Memories of Virginia/Bruton Church
Bruton Church, Williamsburgh, Va.
IN THE OLD BRUTON CHURCH
OF MANY MEMORIES
The Wardens Pew is marked by small plates giving the names of the early Church officers, one of which bears the name of Baldwin Matthews, 1695, grandson of Governor Matthews, the great great grandfather of Rev. John Matthews, of Essex County. On a larger tablet is inscribed:
To the Glory of God and in Memory of
HON. SAMUEL MATTHEWS,
captain-general and governor of virginia.
This memorial has been erected by Mrs. LeRoy Sunderland Smith, President, and the New York State Chapter of the Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America, May 13, 1907.
Each pew stands a memorial "To Great Virginians." The church has been most appropriately styled The Colonial Abbey of our country, making the memorial not only a Mecca but a shrine of America.
King Edward VII has presented a Bible, and President Roosevelt a reading desk, "In Memorium." The Bible given by Governor Matthews, I am told, is still extant "a holy of holy relic."
The Restoration of Old Bruton Church, under the direction of the Rector, W. A. R. Goodwin, is one of the most pleasing tributes to the tercentennial year, and no one better equipped to carry out the memorial to honor the past. Mr. Goodwin is a member of a family of distinguished Churchmen, with love of State and Country, to revere memories of the Founding Men of America.
The expense of restoration is a free-will offering—$27,000, and a fund is being raised for the perpetual maintenance of the Mecca Church, that is not only regarded the Colonial Abbey of our country but a shrine to perpetuate eternal memories of great men and great deeds—men whom the world delight to honor.
The Jamestown Church was occupied by the Royal Governors. The Bruton Church was erected thirty-three years after the death of Governor Matthews, by Governor Spottswood, making Bruton Church eldest daughter of the Jamestown church and "heir by right" held the relics and belongings of the Mother church, including the gold communion service and other relics of great value.
The first Jamestown church of wood logs was built 1607; rebuilt in brick 1639; that became in time a ruin—only a tower left of her former glory. The Colonial Dames of America have done a noble work in restoring the Island Church upon original lines. The chair of the Royal Governors will no doubt be placed therein as a feature of the period. Nor was Jamestown church without a bell to ring out tidings of joy and sorrow, and the reproduction of the old bell, bearing the name of Pocahontas, is a popular memorial, and while the Jamestown church may not stand so pre-eminent for Colonial memories as the Williamsburgh church, the church of the Colonial Governors, it will always be a point of interest to Pilgrims of the James, as the first church of the Pioneers of our country.
At the two hundred and thirteenth annual commencement of the Old Crown College of William and Mary, at Williamsburg, Virginia, June 8th, the degree of LL.D. was conferred upon Col. George Clinton Batcheller, of New York City, who is a native son of Massachusetts,—an honor to the Old Bay State to add another tide-water episode—to enhance memories of Virginia.
The enclosed note from Col. Batcheller gives a key note of fraternity. Perhaps the trustees recalled the incident when the Colonial troops, 1775, called upon Congress for a Commander-in-Chief, when Mr. John Adams quietly remarked, "Mr. Washington lives in Virginia"; practically his suggestion was a nomination of "The Great Virginian" who became leader.
"Then none was for the party,
And all were for the State,
Then the great men helped the poor,
And the poor men loved the great."
If other rich men would follow the example of Dr. Batcheller the old college of William and Mary could be made The Pride of Our Country, the Mecca of Historical Research, the Mother Home of Education.
Macauley said truely, "A people which takes no pride in the noble achievements of their remote ancestors will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered by remote descendants." This is true also of individuals.
Dr. Batcheller evidently is a Disciple of Research and a friend of the old college of William and Mary.
June 15, 1907.
Lyon Gardiner Tyler, LL.D., President
College of William and Mary, Virginia.
My Dear Sir:—I am just back from Denver, Colo., and I found on my desk yesterday morning, your telegram awaiting my arrival, dated June 8th, which reads as follows: "Doctor of Laws conferred on you by William and Mary. Congratulations."
Your letter of the 14th reached me this morning, confirming the action of the Faculty and Board of Visitors of the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Words can not express my deep appreciation of the highest honor that can be conferred upon an American. I also feel greatly honored by having the Degree conferred upon me at the same time as the distinguished Virginian, Hon. Phillip Alexander Bruce.
Now, as an Alumnæ of "William and Mary," it will bring this institution very close to my heart, feeling that I am fully identified with the cradle of learning, from which our most distinguished men of colonial times laid the foundation of what is now the foremost government on the face of the earth.
Again I beg to thank you for your felicitous remarks. With great respect, I am,
(Signed) Geo. Clinton Batcheller.
In the Baltimore Sun you will find in the Heraldry column the perfected chain of lineage that gives you "a Virginia cousin" in Mrs. Moritz O. Kopperl, granddaughter of Thomas Matthews, who left the Old Dominionto found a branch of the family tree in Texas, is completed. Your cousin's daughter, Waldine, will meet the Daughters of the Founders and Patriots at Williamsburg, October 12, 1907, to attend the general communion
George Clinton Batcheller, LL. D.
service to be held in the old church October 13th. when the Chapter D. F. P. A., of which my
sister is president, will attend in a body, to take the cup of remembrance. I hope you and your wife will be present, and "as ye do this in His name," give thanks to God for the life, work and character of Samuel Matthews, who is to me the pioneer hero of American History. There is another chieftain who stands only second in my hero worship, another Virginian, George Rogers Clark, "the Hannibal of the West."
In conclusion let me add, it is my hope that you may make one of your homes on some part of "the sacred soil" of the Denbigh Plantation, the American home of your ancestor, to stand an enduring memorial to the Matthews family, a family with a grand colonial background since Founding Days of Virginia, to attest "to soil brave men are ever true."
And now, my friend of memories,
I'll wake the echoes with refrain,
The echoes known to every heart,
"Never again! Never again."
Echoes from the old Welsh mountains,
Echoes from Great Britain's shore,
Echoes from the land of Baldwin,
The old time echo, "Never more."
Echoes from Denbigh Plantation,
Echoes from Point Comfort shore,
Echoes from the Old James River,
Echoes we seek to hear once more.
Echoes from the Mississippi,
Echoes from the Tappan Zee,
Echoes from the Rappahannock,
They call to you—they call to me.
Let us listen to the voices,
In this our year of jubilee,
The echo call to Founders kin,
The echo of Eternity.
From the Old James we answer back,
Names we love "Over the River,"
The friends of many memories.
And render thanks to the Great Giver
For life and love of those who sleep,
In Hollywood under the trees,
The Holy City on the James,
The Mecca Shrine of Memories.
I know your love of State and from your heart you will echo the tribute to the Old Dominion written by a son of Louisiana, who loved—
"There is nowhere a land so fair
As old Virginia.
So full of song, so free from care
As old Virginia.
And I believe that happy land
That God prepared for mortal man
Is built exactly on the plan
Of old Virginia.
The roses nowhere bloom so white,
As in Virginia,
The sunshine nowhere seems so bright
As in Virginia,
The birds sing nowhere quite so sweet,
And nowhere hearts so lightly beat,
For heaven and earth do seem to meet
Down in Virginia.
The days are never quite so long
As in Virginia,
Nor quite so filled with happy song
As in Virginia,
And when my time shall come to die,
Just take me back and let me lie
Close where the James goes rolling by
Down in Virginia."
My Dear Friend:
I have made a discovery, the author I long have sought, and can give, with much pleasure, the pedigree of the beautiful poem Virginia, that has touched hearts with the emotional sentiment of "Home Sweet Home." It was written by Mr. Harry Curran Wilbur, a son of Prof. George E. Wilbur, of Bloomsburg, Penna., who graduated at old Dickinson College, Carlisle, Penna. The poem was published in the Wheeling Register, June, 1903. He is now editor of the Times Union, Jacksonville, Florida. He married Miss Dorothy Thornton Maloney, "A Daughter of Virginia," and from this fact it is easy to understand that when a man is in love with his wife it is easy for him to adopt her sentiments of state. You know I speak from experience, you will observe that I wrote of him "A Son of Louisiana," but now that the author and authorship is known, I am happy to give "A Son of Pennsylvania," and "A Son-in-Law of Virginia," an assured welcome in Memories of Virginia, nor do I accept the parody you sent me on the dear old State. She may be slow in the present, but she is sure of her past, nor can it be taken from her.
F. A. D.