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Friendship quilt topic at next Augusta County Historical Society event

friendship quiltThe friendship quilt that helped build a small Augusta County church in 1952 found its way back to that church in 2017.  The story of that church and its remarkable quilt will be the subject of the Augusta County Historical Society Stuart Talk 7 p.m. Thursday, November 16.

Local historian Nancy Sorrells will describe “Stitching Together a Community’s History: The Friendship Quilt and the Miracle at Pines Chapel Presbyterian Church.”  The illustrated talk will be in the second floor lecture room at the R. R. Smith Center for History and Art in Staunton.  The presentation is free and open to the public.

As the 1800s began to wear away, a small Presbyterian Church was formed in the Cold Springs area of southeastern Augusta County.  By 1950 the Pines Chapel Presbyterian Church had outgrown its original frame building, a building attached to an old public school structure.  The church’s minister, the Rev. Murphy Williams, asked the church’s Presbytery for a $5,000 challenge grant to build a new church…  And got it.  But the money came with the stipulation that the congregation had to match that amount.

One of the biggest fundraising efforts centered on a friendship quilt project undertaken by the women of the church.  A 20-square quilt was created and, for a small donation, persons could put their names – or those of loved ones – on it.  Eventually filled with hundreds of names, the finished quilt was auctioned off to raise still more money.

The Rev. Williams moved to another church in 1951 and the Rev. James Womack took over in time to break ground for the new church in 1953.  The new brick building was dedicated the following year.  The individual who had purchased the quilt gave it to Rev. Womack and, in 1955, he took it when he moved on to a new church and it was almost forgotten.

However, earlier this year, the children of Rev. Womack discovered the quilt among family possessions and ultimately brought it home to the Pines Chapel church in last September and presented it to the church congregation.


Sorrells’ presentation tells the story of Pines Chapel from the late 19th century to the present, including the story of building the current church in the 1950s. She then gives a square-by-square description of the quilt, highlighting many of the names and local businesses featured on it.

The ACHS was founded in 1964 to study, collect, preserve, publish, educate about, and promote the history of Augusta County and its communities. More information is available online at www.augustacountyhs.org.