Friday, January 15, 2010

Moss Hill Methodist Church - Washington County, Florida

One of the most hauntingly beautiful Civil War era structures in Florida is the old Moss Hill Methodist Church in Washington County.

Built in 1857 to replace an earlier log structure that had doubled as a blockhouse and fort during the Second Seminole War, the church was reputedly the second building in Washington County to have glass windows. Located atop Moss Hill, a ridge overlooking Holmes Valley, the church was a permanent outgrowth of the Holmes Valley Methodist Mission which is thought to have been operating as early as 1823.

In an interesting footnote of history, the land patent for the 40 acres on which the church had been built was signed on December 4, 1861, by President Abraham Lincoln. Florida was then, of course, part of the Confederacy and was at war to break away from the old Union led by President Lincoln.

Like many congregations in Northwest Florida, the Moss Hill group sent most of its men and boys to serve in the Confederate army, although some also slipped through the lines and joined the Union forces. Several served in the 1st Florida U.S. Cavalry and in September of 1864 came to war against their former friends and neighbors when General Alexander Asboth led his raid on Marianna.

A number of members of Moss Hill Methodist Church served in Captain W.B. Jones' Vernon Home Guard and were involved in a sharp skirmish with Asboth's column as it was making its return march to the coast following the Battle of Marianna. Jones unit was demolished and the captain and a number of his men were taken prisoner. Some died in Northern prison camps and never returned, but are memorialized today by markers in the Moss Hill cemetery.

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