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Old Rehoboth Church

Monroe's Old Rehoboth Church Long on History
By Shirley Donnell
Originally published in the Beckley Post-Herald, Beckley, WV October 20, 1964

Transcribed by K. Torp

A stop at old Rehoboth Church was made on a recent visit in Monroe County. At Union, they have revived the Monroe County Historical Society under the aegis of Haskell Shumate and it is a good job that is being done.

Monroe County has so much history that it would take two persons to tell about it, and of late, some of the folks in this fabulous county are going about trying to preserve it. One of their storied landmarks is Rehoboth Methodist Church, "the oldest church building west of the Alleghanies," according to the highway historic marker near the ancient meeting house.

When Rehoboth Church was dedicated by Bishop Asbury in 1786, the worshippers carried their rifles -- loaded of course, as well as their copies of the King James version of the Bible. Indians were still lurking about in that area and took a dim view of the way their hunting lands were being settled on by the pioneers.

In the center of a cemetery the log house of worship stands. It was erected 178 years ago. Some of the faithful of that early flock are buried there. Strolling among the stones, it was wondered which of those whose dust reposes in that hamlet of the dead, were present at the dedication of the rude log meeting house.

The inscriptions on the grave markers were noted. Of course Edward Keenan was among those present. His legend recites: "Edward Keenan, Born 1742, Died Aug 11, 1820. He built the Rehoboth Church and gave the acre of ground." He was 44 years old when Rehoboth -- "room enough," its meaning in Hebrew -- was dedicated.

Present also would have been his wife, "Nancy Keenan. Born 1775, Died Oct 2, 1810". When Bishop Asburg and the loaded rifles were in Rehoboth Church, Mrs. Keenan was 32.

Chances are that "Isaac Wiseman, 1738-1818" and his wife "Elizabeth Wiseman, 1738-1807" both were in the historic assemblage. Each of them was 48 years old at the time. No doubt some of those who rest in unmarked graves had turned out to hear the bishop and participate in the day's activities.

When Rehoboth was built and dedicated it was then a part of eight-year-old Greenbrier County. There were two other old-timers of 18th Century birth: "James Kelley, Born Sept 7, 1788, Died Oct 3, 1837" and "Nancy, consort of James Kelly, Born Dec. 29, 1793, Died Feb 17, 1874" "Samuel B. Keenan, Born March 1798, Died 1881"

Inscription on other markers:
John B. Honaker, Born Sept 3, 1822, Died Feb 12, 1891
Charlotte Honaker, wife of John B. Honaker, Born Sept 22, 1827, Died Oct 6, 1907
James G. Honaker, Born Sept 7, 1848, Died Feb 8, 1891
Henry J. Kelley, Born Aug 27, 1818; Died March 18, 1888
Malinda E. Kelly, Born Sept 23, 1834, Died June 21, 1896
John R. Wiseman, Died Nov 21, 1882, aged 86 years, 4 mos, and 21 dyas old. That makes him born on July 21, 1796, doesn't it?

And there is Mary Wiseman, Died Oct. 9, 1862, aged 58 years
George Shirey, Born 1819, died Sept 8, 1892
John Eagan, Died April 27, 1810, aged 82 This man was born in 1725 -- eight years before the colonization of Georgia, last of the 13 original colonies, was begun in 1733.

A fallen marker at Rehoboth tells that "Sarah Stuart died June 4, 1813"

Monroe County was a hotbed of the Confederacy and gave most of her soldiers to the South. Thus these two Confederate graves:
"William Pritt, Pvt., Co. B; 60th Reg't. Va., Infantry, Confederate States Army, Born Oct 15, 1832, Died Jan. 11, 1901, aged 68 years" and
"John Cochran Lynch, Virginia, Sgt. Bryan's Co., Va Artillery, C.S.A., Sept 20, 1842 -- Feb 25, 1912.
The latter inscription is on a new government marker, but the legend on the original stone says Lieutenant John C. Lynch, Born Sept 30, 1842, Died Feb 25, 1912, Bryan's Battery, C.S.A" By the Confederate soldier's side sleeps "J. Cecil Lynch, Sept 14, 1877- Oct 26, 1904" and "Delilah, wife of John C. Lynch, Born Jan 4, 1848, Died Aug 20, 1883."

Other legends run as follows:
Elizabeth Wiseman, 1738-1807
Mary Wiseman, Died Oct 9, 1862, aged 58 years
Elinor Johnston, Nov 18, 1896-Jan 7, 1882
Joel Garman, Died July 6, 1897, aged 78 years
Margaret E. Carlisle, Dec 28, 1822-May 3, 1867
Mary Lynch, daughter of James Kelly and wife of Wm. Lynch, Sept 9, 1816-Apr 3, 1872
Ge. Thomas Kounse, 1846-1898
Jas. A. Kounse, 1849-1911
James Burdette, 1809-1872
Andrew Burdette, 1844-1874
Samuel B. Burdette, 1847-1880
Francinah, wife of G.S. Archey, Died Aug 14, 1866, aged 49 years
Mary C. Warren, Feb 23, 1834-Aug 13, 1885
Stuart I. Warren, Sept 16, 1834-Aug 14, 1890
Geo W. Johnson - Feb 23, 1833-March 15, 1852
C.D. Archey, died on March 13, 1901, Aged 88 years
Olivia Harless, 1850-1923

And still there are scores of others sleeping the long sleep at Rehoboth.


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