Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia

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Ewing Chapel Methodist Church
Has Long, Rich History

Omer C. Addington
Writer & Historian

     In the Snowflake community of Scott County, Virginia near the banks of Big Moccasin Creek stands Ewing Chapel Episcopal Methodist Church South. Only a narrow road was between the church and the creek. The road came down Moccasin Valley to join the road from Nickelsville. The road crossed a wide· shallow place in the creek cal1ed "Ewing's Ford or Ewing's Crossing," At this point in time there were no bridges across ·the creek.

     The word Episcopal meant the church was controlled by a Bishop, The word South was used because the Methodist Church had split in 1844 mainly over the issue of slavery into Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church South, which people referred to them as Northern and Southern Methodist. This division created a breach which remained o,pen for nearly a century.

     In 1939 the Northern and Sern Methodist, along with the Methodist Protestant Church, reunited to form the United Methodist Church.

     The deed to the land on which the Ewing Chapel Episcopal Methodist Church South was built reads as follows:

     This Deed made this 10th day of October in the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-two, between W. C. Horton, C. C. Gilmer and wife Lula E. Gilmer. All of the county of Scott State of Virginia of the First Part and the Methodist Episcopal Church South as Trustees thereof Party of the Second Part, Witnesseth, That in consideration of the fidelity and Christian love was foster for the above named church to have and hold in trust that said premises be used and kept maintained and provided as a place of divine worship for the use of the ministry and membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church South subject to the discipline usage ministry, appointed of said church is from time authorized and declared by the General Conference of said church and the annual conference of said church, within whose boundaries is situated Ewing Chapel Episcopal Church South.

     The said Parties of the First Part concur that they convey the said land, to the grantee that have done nothing to encumber the said land, that the grantee shall have quiet possession of the said land free from all encumbrances and that they the said Party of the First Part will execute such further assurance at the said land as maybe requested.

Witness the following signatures:

W. P. Horton (Seal), C. C. Gilmer (Seal), Lula E. Gilmer (Seal).

W. P. Horton married Ellen M. Ewing daughter of George Ewing.

C.C. Gilmer married Lula E. Horton, sister of W. P. Horton.

     The land given for the church was part of a tract of land that Ellen M. Ewing inherited from her father George Ewing.

     W. P. Horton was also a Confedferate soldier. He is buried in the Ewing Chapel Cemetery. His grave marker reads as follows:

Lieut. William P. Horton Co. A. 22 Va. Cal. CSA.

     Drury S. Godsey 1829-1897, was a devout Methodist. He displayed great energy and enthusiasm in building Ewing Chapel Episcopal Church South. He sawed and furnished the lumber for the construction of the building. Said building is 50 feet by 32 feet, containing 1,600 square feet. The weather boarding is yellow poplar. The floor is hardwood. The building has three windows on each side and three windows in the back and three in front. The building has double doors in the front. The building sets on huge limestone blocks carved from a local quarry by two stone masons, Nathan Dougherty and Fleming Fuller.

     The building was dedicated April 16, 1893. Mr. Godsey's name along with fifty-three others whose names appear upon a roster of those present at the dedication.

     Mr. Godsey was a Confederate soldier in Co. D. 37th Regt. Virginia Infantry. Later the Cavalry. He was captured at Spotsylvania Court House battle in May 12, 1864 and remained a prisoner until the end of the war. In the bell tower was a bell that weighed approximately 150 to 200 pounds. It was a school bell No. 38. It was made of Bell Metal consisting of copper, tin and iron. The bell was used to call people to worship and was also used in the early years to announce the death of someone in the neighborhood. The bell would toll when someone in the neighborhood died. If people counted the number of tolls they would know the age of the deceased. The tolling was done by a member of the church that lived near the church.

     Be it remembered that all the work that went into the building the church was hand work even the planing of the lumber and the making of the nails, the cutting of the stone,

     At one time the church had a fancy chande1ier that burned kerosene. It was later converted to electricity. It is now in the United Methodist Church at Nickelsville.

     At this point in time there were no bridges across Big Moccasin Creek. A swinging bridge was built from Greenwood School to Ewing Chapel Church.

     The minutes of the first meeting has been preserved and reads as follows:

     The new Methodist Episcopal Church South being completed at Greenwood, Scott County, Va. and the Building Committee having received the house from Mr. Hash, the contractor, it was opened by Charles Gilmer on the 16th of April, 1892. And was lighted up by Mr. Charles Wax. The first bell for services was rung by R. E. Smith P.C. at 7 o'clock and at 7:45 he rang it the second time and walked down the isle entered the pulpit and bowed down in secret prayer and then arose and announced the 546th hymn. "How Fine A Foundation Ye Saints of the Lord" and the services was continued by the use of the 732nd hymn, "Beginning Jesus We Look To Thee."

Prayer was then made by the P.C.

     He then read the 122nd Psalm and the first six verses of the 132nd Psalm after which the congregation united in singing a part of the 473rd hymn, "Nearer My God To Thee." During the singing of this hymn, the Rev. William T. Godsey, a Missionary Baptist minister, was invited to take a seat in the pulpit. The P.C. then read from the 25th to 29th of the 5th chapter of Saint John's Gospel as a text At the close of his remarks, William T. Godsey led in a very earnest prayer. The P.C. then announced the 354th hymn. Beginning, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul", and said while it was being sung he would take up a collection for the Home Missionary work, which amounted to $4.78. The announcement was made and, "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow" was sung and the benediction by the Rev. William T. Godsey.

     In the early days of the church when people rode horses to church, platforms with stairs were built to get on and off horses called a  style block. Women rode side saddle with both legs on the same side of the horse. Saddles had a large horn in which the rider would put one leg and the other leg down with the foot in a stirrup.

     In by gone years many quarterly meetings were held at Ewing Chapel Church. Beginning on Friday night and ending on Sunday with dinner on the ground, if weather permitted. If not, the dinner was served inside the church.

     Many revivals were held at Ewing Chapel Church with able ministers from different churches and districts conducting the services.

     For many years Ewing chapel church had a large congregation, but the grim reaper has taken the most of them, only a half dozen are left.

     At an auction held in May 1998 the church and ground was sold to W. P. (Bill) and Priscilla Pendleton for $11,800. They plan to move the building to the Community Fellowship Baptist Church property in Gate City to be used as a wedding chapel and will be called the Ewing Wedding Chapel.

Note: P.C. meant Pastor of the church.

     Greenwood School was built before the Snowflake post office. Hence the Greenwood Community was used in the first minutes. Greenwood School built 1870, Ewing Chapel Church in 1893.

First Wedding

     In a Saturday afternoon ceremony Claire A. Shuler and Andrew Arbaugh were married marking the first wedding in the 109-yearold church, which was moved from Snowflake to Gate City. The chapel first known as Ewing Chapel Methodist Episcopal has a long history and has been restored to its simple elegance. Restoration officials are hoping the church will be recognized as a landmark for use and visitation for the county and surrounding area.

     For information on the wedding chapel, call 386-6024.

 

Hand written in margin: Jan. 1999


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