I Purchased a Historic Civil War Church


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Joined
Dec 11, 2018
Messages
51
Location
Raccoon Ford, Virginia
#62
Reverend Ron - got any date on it? I can check the papers of Lafayette to see if he wrote anything.
All I know, is they supposedly crossed the Rapidan River in the year 1781, not sure what days or month that occurred. I recall reading that Wayne's army might have gotten badly mauled by some British Dragoons on there way South closer to the North Carolina Border.
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2018
Messages
51
Location
Raccoon Ford, Virginia
#63
Welcome from the Valley.
Hello there FrontRank2! Mount Jackson is one of my favorite places to visit when I'm cruising up and down Route 11 on my Harley Road King.

I usually stay at Widow Kip's Country Inn when roaming around the northern end of the Valley. When I'm further south I overnight at the Village Inn Hotel just south of Harrisonburg, VA. Love those Route 11 Potato Chips! : ) I always stop in at New Market Battlefield, VMI, Washington & Lee and also bust a few clay birds at The Flying Rabbit Sporting Clays in Mount Crawford.

All the DC city folks talk about Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Mountains which are fine and dandy. But as a motorcyclist and history buff, the cool fun stuff is all down in the Shenandoah Valley along Route 11. I hope we cross paths sometime!
 

Story

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
1,485
Location
SE PA
#65
A 1970 topo map shows a cemetery to the left side of the church.
Yo.

Miscellaneous Tombstone Records for Culpeper County, Virginia
[Yadda, yadda, yadda]
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Raccoon Ford, Route 647

The Central Rappahannock Heritage Center 900 Barton Street #111 Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Phone: 540-373-3704 • E-mail: contact@crhcarchives.org • Website: www.crhcarchives.org
https://crhc.pastperfectonline.com/library/0491F6DB-D2E5-4A17-BB2C-317213853320

See also
https://crhc.pastperfectonline.com/bysearchterm?keyword=St.+Paul's+Episcopal+Church
 
Joined
Feb 25, 2019
Messages
3
#67
Greetings Folks!

I am very pleased to make your acquaintance and would like to share my short story as to how I ended up here.

A year and a half ago, I was shopping around rural Virginia for a cheap piece of property to retire onto. What I found was an old quasi neglected and unoccupied church for sale. I made arrangements with the realtor to take a look at it, not really having any expectations, but thought this would be an interesting old building to walk thru.

When I arrived on site, I discovered that I liked the lot location and then found that the overall condition of the building was surprisingly good. Inspecting the foundation and roof I found them to be structurally sound consisting stone and massive hand hewn timbers. I was quite taken with the unique Gothic style architecture and the remoteness of the place kind of spoke to me in subtle way. For what reason I will never know, but shortly thereafter I began negotiating for purchase of the property. Within a few short months we closed with my having paid cash for the place. Looking back, I must have seemed nuts to the realtor, since he had never gotten any serious offers on the place.

Afterwards when I told them, my entire family were aghast at what I'd done. Two of my brothers were strongly advocating that I quickly bull doze the church down and build a nice house in it's place. I have to admit that for a couple of months, I was considering doing that very thing. However, I decided that I had first better do a little research and determine the history of the church and the surrounding area.

Good thing I did, because it happens to be the site of numerous Civil War engagements and some significant personages stopped in there. So almost overnight, I have become not just a hobby researcher but addicted to all things Civil War related and a die hard preservationist. The later in part fueled by the destruction of numerous southern statues and monuments.

My intention is now to live in the back parsonage and convert the church itself into a "living history museum" and Civil War themed Wedding Chapel. As a desk bound engineer during the work week, I now anxiously look forward to every weekend being out at the church. I really enjoying doing manual labor again fixing the place up and scrounging around locally for a few items to display in the museum.

I'll keep you all posted on my progress.
I
Greetings Folks!

I am very pleased to make your acquaintance and would like to share my short story as to how I ended up here.

A year and a half ago, I was shopping around rural Virginia for a cheap piece of property to retire onto. What I found was an old quasi neglected and unoccupied church for sale. I made arrangements with the realtor to take a look at it, not really having any expectations, but thought this would be an interesting old building to walk thru.

When I arrived on site, I discovered that I liked the lot location and then found that the overall condition of the building was surprisingly good. Inspecting the foundation and roof I found them to be structurally sound consisting stone and massive hand hewn timbers. I was quite taken with the unique Gothic style architecture and the remoteness of the place kind of spoke to me in subtle way. For what reason I will never know, but shortly thereafter I began negotiating for purchase of the property. Within a few short months we closed with my having paid cash for the place. Looking back, I must have seemed nuts to the realtor, since he had never gotten any serious offers on the place.

Afterwards when I told them, my entire family were aghast at what I'd done. Two of my brothers were strongly advocating that I quickly bull doze the church down and build a nice house in it's place. I have to admit that for a couple of months, I was considering doing that very thing. However, I decided that I had first better do a little research and determine the history of the church and the surrounding area.

Good thing I did, because it happens to be the site of numerous Civil War engagements and some significant personages stopped in there. So almost overnight, I have become not just a hobby researcher but addicted to all things Civil War related and a die hard preservationist. The later in part fueled by the destruction of numerous southern statues and monuments.

My intention is now to live in the back parsonage and convert the church itself into a "living history museum" and Civil War themed Wedding Chapel. As a desk bound engineer during the work week, I now anxiously look forward to every weekend being out at the church. I really enjoying doing manual labor again fixing the place up and scrounging around locally for a few items to display in the museum.

I'll keep you all posted on my progress.
I'm so glad that you were the one to save this historic building from destruction!
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2018
Messages
51
Location
Raccoon Ford, Virginia
#73
Since I'm still receive "Greetings" from so many people, I thought I would post an update.

I ended up unemployed for 6 weeks due to a combination of my work contract ending and the government shut down starting just 3 days later. Took full advantage of the situation to make significant progress on the church and the large fellowship hall attached to the rear.

With the help of a very close friend (who also happens to be a crackerjack electrician that I've known for 25 years) we crawled all thru the attic and underneath the crawl space and carefully inspected all the structure and wiring. We learned and confirmed a lot about the building's history by doing so and discovered and corrected a couple of things that needed to be addressed.

First off... there is no doubt whatsoever about the church building being the original structure dating back to 1850. If you could see in person, the hand hewn timbers underneath, the lime concrete inside the walls and the roofing trusses you also would be convinced. When the Episcopal congregation won their 1905 Federal lawsuit against the U.S. Government for Custer's Cavalry trashing the place in the Spring of 1863, they first used that monetary compensation to replace all the busted windows and doors.

Custer's Michigan Cavalry had also punched a large hole thru the concrete wall at the rear of the church, so they could bring their horses inside with them each night. Rather than repair the giant hole behind the pulpit, the parishioners greatly expanded the opening to enlarge the sanctuary and build a new fellowship hall at the same time. You can easily determine this because the character of the wood changes from hand hewn in the church to very roughly sawed timbers in fellowship hall. This rough sawed lumber most certainly came from the undershot sawmill that was then in operation down at Raccoon Ford on the Rapidan River just 700 yards away.

During my hiatus from work we made repairs to some faulty wiring, replaced outlets, switches, light fixtures and corrected one minor structural issue we discovered. Hung some new drywall, cleaned, plastered, painted and tracked down the source of a couple of roof leaks back in the fellowship hall. Luckily the church itself is tight and dry inside with no water intrusion whatsoever.

Also, I have struck up a close relationship with Jim Kehoe who operates the Antietam Art Gallery on the battlefield just south of Sharpsburg, Maryland. Jim has been a tremendous help in locating Civil War prints and artwork related to Raccoon Ford and the numerous battlefields nearby the church (Wilderness, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Cedar Mountain, Brandy Station, Gordonsville, etc). These and a growing variety of Civil War weapons (courtesy of our compatriots on the Sutlers Forum) are slated for the rear fellowship hall which will soon become a museum and post wedding reception hall.

Really having a lot of fun and making a lot of new friends as a result of this "little endeavor" that I have taken on : )
 
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Messages
957
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
#74
Quite a few years ago I came across a book that was authored by the man that bought the farm at Cross Keys. It was a splendid read, and may provide pointers for documentation as you proceed with your project. I wish I still had the book, and even now the Title is absent, but poke around some and surely you will know which is. Good luck, and of course we want more!
Lubliner.
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2018
Messages
51
Location
Raccoon Ford, Virginia
#75
I have quite suddenly found myself fighting in what should be dubbed the 3rd Battle of Raccoon Ford. A California based Solar Power company has submitted an application to install..... wait for it...... 278,000 solar panels on 800+ acres of land surrounding this historic church and the village of Raccoon Ford on all four sides. Once again this old 1850's structure will serve as the focal point where a rebellion by the local citizenry will be openly discussed within its hallowed walls.

I could not be any more proud than I am right now hosting this meeting tomorrow morning at the church! There has already been talk of secession... i.e. from Culpeper County to Orange County across the Rapidan River.

The more things change... the more they stay the same. A powerful, well bankrolled, and politically connected outside force is invading the Old Dominion. You can rest assured that we will resist this foreign invasion with same vigor as our forefathers did!
 
Joined
Apr 18, 2017
Messages
465
Location
SW Virginia
#76
Late to post. Interesting story that I somehow missed.

Great history and great work.

I've worked on Historic structures before and sure do love the history of them.

Your structure is extra special to say the least.

I'm sure hoping that your latest fight is successful.

Keep us posted on it all.
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2018
Messages
51
Location
Raccoon Ford, Virginia
#79
Had the coolest thing ever happen at my old historic church today!

I had just finished giving 3 locals from Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield and the Brandy Station Battlefield Foundation a little tour of St. Paul’s Episcopal aka the Lime Church. We were standing out front, enjoying the spring weather and casually discussing the Civil War and the adverse impact that a giant proposed industrial solar installation would have on the surrounding historic area.

A black SUV with Colorado license plates on it pulls into the drive and stops. An elderly gentleman, clearly in his late 80’s gets out of the vehicle and so I walk over to greet him. He inquires if we know anything about Raccoon Ford and I tell him that I know about the church and Raccoon Ford and these other folks know all about Cedar Mountain and Brandy Station.

The octogenarian introduces himself as Donald Brown and then tells us that he had just driven himself 2,000 miles from Colorado to visit the little village of Raccoon Ford. I ask him why? He tells us that his great grandfather was a Private in Company C of the 4th New York Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. His great grandfather had fought and was captured by Ewell's Confederate troops at Raccoon Ford on September 16, 1863. My friends and I turn and stare at each other with our mouths agape, and I tell the gentleman that was the coolest thing we’ve ever heard, and that it was an honor to have him as our Civil War Church’s first “Official Visitor”.

After being unhorsed and captured, Mr. Brown’s great grandfather, Private John W. Brown was marched under guard to Gordonsville he was then put on a Central Virginia Railroad train that took him to Richmond. He remained a POW there until January 6, 1864 when he was paroled under the Dix-Hill Cartel exchange agreement. At City Point, Virginia he was handed over to Federal Authorities and boarded a side wheeler steamboat and sailed down the James River and up the Chesapeake Bay, eventually ending up in a Union Hospital in Annapolis, Maryland.

Private Brown rejoined his cavalry unit in time to participate in the Gettysburg Campaign reaching Hanover Junction June 30, 1864. The 4th New York as part of the 2nd Brigade was detached and sent to Manchester, Maryland where it picketed the surrounding countryside until July 3 when it was sent to Westminster Maryland. On July 4th, the New York Volunteers joined Kilpatrick’s Division in hot pursuit of Lee’s retreating army until the Confederates had re-crossed the Potomac River.

I took Mr. Brown over and showed him the old original sunken Raccoon Ford road located on the church property and told him that his great grandfather had ridden his horse down this very path 150 years ago and likely stopped and rested inside the church he was standing in front of. He got choked up. Hell ! … We all got choked up and then he eagerly went inside to take numerous photos and look at the few exhibits I had on display inside. We talked at length about his father and the history of Raccoon Ford and St. Paul’s Episcopal. When the sun was starting to get low on the horizon, Mr. Brown thanked us all profusely and I told him the honor was all ours.

It turns out that Donald Brown, the great grandson of Civil War Private Brown was no slouch himself either. Following in his great grandfather’s military footsteps, he joined the U.S. Army and did multiple tours in Vietnam with the 44th Medical Regiment. I thanked him for his service to our country and invited him to come back anytime! As an added incentive, I told him that I should have a working kitchen in the church shortly. On his next visit I’d cook him a real “southern meal” and we’d hoist a few cold beers together. He promised that he would be back again soon, and I believe that he will.

Mr. Brown’s stopping by the church today, made me smile like I haven’t smiled in years. What a story he had to tell and what a consummate gentleman to have as our first official guest at the newly reopened old church!
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
3,876
#80
I’d like to learn more of the lawsuit. Are there other examples of former confederates or their descendants successfully suing the government for damages caused in or resultant of the war?
I ran across a very similar example when visiting Point of Rocks, Md., last year.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church was used as a camp for Union cavalry during the latter half of the war, One of their duties was to guard against incursions by Col. John Mosby and his partisan rangers, which were active in this area. Indeed, Mosby's "Calico Raid" took place in Point of Rocks in July 1864.

Anyway, the Union cavalrymen basically wrecked the place. Many years later the church sued the federal government for the damages and won a judgement. It's all recounted in the very nice web site maintained by the church:

http://www.pointorocks.ang-md.org/St._Paul,_Pt._of_Rocks,_MD/Welcome.html
 


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