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[VA] "Colored Citizens" of Caroline County, VA

When the Civil War closed Caroline’s colored population was as large as that of the white race. Aside from a very few who had lived on rented lands, and who were designated as “free,” these people began their career as an independent race with few material possessions… During the first few years following the war nearly all of the Negroes in the South lived in rented houses, and many of them worked as “share-croppers” on the lands of their former masters. Farming, however, offered but little at this period to the emancipated people who were desirous of owning their homes, schools and churches, and thus it came about that many sought the “public works,” as every industry, save agriculture, was commonly called. At this period the railroad passing through Caroline bought large quantities of wood, all engines being wood-burners, and so the cutting of cord-wood and railroad ties gave much work to the colored people of the county and enabled them to acquire homes far more rapidly than they could have otherwise. (“The Colored Citizens of Caroline,” Wingfield’s History of Caroline County, Virginia, p. 167)

St. Stephen’s Baptist Church, at Central Point, was organized in 1872 by Rev. Spencer Todd and Rev. H.L. Young, with the assistance of Rev. Andrew Broaddus (white), of Salem Church, Sparta. Like most of the churches, this congregation has two buildings, the second and present one being the largest and most costly house of worship in Caroline, white or colored. The property is worth about twenty thousand dollars and the membership is nearly three hundred. The following ministers have served this church. Rev. A. Goode, nine years; Rev. E. Freeman, five years; Rev. A.G. Gundy, on year; Rev. E.A. Johnson, thirty-one years; Rev. L.L. Davis, present pastor, since 1917. There are few members of this congregation who have as much as one-half negro blood. The people of the church and community are, as a whole, very nearly white and, out of their community, could not be recognized or distinguished as colored people. It is said that the predominating blood in them is that of the Indian and white races. M.W. Byrd has served St. Stephen’s Church as clerk for over forty years. (“The Colored Citizens of Caroline,” Wingfield’s History of Caroline County, Virginia, p. 170)

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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