Scott County Historical
Scott County, Virginia
Mildred McConnell's Scrapbook Articles
Catholic Church Has Long History in County
The first Catholic church in Scott County was built in 1924 on the M. J. and Garfield Wood farm located on Moccasin Creek. Father Jerome Lawrence was the first priest to say mass at the Church which was named St. Theresa's.
He was a Benedictine who served the tiny parishes in Southwest Virginia from his home base in Dante because the Bishop of Wheeling was unable to staff these small churches with diocesan priests.
Originally the small flock in Moccasin Valley had been served by Benedictines who traveled from Cullman, Ala. to Hiltons by train and then walked over the mountain to the Wood settlement to provide the sacraments to the three Catholic families in the valley.
The first church may have been built in Moccasin Valley, but the first recorded Catholics in the county settled in Hunter's Valley outside Dungannon in the 1830s. In 1833, Patrick Hagan purchased 35,000 acres in a sale in Richmond, sight unseen. This tract included what is now the town of Dungannon, which he named for his hometown in Ireland. Priests often visited Hagan Hall and would conduct mass for the family and other local Catholics.
In 1946, the Glenmary Home Missioners, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, sent Father Ed Smith and Father Joe Dean to Norton to serve the Catholics in a six-county area. Seeing the need for a church in Dungannon, Barney Hagan donated land and two priests, assisted by many of the local craftsmen built St. Patrick's Church out of logs cut from the forest of Scott County.
Father Bob Bursen served as pastor of the small Scott County flock in the mid1950s. Because of the growth of the Church in Hunter's Valley, he decided to build a church on land adjacent to Hagan Hall.
A third Catholic church rose from the rich black soil of Scott County.
Christ the King church still stands in Hunter's Valley, although mass is no longer celebrated there.
In Gate City, the parishioners met for mass a rented house until property was acquired for a church.
In 1958, St. Bernard's was built and dedicated.
Many dedicated priests have served the Catholics and the community in Scott County over the years. Father Rollie Hautz is the present pastor at St. Bernard's and St. Patrick.
Although entitled to retire, he has graciously agreed to continue to minister to the small, but growing, Catholic communities of Scott County. Mass is celebrated each Sunday at 10 a.m. in Gate City and at noon in Dungannon. Everyone is welcome.