes, gave Slash its name. Construction was to be of
wood cut from the property (southern Yellow Pine) mortised and fastened with
wooden pegs. Windows and doorframes as well as doors are all hand wrought. There
is no millwork in the entire structure. The roof is quite steeply pitched at 53
degrees. The roof supports consist of a main beam that runs diagonally rather
than straight across the church, the vertical supports are in triangular form
and there is no ridge beam. Some of the glass is original. Most of the
wainscoting (of horizontal boards) is original, as are the stairway to the
gallery, the gallery itself, which is a distinct architectural feature of
churches of this period, and its balustrade and balusters. Two original pews
remain in this gallery. The flooring in the nave succumbed to termites and was
discovered after the fire in 1970. When the double flooring was taken up, 4
graves were discovered beneath the church - remains unknown. The architectural
style is early Georgian, with typical nine over nine double-sash windows and
exterior shutters, with deeply paneled double entrance doors. Exterior locks
were replaced in 1954 with reproductions used in the 18th century. The
liturgical style of the building follows that of Greek temple design with three
steps separating nave from chancel and the placement of the altar/communion
table on the east wall. In 1953 - 1954, Lena Stafford Williams, church historian
and mother of the pastor, Rev. George A. Williams, Jr., undertook an ambitious
restoration project with help from the congregation to return the interior of
the sanctuary to its initial appearance, insofar as could be ascertained. 19th
century furnishings were replaced with reproductions of 18th century types. A
central aisle replaced the double aisle configuration, wood-burning stoves and
two chimneys were removed and the two upper windows on the west wall were
repositioned (separated); paneled pews, lectern, pulpit, and altar were
installed, along with paneled chairs for the clergy. On the east wall, behind
the altar, the large wood panel containing The Lord's Prayer and the pair of
wood flower brackets were placed. This covers over another window. Some of the
19th century sanctuary furnishings, which were removed during the restoration,
are now preserved in the adjacent 1954 structure. Still in use for worship
services is the early 19th century communion plate, consisting of silver flagon,
chalice and paten. No other authentic items remain as Anglican valuables were
sold back to the public.
The first rector of Slash Church was the Reverend Zachary Brook, who had first
served Mechumps Creeke Church ( and served Slash until 1737, when
the Rev. Patrick Henry (uncle of the famous orator) was called and served until
his death in 1777. Slash was singled out especially by the
Hanover Patriots who met before and after the revolution at Merrie Oaks Tavern
nearby and at Hanover Courthouse and tavern there. During this time, the church
became Protestant Episcopal but attendance dwindled and Slash, carrying a
historical association with England, was abandoned. The congregation relocated
their services to the Hanover Courthouse area. In 1840 St.
Paul's Episcopal Church:
http://www.stpaulshanover.org/ was built of
brick but was destroyed by fire 1893, was rebuilt May 4, 1894 of wood, and
continues in their use today. During this time of religious and governmental
upheaval (1780-85) Slash became a free for use church. Newly formed religious
dissenters used Slash for their worship services. Although other denominations
used Slash for several years, the Methodists and the Disciples of Christ emerged
as the principal users. In 1842, these two groups agreed that the Disciples
would purchase the Slash building and property while the Methodists would buy
nearby land, where they erected Lebanon Methodist Episcopal Church (Lebanon
United Methodist). Their wood church was destroyed by fire in 1851 and was
rebuilt about 1860. Siding covers the exterior and a new sanctuary has been
erected. Current use plans for this old sister church sanctuary are
WAR BETWEEN THE STATES - CIVIL WAR AND SLASH CHURCH - MAY 1862 - 4500
CONFEDERATE TROOPS DIG IN:
On May 26 & 27, 1862, Slash became the headquarters for Conf.
Brig. Gen. L. OB Branch. Two battles in the vicinity on May 27, one on
Mr. Kinney's land (the old Cross home), the other at Peake's Turnout (RR lines
near Lebanon Church) resulted in a victory for the 12,000 Union forces vs. 4500
Confederate troops. Four local homes and Slash Church were used as hospitals for
the over 300 wounded. Old trees cut around 1950's contained bullets from these
battles. This encounter became known as the Battle of Slash
Church in the South and the battle of Hanover Courthouse in the North.
was also used as a schoolhouse during the week by the 1830's or 1840's.
While Slash proclaims Patrick Henry, Dolley Payne Madison, and
Henry Clay as famous worshippers, the lesser- known people, who have
worshipped there and dedicated themselves to this church's preservation and
progress in the last two centuries, should be noted. First were the
conscientious souls who reclaimed the building and saw to its restoration and
repair in the 1842-45 periods. Later congregations repeatedly raised money to
scrape, paint, and repair the original clapboards and maintain the interior -
this done again as recently as 2010. In the 1950's, Rev. George Williams sold
shingles for $1.00 each as a fundraiser to put on a new slate roof. In 1954 a
church member donated an educational building, which was attached to the North
door of the original structure by an enclosed passage. The new structure so
closely replicated the old that it was difficult to detect the age difference. A
furnace fire in 1970, between the 1954 structure and the 1729 structure damaged
the south wall of the 1954 building and the north wall of the church, some
flooring and a small part of the roof. Many people from the congregation and the
community worked diligently to repair 'like new or old' the damage done.
Original lumber that had to be removed was reused as much as possible in the
repairs to the north wall and beams. The 1954 structure is still being used for
Sunday school, history room, and choir room downstairs and large Sunday school
room upstairs. In 1972 and 1977, two connected brick structures were erected on
the grounds to house additional educational facilities and a fellowship hall.
Slash has helped shelter/foster the following churches: St. Paul's Episcopal,
Brown Grove Baptist, Lebanon United Methodist, and the Stone-Campbell
denomination (D. O.C.). The following new denominational speakers are believed
to have spoken at Slash: Alexander Campbell - D.O.C. founder, Elder Reuben Ford
- noted Baptist Pastor and speaker on religious liberty, Bishop Francis Asbury -
organizer of the Methodist Church in US,
Rev. George Whitefield - early leader
of the Methodist movement (Slash
Church\GeorgeWhitefieldAndPoleGreen.txt ). Quoted text from St. Paul's Vestry Book 1706 - 1786.
This is a shortened version of this History. Tours available by appointment:
804-746-3949 Historian. Please visit our website:
http://www.slashcc.org Dianne A.
We celebrate our building anniversaries: In 1979 we celebrated
the 250th anniversary with colonial attire, special speakers, carriages, old
cars and a big fellowship dinner. The following photos we scanned from slides
show that great event.
May 22 & 23, 2004, Slash celebrated its 275th Anniversary of the building and
the 162nd Anniversary of the ownership by The Disciples of Christ. The Saturday
program included a group of re-enactors of the 1760s - 1770s period from the
Living History Foundation, The Rev. Canon John McDowell, Rector of the Church of
St. James the Less, Ashland, VA. and the presentation of a plaque by The
Honorable Frank D. Hargrove, 55th House District giving recognition of Slash
Church by The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The service was
followed by an old fashioned homemade ice cream social in the fellowship hall
with colonial dancing. The Sunday worship was filled with music of the 18th
century with an old Disciples of Christ service. Speakers were the Rev. Dr.
Peter Morgan, Rev. Dr. Myron Kauffman, Rev. George A. Williams, Rev. Lee Parker
and Rev. Donald L. Richardson. The service was followed by dinner on the grounds
for all present. Antique automobiles were also on display as well as those
choosing to dress in colonial attire. Weather was warm both days.
Historic Highway Marker: E105
Slash Church is on the Virginia (08-15-1972) and United States (09-22-1972)
Historic Registers and a Historic Highway Marker was erected and dedicated at
the intersection of the northwest corner of Peakes/Ashcake and Mount Hermon
Road, Hanover County, Ashland, Virginia October 4, 1998. The highway marker site
was procured from the property owners via agreement with the Virginia Department
of Transportation, which agreement became effective on the 269th anniversary of
Slash Church, July 17, 1998. That document permitted the establishment of a
roadside and woodland park surrounding the marker and the turnout for off-road
parking for visitors to the site. Augmenting the highway marker location with
park supported the objective of increasing public awareness and appreciation of
the historic significance of the 1729 edifice.
Slash is a Religious and Historical treasure of Hanover County,
of Virginia and of The United States.
THE MINISTERS OF SLASH CHURCH
Early Ministers - St. Paul' Parish 1701-1785
Rev. James Bowker; Rev. Richard Squire;
Rev. James Breechin (or Breckin); Rev.
Daniel Taylor; Rev. John Monro;
Rev. Thomas Sharp - 1708/1720; Rev. Zachery (or Zachariah) Brook - 1721/1736;
Rev. Joseph Blunfield - 2 mos;
Rev. Patrick Henry - 1737/1777;
Rev. William Dunlop - a few months of 1778, left and called again with new
Rev. Jesse Carter to 1785.
Disciple Circuit Riders - Hanover
Rev. C. B. Moore and Rev. Silas Shelburne
Virginia Convention Delegates 1873
Mr. N. Waldrop and Mr. J. L. Dyson
Rev. Silas Shelburne lived at Sycamore Tavern in Montpelier, VA.
Ministers 1890 to 2013
|Rev. Z. Parker Richardson
|Rev. W. J. Hall 1910
|Rev. W. S. Hoye 1913 -
|Rev. J. F. Moore 09/1916
|Rev. R. A. Atkins 10/1917
|Rev. Richard A. Fox
10/1926 - 02/1930
|Rev. Alvin R. Reynolds
06/1930 - 08/1943
|Rev. J. H. Knibb 09/1943
|Rev. George A. Williams, Jr.
10/1947 - 09/1955 - Died in our membership 08/2015
|Rev. Larry E. Whitley
09/1956 - 01/1958
|Rev. Robert B. Johnson
06/1958 - 07/1961
|Rev. Wm. F. Abernathy
08/1961 - 09/1962
|Rev. William Whitehurst
6/1963 - 08/1967
|Rev. L. Carlton Lyon
07/1968 - 10/1975 - Deceased
|Rev. Carl G. France
02/1976 - 10/1980 - Deceased
|Rev. Robert L. Bohannon
06/1981 - 06/1987 - Deceased
|Rev. Richard Cline
02/1988 - 03/1995 - Living & currently working for D.O.C.
|Interim: Rev. Robert Maphis
1995 - 05/1996
|Rev. Donald L. Richardson
06/1996 to 9/30/2004 - Living & a current member as of 2015
|Interim: Rev. Robert Maphis
10/1/2004 to 08/31/2005
|Rev. Steve Lesher & Rev. Jyn Lesher
09/01/2005 to 2008 - living & pastoring elsewhere 2015
|Interim Rev. Jim Burton – 4/2009 to 12/27/2009 - living
& partly retired as of 2013
|January – June 2010 Our own congregational members
served & Rev. Don Richardson, Rev. Keith Boyer, Rev. Lyle Predmore, Rev.
Nancy Dunn, Rev. Moses Joshua.
|Rev. Michael Weeks – 6/13/2010 to present.
Thank you for reading this history. If you have any
questions let me know. Some of the people I have talked to at Hanover Heritage
Days actually thought this building was burned and no longer with us but it is
still a very present and active church. A couple riding by sometime in the early hours in the morning after a date
reported the smoke and firefighters showed up immediately along with many members
of the congregation to help as it was a very cold (about 3 degs.) January
morning in 1970. Only the left outside caught fire when the boiler blew up which
only actually fired the real wood original clapboards. The flooring in the
sanctuary had been doubled by the builder Mr. Cobb and this produced smoke so
the firemen took out this floor, finding the next floor down which had termites.
This was a blessing in disguise! The huge pillars supporting the building of
southern yellow pine did not catch fire, they ozzed sap even though they were by
then 241 years old! This is indeed a LIVING Church truly blessed by God who has
preserved and protected it all these years. Its location is still in a wooded
undeveloped area surrounded by trees - you can feel the history and the peaceful
location allows you to step back in time.
To the Teachers: I welcome your students for a tour so they
can truly learn about our history. This church served Patrick Henry's family.
Maj. John Henry was on the Vestry, his brother Rev. Patrick Henry preached here
for 40 years. Patrick Henry met Sarah Shelton at Hanover Tavern while her family
ran the business there. All attended Slash as it was the only one nearby: 1729 -
1787. Henry Clay lived nearby and attended, even identifying himself as "the
millboy of the Slashes" even when he moved to Kentucky and became governor. Slash was singled out by the local revolutionists because it represented
The Crown which they were trying to overthrow. This resulted in the support for
this congregation at this location being withdrawn - so much so that the church
had to abandon the building. This, however, allowed the dissident protestant
religions to make good use of this large building.