Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Help save Falmouth Union Church

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

Today brings a chance to meet some swell folks, grab a bite and have a beverage–all in the name of a fine cause.

Drop by Capital Ale House between 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday and help support one of the Fredericksburg area’s most endearing historic sites–Union Church in Falmouth.

The Union Church Preservation Project, a 501c3 nonprofit group in Stafford County, has partnered up with Capital Ale’s Community Chest program at Capital Ale to raise money for its effort to save what remains of this antebellum landmark.

It really needs your help. The church’s facade has stood on the hill above the Rappahannock River since 1819, but it won’t stay that way unless people pitch in, now.

From 1 to 4 p.m., 25 percent of your tab (excluding alcohol) will be donated to the preservation project. Just tell your server. (Capital Ale House is at 917 Caroline Street in historic downtown Fredericksburg. Their phone number is 540-371-2337.)

The money raised will help to lower and preserve the 300-pound bell in the church’s narthex, repair brickwork, fix the roof and siding, and ensure the landmark’s lasting legacy.

And for those who really get enthused, the project has set Saturday, June 25, as the tentative day for its summer cleanup at the Union Church historic site.

The church, which adjoins the town’s Colonial-era graveyard, was built as a community house of worship that served Christian preachers of different denominations.The “Union” in its name refers to that function, not some Northern sympathy.

John Washington of Fredericksburg, a slave who escaped when the Union army occupied Falmouth in April 1862, wrote a moving account of witnessing the burial of seven soldiers (killed in a nearby skirmish) in the cemetery next to the church on April 19–the day after he emancipated himself by crossing the Rappahannock River. See the project’s website for his beautifully written account, and a complete history of the church.

Washington’s story is part of the area’s new Trail to Freedom venture, and is told in two recent books by Yale historian David Blight and Virginia Tech professor Crandall Shifflett.

Union Church and the Falmouth cemetery are on the National Register of Historic Places.