History

Stained glass window, Stone's Chapel

Stained Glass Window, Stone’s Chapel

Early accounts of Clarke County suggest that a church existed on the site of Stone’s Chapel as early as 1740.  By at least 1785, a log church building had been constructed on the site, probably by a Lutheran congregation.

The first Lutheran minister of record at Stone’s Chapel was Christian Streit, who served from 1785 to 1812.  Lutheran use of the chapel appears to have ceased following the establishment of the Union Church in Smithfield (now Middleway, West Virginia) between 1800 and 1810.  However, Lutherans continued to use the Stone’s Chapel cemetery, through the 19th century.

It is unclear when Presbyterians began using Stone’s Chapel. The earliest documentation of the church property is a deed recorded in 1793, transferring the property from Jacob Stone and his wife Barbara to the “Trustees of the Lutheran and Calvinistic Societies.” The term “Calvinistic” could refer to Presbyterians or possibly a German Reform congregation.

Presbyterian records prior to 1886 have scant references to Stone’s Chapel. In 1824, the Winchester Presbytery appointed Reverend J.H.C. Leach to supply (preach) at “Stone’s Meeting House.”  Records of the Winchester Presbytery record the names of three other ministers who preached at Stone’s Chapel, through 1857. However, ministers assigned to the presbytery but not “settled” at a church frequently preached at a churches without pastors, at their own discretion.

The present brick building was constructed in 1848.  Following the establishment of the Berryville Presbyterian Church in 1853, the pastors of that church served at Stone’s Chapel.  However, the first mention of Stone’s Chapel does not appear in the Church’s records until August 1878.  From 1878 until 1886, a small congregation of Berryville Presbyterian Church members worshiped regularly at Stone’s Chapel.  In September 1885, the Session of the Berryville Presbyterian Church agreed for the Church’s pastor to conduct worship services at Stone’s Chapel twice a month – a morning service on the third Sunday of each month and an afternoon service on the first Sunday.

In 1886, the Winchester Presbytery formally approved the organization of Stone’s Chapel Presbyterian Church as a separate church.   The new church began with 15 members, 11 of whom came from Berryville Presbyterian Church.

In 1905, the vestibule tower on the front of the church and an addition on the back of the church for use as a Sunday School room was constructed.  At the same time, a new slate roof was added, along with interior improvements including new pews, carpet, the memorial stained glass windows, a pipe organ, a mahogany pulpit and new pulpit furniture (settee and two chairs).

In the early 1950s, the Clarke County Cemetery Association was formed to maintain the adjacent cemetery, a function it continues to the present.  The cemetery contains approximately 200 marked graves.  The earliest gravestones date to the 1820s and include a number of Revolutionary War veterans.

Stone’s Chapel Presbyterian Church was closed in 2000. Ownership of the building was transferred to the Stone’s Chapel Memorial Association in 2012.

In June 2017, Stone’s Chapel once again became an active house of worship and is today the home of New Hope Baptist Church.

3 Responses to History

  1. https://stoneschapel.org/history/ Check out this website…..we will be attending the first worship service and homecoming at this very historic structure…which is next to our property (only separated from us by an old house and barn). It dates to the 1700’s – revolutionary war times. We’re thrilled that it is being restored!

  2. americanpresidents says:

    My ancestor, Thomas Hunsicker, was one of the four individuals who first organized the church. There is a history of Stone’s Chapel that used to be distributed by the Berryville Presbyterian Church that describes this. This history describes how Thomas wrote back to Wolfersheim, Switzerland to obtain a church certificate from the German Reformed Church as part of founding the church. I then tracked down a relative who lived in Winchester, VA who possesses this original church certificate along with another church certificate for a Barbara Hunsicker, who is believed to be the second wife of Thomas Hunsicker, since his church certificate states that his wife was Anna Gertrude. Thomas Hunsicker emigrated to America on the ship “Phoenix” that landed in Philadelphia in October, 1754. He initially settled in LeHigh County before moving to the Frederick County area of Virginia after the French and Indian War with his eldest son Daniel (who Peter Hunsicker who is buried in the cemetery was the son of – and who served as a Lieutenant in the French and Indian War then built a mill along Opequon Creek), Thomas Hunsicker Jr. (who I am descended from and whose wife Ruth and all his children except for Jonathan are buried together in Mt. Hebron cemetery in Winchester), and other members of his family. The Hunsickers were then all married by Christian Streit, who served both as the first minister of Stone’s Chapel Church and of the old German church whose remains are in Mt. Hebron cemetery. Finally, it was my understanding that Stone’s Chapel Church was initially called Stine’s Chapel and that the land donated for the church was donated by a Mr. Stine, one of the other four individuals who initially founded the church along with Thomas Hunsicker. — Rick Hopper, email rickhopper@aol.com

  3. americanpresidents says:

    I also forgot to mention that Stone’s Chapel was the first German church in Virginia. Lovettsville claims to be the oldest continually operated German church, but Stone’s Chapel (originally called Stine’s Chapel) was the first. Also, the first burial in the cemetery was in 1816 or earlier since Peter Hunsicker, who has the most prominent gravestone, was buried there in 1816. He was the son of Daniel Hunsicker, the eldest son of Thomas Hunsicker, and built Prospect Hall (which still stands) in nearby Middleway, West Virginia.

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