Leota Pendleton's scrapbook contains another photograph of one of the ministers who served Zion during the last century. William Luther King was born in Patrick County, Virginia in 1870. He was the husband of New Jersey native, Mary Ann Waddington. Reverend King was pastor at Zion 1929-1932. Like the Pulliams, the Kings maintained ties with Spotsylvania after they had moved on. Both of them are buried in the Confederate Cemetery.
On October 8, 1939, clerk of court and lifelong member Arthur Hancock Crismond donated to Zion a Bible that he inscribed:
Just thirteen months later, on November 20, 1940, Arthur Crismond died of a heart attack. His death certificate was made out by his brother-in-law, Dr. William A. Harris, who was county coroner at the time. Crismond's funeral was officiated by Reverend Charles Lewis Stillwell, Zion's pastor 1940-1943. His obituary appeared in the November 23, 1940 edition of The Free Lance Star.
|Arthur Hancock Crismond|
For the first 81 years of its existence, Zion was illuminated by four oil-lamp fixtures suspended by hooks from the ceiling. In 1940, the church was wired for electricity. The oil lamps were replaced by four incandescent fixtures suspended from the ceiling near the hooks, which were left in place. These new fixtures included the same frosted glass bowls that are still in use in the vestibule.
At some time during the ministry of Reverend Wesley Astin (1978-1982), these fixtures were replaced with the four chandeliers now in use. In August 2010, Reverend Barbara Jacobs had replaced the chandelier in her dining room, and she donated her old one to the church, which now hangs over the pulpit. Just two weeks later, Zion acquired the large chandelier that now hangs in the middle of the sanctuary. Zion member Richard Reichert, an electrician, received a call for service from the Community Funeral Home in Alexandria, whose owner thought that his chandelier had stopped working. When Richard and his grandson arrived at the funeral home, they discovered that the fixture was still working, but the light bulbs had been partially unscrewed. Since the owner of the funeral home had already bought a new fixture, they replaced the old one. The owner was asked if he would consider donating the old chandelier to Zion, and he agreed to do so.
Just as the Civil War had left its mark on Zion, the Second World War also had a profound impact on the church. A number of the male members of the congregation enlisted in the military service. Typical among them was Cary Crismond, who served as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. Prior to his enlistment, Cary had been the assistant clerk of court, serving in that role from 1932 until his father's death in 1940; then Cary was appointed to fill out his father's unexpired term. He resumed his duties upon his return home.
Attendance during the war and in the years that followed declined sharply. At times, as few as 10-15 people showed up for Sunday service. In some years, the church was unable to meet the meager budget requested by the Richmond District. There was some anxiety as to whether Zion could remain open. During these lean years, Cary Crismond brought firewood on cold Sunday mornings and lit the stoves.
During the 1940's another permanent mark was made on the church, this time by member Flaura Jett. One morning she showed up alone at the church, equipped with a crowbar and hammer, and removed the wooden partition that ran down the middle of the center pews. This partition, and the twin entries to the church, was a reminder of an era when male and female members of the congregation sat separately. What, exactly, motivated Flaura to take this dramatic step is not known. But she was known as a person of strong resolve. Years later, Flaura (who was a founding member of the Spotsylvania Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary) would routinely deliver lunch to the firefighters stationed near the courthouse. On one day when her car would not start, she would not be deterred from making her expected delivery. She loaded up the lunches in the cab of her son's semi and fed the firefighters.
|Homecoming, 1956 (Leota Pendleton)|
The latter half of the 1950's witnessed an improvement in Zion's fortunes. In the autumn of 1956, Zion hosted its first homecoming service in at least fifteen years. Reverend George Burroughs preached the sermon that day, and held a revival during the following week.
After the departure of Reverend Burroughs, Reverend Donald Durost served at Zion until June 1957. At that time, Reverend Cephas Haynes became pastor of the newly-formed Eastland-Zion charge. On the first Sunday he held services at Zion, only 13 people were present. However, Reverend Haynes brought a new energy to the church, and during his five year tenure there, much improvement took place. Attendance at the morning service grew to 40 people, and the Sunday school membership increased to 26. Reverend Haynes made it a priority to increase Zion's membership.
From Leota Pendleton's history of Zion:
"A Vacation Bible School was held the summer of 1957 and was a great success. In August 1957 the interior of the sanctuary was redecorated in readiness for the second Homecoming Day to be held in a number of years. Guest speaker was a former pastor, Reverend Donald Durost. A week of revival followed that was conducted by Reverend Haynes. At this time the Eastland-Zion charge bought a parsonage located adjacent to Eastland Church. Zion's portion of this indebtedness was $3,000 with responsibility for one half of the upkeep.
"Formerly, the ladies of Zion participated in a mission program called the Women's Missionary Society. This name, too, was changed. The new Women's Society of Christian Service (WSCS) was organized on October 18, 1957, with ten ladies present. Much enthusiasm was shown as plans were made to do mission work and create projects by which the church and building funds would benefit.
"Shortly thereafter, the WSCS started serving dinners, having hymn sings, bake sales, etc. with the proceeds going to church expenses. The fear that the doors of Zion would close was pushed back gradually, as the will of God was pushed forward.
"The people of Zion saw a growth in attendance along with a rise in finances each quarter 1957-58. The first quarterly conference for Eastland-Zion was held on November 24, 1957 at 2:30 pm with Reverend Doctor Carl Sanders, Richmond District Superintendent presiding. There was a good representation from both churches and brought much encouragement by Dr. Sanders."
In 1957, the floor of the balcony was painted to cover up what were presumed to be blood stains still remaining from May 1864, when the church was used as a hospital by the Confederate army. The decision was made to use the balcony as a Sunday school class, and the painting was done as part of the effort to prepare the balcony for that purpose. At least one stain is still visible on the knee wall at the front of the balcony. In 2018, church historian Dennis Gallahan conducted a luminol test on that stain in order to determine the presence of blood. The results of the test showed that it was indeed blood.
|Spotsylvania Post Office and car of Alice Graves Coleman (Charles Trigger)|
By 1959, attendance at the Sunday school class had grown to the point that the balcony could no longer accommodate it. A solution was proposed by Spotsylvania postmistress Alice Graves Coleman (patrons of the post office would know that it was open for business when the saw Alice's car parked in front). Although she was not a member of the church, Alice regularly attended services at Zion. Since she was about to retire from the post office after 25 years of service, she offered the small building, which she owned, to be used as additional space for the Sunday school. The building was moved from its location across Brock Road from modern Pendleton's Hardware to the church. There it was placed on a sound foundation and was connected to the church by a small passageway, which also served as another entry to the church. Today the old post office serves as the office of the pastor.
From Leota Pendleton's history of Zion:
"In August of 1959 Zion celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the completion of its church by having a Homecoming Day with Dr. Carl Sanders, Richmond District Superintendent as guest speaker. In accordance with the Centennial, new hymnals were presented to the church in memory of the Reverend William Luther King and his wife, Mary Ann Waddington King by their children Esther V. King, Reverend Luther W. King and Norman G. King. These beautiful hymnals added much to the worship services and were most gratefully accepted."
|Reverend Cephas Haynes and the discovered sword (Leota Pendleton)|
In 1960, the church decided to replace the original floor in the sanctuary. The National Bank of Fredericksburg provided a loan of $2,000, and work commenced. While the old wide-plank floor was being removed, workmen discovered a cavalry sword in the space beneath the church. Despite the fact that the sword had lay there for many years, it was in surprisingly good condition. The sword was presented to Reverend Cephas Haynes, the popular pastor at that time. Years later, after the death of Reverend Haynes, his widow returned the sword to Zion as a gift. The church had the sword handsomely mounted for display, and it remains in the possession as of this writing.
|The display for the sword found in 1960 was made by Zion member Bob Scott|
The enigma of why the sword had been placed under the church has been a puzzle since its discovery in 1960. Until the floor was replaced that year, the only access to the space under the church had been, and remains to be, six small voids left in the brick foundation, presumably for the purposes of ventilation.
A theory has been proposed by church historian Dennis Gallahan, and it begins with a headstone in the church cemetery marking the grave of Charles R. Chewning, who fought with Company E of the 9th Virginia Cavalry during the Civil War.
Chewning kept a journal of his experience during the war. This diary is part of the collection of the Spotsylvania County Museum, and a transcription of its entries can be found on the museum's website. Chewning's entry for August 28, 1862 forms the basis of Mr. Gallahan's theory regarding the presence of the sword under the church.
Mr. Gallahan believes it may be possible that the sword captured by Chewning on the day he was wounded is the same sword found beneath the church. Perhaps a comrade of Mr. Chewning put it under the church on the day of his funeral in 1912 as a fitting remembrance of his sacrifice during the war.