2015_08_31_13_52_19 2015_08_31_13_52_43 Once again, on September 11, 2016 several dozen Trinity parishoners got an incredible chance to worship at the 18th century Old Anglican Chapel in Penhook, VA.

In 2011, Virginia residents Dr. and Mrs. J. Francis Amos bought the 242 year old chapel and worked hard to capture much of the its history. In short order after purchasing the property, Dr. Amos recruited and organized a large contingent of multi-skilled volunteers who shared his passion for local history. Dr. and Mrs. Amos are pictured to the below right, alongside his cousin on Dr Amos’ left – our own Trinity family member Carol Lee. img_4449

Trinity had our first opportunity to worship at the chapel in August 2015, when a family friend of Dr. and Mrs. Amos’ who greeted everyone at the door (pictured above). He wore clothing typical of the era and offered a copy of the chapel’s history, excerpts from which are captured in the following paragraphs.img_4342

The church building itself remained in its original state until the 1950’s except for a replaced and lowered tin roof, replaced floor, pews and enlarged windows. Then additions included bathrooms, an extended pulpit, an exterior preacher’s stand, picnic shelter and baptistry.img_43682015_08_31_13_52_23 Using only his own resources and/or donations in materials, skills and architectural knowledge from the 17th century, the team of (mostly) Virginia residents set about to restore the chapel. Two volunteers of special note img_4455were brothers Carl and Gerald Kirk, who were involved in every aspect of the restoration from the beginning, including developing innovative techniques for restoration projects. Dr. Amos, Carl and Gerald are pictured in the picture above.  Mrs. Amos is exiting the chapel behind them and to their left.

img_4401Kevin Hunt of the prestigious Hunt Brothers Construction co., Inc. volunteered every Saturday for years to ensure the building’s structural integrity. Rick Frye was noted for his masterful carpentry and made sure the windows, pulpit, and desk were made to 18th century specifications. Jerry and Perry Adcock provided expert carpentry skills for weatherboarding the church as well as for reconstructing the ‘necessary house’. The Adcock brothers also made sure the 057electrical and plumbing were done to code. Significant contributors from Trinity include Johnnie Ferguson, Ferguson Land and Lumber, Clyde Perdue, Attorney, and Anne Carter Lee Gravely, Architectural Historian.

img_4474At the time the Snow Creek Chapel was erected in 1753, members included the first settlers of Halifax County, which included the counties of Franklin, Henry, Patrick, and Pittsylvania. At that time there were 624 tithes. A tithe was anyone over sixteen, white or black, except women unless they had a business. Regardless of ones religious preference, tithes were required to pay taxes annually to the Church of England (Anglican Church). The Vestry set the rate for each tithe by dividing the Parish expenses by the number of tithes – for 1753 this was 20 lbs. of tobacco. One was required to attend Anglican services at least one every four Sundays, but this was infrequently enforced on the frontier.2015_08_31_13_52_35

img_4445Worship was typically Anglican. Sermons lasted 20 minutes. Men and women sat separate on pews with a thick 16 inch seat and a two splat back which faced the pulpit. In the back sat slaves and free blacks. In 1776 40% of Virginia’s population was black. Most of this population was more attracted to outdoor traveling preachers such as Baptist or Methodist, who focused on the message of God’s equal love, deliverance from persecution and salvation by faith.

img_4500The chapel’s original burying ground is located to the left of the current entrance, in the pines and under the current road. The ancient roadbed @ the SW corner of the lot is believed to be a remnant of the Pigg River Road. This road and several others provided a major East – West route through Franklin County, and the Old Chapel became a familiar landmark along the road. The last member of Old Chapel Church, Mrs. Virginal Kelley, passed in 2009 at the age of 95.

Finally, Dr Amos and his team collected many artifacts that are historically representative of the chapel’s era.  They are displayed in a large glass-enclosed case near the front entrance to the chapel.  Some of them are featured below