The Old Providence Church
Disciples of Christ
Reliance, Virginia
Compiler, unknown

When Jacob Shambaug and wife Mary deeded land on which Old Providence Church was to be built (Deed dated June 23, 1849) and specified in the deed that all Orthodox Protestant denominations could use this church at certain intervals only, this no doubt was the beginning of a new church body here.  The two churches that were then sending their ministers to this locality (The United Brethren in Christ and The Church Of The Brethren - Drunkards) did not approve of slavery.  Obviously, the Shambaugh's and others prominent families here were not regularly attending the services because they either had slave or were in sympathy with those who did.

Further proof of this is the fact that Old Providence Church had a balcony which was probably built when the church was erected.  This shows clearly that some of the families had slaves, they intended to keep them, and that the slaves were to be allowed to worship with their owner.

Therefore, it should have come as no surprise when several families in this community united as a church congregation and affiliated their unit to The Disciples Of christ Church.  This church ahd originally been founded in an American movement for Christian unity in 1809.  It's founder was Thomas Campbell and his son Alexander.  An association was formed at Washington, Pa. and the first church was built in 1811 at Brush Run.

On November 7th, 1851 Rev. G. W. Abell, a minister of The Disciples Of Christ Church baptized twenty eight persons in the north branch of the Shenandoah River near where Passage Creek flows into this river.  on November 17th he baptized five more persons in "Erb's Mill Pond".  these thirty three people and six others who moved their memberships here from the Walnut Springs church organized themselves together as a congregation to be known by the name of "The Church At New Providence", (Disciples Of Christ Church) on February 15, 1852, having previously met on the 14th.  At this meeting they had unanimously agreed that they were to be independent of "The March Organization".  The location of the Marsh Church is unknown.  Mr. James Sargent was chairmen of this meeting and Mr. James T. Taylor was the secretary.  William Little and Charles D. Shambaugh were elected Elders and John Delong and Thomas E. Shambaugh were elected Deacons.

George W. Abell, their preacher at that time, was well educated as he could read the Bible in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and English.

The church building had evidently been dedicated previously as a notation in the church record book (which is an ordinary composition book) has this notation on the inside of the front cover;

Due on subscription on day of dedication

E. H. Ridings         $2.00
Daniel Grim            $1.00
I. M. Wilkerson    $1.00
Edward Shots       $1.00

This record book was well kept as to the minutes of different business meetings and also the record of contributions and expenses each Sunday.  It was audited quite frequently.  Even though most of their contributions were small, an accurate record was maintained at all times.

The entry for February 15, 1852 states that the amount in the treasury when the church was organized after getting material to furnish the table (evidently the Communion Table) was $2.05 1/2.  The collection for that day was .06 1/4.  The contribution on another Sunday in 1852 was only .05 which the largest contribution for that year was $1.03.  the largest contribution over a period of twenty years was but $2.79 and a number of times .10 was the Sunday collection.

When the congregation was first organized the membership consisted of ten Showalter's, eight Shambaugh's, and six Little's.  Later six more Little's joined this church.  William Little who was one of the elders and always took an active part in this church throughout its existence at what later was to become Reliance, was the grandfather of Walter B. Little of Middletown, Va..

Jacob Shambaugh was baptized August 18, 1852 in a place especially prepared for the occasion near his home.  This presumably was done because of his age as Mr. Shambaugh was then 76 years old.

Proof of their love for fellow members is shown in the case of Ann Showalter.  the record shows that she became ill a number of times.  Each time this happened a contribution of money or flour was sent to her to help during here illness.

The first year (1852) they paid the janitor who was a colored man $2.50 (per year) to take care of the church.  This man was a member of the congregation.  Five other colored people who had been members from the beginning (plus the janitor) were former slaves but were now free.  ten other colored people joined the church at a later date and whether or not they were free is not revealed in the records.

On February 29, 1852 the church elected William Little and james T. Taylor as Messengers (Delegates) to represent their congregation at New Providence Church in cooperation (convention) which took place at Zinn's Meeting House on Saturday before the second Lord's Day in March next.

They instructed these messengers to report that the New Providence Congregation was in good order and that they were thirty nine in numbers and that they were sending $34.00 for the spread of the gospel.  This amount of money had been collected previously by James T. Taylor and Thomas E. Shambaugh.

These cooperation meetings were held at different churches several times each year.  the next meeting was held at New Providence Church in May 1852.  For several years thereafter the Providence Church made an annual contribution for the Spread Of The Gospel.  The minutes show that different members of the church collected at times as much as $25.00 to be given for evangelization.

When one of their members failed to live as they thought a Christian should they decided as a congregation to drop them as members of the church.  One such case was that of James Ellis who had failed to assemble with them for some six months although he had been in the neighborhood during that period.  The minutes states, "We do not hold ourselves responsible for his Acts".  Even on of the elders and his wife were disowned for disobedience on Oct. 14, 1860.  However, the Elders reunited with them again on February 11, 1866.

As they baptized by immersion only, they held their baptismal services in various places in the north fork of the Shenandoah River and also in Cedar Creek.  At other times they used mill dams or ponds.  "Erb's Mill Dam" is mentioned quite frequently.

Jacob Shambaugh, one of the founder of the church and believed one of its strong supporters died Jan. 3, 1855.  After his death his widow, daughter, and two sons plus their families (all members of the Disciples of Christ church) settled the Shambaugh Estate and moved to Iowa.  A short time later other members of the church who were friends of the Shambaugh's also moved to Iowa.  Still others moved to Ohio and this departure of staunch members weakened the church somewhat.

Although the church was weakened, the remaining members continued to worship as a unit even while the War Between The States was in progress.

In 2865 when the war was over the membership had dwindled to a mere twenty.  Even with such a small congregation they continued to worship as a church.

Whoever the secretary was in 1866 made the following entry in the church minutes, "Feb. 15, 1866, Thursday Eanoch's wife was baptized by Brother Cogel in my pon".  the word "Pon" must have been intended for pond and Cogel should have been spelled Cowgill, as that was the name of their minister at that time.

Other preachers mentioned in their minutes other than Rev. G. W. Abell and Rev. Cowgill were Rev.  H. J. Dillard, Rev. John Perky (Pirkey), Rev. Copenhaver, Rev. Sanders, and Rev. Pennabacker (Pennybacker).  One other preacher is mentioned as follows, "Israel Slade preached for us today on "Sin and its Cure".  This happened on Oct. 22, 1872.

Only six more meetings are recorded in their Church Book.  The last meeting was on the fourth Sunday in September of 1872.  At that time they had a balance in the treasury of $31.72.

Since the United Brethren had build Mt. Thomas Church in 1859 and by 1872 The Dunkard Congregation was becoming quite active, it is quite possible that their church was now the weaker of the three existing.  No doubt they felt that they could no longer carry on with such a small congregation when money was so scarce.

The Disciples Of Christ Congregation ceased to exist in 1872 or shortly thereafter.  It is likely that some of the few remaining members moved their memberships to the Walnut Springs Church at Oranda.

Some Elders in this Church through the years were;
Nimrod J. Showalter
John Delong
Charles D. Shambaugh
Thomas Beaty
Thomas E. Shambaugh
Henry Beaty

During the period of at least twenty years that The Disciples of Christ held services in the Providence Church at Reliance, ninety five or more people united with them.  The received new members most every year.

of the three early church in this community, (denominations) by far the best records were kept by The Disciples of Christ Church.

Members of Disciples Of Christ Church (1852 - 1872)

Jacob Shambaugh    Born April 19, 1776 died Jan. 3, 1855.  Buried at Reliance.
Mary Shambaugh    Wife of Jacob, Moved to Iowa.
Charles D. Shambaugh    Son of Jacob Shambaugh, Moved to Iowa.
Thomas E. Shambaugh    Son of Jacob Shambaugh, Moved to Iowa.
Sarah E. Shambaugh
Barbara Ann Shambaugh
Mary Jane Shambaugh    Wife of Charles D. Shambaugh died Feb. 18, 1839.  Buried at Reliance. *
Matilda M. Shambaug    Daughter of Jacob and Mary Shambaugh.  Died Sept. 28, 1826 *

Daniel Showalter
Rachel C. Showalter    Died Aug. 9, 1863
Sarah J. Showalter
N. J. Showalter
Joseph Showalter    Moved to Ohio
Valentine Showalter    Died March 15, 1871
Matilda M. Showalter
Raymond J. Showalter    Moved to Ohio
Ann M. Showalter
Dolly Jane Showalter
Rachel H. Showalter    Moved to Ohio
Niracifra Jane Showalter

William Little
Sara Jane Little
Catherine Little
Emla H. Little
Martha Ann Little
William D. Little
James G. Little
Benjamin F. Little    Moved to Iowa
Michael F. Little    Moved to Iowa
Eliza F. Little
Commodore D. Little
Mary Sophia Elizabeth Little

John Lorans    Died March 8, 1871
Alderson Richardson    Died May 21, 1963
Nimrod Cave    Moved to Ohio
James T. Taylor    Moved West
George M. Derflinger    Died March 15, 1865
John Delong    Died April 29, 1869.  Buried in Delong Graveyard at Reliance.
Mary Sargent    Died June 19, 1858
Franklin Shotts    Moved to Iowa
Mrs. Grayson    Died Feb. 17, 1869
Mary Keith    Moved to Iowa
Sarah Orndolph    Died April 6, 1869
William Barrow Jr.    Moved to Ohio
Elizabeth Ambrose    Died August 15, 1869

James Sargent
John Grayson
Daniel Stump
Rebecca Snyder
Catherine Derflinger
John ....
Mandy C. Marshall
Frances Miller
Ellick Sales
Benjamin Smootz
Edward Shotts
Eliza J. Stump
Matilda A. Catlett
James Ellis
Martha Shotts
Ann Derflinger
John J. Orndolph
Anna V. Beaty
Edward Robertson
Clarissa Smotz
Dolly Henry
Susan Delong
Henry Shull
Elizabeth Shotts
Harriet Shotts
Mary Ann Alexander
Rachel Ann ...
Thomas Marshal
Carter Ambrose
Sarah Martin
Mrs. Thursday Eanoch
John Tarasis


Mary f. Lupton
Julia Ann Robinson
Manda J. Robinson
Reasoner W. Robinson
Eliza A. Robinson
Louis Robinson
Enoch Robinson
Alfred Newman
Susan Robinson
Mary E. Thompson
Drusilla Johnston
Kitty Thompson
Alexander Taylor
A. E. Thompson
Lucinda Preston
Luncinda Taylor    Died Apr 1862.

* Listed as members although they died before this particular church was founded,.

Retyped by Calvin Sonner January 29, 1999