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    Alleghany Highlands

    Genealogical Society, Inc.

    Covington, Virginia


    Quarterly Publication –October 2010 Volume 19, Issue 4

    Old Church Reopens Doors in County

    The Covington PIONEER, Thursday, June 24, 1982

    By Bill Lumpkin

    The simple one-room, white frame church biding with the identifying lettering above the front door reading “Sugar Valley Baptist Church” has served the Snake Run Community since it was dedicated sometime in July of 1901, but until Palm Sunday of this year has been vacant since May 28, 1963.

    In March of this year, Jack Simpson and his wife Ruth Meadows Simpson, residents of the Snake Run area approached fellow residents of the area Kenneth Bush and his wife, Mrs. Ruby Mann Bush, to ask them how they felt about cleaning up the vacant church and starting a weekly Bible School there each Sunday afternoon from 2-3 p.m. for residents of the community and anyone else interested. Both families had been active in the church during the last period in which it had a regular minister, 1955-1963.

    The Simpsons and the Bushes then met with Tommy and Ruth Hepler, who had also been active in the church in the past, and members of the three families went to the church site and began working on cleaning up and repairing the building to prepare it for use again. They were aided by the Simpson’s 17-year-old daughter, Lisa, and by the Bushes two foster children, Allen Jerman, 14, and Angel Jerman, 15. The adults built new front steps to replace old one, which had rotted away and cleaned up 19 years accumulation of dust and dirt from the interior, while the teenagers worked at removing the grime from the windows.

    Their had work made it possible for time to hold the first services in the church since 1963 on Palm Sunday, April 4, and they have held seven or eight services or Bible Study sessions since. Several area ministers of different denominations have been invited to speak, and when there was no guest speaker Simpson conducted Bible Study. Their most successful service to date, in terms of attendance was June 12, when Frank Dye, pastor of Cliff Dale Christian Church, spoke to a gathering of 63 persons representing seven different individual churches.

    At their most recent-service on June 19, Emory Brackman, pastor of Dunlap Christian Church, delivered a sermon entitled “Five Detours On the Road to Hell” which the original congregation which organized Sugar Valley Baptist Church on March 17, 183 — over 99 years ago — very probably would have approved of at least as much as his modern audience. A total of 46 persons, several of them from the speaker’s home church, attended.

    Simpson, as usual, presided over the service, announced the hymn, and introduced the guest speaker. His daughter, Lisa, served as organist, getting the most out of an ancient pump organ, which has been in the church since 1935. This type of organ produced its music when the foot pedals are pumped by the organist’s feet and legs as her hands plays the keyboard. The organ is decorated with a mirror and elaborate scrollwork, and is stained a very dark brown nearly black color.

    The interior of the church reflects the stark simplicity of small rural protestant churches built around the turn of the century. It is no decorations except a painting of Christ on the wall behind the pulpit, an attendance banner, and a framed photo of the 1901 dedication of the church building and accompanying information. There are three windows on each side and two in the back wall, but no openings in the front except the main entrance.

    The building has no running water and no auxiliary rooms of any kind adjoining the main sanctuary. Most of the interior walls are painted a faded white except for some light brown and beige on the lower walls. The pulpit, of wood almost as dark as the organ, is on a raised platform at the front of the church. A piano, unused at the June 19 service, is in the rear of the church.. An old wood-burning stove with a flue is in the sanctuary on the right side. The pews have backs, which are slightly curved and are painted a sort of caramel color.

    During the last modern period in which it had a regular minister, the Rev. Samuel R. Stone served as pastor from Feb. 20, 1955 until his resignation in July 1956 and again from about August 2, 1960 to May 28, 1963. In between his two periods of service the Rev. Marvin Southard, who was called in November, 1957, was the pastor.

    The Bushes, Simpsons, and Heplers of today, whose families were among those involved with the affairs of Sugar Valley Baptist Church from its beginnings, said there is no minister for the church at present, but they feel the Bible Studies and services are meeting a need of the community. Most of these families are now active in other churches, but try to schedule the activities at Sugar Valley not to conflict with the programs of other churches. If a conflict does develop, they will cancel the services at Sugar Valley, which are currently held each Sunday except the last Sunday of the month.

    Information under the photo of the 1901 dedication of the church building quotes an article in the Alleghany Tribune of March 22, 1883 as documenting the organization of the Sugar Valley Baptist Church congregation in considerable detail, years before the congregation had its own building. It was on this date that the church called a pastor, elected officer, and adopted 18 “Articles of Faith” and a Covenant among its members.

    The Tribune article reads: “On Saturday, 17th inst., a Baptist Church of 31 members was organized in this County on the Sweet Springs Turnpike, 14 miles from Covington and about 10 from Sweet Springs, W.VA. The Rev. Alfred McClelland of Rockbridge County was called to the chair as moderator and the Rev. S.F. Chapman was appointed clerk pro-tem, Mr. Thomas Hepler, a deacon of the Potts Creek Baptist Church, was elected a deacon of the new organization, to be known as “Sugar Valley Baptist Church”, and Mr. Jackson Hepler was elected clerk and treasurer.

    “The Rev. John Davis was ordained by the presbytery consisting of the Rev. Alfred McClelland and S.F. Chapman.

    “The order of services for the occasion was a service for both organization and ordination by the Rev. S.F. Chapman; election of church officers, reading of the Articles of Faith and the Covenant and their adoption by a rising vote, the change to the candidate for ordination by the Rev. Alfred McClelland; presentation of the Bible by the Rev. S.F. Chapman, laying on the hands of the presbytery and ordaining prayer by the Rev. A. McClelland, and the right hand of fellowship by the church to the new pastor and the benediction by the latter.

    “This church is the outgrowth of a revival conducted by the Rev. Mr. McClelland last fall in the neighborhood at which about

    twenty persons professed conversion, sixteen of whom were baptized by him. The other members are from two other Baptist Churches, one at the head of Potts Creek and the other at the Sweet Springs.

    “The Rev. John Davis was a member of the Tunkers, and a preacher in the communion. He joined the Baptists last fall. The young church esteem themselves fortunate, as they really are, to have the ministerial services of this estimable man living in their midst.”

    Mrs. E.W. Harvey of Covington, who attended the Sugar Valley Church in her girlhood, said years ago that the services were held in the Snake Run School House on the farm of Clifton Carter prior to 1901.

    The old minutes of the 1880s show that some of the Sugar Valley congregation’s business sessions were held at Pennell’s Chapel. For many years the pastor of Lone Star Baptist Church filled the pulpit at Sugar Valley once a month. The history of the dedication of the church building displayed in the church is copied from the original owned by Day Stone. Minutes of a church meeting on June 1, 1895 show Brother J.B. Davis accepted a call to preach for the church for one year for $25.

    A deed in escrow for the site of the church was made Feb. 8, 1891 between Andrew J. Brown and Newton A. Hepler and his wife, Sarah Ann, and the church trustees, who were Jackson Hepler, Ferdinand S. Beckner, George Sayree, G.C. Griffith, and John T. Plymale. The deed stated that the site containing about two acres was to be “used, kept, and maintained as a place of worship for the use of the ministry and membership, subject to usage and ministerial appointments as from time to time are authorized and declared by the proper authorities.” The deed further stipulated that when the church was not being used by Baptists “the said premises and church to be free, as a house of divine worship, or the use of ministers of all other Christian denominations except the Mormons . . .”

    Under the terms of this deed the church has ever since been used for occasional revivals in the Snake Run community by differing denominations even when not in regular use. The deed was kept in escrow by J.A. Carson until the church was built or sufficient progress was made to insure its completion. The deed was recorded July 18, 1901, meaning the building had been completed b that time.

    The old minute book dating back to 1883 listed the following as the earliest recorded members of the Sugar Valley Baptist Church congregation: Thomas M. Hepler, John B. Davis, John Hepler, William J. Hepler, William B. Sively, Charles T. Carter, Joseph P. Stone, Joseph J. Stone, Charles F. Stone, Lee Paxton, Jackson Hepler, Edward Brown, David Kemper, William Gaines, Danberry Tucker, Ulysses G. Reyns, Susan S. Hepler, Olivia Sively, Eliza C. Carter, Emanda J. Carter, Catherine F. Hepler, Catherine S. Stone, Rosetta R. Brown, Sarah Fridley, Diannah Arritt, Susan Bush, Amanda A. Bush, Nancy E. Bush, Ida M. Bush, Nancy T. Hepler, J. Francis Paxton, Mary F. Stone, Eliza Gaines, Mary Wolfe, Eliza J. Brown, Virginia A. Tucker, Mary A. Stone, and Fannie Bennett.

    This list adds up to 38 names, while the Alleghany Tribune article said the congregation was organized with 31 members, but the list in the original minute book is undated and several names added at the bottom of the list in a different color ink indicate they might have been added a few days later as member of the families of the original 31 members were added to the church rolls.

    The original minutes also show the words “Snake Run” crossed out, indicating that the congregation almost named the church “Snake Run Baptist Church” when they organized. Perhaps they thought “Sugar Valley” a more pleasing name to the ears of outsiders than the name of their community. Mrs. Bush said she understands that later in its history the church was know as Snake Run Baptist for a while, but the congregation voted to change the mane back to Sugar Valley.

    A minor mystery created by old minutes dated 1885 but not specifying the month is what happened to one of two people who were accused of a “disorderly walk”, one male and one female. These minutes do not say what was meant by “disorderly walk” but state “a committee (sic) was appointed to talk with them and report at the next meeting. The committee is T.M. Hepler and D.B. Tucker.

    At the July 11, 1885 church meeting the minutes state the two persons accused of “disorderly walk” at the previous meeting “are required to meet the church at its next meeting.” The minutes of the August 1885 meeting stat “the case of our charged brother and also sister is referred to our next meeting.” Minutes for August 5, 1885 stat that the make charged at the earlier meeting “was tried for the charges against him . . . was found guilty, and excluded from the church.”

    As for the female charged, the last line on the page says accused, “after being twice noticed” and ends at that point because the next two pages are missing. The minutes book skips from page 10 to page 13 at this point and jagged edges show where pages have been torn out. The next minutes in the book are for years later , June 1, 1895. A check of the undated list of members at the beginning of the book shows the names of both the make and female charged with disorderly walk have a line marked through them although the line through her name is lighter than the one through his.

    The July 11, 1885 minutes also report of one woman: “By her own statement she was never converted and therefore does not desire to remain in the church. So she is disconnected.

    The Covington PIONEER, Thursday, April 23, 1981

    Church Found Its Roots In City Tent Revival

    By Mary Rinker

    Possibly no other church in this area can claim a more un-orthodox beginning than the Church of God of Prophecy at

    1262 South Lexington Avenue

    Mrs. Alice Vaden McMullen of

    1004 South Jackson Street has been with the church since its organization in 1937 and has kept a complete record of its growth.

    Its beginning was at a tent revival, held on

    Highland Avenue, near the present Salvation Army building.Seven people at that revival made the decision to begin their own church – Thechurch ofGod of Prophecy.

    Those seven were Cornelia Smith, Ercel Smith, Hester Evans, Betty Jennell, E.J. Haynes, Myrtle Woodson and Maude Haynes. For their first service they found an empty building on

    Holly Street, which is now the location of the H&M Electric Company.These seven were joined by Mrs. McMullen, and the first congregation was organized.Although Mrs. McMullen was present from the inception of the church, she is not listed as a charter member due to the fact that her paper transfer from her previous church inRoanoke did not arrive in time to qualify her for that select group.

    Maude Haynes and Mrs. McMullen are the only remaining active members from that first group. One other charter member has moved from this area, and the others are deceased.

    The late Rev. R.M. Stover was the fist pastor for the new congregation, assisted by Vernon H. Smith. The next move for the congregation was to

    Lexington Avenue.

    A new pastor, the Rev. C.R. Mashburn, arrived, and he began a building fund. His work was continued by the late R.C. Neblett and then the Rev. O.A. Dudding. During Mr. Dudding’s ministry, two lots were bought in the Sunnymeade section of town for $300, and an option was taken on two adjoining lots.

    To house the congregation while the church building was being erected, a “shack” was built. Mrs. McMullen recalls, laughingly, that after the shack was up, it was discovered to have been put up on the wrong side of the boundary line. “They had to roll it over the line,” she said.

    Mrs. McMullen also recalls the fist officers of the church Rupert E. Howard Sr., was the assistant pastor and Bible class teacher. Ada Beamer was a class teacher, clerk and treasurer, and B.H. Tingler was Sunday School superintendent.

    Dudley Lowman was Home Class superintendent; Pearle Davidson was WMB leader; Beulah Newcomb was ABH Leader no. 2 and Irene Tingler was teacher for Class No. 6 and ABM no9. 3.

    Charlie Mundy was ABM Leader No. 4 and the Free Literature representative, Jennie Kendig was teacher of Class No. 5 and ABM Leader No. 5. Mattie Moss was the teacher for Class No. 4 and Leader of ABM No. 6.

    Cornelia Smith taught Class No. 2 and was ABM Leader No. 7.

    Christine Jones was the Wings of Truth (W.O.T.) leader; Katherine Clark taught Class No. 7 and Rachael Lacks was state W.O.T. Club secretary. The Wings of Truth is the church paper.

    In 1939 excavation was begun for a ne church building. As most of the labor was done by the church members, it was necessary that they work at night as most held down full-time jobs.

    It wasn’t easy work. For timber the men went out into the mountains to cut their own wood, and they close the trees carefully. The floor in the church auditorium is of beech and the framework made of oak and chestnut.

    The rostrum, still in service was donated by the late W.K. Beamer, and was made of oak, one and one-eighth inches thick.

    The present pastor of the church is the Rev. Clifford O. Clark, who ministers to a present congregation of 165 members. The church was changed physically with the time, however, with improvements made in the interior, including carpeting to protect the beech floor of the auditorium, and the exterior covered by light tan stone.

    Mr. Clark sees the church as a vital, growing organization, and Mr. and Mrs. McMullen share that belief. They are long-time residents of Covington and have watched the church’s ministry through the years. Mr. McMullen, who is a native of Goshen, and an employee of the City of Covington, has been an usher for the church for over 20 years, a distinction he shares with Lawrence Reed.

    Mrs. McMullen, who comes from Ironto, and is a well known tax consultant in this area, serves as the unofficial historian for the church. Her records go back to the first days of its organization and are among her most prized possessions.

    Their two sons Franklin D. McMullen Jr., who lives in Disputana, and Donald A. McMullen Sr., who lives in Goldsboro, N.C., have remained faithful members of The Church of God of Prophecy, a matter of pride to their parents.


    Covington Counterfeiters Captured Back in 1879

    By Gay Arritt

    Meals were 25 cents, mountain liquor 10 cents a drink. And courts moved rapidly to save taxpayers money back in 1879, when the incident below occurred in Covington.

    The account is from the Alleghany Tribune, October 3, 1879, and like a number of similar items that will be published in the near future, is from the microfilm of a collection of old newspapers in this area.

    The newspaper article follows:

    “The usual quietude and serenity that prevails in Covington was slightly disturbed and ruffled last Thursday evening by the unexpected arrest here of two counterfeiters of United States silver coin and the capture of a considerable amount of spurious coin—534 pieces we believe, all cast into the denomination of 25-cent pieces—together with a full complement of tools and implements for the manufacture of the same, including moulds, sheets of zinc, lead, files, chemicals, etc., found their possession.

    “From the best evidence we could obtain, it appears the men arrived here about the middle of the afternoon Thursday—at all events the first place where we came upon their tracks, after making a pretty close search, was at the bar-room of Fudge & McClintic. About 4 p.m. , one of the men , having the appearance of a professional “tramp” with “seedy” raiment and countenance plainly stamped with suspicion and fear, with a well-stuffed black oil-cloth carpet-bag over his shoulder, waltzed into this establishment and called for a drink, which he paid for with a counterfeit quarter so perfect in appearance that it easily escaped detection at the time, receiving in change fifteen cents in good money. Mr. William E. Smith, who has charge of the business of this firm, supposed him to be simply a tramp.

    “Shortly after the departure of the individual we have described, who, we should have mentioned, was considerably under the influence of liquor from the time he first entered, his accomplice visited the same establishment, who was also somewhat “tipsy” and obtained a drink, also paying for it with the same kind of “Metal” that was “shoved” by his predecessor. This man also in appearance was a splendid type of tramp, kind, in countenance, dress, speech, etc., and had a big black carpet-bag crammed full, with him.

    “They also separately visited the hotel bar-room, paying for their drinks and receiving change, but Mr. S.M. Butler, who has charge of the bar, did not discover that he was imposed upon by counterfeiters.

    “Mr. J.N. Burnley was caked upon, and after a few purchases by them, they asked him if he were acquainted with D. McDonald, of this county, remarking that they knew him in the 22d regiment Va. Infantry.

    “About this time they went back a second time to Fudge & McClintic’s, one of them sneaking inside and getting a drink. On coming outside he accosted his “pal”, as though he were a stranger, remarking, “Well, you seem to be a stranger like myself; and I would advise you to go inside and get some of that fine mountain whisky.”

    “This remark put Smith upon alert.

    “Leaving the depot, they came down town, where they first paid their respects to the ladies managing the lawn party, by investing fifty cents for supper. They then proceeded to make small purchases from all the various stores in town, and brought up at Mrs. Donnally’s boarding house, and applied for lodging, but being very drunk, they were “fired” out upon the street in double-quick.

    “Tommy Woodward was next applied to by them for quarters for the night, but the McCurdy House wouldn’t have them, and they departed for another drink. But in going to the bar-room, from some cause they turned down the alley between the liquor stores of J.N. Burnley and Fudge & McClintic, and fell about 30 steps from the mouth of the alley, Mr. S.M. Butler, who lives in a part of Mr. Burnley’s house, ordered them to leave, but they being too drunk for navigation, he had them loaded upon a wheelbarrow and conveyed out of the alley.

    “One of the passengers fell overboard at the mouth of the alley, and went into Fudge & McClintic’s place, and the other one was carried into the same building, their carpet-bags being brought after them.

    “The suspicions of Mr. William E. Smith by his this time having been aroused that “all was not well,” he demanded the keys to their carpet-bags, and being told they had been lost, after trying his own keys without success, he took out his knife and ripped one of them wide open, Mr. Middleton, telegraph operator, opening the other with one of his keys.

    “This act fully demonstrated that the men were counterfeiters, as an examination of the contents of the carpet-bags showed the suspicious coins, moulds, etc., above alluded to.

    “Mr. Smith notified an officer of the facts in the case and the counterfeiters were taken charge of until the proper papers could be prepared by the commonwealth’s attorney, R.L. Parrish, Esq., and warrant issued by Justice Burks. (Mr. John D. Saddler making the complaint) for their commitment to the county jail, which was promptly done.

    “The United States authorities were notified by Mr. Smith of the arrest, when instructions were issued to Mr. Joseph T. Fudge, U.S. Commissioner, here, to try the cases. Two U.S. deputy marshals come to Covington, Tuesday morning to take the prisoners to Harrisonburg, before they and been tried, but Mr. Fudge very properly refused to give him up, as much as course would have subjected the government to unnecessary cost and the witnesses to much inconvenience. At the proper time, when Mr. Fudge had received his final instructions from the proper parties, holding them to answer indictment for manufacturing and passing U.S. Counterfeit coins.

    “After the trial was over, the prisoners were handed over to the able-bodied, patriotic marshals, who started with them for Harrisonburg, Tuesday night, with hearts aglow with visions of big rewards, mileage and fees for efficient services rendered their country.

    “A member of the Tribune interviewed the prisoners in jail last Tuesday night, before their departure for Harrisonburg.

    “They stated they were brothers, giving their names as Daniel and George T. Hintel, aged respectively 46 and 43 years; that they were raised in Calloway County, Mo.; that they had no trade or profession; that they were passing through Virginia in 1861 – they enlisted in company “1”, 22d regiment Virginia infantry.

    “When questioned as to making and passing counterfeit coin, they stated they found the bogus money, together with the carpet-bags and implements for its manufacture, about three weeks ago, on Holly Creek, Webster County, W. Va. And that while they had passed it, they had not gone into the manufacture, and claimed that it had been their intention to turn their “bonanza” over to the authorities.

    “They stated as their object in coming to Covington that they were looking at the lands with a view to purchase.

    “Taken all together, we believe that while the men captured are guilty of both making and passing counterfeit coin, there are others behind the scene more culpable, and we think it would be well for the proper officials to hunt them up.”

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