New Virginia Church Insurance Certificate

This certificate is dated October 13, 1906 – some two months after the original structure burned down.

New Virginia Church Original Drawings

We found these original drawings of the New Virginia Church. These are obviously much different than the church that was constructed, but they are very neat documents nonetheless.

The CA & HA markings are presumably for Hot Air (supply) and Cold Air (return).

New Virginia Church Warranty Deed

This is the original Warranty Deed dated April 29, 1905 from John & Mary Wilson which provided the site for the New Virginia Church.

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The Building of a Church

The settlers from Virginia viewed
This land their hearts desired.
Homesteading in the Seventies
On acres they acquired.

They had lookes long for what they found
In this fair neighborhood.
In that great distance from their homes
Hone had seen land so good.

They named it New Virginia,
Because of memory’s hold.
It still had all they wished for it
When they were gray and old.

With sod, they built their homes and school.
More immigrants arrived,
Bohemians, Germans, Swedes, and Danes.
They, and the country thrived.

At meetings held, the settlers urged
For Sunday-School and church.
The sod school house became the place
To make Divine research.

The years sped on; the “soddy” was
Replaced by wood and nail,
But still the place where those who wished
Learned of the Holy Grail.

The Lord showered blessings on the land,
The people were devout.
Their savings they were glad to use;
And thus it came about

When at a meeting of these folk
A good sized fund should start
That they might raise an edifice–
A building set apart

To worship God and hold a school,
Where all could study more
About His teachings and His love;
Or a lost faith restore.

The years were long and hard, but they
Made plans and funds soon grew.
And when they had enough to build
Construction fairly flew.

The day of dedication set,
The planning grew apace.
The preachers who were taking part
Knew all the populace.

The day drew near, all work was done,
The dawn would bring that day.
Alas! The night a story told
That swept all plans away

A fiery light flared to the sky!
Catastrophe had come!
The little group that gathered there
With shock and grief were numb.

The wagons creaked along the road
When came another dawn.
With firm set lips, those pioneers
Brought with them Faith and brawn.

They journeyed to the frame school house–
Prom prayer they rose, to start
Another building on the site,
A House, to stand apart.

The small school house was more than filled,
Where services were held.
The call for building funds met with
Success unparalleled.

In scarcely more than half a year
They realized their dream,
Their church was built — a Holy place,
To worship God Supreme.

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New Virginia Church Dedication

The dedication services of the New Virginia Methodist Episcopal church, seven miles north of Inavale, were held last Saturday and Sunday and were the occasion of great rejoicing in that community. For twenty years the people have worshipped in the school house and, summer and winter, have maintained a Sunday school. Two years ago they began a subscription to build a new church, and soon had the building under way. They were greatly delayed, however, on account of illness in the carpenter’s family. They finally succeeded in completing the building and were ready for dedication early in August of last year. Unfortunately, on the Saturday night before the dedication the church took fire and was totally destroyed. This was a great blow, as the building was only partially insured. It was with gloomy faces that the people came back to the old school house the next morning. Yet they were not wholly discouraged, and soon had subscribed enough to replace the building. Thus after two weary years of sacrifice and waiting they have as nice a little church as can be found anywhere.

The services began on Saturday afternoon when Rev. A. V. Wilson, assisted byt the pastor, laid the cornerstone. Rev. Wilson preached a short sermon from Phil. 3, 18, after which the corner stone, containing copies of a number of the county papers, the discipline, the names of the members, the names of the the trustees and names of the donors, the Lord’s Prayer and the church papers, was placed in the wall. This stone, a beautiful granite block, was presented by Mr. Ed McAlister of Red Cloud.

Rev. J. W. Embree of Superior preached the dedicatory sermon Sunday morning, taking for his text Eph. 5, 27. The church was dedicated free of debt. There was no begging for subscriptions.

There were services in the afternoon and evening, at which former pastors of the church presided. The church was filled to its utmost capacity and many were unable to gain admission. The following ministers were present and took part in the services: Rev. Embree, Rev. Fonch, Rev. Priestley and Rev. Wilson.

Red Cloud Chief
April 19, 1907
Nebraska Newspapers Project

Weddings Around the World

Under a wide prairie sky, Sherry and Eddie Harlow, high-school sweethearts, pass through a hail of rice and good wishes leaving New Virginia Church, near Red Cloud, which her pioneer grandparents helped build.

Under a wide prairie sky, Sherry and Eddie Harlow, high-school sweethearts, pass through a hail of rice and good wishes leaving New Virginia Church, near Red Cloud, which her pioneer grandparents helped build.

A World Full of Weddings

June, aside from rhyming gaily and conveniently with croon, spoon, love’s tune and honeymoon, has other useful and important hymeneal attributes: in much of the world spring planting is about done, marriageable boys and girls graduate from institutions of learning and the weather is getting just fine-“rare,” the poets called it. For these and a lot of other emotional and anthropological reasons June, bridewise, is very big. The world’s young folks, who get married to the tune (love’s) of many millions a year, like the month and in America about 400,00 of 1961’s estimated three million of them have taken, or will take, the plunge at this bright and happy time.

Last week Life sent photographers to sample 13 wedding on four continents. In Spain, Nebraska and York, England (p. 43) members of old local families were joined in matrimony in a solemn Christian ritual that has varied little over the centuries. But it is still a grave and joyous ceremony whether it takes place to the strains of Lohengrin, or the drums of a tribal dance or the tintinnabulation of a set of Chinese cymbals tapped by a troupe of hired merrymakers.

Life Magazine
June 16, 1961
Pages 36-37

The picture spanned two pages in the magazine layout, which is why there is a gap between the left and right sides.

New Virginia Methodist Episcopal Church

The Virginians and other early residents in the southeast area of Catherton precinct built a church seven and a half miles north of Inavale in the northwest corner of the SW 1/4 of section 26. The present church is the second structure that was built. It is one of the two remaining country churches left in Webster County. The other one is the Dane church, or St. Stephens, in Batin precinct.

The Bladen Enterprise reported on September 15, 1905 that the New Virginia church construction was being “pushed right along.” Svend Lindquist was the carpenter, a Danish farmer-carpenter, then living in Batin precinct. The church dimensions were 28×40 feet. The roof was being put on and the congregation hoped to have it ready for dedication in November. Its cost was $1,652 and was erected under the superintendency and guaranty of Ed Payne and Clarence Wilson. These two men had contributed the two largest sums to the building fund, with John Wilson, Mrs. Marker and E.J. Peterson also large contributors. At that time the New Virginia church was thought to have the largest and most expensive rural church edifice in the county. It had a membership of 30 and an attendance of 75, with a Sunday School of 50.

Unknown problems delayed the dedication for the Bladen Enterprise on August 10, 1906 reported that the dedication of the New Virginia church building which was to have taken place the past Sunday, (August 6) had been postponed until Sunday, August 19, 1906. A fire of unknown origin destroyed the new church Saturday night before it was to be dedicated the following day – Sunday. *

John Marker then lived across the road from the building site and had gone by the church about dusk and had not noticed anything unusual. However, one mule of his team became frightened and difficult to handle. He got the team quieted down and went on home. When he came from the barn, the church as ablaze. While help was called there was no means to put out the blaze, so the structure was entirely destroyed.

On Sunday morning, the congregation gathered at the school house (District 65) and after a short sermon by the District Superintendent, who had come for the anticipated dedication, the congregation discussed their loss. They decided to use the $1,000 insurance monies and to request the balance needed by subscription.

Enough money was obtained by subscription at great sacrifice to the members, so that rebuilding could begin immediately. A new structure was built by Fred Gaverka, and Inavale carpenter, at a cost of $1,650. Masonry work on the chimney was the work of Allen A. “Al” Cooper. The new church was dedicated April 14, 1907. While the church’s name came about because many of the original congregation came from the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia, many German and Swedish families were charter members. Family names connected with the New Virginia Methodist Episcopal church include: The Wilson Brothers, Clarence, Albert and John; Alford Marker and sons, John and Ford; J.B. Wisecarver; Richard T. Payne and sons, Frances E. “Ed” and Bruce; A.A. Cooper; William Matheny; Henry Williams; Daniel Lovejoy; Eric John Peterson; Henry and Carl Lambrecht; Swan Johnson; with the Jay Lovejoy and Rolly Brooks families becoming members sometime later.

Pastors of the New Virginia Methodist Episcopal church were recalled by Ray Wilson, a longtime church superintendent, who generously served the New Virginia church with his time, energy and money.

Before 1905 New Virginia was part of the Bladen charge, and Rev. T.C. Priestly was the first minister after the second church was built. He was followed by Folden John Bean, E.A. Van Dyke, McVey Hancock, Blackwell Wilson, and Priestly Bromwell.

R.B.E. Hill served from September 24, 1905 to July 18, 1909. The following pastors served the New Virginia Church in later years: H.M. Bassett, Sept. 1910-1911; M.C. Smith 1911-1914; Scott Blunt, 1914-1915; A.E. Murless, 1916-1917; J.W. Borden 1918-1919; Charles E. Schofield 1920-1922; David Simpson 1922-1923; M.E. Henry 1923-1925; Glen W. Marshall, 1925-1928; O.L. Bebb 1928-1929; H.B. Lansing, 1930; C.O. Freeman, 1931-1932; C.C Warriner, September 1933; P.J. Kirk, 1934-1935; O.R. Kleven, 1936 as an evangelist, with C.C. Eston as pastor while Rev. Kleven was holding revivals; Earl L. Russell, September 1937-February 11, 1938; W.A. Mansur, February 11, 1938-September 1939; Ralph Good, 1940-1942; Leslie Moore, 1951. In 1942 ministers were not plentiful, and Inavale became part of the Red Cloud charge. New Virginia then did not have a pastor, but community church services and Sunday school continued with Ray, Norva and Mayme Wilson, Rollie and Veda Brooks, Grace and Margaret Lambrecht and others in the community doing what they could to keep the church active. In 1950 the New Virginia charge was reopened for a short time. The families in the community gathered for a carry-in noon meal, that was followed by a religious service conducted by lay people in the community or by a minister from Red Cloud that was willing to accommodate a rural congregation on occasion.

Lloyd Crabill was the first Sunday School Superintendent of the New Virginia church, and it was he who suggested the name for the new church. The congregation participated in annual Sunday School conventions which included the congregations at Plainview, District 66, Pleasant Prairie and New Virginia – District 65. The New Virginia Ladies Aid was organized in 1907 and is still an active organization.

* Many thought the fire was connected with Rev. R.B.E Hill’s attempt to remove boot-leg liquor from Inavale.

Webster County: Visions of the Past
By Mabel Cooper Skjelver
Published 1980
Pages 80-82

New Virginia Methodist Episcopal church second structure built 1906-07

New Virginia Methodist Episcopal church second structure built 1906-07

New Virginia Methodist Episcopal Church

New Virginia Methodist Episcopal Church 1955

1907-04-13_New_Virginia_Methodist_Episcopal_Church_Program_Page_1 1907-04-13_New_Virginia_Methodist_Episcopal_Church_Program_Page_2

New Virginia Church

In simplicity the New Virginia church stands upon wide Nebraska prairie land. Nothing special in its outward appearance would prompt a stranger passing by to stop and make a careful study of its structure. Built of wood, it is painted white with three old-fashioned glass windows on each side. From the belfry atop its gray slanted roof a battered lightning rod shows evidence of fighting survival against stormy winds. Its location is about six and on-half miles north of Inavale.

New Virginia Church is named for the people who came to Nebraska from the state of Virginia and filed timber claims in this section of Webster Co. These claims entitled them to an additional 160 acres if they agreed to plant and care for groves of trees upon their land. Courageous, hard working people, they soon realized the value of a church in their community. Included among these Virginia settlers were families of Cooper, Payne, Lark, Wilson, and George Cather, uncle of Willa Cather. They homesteaded here between 1873-1878. The first church was built sometime prior to 1907. This was a community project and each family helped in whatever way they could. Upon completion of the building, some new furnishings, including an organ, were made. These prized possessions were moved into the new church on a Saturday evening as special dedication services were to be held next morning. This honored day had been happily anticipated for a long time. The completion of the building and its readiness for public worship was the realization of a cherished dream.

Unexpected disaster struck during that Saturday night. Family members living in a nearby sod house were wakened by the sound of skyward shooting flames. Too late in rounding up enough help to put out the fire, the people watched helplessly as flames ended their community project. The cause of the fire was never determined. There were various opinions as to its origin, but no positive proof ever made. In the courageous spirit of the early settlers, the church was rebuilt. Upon its completion it was dedicated in 1907. For many years, Sunday School and church services were held each week. A minister from Bladen was in charge.

Now, 68 years later, the tiny church survives. About twenty members attend church services which are held once each month. They have a cooperative dinner at noon time and hold services during the afternoon. A visiting church superintendent made the remark that New Virginia was the only congregation in his district that observed, “Eat before preach.” The Rev. John Baker of Blue Hill is the present minister. It is an ordinary appearing building, yet its distinctions are unique. In the June 16, 1961 edition of Life Magazine its picture appeared in a feature article, “Weddings Around the World”. An Inavale girl, Sherita Lambrecht, was married here and her rural wedding made part of the story. Willa Cather refers to this church in her book “O’ Pioneers.” It is also included in Red Cloud’s Cather Land Tour. Perhaps its greatest distinction is the fact that the people of this community have cared enough to keep the church door open to serve the spiritual needs of a community.

(From Tribune, June 2, 1975): By Marjorie Blankenbaker

Webster Atlas by Doover
Compiled 1983