Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More on the Script Token from Hanover, Virginia

Cardboard and paper CTs are not well cataloged, yet they are an important part of the story.
     The colonial era script token pictured on the Presbyterian History Society website has an interesting story all its own. One of the benefits of collecting church artifacts is that old churches are revered and are often the focus of local historians and preservation efforts. Although the old Presbyterian church that issued this script was destroyed by canon fire during the Civil War, its history is well-documented and easily found on the Internet.
     The land that later became Hanover County in Virginia was first settled in 1676; it became recognized as a county in 1720. The Presbyterian church located there was known as Polegreen Church -- named for George Polegreen who had been granted the land by the King of England in the previous century. The congregation formed in the wake of the religious fervor that had developed in Virginia during the 1730s. During this time, many Virginians were enthralled with the sermons of George Whitefield, a Methodist evangelist who was stirring up religious passions across the colony. In 1739, he gave a sermon in Williamsburg, then the capital of Virginia.
     Fifty or so miles inland, the settlers in Hanover began attending Bible study in the home of Samuel Morris. These folks were among the first dissenters in Virginia. Consequently, several churches were established in middle Virginia, referred to as "Morris Reading Houses." The Polegreen Church was built on land donated by Morris himself. In 1747, a young minister named Samuel Davies came to Polegreen where he preached for 12 years.
This script token is from Polegreen Church in Hanover, VA.
It dates between 1747 and 1759, as this was the period that
Reverend Samuel Davies was minister of the Church.
     The 23 year-old minister became a sensation. He was known for his moving sermons. Even Patrick Henry, the revolutionary colonist known for his oratory, once indicated that he learned to speak from Reverend Davies. In addition to his sermons, Davies was one of the first hymn writers in America. He was a champion of educating Virginia slaves and inviting them into the church.
     Unfortunately, the Polegreen Church was destroyed in the Civil War. During General Grant's press to invade Richmond, Union sharpshooters occupied the church. They had to be dislodged. A canon from the Richmond Howitzers fired into the church, and it burned to the ground. A historic marker was placed at the site years later to mark the spot of the first Presbyterian dissenters in central Virginia.
     The script token represents an integral part of this history. It is was there. This token was handed out by the church elders, or Rev. Davies himself, to parishioners during the heyday of Polegreen Church.

No comments:

Post a Comment