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HOW AND WHERE TO LOOK IT UP
RESOURCES FOR RESEARCHING THE HISTORY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA. ©2001
William D. Theriault, Ph.D.
17434 Virginia Ave.
Hagerstown, MD 21740
WMTheriault@myactv.net
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6. Church Records
Numerous histories of Jefferson County Churches have been published, many of them being virtually unknown outside the church membership. Church records of several local denominations have been microfilmed and are described below. Newspapers are also rich resources for church-related information, as well as cemetery records. The WPA Historical Records Survey Program (National Archives, Record Group 69), includes an inventory of Church Archives of West Virginia.

West Virginia University (Morgantown) has an extensive collection of church histories, including report forms and photographs from the West Virginia Church History Project, 1963. This is a county by county collection of report forms, photographs, and histories of churches in existence for more than a century, assembled during the state centennial year. The West Virginia Archives (Charleston) has a Historical Records Survey. List of West Virginia churches, ca. 1940 (Ms 80-30), which lists churches in West Virginia by county, then denomination and founding date.

Information about specific denominations is presented in the sections that follow. General guides to church-related information are presented below.

Bourne, Francis T. , comp. "Preliminary Checklist of the Records of the Survey of Federal Archives, Work Projects Administration, 1935-43," PC 14 (June 1944).

Cartmell, Thomas K. Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and Their Descendants. Offers brief sketches of local churches.

Hardesty, H. H. Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia. Includes brief descriptions of churches in Jefferson and Berkeley Counties.

Herscher, Betty, comp. "Preliminary Checklist of the Records of the Historical Records Survey, 1935-42," PC 45-6 (Mar. 1945).

Kilmer, Margaret Macoughtry. “The Churches of Smithfield." Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society, 46 (1980): 17-18. Part of the "Middleway Symposium," of presentations made at the Jefferson County Historical Society's November 1979 meeting at the White Church in Middleway.

Norris, J.E. History of the Lower Shenandoah Valley. Chicago: A. Warner & Co., 1890. Includes brief histories of many Jefferson County churches.

African American
Taylor, Evelyn M.E and Thomas J. Scott, Vivian Jackson Stanton; Stephen Q. Luckett, illustrator. Historical Digest of Jefferson County, West Virginia's African American Congregations, 1864-1994: With Selected Churches in Neighboring Berkeley County, W.V., Maryland, and Virginia. Washington, DC: Middle Atlantic Regional Press, 1994.

Taylor, Evelyn M. E., 1948- , collector. African-American Holiness Pentecostal collection, 1929-[ongoing]. 3.5 linear ft. In part, photocopies and transcripts (typewritten). Correspondence, church histories, reports, oral history interviews, programs, biographies, accounts of mission activities, clippings, fliers, hymnals, and other papers, reflecting the history of the Holiness-Pentecostal Project in Charles Town, WV, and Landover, MD, beginning with the founding of the House of Prayer, an early black
Holiness-Pentecostal church serving Jefferson County and West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle in the late-1920s; and African American Pentecostalism throughout the United States. Sources of materials include Bishop James Patrick Simms, Elder Robert E. Taylor, Sr., and Mrs. Lillian Christian. Seymour Center, Archives Section (Washington, DC).

Baptist
The Religious Herald (Richmond) Records, 1846-1893, 110 items. Forms part of the Huntington Library's Brock Collection of Virginiana. Topics: Churches and religious affairs, Baptist. Chiefly letters addressed to Jeremiah Bell Jeter and Alfred Elijah Dickinson, editors of the Religious Herald, principal organ of the Baptists of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and South Carolina. Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery.

Catholic
Saint Peters Roman Catholic Church 1830-1980. Brochure printed by St. Peter's, Harpers Ferry, WV, 1980.

“St. James Catholic Church Observes 50th Anniversary The Late Father T. J. Wilson was Pastor when Saint James was Built Fifty Years Ago.” Spirit of Jefferson, June 23, 1939.

Church of the Brethren
Historical Records Survey. Church of the Brethren listing county by county, 1800-1915. Ms 80-31. West Virginia Archives. Typescript listing of Church of the Brethren listing county by county.

Church of God
Talley, Louise J. Notes on the History of the Bakerton Church of God. Manuscript, September 2, 1985.

Episcopalian /Anglican
Andrews, Charles W. History of the Episcopal Church of Shepherdstown. New York: n.p., 1855.

Barnhart, William J. Old Norborne Parish (1744-1816). Florida: James D. Ballew, 1980. Publishes the two sections of the history which appeared in previous issues of the Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society. Edited by James B. Ballew. See Bibliography for topics mentioned.

Brydon, George McLaren. Virginia's Mother Church and the Political Conditions Under Which It Grew. Richmond: Virginia Historical Society, 1947-1952.

Episcopal Church. Diocese of Virginia. List of Clerical and Lay Delegates to Diocesan Conventions and Notes from Parochial Reports by Counties and Parishes, 1785 to 1829. Arranged by county and parish, it lists names of persons attending the Virginia Diocesan Convention and the dates attended. Also includes notes on each parish gathered from parochial reports, extracts from the Bishop’s Report, 1816- 1828, and information on ministers. Library of Virginia, accession no. 25602.

Goodwin, Edward L. The Colonial Church in Virginia. Milwaukee: Morehouse Publishing Co., 1927.

Hamilton, Eleanor M. The Flair and the Fire: The Story of the Episcopal Church in West Virginia (1877-1977). Chesapeake, WV, 1977. Includes information on Episcopal churches in Jefferson County.

Minghini, Lorraine and Thomas E. Van Metre. History of Trinity Episcopal Church and Norborne Parish. Martinsburg, 1956.

Peterkin, George W. A History and Record of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of West Virginia. Charleston: Tribune Publishing Company, 1902.

Trinity Episcopal Church. Norborne Parish (Martinsburg). Records, 1817-1921. Microfilm of parish registers 1832-1900, minutes of the Vestry 1817-1921, and a collection of account books, 1865-1892. Originals at Trinity Episcopal Church. West Virginia Regional History Collection. Accession No. 1362.

“Zion Church Centennial.” Spirit of Jefferson, October 28, 1919. Centennial of Zion Protestant Episcopal Church in Charles Town.

Lutheran
Cassell, Charles Willis. History of the Lutheran Church in Virginia and Tennessee. Strasburg, VA: Shenandoah Publishing House, Inc., 1930.

Hartzell, Gladys. "Im Jahr Unserem Herrn, 1765. The Founding of St. Peter's Church, Shepherdstown." Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society, 31 (1965): 20-27. A typescript of the birth and baptismal records from St. Peter's Lutheran Church (Shepherdstown) is available at the Shepherd College Library.

Hartzell, Gladys. On This Rock; The Story of St. Peter's Church, Shepherdstown, 1765-1965. Shepherdstown, West Virginia: The Shepherdstown Register, 1970.

Smithfield Lutheran Register, 1792-1826. Transcription and translations by George M. Smith and Ilse M. Martin. Edinburg, VA: Shenandoah History Publishers, 1993. Available at the New York Public Library.

Methodist
Barnes, Isaac A. The Methodist Protestant Church in West Virginia. Baltimore: The Stockton Press, 1926.

Mills, Helen. History of the Bakerton Methodist Church. Manuscript, 1985.

Moler, Nellie Hendricks. History of the Founding of Bethesda M. E. Church South: 1874-1934. Moler's Cross Roads, 1934.

Lewis, Ralph. History of Camp Hill Wesley United Methodist Church. Harpers Ferry: Harpers Ferry Historical Association, 1999.

Smith, Philip R., Jr. The Methodist Protestant Church and the Odd Fellow Hall. Harpers Ferry, WV: 1958. Welty, Katy. “Keller’s Chapel History.” Typescript, 1973.

Presbyterian
The records of Christ Reformed Church (Shepherdstown) are available at Shepherd College.

Allen, Thomas P. The West Virginia Hills, A Study of the Work of the Presbyterian Church in the United States in the Synod of West Virginia. St. Louis: Buxton & Skinner, 1927. Useful for background, but does not contain specific information on Jefferson County.

Charles Town Presbyterian Church, Charles Town, West Virginia. Church Records, 1815-1967. Original records at the Library, Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, VA. Parts are dark and hard to read. The church was organized ca. 1787 but declined in the following years. It was reorganized in 1815. Microfilm includes Session minutes, 1815-1939 (includes some congregational meeting minutes), Congregational meeting minutes 1930-1938, Church Officers, 1813-1914, Communicants (includes“colored”) 1815?-1911, Non-communicants [no date], Baptisms (early records do not always give parents, includes “colored”) 1815?-1841, 1865-1912, Marriages (includes “colored”) 1867-1911, Deaths (includes “colored”) 1859-1911, Miscellaneous documents, reel No. 1577704 items 6-11; Session minutes 1939-1958, Congregational Meeting Minutes, 1939-1958, Pastors and Church Officers 1787-1958, Communicants, 1857-1959, Baptisms, 1916-1958, Deaths 1956-1958, reel No. 1577705 items 1-3; Treasurer's Ledgers, 1877-1930, 1953-1957, Historian's annual reports, 1932-1967, reel No.
1577705 items 4-7.

Elk Branch Presbyterian Church. Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia. Church Records, 1833-1967. The church existed since 1769 but declined and was dissolved in 1792. It was reorganized in 1833. Early records give the location of the church as Duffields or Darke while later records give Shenandoah Junction as the location. Includes Session minutes, 1858-1963 (includes some congregational meeting minutes); Congregational Meeting Minutes, 1908-1960; Pastors and church officers, 1833-1964, Members, 1833-1962; Baptisms (no parents given), 1833?-1857; Baptisms (parents given), 1928, 1942-1963; Retired roll, 1935. Historian's annual reports, 1937-1967. Also includes historical sketch of Elk Branch Presbyterian Church by Rev. Harold H. Leech (Sept. 29, 1929), 2 pages, article. Also abstracts of source material by R.B. Woodworth, 92 page holograph and typescript. Includes information on Elk Branch and Shenandoah Junction churches. Shenandoah Junction Church was organized in 1939. Original records at the Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Virginia. Reproduced on 1 microfilm reel No. 1577707.

Graham, James R. The Planting of the Presbyterian Church in Northern Virginia. Winchester, VA: George F. Norton Publishing Co., 1904. Very useful for information on early settlement and establishment of churches.

Halltown Presbyterian Church. Halltown, West Virginia. Church Records, 1960-1968. The church was organized in 1960 but had existed for many years as an outpost chapel of the Charles Town Church. Includes Session minutes, 1960-1968; Congregational meeting minutes, 1960-1968, Historian's annual reports, 1960-1968, Abstracts of source material by R. B. Woodworth. Original records at the Library of the Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Virginia. Reproduced on 1 microfilm reel No. 1577712, items 11-13. Parts are dark and hard to read.

Harpers Ferry Presbyterian Church. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Church records, 1872-1901. The church was organized in 1843 but declined and was dissolved in 1912. Includes: Session minutes (includes congregational meetings minutes) 1874-1901; Church officers 1874-1899; Communicants 1874?-1896; Baptisms 1879-1893; Marriages (includes one "colored") 1881-1893; Deaths 1881-1899; Abstracts of source material by R.B. Woodworth (lists of ministers, church officers, and members). Another filming in 1987 included the session minutes 1874-1901 and the register of 1872-19899 (reel No. 1516278 items 2-3). Original records in the Library, Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Virginia. Available on 1
microfilm reel No. 1577713.

Historical Foundation of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches. Presbyterian Church in the U. S. Minutes of sessions, 1791-1957, 85 ft. Topics: Churches and religious affairs, Presbyterian; Vital records. The minutes include proceedings of the sessions (the governing bodies of the local churches), registers of pastors, elders and deacons, baptisms, members, deaths, and marriages in Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and all states to the south and east of these boundaries. The minutes of the mid-nineteenth century frequently contain material pertaining to the relationship of
slaves to the church. The material is related to the repository's collection of minutes of presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. Microfilm catalog of records and minutes available in the repository. Open to investigators under restrictions of the repository. Presbyterian Church in the U. S. Presbyteries. Minutes of presbyteries, 1785-1952, 63 ft. Topics: Churches and religious affairs,

Presbyterian. The minutes include proceedings of the regional courts (subdivisions of synods which usually follow state lines) functioning in Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and all states to the south and east of these boundaries. The material is related to the repository's collection of minutes of synods of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. Microfilm catalog of records and minutes available in the repository.

Kearneysville Presbyterian Church. Kearneysville, West Virginia. Church records, 1869-1967. Church was organized in 1869. Includes: Session minutes 1869-1905; Church officers 1879-1888; Communicants 1869-1908; Retired roll 1892-1899; Baptisms 1870?-1903?; Marriages 1888-1905; Deaths 1875-1904; Miscellaneous documents and historian's reports 1934?-1967; Abstracts of source material by R.B. Woodworth. Original records at the Library, Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Va. Filmed on 1 microfilm reel No. 16050001 items 14-17. Papers are light and hard to read.

Kenamond, A. D. History of the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church, 1966. Unpublished.

Kilpatric, Patricia. Shepherdstown and Its Presbyterian Church, 1745-1977, 1977. Unpublished.

Leech, Harold H. “Sketch of Elk Branch Presbyterian Church, Duffields, Jefferson County, West Virginia, delivered at the Centennial Celebration September 8, 1929.” Shepherdstown Register, September 15, 1929,
p. 2.

Lucas, Virginia. Early Presbyterianism; A Sketch of the Presbyterian Church in Charles Town and the Lower Shenandoah Valley. Charles Town: Published by the Women's Auxiliary Association, [n.d.].

Moler, Nellie Hendricks. “Elk Branch Church and Academy." Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society, 12 (1946): 45-46.

Smithfield Presbyterian Church. Smithfield [Middleway], West Virginia. Church Records, 1844-1930. Original records at the Library, Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Virginia. Microfilmed on 1 reel No. 1605013 items 3-7. The congregation has existed since 1740 as Bullskin congregation or Hopewell Church. A church was built in Smithfield ca. 1798 and the name was changed to Smithfield Church in 1819. It was dissolved in 1933. Includes: Session minutes 1844-1930; Congregational
meeting minutes 1923-1924; Members and church officers 1844?-1888?; Communicants 18__ - 1924; Baptisms 1851-1855, 1869-1878, 18__-1903, 1923-1922; Marriages 1851; Smithfield Presbyterian Church by R.B. Woodworth; Abstracts of church records by R. B. Woodworth.

Union Theological Seminary. Presbyterian Church in the U. S. Presbytery of Shenandoah Records, ca. 1974-1981, ca. 16 microfilm reels (negative and positive). The Historical Foundation of the Presbyterian
and Reformed Churches, Montreat, NC, also has microfilm of the collection. Formed from the presbyteries of Lexington and Winchester after the merger of the Synods of Virginia and West Virginia into the Synod of the Virginias in 1974. Topics: Churches and religious affairs, Presbyterian. Session, congregational, and diaconate minutes; registers; women's organizations' records; and historical sketches of numerous listed churches, including Charles Town and Shepherdstown. Presbyterian Church in the U. S. Presbytery of Winchester Records, ca. 1794-1968, 45 microfilm reels (negative and positive). The Historical Foundation of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches, Montreat, NC, also has microfilm (positive) of the collection. Topics: Churches and religious affairs, Presbyterian. Minutes, reports, addresses, treasurer's accounts, histories, manuals, and publications, relating to the presbytery's work and its women's and young people's organizations; and session minutes, registers, historical sketches, financial, women's work, and Sunday school records, bulletins, and other records, of numerous churches within the presbytery, including the following from West Virginia: Berkeley County; Charles Town; Elk
Branch (Shenandoah Junction); Halltown, Jefferson County; Harpers Ferry; Kearneysville; Shenandoah Junction; Shepherdstown; and Smithfield.

Jewish
Jefferson County’s Jewish community has always been small. The following sources provide a glimpse of local Jewish life:

Shinedling, Abraham I. West Virginia Jewry: Origins and History 1850-1958. Philadelphia: Press of Maurice Jacobs, Inc., 1963. Available at the Charles Town Library. For Charles Town, mentions the father of Hyman Viener; Harper’s Ferry, Abraham Kaplon, Moses Fine, and Moses Isaac Bennet and reproduces a letter from Bessie Kaplon; Storer College, lists visits by rabbis under the Jewish Chautauqua Society, 1946-1955; and Shepherdstown, rabbis’ visits to Shepherd College under the auspices of the Jewish Chautauqua Society, 1942-1957. The author states, “Apparently there were never any Jewish students or
instructors at Shepherd [State] College.”

Veiner, Saul. “Growing Up In Charles Town: History and Memory,” Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society, LXVI (December 2000): 19-30. Describes the experiences of the Veiner family since they arrived in Charles Town, West Virginia, in 1907. Includes information about daily life in Charles Town and about the Jewish community in the area.

NEXT: 7. Newspapers and Periodicals

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