Recently, parish records have come to light that reveal important aspects of our past – a Parish Register for the years 1859 through 1871 showing baptisms, marriages and burials, thereby covering the period before, during, and after the Civil War. Owing to the absence of vestry minutes for the Civil War years, and an incomplete reference file, your historian was under the impression that no records existed within Saint James’ Church during that time. The recent find provides insight into those tumultuous years, as well as the inclusion and accommodation of African-Americans before and after Emancipation.
Civil War Records
Readers will recall that the Rev. Otto S. Barten, D.D. was rector throughout the Civil War. From outside sources we know that during those long, dark years, Dr. Barten carried out his ministry with distinction, although under the most trying circumstances. Early in the war, other churches in Warrenton were converted into hospitals; Saint James’ was the only church that continued to function as a church. The recently discovered archives reveal that Dr. Barten kept vital records of baptisms, marriages, and burials, apparently entering them all at once – at war’s end and at the close of his ministry. Particularly moving are burials recorded of men who died in battle and from wounds.
Recorded in the Register are burials of 102 Confederate soldiers and 2 nurses. The first soldier to fall in battle was the highly regarded Captain John Quincy Marr, age 36, killed at Fairfax Station on May 31, 1861, who, after accorded full honors, was laid to rest in Warrenton Cemetery on June 2, at a burial service conducted by Dr. Barten. That year – 1861 – saw the most casualties; Dr. Barten buried 82 fallen Confederates who came from all over the south. All the while, Dr. Barten was tending to his flock in the midst of tragedy and deprivation.
Moreover, beginning in 1859 – before the Civil War, entries for “colored” persons, who were baptized, married, and buried by Dr. Barten are recorded in the same Parish Register. In many cases, they are identified as servants of parishioners and members of servant families. The first African-American church in Warrenton, established after the war in 1867, was First Baptist Church on Lee Street, which then moved in 1890 to the present site on Alexandria Pike, just below the courthouse.
The Rev. James R. Hubard, D.D., succeeded Dr. Barten in 1866; he kept excellent records which were incorporated into the same Parish Register. Throughout his rectorship, completed in 1871, Dr. Hubard continued to minister to members of the African-American community associated with Saint James’ Church. Needless to say, the newly discovered Parish Register is a rich source of information on the crucial role of Saint James’ Church at a time of great upheaval, followed by the difficult Reconstruction years.