Hartwood Presbyterian Church in Stafford County is holding an event Saturday that promises to give participants a glimpse into the history of the church and its surroundings during the Civil War.
The free event, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., will include guided tours of the church and grounds by people in costume, showing a range of perspectives of that time. There will also be Civil War-era treats, a raffle and a discussion led by John Hennessy, chief historian of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
According to organizer Sue Schuler, the event “Hartwood Church Amidst War” will focus on the Civil War years, beginning in 1862 when tens of thousands of Union troops passed Hartwood Church on their way to Fredericksburg, and in 1863, on their way to the Battle of Chancellorsville, Schuler said.
Due to activity associated with the war, the interior of the church sustained a good deal of damage. However, those in the congregation were able to finance the building’s restoration.
Hartwood Church, according to event organizers, is one of the few remaining buildings in the area that predates the war. The church is listed on the National Historic Register of Places.
“We want the entire community to feel welcome and learn about the fascinating history of Hartwood Church,” a news release from event organizers stated. “Hartwood Church traces its origin to 1767 and, as part of the established, Hartwood settlement, witnessed and participated in the evolution of Stafford County from frontier outlier to rural community.”
Scott Fouts, pastor of Hartwood Church, said the Presbyterian church previously hosted an event by the National Parks Service last year. It worked in the church’s benefit as the event could be held indoors due to inclement weather.
Central Rappahannock Regional Library has also been supportive of the event and holds a considerable body of literature about Stafford County history.
“The library has been a great resource for us,” Schuler said.
The church, Fouts said, has had “a long history that we’ve been a part of and are determined to continue.”
The legacy they want to continue, Fouts said, is the church being a site for community service and historical insight. The church has an active pantry and serves its most vulnerable congregants. The church also provided food during the summer for school-age students in Stafford. Proceeds from donations, Schuler said, will go toward supporting the food pantry and to helping elderly congregants who need assistance.