The original minute book of Stuarts Draft Baptist records that the church first existed as a mission of Laurel Hill.
Under the leadership of Reverend Corr pastor of Laurel Hill Baptist Church in Verona the little church in the village of Stuarts Draft was organized October 1, 1894 with 27 members, two other members absent at the organization of the church, were considered charter members, making the total 29.
The charter members came from the churches of Laurel Hill, Greenville, Luray, Waynesboro and Neriah. The original minute books from Laurel Hill indicated that 15 members were given letters of dismission on September 23, 1894, to start Stuarts Draft Baptist Church. Among those dismissed were Cornelius H. Cohron and his wife Cordelia. It was C.H. Cohron who donated the land for the original church site.
A FIRM FOUNDATION
As was customary during the organization of a church, the charter members gathered for a meeting to discuss and decide upon the founding documents. According to a letter from Brother Corr to the Religious Herald, the meeting lasted three days. Brother Corr reports,
The meeting of three days - during which Baptist principles
were discussed with marked clearness - was closed with a
collection engineered by Brother Dement, amounting to
$305.00 in subscriptions. Several small subscriptions have
since been made. The church now has 29 members and one
awaiting membership... We wish to build at once a chael
in the village, which together with the site will cost about $800.00.
Thanks to Kim Parker Author of Stuarts Draft Baptist History 100th Anniversary 1984 - 1994, from which the following was extracted.
The local paper mentioned nothing about the little church in Stuarts Draft from October 12,1894 throuhg the sping of 1895. The winter was a hard one for the residents of Augusta County. Not only did they have snow with which to contend, but heavy rain also prevented travel on dirt roads as well as any construction.
However, on July 12, 1895 the Staunton Vindicator reported, The Baptist Church at Stuarts Draft was dedicated on Sunday June 30th. Rev. Mr. Corr, the pastor, Rev. Mr. Hugh Goodwin of Greenville, Rev. Mr. Kindig of Mt. Vernon church, and Reverend Mr. Ross of the Methodist church, preaching." The paper alluded to the heavy rainfall in the following footnote."Returning from the dedication, Misses Nellis Robinson and Alice Tewalt of Mint Spring narrowly escaped being washed away by the rise in Christians Creek." Miss Katie Thacker, a young lady from the Laurel Hill congregation, made the long, hot buggy trip from Laurel Hill to Stuarts Draft with Brother Corr. Although there were romantic inclinations, Miss Thacker became the wife of L. L. Greiner, a respected leader in the Stuarts Draft church.
Carpenters Edmund F. Coffey and Joseph McCray, Accompanied by a team of hurses and a scoop, carved out a place on the little hillside on Main Street (Draft Ave. now) opposite High Street. There they laid the foundation for the little weatherboard chapel that would serve as home to the Stuarts Draft Baptist congregation for the next 67 years.
The little chapel had no baptistry so all baptisms were performed in the South River, winter and summer. It was not unusual for candidates to be baptized while ice formed at the river banks. Reverend Roland Powell still performed river baptisms as late as 1959.