Lynnside Manor is located in Monroe County, West Virginia and is the main building of the Lynnside Historic District. Lynnside is a Greek Revival structure built in Jeffersonian style. It was built in 1845 and was the ancestral home of the Lewis family of Virginia. The Lewis family founded the Sweet Springs Resort and St. John’s Catholic Church. St. John’s was the first Catholic Church in the area.
During the Civil War, General David Hunter and his Union soldiers raided the mansion and the General ordered the mansion to be burned. It is believed that General Hunter’s harsh treatment toward the Lewis family was because Mrs. Lewis was the daughter of Confederate General John Floyd. According to local folklore, Mrs. Lewis was a brave and resourceful woman who repeatedly put out the fires set by the drunken Union soldiers until they left. The soldiers left very little food or fuel for the family and the livestock had been destroyed or driven off. Despite the devastation and obstacles to overcome, the family made the best of the situation. The manor remained home to the Lewis family and later the Floyd family.
In 1933, there was a fire that gutted the mansion. Partial restoration was initiated by the family in the 1950’s but they were forced to abandon the project when they ran out of money for the project. The red brick Greek Revival home has sat vacant ever since.
Lynnside is about a mile away from the historic “Old Sweet Springs Resort” and St. John’s Church.
At the top of the hill toward the rear of the house is the Lewis Family Cemetery and the Catholic Cemetery.
Virginia Governor John Floyd and his wife Letitia Preston Floyd are buried on the hill beyond the house. He died here in 1837 while visiting his daughter Letitia Preston Lewis. His wife Letitia Preston died in 1853 at her home in Burke’s Garden, and her body was brought here to lie beside her husband’s.
The governor was supportive of the Catholic Church. Letitia converted to Catholicism very late in life. Many relatives were active church members. There is still an association between the Catholic Church and Lynnside even today.
By: Cindie Harper
The Old Stone Presbyterian Church was built in 1796. It is the oldest church still in continuous use west of the Allegheny Mountains. It was erected under the direction of Col. John Stuart who also composed and carved the inscription stone above the main doorway. The church has rough limestone walls, stands two stories tall, and has two tiers of rectangular windows with shutters. The original square meetinghouse was expanded in 1830 which gave it the current rectangular shape. In 1834, an octagonal belfry with an ogee-domed roof was centered on the new hipped roof. The bell was cast in 1855 by Meneely Foundry of Troy, New York.
In 1909–1910, a brick Sunday school building with a Doric portico was built north of the church and hosted the denomination’s General Assembly in 1910. A few years after that, The Presbyterian Synod of West Virginia was formed there.
The church cemetery is the oldest in Lewisburg. There are many old stone markers that are said to have been carved east of the Alleghenies and brought in by oxcart. Henry Erskine’s marble tombstone stands six and one-half feet tall and is decorated with a carved Masonic insignia that was commissioned in 1848 by Erskine’s son-in-law.
It is thought to be West Virginia’s only remaining example of a design by Alexander Jackson Davis. Davis’s daybook contains sketches of the monument, along with records of its cost. It was fabricated and carved at the Tuckahoe Marble Quarry in Westchester County, New York.
By: Cindie Harper
The Old Stone Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Lewisburg, West Virginia has its very own “Angel of Death.” This statue marks the final resting place of an 11 year old girl named Maud Mentague (Montague) Mathews.
It should be noted that West Virginia Vital Records has Maud listed as Maud “Mentague” Mathews but her tombstone actually reads “Maud Montague Mathews.” Different local folklore versions say that Maud passed away from fluid on her lungs, influenza, or pneumonia. Being the curious researcher that I am, I checked her death record and confirmed that Maud passed away from pneumonia.
Maud was born on October 2, 1876 to Alexander R.F. and Laura G. Mathews and died on May 30, 1888. Legend tells that Maud’s grief-stricken parents had the carved angel statue made to mark her final resting place. Maud’s friends and family held a small ceremony to commemorate the placing of the angel statue at the site of her grave. During this ceremony, folklore states that two of Maud’s best friends, a set of cousins who were said to be approximately 14 years old, each placed a kiss on a cheek of the angel in memory of their lost friend. Shortly after the ceremony, one of the girls fell ill herself. The legend states that she contracted the influenza virus and died of fluid on the lungs, similar to the way Maud had died. A short time later, the second girl broke her ribs in a carriage accident. Her lungs were punctured, causing them to fill with blood which resulted in her death. The three young girls dying from fluid on their lungs, less than a year apart, caused quite a buzz in this small town. Shortly after that, the locals began referring to the angel statue as the “Angel of Death.” Legend states that anyone brave enough or foolish enough to kiss the statue will die within a year.
Although I was unable to find any details, there are rumors that the angel is able to foretell the deaths of some of the people who come to visit the ominous “Angel of Death.” So far, I have not been able to verify the deaths of the other two girls mentioned in this legend. I was able to find a few death records that leave room for the possibility of some truth to it though.
If you plan on visiting the “Angel of Death,” it is located in Section C-2 of the Old Stone Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Lewisburg, West Virginia. When I visited this cemetery earlier this month, I was immediately drawn to this statue and even remarked on how creepy and ominous it appeared to be. Perhaps the fact that the statue had a children’s play area and a picnic table nearby, made the “Angel of Death” a bit more creeptastic to me. Since I am not one to accept others’ beliefs as my own, my curious nature got the best of me and I gave that Angel of Death a kiss on each cheek!! All in the name of research of course.
By: Cindie Harper
The church on the Southeast corner of Church and High Streets in Sheperdstown, West Virginia. The “Old English Church” began as a log cabin in 1745. In 1769, the Mecklenburg Chapel replaced the original building.
This basic structure still remains. It is among the earliest surviving church buildings west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town’s founder, Thomas Shepherd, willed the lot to the church parish in 1776. After the Revolution, the building was neglected. In 1815, the church was rebuilt. The first use of the name Trinity Church appears in the town records in 1836. There was a clock given to the church by Rezin D. Shepherd. It was located in the tower from 1841 to 1858.
Here is an old photo I found online:
After the Civil War, the church became the first Freedman’s School and the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Today the property is privately owned but I am told that the original steeple blew off in a storm in the 1890s. This property is an interesting little location and a must see for tourist who love historical places.