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A new historical highway marker will honor the proud past of Hartwood Presbyterian Church
By LEE WOOLF
HARTWOOD Presbyterian Church has witnessed a lot of history since it was built for just $2,000 in 1858.
And longtime church member Stewart Jones wants to make sure that future generations who pass by the red-brick sanctuary on Hartwood Church Road just off U.S. 17 appreciate the building's proud past.
Jones is the sponsor for a Virginia Department of Historic Resources highway marker that will be placed in front of the church in a formal dedication ceremony in a few months.
The text for the marker was approved by the Board of Historic Resources earlier this month and will describe the early evolution of the church, the 1863 Battle of Hartwood Church and the efforts of the congregation to restore the interior of the building after the Civil War.
"We've had this in mind for a long time," said Jones, who is a doctor of education and a lifelong resident of the Hartwood area. "I just felt the church deserved recognition and should be marked."
The building already is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places and is an American Presbyterian Reformed Historical Site.
Jones credited the Rev. Duncan Nichol for his help during the early stages of the application process for the historic roadside marker.
Nichol came to Hartwood as pastor in August 2002 and soon became aware that the Battle of Hartwood Church was the largest Civil War engagement fought entirely on Stafford County soil.
"But there were no signs in front of the buildingnothing to deal with the church or its connection to the Civil War," he said. "We realized that people could pass by the church and have no idea what happened here."
According to a church history written by Jones, it was in 1825 that about 40 Stafford citizens who had been attending the Presbyterian Church in Fredericksburg requested their own church from the Winchester Presbytery.
The group organized the Y ellow Chapel Church in Hartwood and met in a small frame structure that had been an Anglican chapel in the 1700s. That building was replaced in 1858 by the red-brick structure that stands today. It was constructed mostly by church members, which explains the low cost. Ten years later it was renamed Hartwood Presbyterian Church.