McDowell Presbyterian Church Historical Marker Unveiling is Saturday

On Saturday, a highway historical marker will be unveiled at McDowell Presbyterian Church.  The Church is now on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.   After those registrations, the marker was then approved through the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the Virginia Department of Transportation.  Will Crisp, a member of McDowell Presbyterian Church, has been working on this registration project for about four years, building on work others had done for the previous fifty years.

“The Church took this on because we feel that the McDowell Presbyterian Church is an integral part of Highland County and the Allegheny Mountain history, regional history of this area,” says Crisp.  “We wanted to go back into the files and document, not only the Church’s role during the Battle of McDowell on the eighth of May 1862, but also go back to the very origins and see why a Church had actually been constructed there.  And we found out that in 1822 a Church had been organized and then beginning around 1856 the present structure was constructed.  The important thing was to find primary resources and primary citations principally through court records and personal diaries and I would have to say that none of this would have been possible without the transcriptions from documents made by Clay Hamilton of Highland County.  He has a large volume of transcribed documents titled Founding Documents of the Central Union Meeting House, that was the original name, and McDowell Presbyterian Church.  Without Clay’s detailed, very painstaking, work none of this would have been possible.”

The marker has been dedicated by Betsy Marshall Faircloth and her family to the memory of Betsy’s husband, Jerry Faircloth.  The marker is located on Route 678, at the side of the Church.

“There’s an old hymn, To All the Saints Who from Their Labors Rest, and I felt really this is not just honoring the present structure or just the role of the Church during the Battle of McDowell, but really it was honoring all of those people going back to 1822 who wanted a place of worship in McDowell,” says Crisp.  “The documents show that these people were very sincere, they made monetary grants, the land itself was donated by Robert Sitlington.  People were very sincere in wanting to worship.  We felt that by going through the registration process, and eventually getting a highway marker, we were honoring all those people, call them saints who from their labors rest.  We were trying to honor those very dedicated people who had worked hard to establish a place of worship on the Bullpasture River.”

For more information, contact The Reverend Beth Pyles at 540-396-3450 or email

The historical marker will be unveiled in a ceremony Saturday, November 13, beginning at noon.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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