The Journey Through Hallowed Ground

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Pilgrim’s Rest

The settlers of this post-emancipation community called it Pilgrim’s Rest from a passage from the Bible: “All these died according to faith, not having received the promises but beholding them afar off and saluting them and confessing that they are pilgrims and strangers on the earth. For they that say these things do signify that they seek a country... But now they desire a better, that is to say, a heavenly country.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)  Residents wanted a spiritual as well as an earthly place of rest. Blacksmith Robert “Bob” Ross and his wife Ellen, both emancipated from slavery, established this community with Joe Black, Samuel Boyd, Henry Braxton, Lewis Craig, Mary King, Robert Lacey, and their families. They organized Salem Baptist Church in 1872. To build the first church, the men dragged logs from Morgantown, another African American settlement nearby. The growing congregation erected the present building in 1929. The cemetery is across the road. Consequently, Richard Horner, Arthur Butler Sr., William H. Lewis and Reuben Clark, with the help of evangelist Jennie Dean, founded Beulah Baptist Church. Other members included Thomas Gaskins, William Stewart, John Fountain, Bristoe Cheeks, Patsy Barry, Lucelia Wells, and Arthur Butler. They purchased land from Anderson and Susan Smith on July 14, 1899 and built a sanctuary that a fire destroyed in the mid-1960s, but the congregation rebuilt and still worships there today. Pilgrim’s Rest School still stands.


  • Afro-American Historical Association of Fauquier County.
  • Eugene Scheel, The Guide to Fauquier: A Survey of The Architecture and History of a Virginia County . Fauquier County Bicentennial Commission. (Warrenton, Va.: Warrenton Printing and Publishing, 1976).
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