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Featured Folk of Craig County

ANDREW JACKSON ELMORE
(9 July 1811/29 Nov 1895)

Andrew was born in North Carolina, probably in Orange Co. It is believed that his parents were James and Milly/Milla Elmore of that county who moved to the New Castle area after he was born.

On 12 Dec 1837, a bond was issued indicating that a marriage was to be performed between Andrew and Elizabeth Walker, daughter of Andrew Woods and Elizabeth (Handley) Walker. Elizabeth was from Union, VA (Monroe Co., now part of West Virginia). Andy, as he was called, and Elizabeth made their home in New Castle where they raised seven children.

Although he made his living as a wagon maker, Andy was first and foremost a minister of the Gospel. He apparently began his ministry in the Baptist church, but was converted to the "Campbellites" (later the Disciples of Christ) around 1840. In 1844 he was minister to the Disciples congregation at New Castle. In 1858 the Disciples were ejected from the building they had shared with the Presbyterian church, and in 1861 still had no regular place of worship. But in 1860, a church had been established at Mt. View, a few miles from New Castle. Andy and his brother-in-law, Samuel Britts, were among the founders of this church.

Andy was very active in church affairs all of his life. The Craig and Botetourt marriage records frequently list his name as the minister. In the 1870's, Andy and Elizabeth deeded a portion of land in downtown New Castle to the congregation of the newly established Christian church for the purpose of erecting a church. Some records indicate that a church was built there and later burned. When the congregation decided to re-build, they moved to another location with more land. That small lot in town was still vacant as late as 1990, tied up in a legal mess: only a church could be built there according to the deed. No one seems to be willing to work out these problems since finding all of the heirs of Andy and Elizabeth would be a monumental task.

According to a story passed down thru the family of Andy's brother, Joel*, "Uncle Andy" had an unusual way of praying during his church services. Marie Elmore Baxter, great-grandaughter of Joel, tells the story: He would begin to pray (on his knees) at the front of the church, speaking quite loudly. Then, still on his knees, he would begin to move around the church. Finally returning to his starting point, he would end with the same words every time: "Oh, Lord, we knowest that we are heard for our much speaking." One can only imagine how long his prayers had been.

Andy's step-grandson, Will Book (a minister himself) wrote articles for the local New Castle newspaper in the 1940's. One of his articles about Andrew appears below. Another story taken from the pages of the local newspaper tells of an incident that took place during the Civil War. It seems that Andy was performing an outdoor wedding ceremony when some Union soldiers happened along. The soldiers broke up the wedding, taking Andy and the unfortunate groom hostage. After a time, they came to a creek. Andy, hoping to obtain their release, immediately began acting as if he thought himself to be Moses, ordering the waters to part so the soldiers could cross on dry land. The soldiers thought he was crazy and quickly decided to release their prisoners.

Andy and Elizabeth were buried in the old Waugh Cemetery just outside New Castle, but deterioration of the cemetery makes locating their graves impossible.

Some records indicate that Andy may have moved his family very briefly to Adams Co., IL. They do not appear on the Craig Co., VA census for 1860, and, as some of Elizabeth's family was living in Illinois, they may have been visiting there. Andy's brother Joel* had moved to Snowville, VA, so they may have been there in 1860. Clifton, Andy's son, also lived in Snowville for a few years, and some of the large Elmore clan can still be found in that area.

Andy and Elizabeth's seven children were Dexter Campbell Elmore, Mary Jane "Mollie" Elmore, Josephine Elmore, Clifton Walker Elmore, Elzira "Ella" Elmore, Paul N. Elmore and Frances "Fanny" Elmore.

* Some researchers say that Joel was Andy's cousin rather than his brother.

NOTE: W.H. Book was the step-grandson of Andrew J. Elmore. This copy does not contain all of the original article; only the part pertaining to Andrew J. Elmore.

from THE NEW CASTLE RECORD, Sat., 3 Oct 1942: a front page article titled "Book Leaves From Florida", a regular feature written by the Rev. William H. Book.

A BIBLE SEMINARY & UNIVERSITY

Many of the people of this younger generation are ignorant of the fact that New Castle had a Bible Seminary and University at one time. It was located on the opposite side of Main St., in front of the George Craft property. Elder Andrew Jackson Elmore was president and had as his assistants Elders Samuel Britts and N.A. Caldwell [Newton Caldwell--cb]. Few of our Biblical institutions had instructors better versed in Scripture than these men. The building was designed to be a workshop where farm wagons and buggies were manufactured. On the other end of the lot was a blacksmith's shop, operated by David Zimmerman. When the Seminary and University were not holding sessions, the president was turning out new work or repairing old work. They taught mostly by lectures and debates. President Elmore and Elder Britts did not agree on interpretations of some of the mysterious statements of Scripture. I confess here and now that I got more general Bible knowledge as I sat among the shavings and listened to these expounders of the Word than I got in college. The foundation of my life's work was laid at that time, when a bare-footed, dirty-faced lad absorbed knowledge at the feet of these wise, self-made men.

It was not only a Seminary, it was a university, where political science was taught. President Elmore was without question the best posted man on political science of government and the history of the political parties in the county. He had a wonderful memory. He was allergic to monosyllables and could use jawbreakers with more ease and adaption than any of his fellows. He was assisted by Chester Hancock, Jackie Zimmerman and Col. Brent; and I must not forget to mention Bill Doss. They discussed the tariff, sovereignty of states, monopolies and trusts, and free trade. President Elmrore spent many hours in the courthouse absorbing interpretations of the law by attorneys and instructions given by the judges, and was himself capable of giving a good decision according to legal authority. His gift of repartee was out- standing; logical and generally true to historical facts. Col. Brent was one of the best history teachers of his day and one of the best historians; and he gave his instructions without money and without price. This Seminary and University was open to all who desired to attend. Only the lot where it stood is now visible; but sacred memories and lessons of eternal truth continue.

NOTE: W.H. Book was the step-grandson of Andrew J. Elmore. This copy does not contain all of the original article; only the part pertaining to Andrew J. Elmore.

THE MUSIC of MEADOW CREEK FALLS

There are times when I greatly enjoy it,
Just wander to goodness knows where;
Through the distance that lies
'Neath the stretch of the skies,
Out beyond the horizon there.
But I miss the sunset up John's Creek,
As it sinks o'er Old Circle's walls;
And the mockingbird's song,
But I miss most of all
The music of Meadow Creek Falls.

Back east there, I saw the great buildings,
That rise to dizzying height;
And out west, the short-horn lowing,
'Midst tall alfalfa growing---
A gorgeous and glorious sight.
But I missed when I went there, the beauty,
As sweet recollection recalls,
Of those two stately sentinels,
That have heard through the ages,
The music of Meadow Creek Falls.

Yes, it's hot in the summer in New Castle,
And cold through the long winter's chill.
And there's not much there to see
But mountain and tree,
And the brook at Wagner's Mill.
But it's home, sweet home and I love it;
A palace elsewhere's just four walls.
So I long to go back to Craig County---
God's country---
And the music of Meadow Creek Falls.

....Charles Ernest Elmore (1873-1953) -------------------------------------------

For more information contact: Charlene Elmore Blassingham