Part 1 of Ware Connection to Grace Episcopal Church
© Judy C. Ware 2011
Photo taken by James and Judy Ware 2006
Grace Episcopal Church in Berryville, Virginia, has a long and vivid history. Standing beautifully at the very top of the main street in town, its’ very presence is a testimony to all that time and people endure. The church has seen its’ share of weddings and joyous celebrations where the people of the town have gathered to rejoice in landmark events in their families. It has stood through generations of congregations who have come under its’ roof to worship prayerfully during Advent, Easter, Christmas, and all holy days. It has also seen its’ share of sadness and deaths where some of the very people who were carried in, snuggled in the arms of their parents for baptism, were the same folks later carried out by family to be buried in the adjoining church graveyard. Oh, if walls could talk!
I am reminded of an excerpt from an old family letter which was written during
the Civil War. The writer, Edmonia
Ware, lived on a plantation called Springfield with her husband, Josiah William
Ware. They, like so many other
southerners, were in the midst of watching the world, as they knew it, change
forever. Her words still seem to echo across the ages as she sought solace
within the walls of her church.
“I am today alone with the children and as I sat in the vestibule this morning and listened to the church bell, the tears would flow in spite of all determination to bear up under my trials.” (Ref. 19, 278)
Yes, Grace Episcopal Church has witnessed all the emotions any congregation can muster, and the events that have unraveled under her beautiful white steeple would fill volumes of history books.
One singular event has been immortalized forever in art by the great historical painter, Mort Kunstler. In his own words he described what inspired this painting:
“While visiting Winchester, Virginia,
Jerry Van Voorhis of Shenandoah University encouraged me to consider nearby
Berryville – which is rich in Civil War history - as a setting for one of my
paintings.” He went on to add,
“The Reverend Dwight Brown showed me the Grace Episcopal Church, which is in
excellent condition and today appears much as it did during the Civil War. I also learned that during the
Gettysburg Campaign, when elements of the Army of Northern Virginia passed
through Berryville, Generals Lee and Longstreet paused at Grace Episcopal Church
to worship. The date was Sunday
morning, June 21, 1863. The Reverend
Henderson Suter presided over the services, and General William N. Pendleton,
Lee’s chief of artillery, delivered the sermon.
When he emerged from the service, Lee was greeted by the citizens of
Berryville, who gathered in the street to catch a glimpse of the great Southern
general. My visit to Berryville
occurred during the same time of year – in June - and during the same time of
the day. Weather conditions were
almost identical to that morning 148 years earlier. The Clarke County Courthouse, which
was located near the church, also dates from the Civil War and it too remains
almost unchanged. When I looked at
those historical structures under almost identical conditions and considered the
appeal of the historical even, I knew I had my painting! The saddle seen on Traveler in the
painting is based on the one in the collection of the Museum of the Confederacy
in Richmond. The sun shines brightly
The painting by Mort Kunstler which shows Grace Episcopal Church in all its’ beauty is appropriately entitled “God Be With You” and is a remarkable piece of work. The church is located at the top of the street and the Clarke County Courthouse is the building on the right.
the painting “God Be With You” done by Mort Kunstler
When comparing the artistic genius of Mr. Kunstler’s painting with an actual photograph of Grace Episcopal Church taken in 1910, one can see how little change appears to have taken place in the almost 40 years from the time of the photo to 1863 when Lee and Longstreet came to town.
The truly amazing thing is to look at the church over the ensuing years and see how it always maintained its’ original beauty and design.
Photos maintained at the Clarke County Historical Association
Notice how in 1914 the shrubs had grown tremendously and the streets were still unpaved, but there was a telephone pole in the left rear behind the trees.
The biggest changes seem to have occurred between the years 1915 and 1926. The minaret (a distinctive architectural design resembling a cone) on the small right hand tower was missing, street lamps were strung over the intersection, and the building was whitewashed by 1915. The next six years saw even greater improvements. The small addition (visible in the 1915 photo) to the left, behind the tower with door, “was the entrance to the original slave balcony and both entrance and balcony were removed in 1926 when the north wall behind the altar was extended back 20 feet.” [Information provided by Rev. Dwight Brown, July 2007] The cast iron fence that had become covered in ivy was replaced with a low brick wall, a beautiful new door was added, and stained glass windows now graced the front of the church.
Photos courtesy of the Clarke County Historical Association
The years remained kind to the beautiful church.
All photos on this page taken & owned by James & Judy Ware
Yes, Grace Episcopal Church has withstood changes in the world and in its’ own architecture, but it has miraculously remained much like it was when first built in 1857. Roads have been paved, expansions made, stained glass windows installed, and modern improvements added to help the original church remain a fully functioning and vital part of the town in which it stands. With great forethought, however, these improvements have been incorporated in such a way as to never detract from the majesty of the original building. To walk through its’ front doors today is like quietly stepping back in history. The mission of the church is clearly to honor God and provide an active place to worship Him. In addition to that, it serves another great purpose, though. Within its’ walls, we find ourselves reflecting on those souls who have gone before us and what they must have endured. We learn the fact that in order to really “go forward” often means we need to stop and respect and appreciate our past.
Photo by James and Judy Ware April 1998
Undoubtedly, Grace Episcopal Church holds deep significance for many generations of worshippers. Among the distinguished congregants of years past were men like Lawrence and Lorenzo Lewis (relatives of the George Washington family) and Benjamin Berry, the very man for whom the town of Berryville was named. For the Ware family of Clarke County, much of their lives clearly revolved around the church. They attended services there on a regular basis. As Cornelia Ware Anker, grandchild of Josiah William Ware, wrote; “On Sunday, everyone from the youngest to the oldest went to church in Berryville. Such dressing and polishing up as went on, then the surrey with the fringe on top and maybe a buggy or two or several on horseback.” (Ref. 3) The family worshipped there, served there, and ultimately many of them were buried there in the adjoining cemetery. Their role in the life of the church must have been quite remarkable because many of the stained glass windows and artifacts in the sanctuary were later dedicated to their memories.
Courtesy of the Clarke County Historical Association
In order to explain some of the ‘dedications’ in the church, it might be helpful to view a very basic family tree diagram to make it easier to understand the relationships of the people involved.
Josiah William Ware (owner of Springfield Plantation) married Frances Toy Glassell and they had the following six children:
Ware V – b. Feb. 16, 1831 d.
Oct. 25, 1831
James Alexander Ware – b. Nov. 26, 1832 d. Aug. 19, 1896
John Glassell Ware – b. May 2, 1835 d. Sept. 29, 1858
Elizabeth Alexander Ware – b. Sept. 30,
1837 d. March 29, 1925
5.Lucy Balmain Ware - b. Jan. 10, 1839 d. Aug. 26, 1866
6.Charles Alexander Ware – b. April 26, 1841 d. Dec. 23, 1915
Frances Ware died on May 10, 1842. Three years after her death, Josiah remarried; his new wife was Edmonia Jaquelin Smith, his cousin. It was very common for cousins to marry in those times. [Josiah was the son of Elizabeth Alexander Ware, who was the daughter of Sarah Snickers Alexander, who was in turn the daughter of Edward Snickers and Elizabeth Taliaferro. Edmonia was the daughter of Elizabeth Macky Smith, who was the daughter of Catharine Snickers Macky, who was also in turn the daughter of Edward Snickers and Elizabeth Taliaferro.]
Josiah and Edmonia had six children as well.
The Ware Family had long been associated with the Episcopal Church in Virginia. Church records as far back as 1819 show that James Ware III, father of Josiah W. Ware, was active in the congregation at Wickliffe Episcopal Church. (Ref. 2139) “Consecrated in 1831, Grace Church in Berryville was at first a mission of Wickliffe, which then separated from Wickliffe Church in 1853. The present Grace Church building was completed in 1857.” (Ref. The Diocese of Virginia )
When Josiah and Frances had their own children, each of the young Wares was raised in the Episcopal faith from birth. Some attended the Episcopal High School in Alexandria and two of Josiah’s sons from his second marriage attended the Virginia Seminary and became Episcopal priests. The ministerial calling continued on into the next generation as well, producing even more Episcopal clergy in the 1900’s.
Ware section of the cemetery at Grace Episcopal Church is located on the
northeast side of the building – toward the very back. There are many family markers there,
as well as a few in other sections of the cemetery. The tall, slender (white) monument has several names
has several namesengraved on each side – Frances Toy Glassell Ware in the front and all her children on each side. The tiny, rounded stone immediately to the right of this is dedicated to the only son of Elizabeth Alexander Ware and her husband, Edward Britton. The tall, gray tombstone to the left of Frances is dedicated to Josiah William Ware. If you look closely in other pictures, you can see the large letters ‘WARE’ engraved on the base. The large, more rounded rock gravestone to the left of Josiah’s is the marker for his second wife, Edmonia Jaquelin Smith Ware, and the very small grave immediately to her left is that for the two sons they had who died in infancy. The flat above ground crypt is dedicated to Josiah’s stepsister, Lucy Catherine Ware McGuire. She was the youngest child of James Ware III and his second wife, Harriet Taylor Ware. It is interesting to see how the graves have been maintained over the years.
Photo by James and Judy Ware 2006
All photographs below taken by James and Judy Ware
As mentioned before, the large flat above ground crypt is dedicated to Josiah’s stepsister, Lucy Catherine Ware McGuire. It is one of the oldest graves in this particular section of the cemetery.
Her inscription reads:
The Tomb of
LUCY CATHARINE McGUIRE
Wife of Dr. William D. McGuire
And daughter of the late James Ware, she died
The 7th of March 1839 in the 24th year of her life
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