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Her Tree Story, My Genealogy Blog
Her Tree Story,
My Genealogy Blog

MAKEMIE Explorations by Al McKemy and Family

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Monday, July 8, 2002 – Al McKemy

MaKemie Presbyterian Church, Accomac, VA 07-08-2002.  The original MaKemie statue is behind this church. At 7:30 A.M. Mary, Elroy and I left First Landing State Park near Virginia Beach VA and proceeded to the nearby Chesapeake Bay Tunnel/Bridge and up the Virginia Eastern Shore.

We traveled across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel and up Highway 13 to Accomac VA and the Makemie Presbyterian Church at Cross and Back St. The original Francis Makemie Monument is behind the church. Statue of Francis MaKemie behind Makemie Presbyterian Church in Accomac, VA.  Original Statue-restored and moved from Makemie Park.It was originally at the Makemie Park west of Temperanceville VA some miles north of Accomac. It had been damaged there by vandals, while it was in the park. School picnics, etc were held there and kids climbed over the monument—shot at the monument and damaged it extensively. It was restored to near the original condition before moving it to the Makemie Presbyterian Church in Accomac.

---Inside the church were box pews with doors. Also an organ. The pulpit was an original that had been located, restored and returned to the church. Plaque on pulpit reads: “To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Sarah C. Polson. Born 1842. Died 1926. who preserved and returned to Makemie Church when restored in 1926 this original pulpit handed down to this church when reorganized in 1837 from the brick church New York.” We were told that during the Civil War, horses were kept in the church, but it showed no signs of that use today.

----During the Civil War, church services were held at St. James Episcopal Church just a block to the west on Drummond Street. It is a beautiful church today, well cared for with a few tombstones in the churchyard. This is also in the town of Accomac

We drove north a few miles to Temperanceville VA and west 6 miles on #695 to #699 north (Monument Drive) a distance to Makemie Park. MaKemie Park, 6 mi west of Temperanceville, VA, 07-08-2002.In 1995 some 20 people gathered at the park for the purpose of restoring the park to its former dignity. It had a new fence around it and was very well kept. The restoration is an ongoing project and donations are still sought to complete the project

----The park contains a Monument of Francis Makemie, made of bronze and cast from the original. It is on the same base as the original monument. When I entered the park I noticed Francis had a ponytail (or was it a wig?). It faces to the north toward the Rehoboth MD church, MaKemie Park on Holden's Creek, 08 July 2002, Mary McKemy Aslakson & Elroy.  At the north edge of MaKemie Parkwhich was the first church Francis established in the New World. Makemie Park is on property once owned by Makemie’s father-in-law and is on the bank of Holden Creek. Holden was a son-in-law of Francis Makemie.

Inscription on the Makemie Monument
Erected in Gratitude to God And in grateful, remembrance of his servant and minister Francis Makemie, who was born in Ramelton, County Donegal, Ireland, A.D. 1658(?) was educated at Glasgow University, Scotland, and came as an ordained Evangelist to the American Colonies A.D. 1683 at the request of Col. William Stevens of Rehoboth, Maryland. A devoted and able preacher of our Lord’s Gospel, he labored faithfully and freely for twenty-five years in Maryland, Virginia, the Barbados and elsewhere. A Christian gentleman, an enterprising man of affairs, a public spirited citizen, a distinguished advocate of Religious Liberty, for which he suffered under the Governor of New York, he is especially remembered as THE CHIEF FOUNDER OF ORGANIZED PRESBYTERY IN AMERICA, A.D. 1706, AND AS THE FIRST MODERATOR OF THE GENERAL PRESBYTERY. He died at his home, whose site is nearby in Accomack County, Virginia, in the summer of A.D. 1708, and was buried in his family cemetery, located on this spot, now recovered from a long desecration and dedicated with this monument to his memory A.D. 1908 by the American “Presbyterian Historical Society,” seated at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Inscription on Memorial Pyramid
Memorial Pyramid in Makemie Monument Park west of Temperanceville, VA, 07-08-2002.Memorial pyramid restored in 1996: bricks repaired and repointed, new granite top and tablet with original inscription as follows: “This memorial pyramid commemorates the belief that in this ancient family cemetery were buried near the remains of Francis Makemie: those of his wife, Naomi; his daughters, Elizabeth and Madame Anne Holden; and his father-in-law, William Anderson; also John Milligan and others unknown. The bricks which enclose this tablet were gathered from the ruins of the table tombs, the cemetery wall and the Makemie Home once placed upon these grounds.”

We continued north and west on Highway 13 into Maryland to Rehoboth where Francis began his ministry in 1683. The church was erected in 1706. Colonel Stevens had patented a plantation here, naming it “Rehoboth” from a bible reference meaning “there is room”. In 1680 Stevens requested the Presbytery of Laggan, Ireland that a Presbyterian minister be sent to Rehoboth. In the front of the church is a large monument reads: “Wm. Stevens, Esq. Died 23 December 1687 – 57 years old. Judge of County Court for 22 years & one of Deputy Lieutenants of this Province of Maryland.” Francis Makemie came here in 1683 and began his ministry in the United States. The church building was just as the pictures we have seen, and burials are all around the church. The church is in the country and just a Rehoboth Presbyterian Church, Rehoboth, MD, 07-08-2002.short distance from a part of the Chesapeake Bay. Francis probably came to the site in his “sloop”, which is the type of boat he probably traveled on. The church was locked, but the next-door neighbor had key and let us in. We looked over the building and admired how it has withstood the nearly 3 centuries since it was built. Services are still held there regularly; however over the past years there have periods of time that there was no preacher and very few church members. We purchased a booklet, Rehoboth Presbyterian Church 1706-1956, which told of some of the life of Francis and the trials he had when he came to this New World. Across the road a few yards away are the brick ruins of Coventry Parish Church—erected 1784-1792. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places 9 August 1984. In 1830 it was spoken of as “a ‘deserted temple’ where owl and bat inhabit”. It is said the entire congregation could be assembled in a single pew and service was held in it only once a year. Ruins stabilized 1985-90 under the auspices of Rehoboth Ruritan Club, MD. Historical Trust, Somerset County Historical Trust. Outline of the original structure built before 1700s is behind the brick ruins.

Pitts Creek Presbyterian Church. 'A MaKemie Church.' Pocomoke City, MD, 07-08-2002.We returned to Pocomoke City MD and the Pitts Creek Presbyterian Church and “A Makemie Church” is on the sign in front of the church. We were unable to get inside.

We continued south on Highway 13 to Onancock VA and the Naomi Makemie Presbyterian Church. We were able to find church member Joseph Robbins who told us much of the history ofNaomi MaKemie Presbyterian Church, Onacock, VA, 07-08-2002, originally named Onacock Presbyterian Church. the church here and was also active in the “Makemie Park” restoration project north of here. He said there were 10 “Makemie” churches in the area and Francis helped lay out the city of Norfolk, VA. The Monument Society calls Francis the “Father of Religious Freedom in America”—it gives the work more universal appeal. Francis and his wife, Naomi, lived in Onancock at one time. This church was organized in 1883 as the Onancock Presbyterian Church. In 1903 the church changed the name to Naomi Makemie in memory of Francis Makemie’s beloved wife—Naomi Anderson. This is the first Presbyterian church named for a woman.

The above was contributed to this web site by Al McKemy. Thanks, Al!

For those interested, you can write for additional information or to make contributions to the Francis MaKemie Society at P. O. Box 361, Sanford, Virginia 21426.