HOW AND WHERE TO LOOK IT UP
6. Church Records
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.
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
“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
Church of God
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
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