A Guide to the

Bethlehem Stone Church Records, 1844-2011

SC 5037

Compiled by: Lauren Fleming, May 2013
Revised by: Kate Morris, October 2014

 

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University
Title: Bethlehem Stone Church Records, 1844-2011
Collection No.: SC 4037
Creator: Bethlehem United Church of Christ, Tenth Legion, Virginia
Extent: 47 pdf files; 1.08 GB
Language: English
Abstract: The Bethlehem Stone Church Records is a digital collection of 47 pdf files that contains digitized images of church records and documents relating to the church and church history from its inception in 1844 through 2011.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions : Collection is open for research.
Use Restrictions: The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).
Preferred Citation: [identification of item] Bethlehem Stone Church Records, 1844-2011, SC 5037, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.
Acquisition Information: Materials lent by Bethlehem United Church of Christ to JMU Special Collections for digitization in 2012.
Other Formats Available: Available from JMU Scholarly Commons: http://commons.lib.jmu.edu/bsc/
Provenance: Acquiring the collection was suggested to Dr. Mark Peterson of James Madison University Special Collections, by Dr. Andrew Witmer, history professor at JMU. Dr. Witmer intended to include the collection in his History Harvest project but was unable to do so because of time constraints. Dr. Peterson contacted the church and, with the help of the church's secretary, gathered the collection for digitization in 2012.
Processing Information: The collection was lent to JMU Special Collections for digitization in 2012 and materials were returned to Bethlehem United Church of Christ in 2013. JMU Special Collections originally digitized the materials and processed the images using Adobe Photoshop Elements. Images were re-processed from 2014-2015 by JMU Digital Collections using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Bridge. PDF files were created using Adobe Acrobat Pro X. Please note that the contrast was adjusted on some images to increase the legibility of the original scans. Additionally, some images do not capture the complete content of the item. JMU Digital Collections has made best efforts to provide the clearest and most complete image possible from the original.

Bio/Historical Note: Bethlehem United Church of Christ, commonly called Bethlehem Stone Church, is located in Tenth Legion, just south of New Market, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. It was founded in 1844 when Jacob Martz deeded a parcel of land in Tenth Legion to be used as the site for a place of worship. A committee of trustees consisting of John Cowan, Jacob Cowan, Martin Martz, Dorilas Martz, and Jackson Martz was then appointed to superintend the building of the church and Jeremiah Clemons, a local stonemason, was chosen for construction. The church was completed in 1845 and the stone church remained the sole house of worship until 1952 when a second church building was constructed.

During the Civil War the church was used to house Confederate prisoners and also as a makeshift military hospital. The structure was badly damaged during the war and was not repaired until the 1880s. Please see the item titled Written Histories, 1948-1995 in the Church History Materials series for a detailed history of the church and the stone structure. After the Civil War the church was used by several different denominations including the Christian Church, the United Brethren in Christ, and the German Baptist Church. The congregation worshipped in the Stone Church until 1952 when a larger brick church was built on the land beside it. In 1981 Bethlehem Stone Church was added to the Virginia Landmarks Register and in 1985 to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2008 restoration began to the old stone church and was completed in 2011. The structure is now used for special events.

Scope and Content: The Bethlehem Stone Church Records consist of 47 pdf files that contain 1.08 GB of material that date from the church's first year of operation in 1844 through 2011. The records document church business, governance, and day-to-day operations, as well as the history of the church. Materials include meeting minutes, financial records, attendance and membership records, church programming materials, photographs, and scrapbooks. The earliest documents in the collection include a record of the first organization of the church in August of 1844 and a list of original members. Also contained in the collection are materials documenting the activities of the Sunday School as well as the Women's Fellowship, a women's group within the church. Church history materials include scrapbooks as well as written histories that provide details on the institutional history of the church and the Tenth Legion area.

Arrangement:
Arrangement: The collection is organized into the following 4 series:

Series 1: Administrative Records, 1844-1979
Series 2: Ladies Aid Society/Women's Fellowship, 1912-1974
Series 3: Sunday School, 1894-1948
Series 4: Church History Materials, 1875-2011

All series are arranged chronologically

Contents:

Series 1: Administrative Records, 1844-1979

Items in this series consist of ledgers and notebooks that document the administrative functions of the church and span from the earliest written records in 1844 to 1979. The earliest record book, Church Record Book 1, contains documentation of the first organization of the church in August of 1844, and lists the original members separately as male, female, and colored members. Church Record Book 2 contains the copied text of the original deed of Bethlehem Church from September 1844. Materials within this series contain information related to church business including membership lists, records of deaths, names of elected officials, financial records, and meeting minutes. Financial records in this series include accounts of payments made to the pastor's salary and records for various collections taken within the church. Most items have labels taped to the cover of the ledger or notebook that indicate dates and contents. It is unknown when these notes were written, or by whom.

Church Record Book 1, 1844-1872
Church Record Book 2, 1881-1886
Church Record Book 3, 1883-1894
Church Record Book, 1887-1895
Church Record Book, 1896-1910
Pastor's Salary Account Book, 1897-1906
Account Book, 1906-1919
Church Record Book, 1910-1952
Pastor's Salary Account Book, 1919-1927
Business Meeting Minutes, 1948-1952
Church Notes, 1950-1951
Business Meeting Minutes, 1952-1954
Record of Deaths - Book I 1915-1979, ca. 1979
Record of Deaths - Book II 1915-1979, ca. 1979


Series 2: Ladies Aid Society/Women's Fellowship, 1912-1974

Materials in this series document the functions of the women's group within the church. This group was called Ladies Aid or Ladies Aid Society in the earliest records up to 1959. Beginning in 1960 within their own records and in other records it is called Women's Fellowship or Women's Fellowship Committee. The bulk of the materials in this series are the program booklets from 1965-1974 that list officers and committee members and outline monthly assignments for the year. Also included in this series are meeting minutes from 1936-1976 (not inclusive) that detail the activities of the group and also include some financial records. The notebook titled "History of Women's Fellowship of Valley of Virginia" details the history of women's missionary work in the Virginia Valley Central Congregational Christian Conference as well as the history of the Conference in general.

Treasure Book of the Va. Valley Central Christian Conference, 1912-1924
Expense Book, 1928-1939
Ladies Aid Meeting Minutes, 1936-1942
Women's Fellowship Meeting Minutes, 1959-1968
Women's Fellowship Meeting Minutes, 1959-1976
History of Women's Fellowship of Valley of Virginia, ca. 1964
Program Booklet for Lay Life and Work 1965-1966, 1965
Program Booklet for Lay Life and Work 1966-1967, 1966
Program Booklet for Lay Life and Work 1967-1968, 1967
Program Booklet for Lay Life and Work 1968-1969, 1968
Program Booklet for Lay Life and Work 1969-1970, 1969
Program Booklet for Lay Life and Work 1970-1971, 1970
Program Booklet for Lay Life and Work 1971-1972, 1971
Program Booklet for Women's Fellowship 1972-1973, 1972
Program Booklet for Women's Fellowship 1974-1975, 1974

Series 3: Sunday School, 1894-1948

This series documents the organization and activities of the Sunday School of the church. The Sunday School consisted of classes for children and young adults in the church with Bible instruction and singing. In some of the earliest records the school is referred to as Sabbath School, and as "S. S" throughout the records. Ledgers include attendance lists and lists of elected officers for the Sunday School Committee as well as record of the activities of each Sunday School meeting, including hymns and Bible readings. Other contents of the ledgers include financial records and lists of literature and materials purchased for the Sunday School. Note that the earliest Sunday School records are located in the Administrative Records series, in Church Record Book 3, 1883-1894.

Sunday School Record Book, 1894-1904
Sunday School Record Book, 1907-1912
Sunday School Account Book, 1913-1916
Sunday School Minutes, 1938-1940
Sunday School Minutes, 1940-1943
Sunday School Minutes, 1943-1946
Sunday School Minutes, 1946-1948


Series 4: Church History Materials, 1875-2011

Materials in this series document the history of the church. Items include scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, typed and hand-written institutional histories of the church, photographs of the church and church members, and church programs. Many of the typed or written histories of the church were compiled for a 150th anniversary celebration of the old stone church held on June 4, 1995. These histories contain information about the history of religious worship in the Tenth Legion area prior to 1844, going back to the early 1700s. There are also genealogical materials relating to the Martz family, who deeded the land for the church in 1844. Other materials also relate to the 1952 construction of a new church building. See item titled Church History, 1944-2011 for a list of church pastors from 1844-2008. Note that there are multiple instances of duplicate materials contained within this series.

School Notebook, 1875-1891
Scrapbook, 1883-1996
Church History, 1930-1985
Scrapbook, 1932-1977
Church History, 1944-2011
Written Histories, 1948-1995
Church History, 1953-2001
Church History, 1953-2005
National Register of Historic Places, 1979-2011
Historic Garden Week 1984, ca. 1984