A Creek Runs Through It

The Accotink Creek meanders silently through the old town of Fairfax, cutting underneath Chain Bridge Road and wrapping around the Truro Rectory and town cemetery.

Its history is the history of our town.  One famous night in 1863, John Mosby’s Rangers made their getaway along its streambed with a captured General Stoughton in tow.

This Saturday morning, we added a new and significant chapter to the history of the Creek and our Town.

In 1870, Mount Calvary Baptist Church was established by freed slaves forming a new community a half-mile south of the Courthouse.  Today, the location is marked by the “Courthouse Market” at the corner of Chain Bridge and School Street.

There was no running water in that era.  For a Baptist congregation, this posed a unique problem.  However, it was solved by taking new members of the church down to the Creek to be baptized in its waters.  That practice continued well into the 20th century, even as the Town slowly modernized. 

On Saturday morning, the City leadership and Mount Calvary Baptist elders joined at the Creek to dedicate an historic marker to those pioneers who created the church and waded into the waters.

Our former State Delegate Jack Rust, whose  father’s family lived adjacent to the creek (and next door to my great-grandfather), organized the program and did a great job narrating the history of the site.  

Many elderly congregants spoke personally about the baptisms and the one-room “colored school house” that operated a quarter-mile away during the days of segregation.  

They lived an era of improvisation, courage and faith.  We do well to remember it.

 

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