The Washington Times - May 16, 2009, 09:30AM

 

Words of Civil War Soldiers Found on Wall of Small Church
By Charlotte Ferrell Smith 
SEE RELATED:


5/8/2009
Charleston Daily Mail (WV)
http://www.dailymail.com/News/200905070756
As workers scraped layers of paint inside Morgan’s Chapel in Bunker Hill, the walls of the little Berkeley County church began revealing bits of history. Writings and drawings done by soldiers during the Civil War had been hidden for decades.
One notation dated 1864 said, “Excuse me for writing on the walls of the house of God. For I should not have written on these walls had it not been all marked up.” Other writings say things like: “Treason, Traitors and Copperheads.” “We ate dinner on the other side of the creek.” “I write my name here the first day of June, 1863.”
“We are ecstatic about this find,” said the Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia.
The bishop said when he arrived eight years ago, he was told about the state of the church.
The little brick church has two rooms. The sacristy had been vandalized by arson in the 1990s. Klusmeyer said it was known that Civil War writings were in that room. However, it apparently never occurred to anyone there could be writings on the walls inside the main portion of the church. Klusmeyer had the roof replaced after it w as damaged by high winds, and he searched for contractors willing to do historic preservation work.
In November 2008, Klusmeyer hired workers to clean the inside of the church, which had not been used for several years. As the workers began removing layers of paint, they were stunned by what they found and called the bishop to say, “I’ve discovered something you need to see.”
West Virginia became the 35th state of the union on June 20, 1863. Created in the midst of the Civil War, West Virginia provided troops to both the Union and Confederate armies in a war that pitted brother against brother.
Morgan’s Chapel provided housing for both Confederate and Union soldiers at various times during the Civil War. Among the notations is one dated as early as March 5, 1862.
Klusmeyer has sought the guidance of experts and historians and is dedicated to making sure the voices of the past are not lost to the future. He wants to carefully restore the historic graffiti so that it can be appreciated by generations to come.
Morgan’s Chapel was erected in 1740 by Colonel Morgan Morgan, whose descendants founded Morgantown. The current building housing Morgan’s Chapel, constructed in 1852, is the third built on the site. Morgan is buried in the cemetery next to the church.
The church has no indoor plumbing and is rarely used, Klusmeyer said. Initially, plans called for refurbishing so it could be used for weddings and various events. However, the=2 0discovery of the writings puts a whole new light on things. Precautions now must be taken to keep fingerprints off the walls. However, the building will be restored, preserved and open to those who would find its history important, Klusmeyer said.
“I have a feeling this will be a work in progress,” he said.
He said additional writings and drawings may be uncovered in the balcony, but a lack of railings makes it too treacherous to work in that area right now.  
The Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia includes 67 churches in all 55 counties. Many of the churches are old, but nothing of such historical significance has been discovered in them, he said. However, the recent discovery sparks a desire to “start digging deeper,” the bishop said.
He said the historic treasure discovered on the walls of Morgan’s Chapel is important to Berkeley County, the state of West Virginia and the Episcopal Church. ––––-
Full disclosure: My husband’s parents and grandparents were from the Bunker Hill area, and I’ve seen or driven by Morgan’s Chapel many times, a lovely little place in that part of the county. Plus, I come from Morgans too!
MMB