Mansions of Elk Garden
The Stuart Family
Leads to Politics
Elk Garden soon became a hotbed of
Methodism. Indeed, the first great Methodist revival in this
part of the world, part of the “Great Awakening”, was held in
1788 at Saltville at the home of General William Russell and his
wife Elizabeth. Elizabeth, known as “Madam” Russell, was a
sister of Patrick Henry. General and Mrs. Russell were among the
first converts. That
year Richard Price, Sr., born a Quaker, began holding a
Methodist Sunday School class in his home in Elk Garden.
Price was designated “Class Leader”, which meant that he
was the leading official of the local church in the long
intervals between the presence of an ordained minister.
The evangelists who were primarily
responsible for the spread of Methodism in the American southern
frontier were Francis Asbury and Richard Whatcoat. In 1790 these
two itinerant evangelists visited Richard Price in his Elk
One of the children of Thaddeus and Sarah
Price Thomas was John Wesley Thomas, named after the founder of
Methodism, and who became the first Chairman of the Board of
Trustees of Emory and Henry College, a Methodist institution.
Another was W. I. (William Isaac) Thomas,
the world famous professor of sociology at the University of
Richard Price is so revered that stones
from his house are placed on the grounds of the present Elk
Garden Methodist Church.
Logs presumed incorrectly to have been from his home were
reassembled in his honor at the home of State Senator Harry C.
Stuart as the Elk Garden Chapel.
An oddity of all the churches, both past
and present, in Elk Garden, is that they have no cemeteries.
This is because the “Great Awakening” described above
brought religion to Elk Garden after its settlement, and after
the custom of burial in family graveyards was well established.
The Civil War came early to this microcosm
of the plantation culture of the South. Many of the tenant
farmers, who owned no land and are, therefore, poorly
documented, lived in Corn Valley in an area that came to be
known as “the Loop”. These people felt their positions to be
threatened by the institution of slavery, and they, themselves,
tended to be abolitionists. In 1845 the Methodist Church
officially divided itself into a Methodist Episcopal Church
South, and into a Methodist Protestant church, better known as
the “Northern Abolitionist Methodist Church”. The church in the
Loop seems to have originally maintained its affiliation with
the Southern Methodist Church until the Civil War broken out. At
that time, many of its adherents were forcibly driven out of
Russell County and settled in the Nordyke -Little Wolf Run area
of Washington County, and the Loop Methodist Church finally
broke with the Southern Methodist affiliated Elk Garden Church
south of Smithfield.
Richard (1750 or 1764-1803) and Thomas, Jr. (1761-1804)
Price were brothers born in Culpeper, Virginia, but of
Another genealogy has them being born in Philadelphia.
Both moved in to the Elk Garden community around the time
of the American Revolution. At some point in time Richard got
the settlement right at the current intersection of state 80
going north from US 19 toward Honaker. It appears, however, that
Alexander Scott had already acquired a grant for this tract of
land (LO O-547), both claimants surveying in 1783. In 1783
Richard Price surveyed out a preemption warrant for LO 0–561.
What this means is that the Commonwealth of Virginia gave him
rights to this land to compensate him for the settlement right
that he had to relinquish due to that prior claim.
Continued, Page 26