History

The Tinkling Spring Presbyterian Church, is a Presbyterian church founded in 1740, and is the second-oldest Presbyterian congregation in the Valley of Virginia (the Shenandoah Valley).  Its historic building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The first settlers from the north were John Lewis, who arrived in 1732, and William Beverly who was given a large land grant in 1736.  The Scots-Irish Presbyterians who followed lost no time in forming the Triple Forks of the Shenandoah Congregation and in petitioning the Donegal Presbytery for the services of a minister. Two centers of worship developed – Tinkling Spring and Augusta Stone Meeting Houses, which were served by the same minister. Tinkling Spring Church was officially founded in 1740. The first meeting house was a log cabin measuring twenty-four by fifty feet.

We invite you to celebrate the differences Christ makes in our lives through ministry in our church, our community, and our world. We would be happy to have you become a part of our church family and invite you to visit our worship services, classes and programs.

Tinkling Spring Prints and Sketch Books:
A local artist has generously donated prints of the church that were drawn in 1992. The prints are available for purchase for $15 each. Please call the church office or email office@tinklingspring.com to get yours today. All proceeds will go toward the building fund.

The same artist also has pen and ink drawings of 52 homes with historical narratives in Augusta County, as well as on of the 50 drawings of historical homes in Staunton. These soft copy books are also for sale. The “Historic House of Augusta County VA” sells for $30.  The “Historic House of Staunton, VA” Sells for $40. Portions of these proceeds will also go toward the building fund. For more information about these prints or sketch books, or how to donate to our building fund, please call the church office at 540-885-0746.

The Spring:
On early 2008, the tinkling spring, in which the church is named after, was renovated. Howard McKnight Wilson in his book, “Tinkling Spring – Headwater of Freedom” shares the following information about the spring: “A cool spring of water – issuing from beneath a rock, gathering into a pool from which man lives, overflowing into a stream by which the plains were made alive – is a delightful work of nature. The earliest pioneers in the Valley of Virginia found a bold spring whose emerging waters made a musical sound upon the cavernous rocks, and they called it the tinkling spring.”

It is believed that two major trails used by the Native Americans and pioneers alike have crossed at this spring and it became an oasis where weary travelers were able to refresh themselves. The spring became the site where the first meeting house of Tinkling Spring Presbyterian Church was located and remains active. However, the musical sounds emanating from the spring have somewhat dimmed over the passage of many years.

Monument:
This monument, which stands outside the Fellowship hall, reads “Sacred to the Memory of the Immigrants to this Valley who turned the wilderness into habitation.” It lists the names of the original members who were assessed twelve shillings each to build the first meeting house.

Museum:
 A visit to the Tinkling Spring Church museum will provide a memorable introduction to our rich history. Many of the early settler and founders of Tinkling Spring Church were persecuted Scots-Irish who came to the colonies in the first half of the 1700’s, bringing their Presbyterian faith with them and found their way from Pennsylvania and points north to the Shenandoah Valley.

The museum exhibits trace this migration and highlight the contributions made by these early settlers, not only to the founding of Tinkling Spring Church, but also to the birth of a free Christian nation. Interesting activities of the Tinkling Spring Church over the past 270 years are also included in the exhibits. Our museum provides an opportunity for us to share with pride our history and heritage from the 1740’s to the present.

Schedule a Tour:
Schedule a guided-tour of the church facilities by sending an email to the church office at office@tinklingspring.com or call 540-885-0746 at least three weeks in advance.  Be sure to include your name and contact information, along with possible dates and times you are interested in touring the facilities. A member of the Historical Preservation and Promotion Ministry will get back to you.

Self-guided museum tours are permissible during office hours.
Office Hours:
9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
12:00-1:00 p.m. Closed
Monday -Friday

The Tinkling Spring, Headwater of Freedom by Rev. Dr. Wilson:
The Tinkling Spring Headwater of Freedom was written by Rev, Dr. Howard McKnight Wilson in 1954. The second edition with an update was published in 1974. The book provides a comprehensive 540-page history of Tinkling Spring Presbyterian Church, including appendixes with genealogical information.

The Headwater of Freedom committee has worked hard and has completed the task of having the original 1974 book reproduced and ready for sale. As we were in the process of updating the church history, we decided to make our final work in two volumes. Volume I consists of the original 1974 book with no changes and Volume II is the updated version 1974-2010. Volume I and II may be purchased as singles or as a set.

The cost of Volume I is $40.00 plus $5 for shipping and handling. Volume II is $25.00 plus $5 for shipping and handling. For further information, please contact the church office at (540)885-0746.

Cemeteries:
Many churches founded in the eighteenth century are surrounded by cemeteries. Tinkling Spring Church is no exception. It literally has cemeteries on three sides of the church building. The original cemetery, or “Old Cemetery,” is a short distance west of the site of the original sanctuary and near the “Tinkling Spring” which continues to flow today. The exact date of the first burial is not known however, this date is believed to be a s early as 1735. Wooden markers were used to identify the graves. Because of the use of wooden markers, many of these graves are now unmarked. One of the original markers has survived and is now preserved in the church museum. The “Old Cemetery” is the final resting place for the earthly remains of many of our early church leaders including veterans of the American Revolutions. Two of the graves have been appropriately marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution. During the early to middle of the 1800’s the lack of sufficient space in the “Old Cemetery” led to the development of the “New Cemetery” located north of the present sanctuary. Both the old and new cemeteries contain the graves of casualties as well as veterans of the American Civil War. A detailed plan and diagram of the “New Cemetery” dated August 1876, was prepared by the Engineer Office of Jed. Hotchkiss, Staunton, Va. Hotchkiss was well known as the map-maker for the Confederate General Stonewall Jackson during the Civil War. The “New Cemetery” has been expanded to twice the original size and continues to be used. Directly east of the present sanctuary is the “East Cemetery” which has fallen in to neglect and was “rediscovered” during the 1980’s. It contains an unknown number of unmarked graves and all the time if it’s rediscovery was incorrectly referred to as a “slave cemetery”. Subsequent research along with the minutes of congregational meetings indicate it was created circa 1914 to serve as a segregated cemetery for “the colored members” of Tinkling Spring Congregation. A granite monument has been placed at the entrance of the “East Cemetery” on which is inscribed: “There is neither Jew nor Greek. There is neither bond nor free. There is neither male or female. For ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28. KJV)

Tinkling Spring Presbyterian Church is in the process of determining the feasibility of developing a computerized system enabling us to capture all available information concerning those buried in our cemeteries.

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The Historical Preservation Ministry will have a representative at the church by appointment only for those who want to learn more about Tinkling Spring Presbyterian Church. If you have genealogical inquires or questions regarding the history of Tinkling Spring Presbyterian Church, please email your requests to the church office at office@tinklingspring.com. Be sure to include your name, contact information, and a detailed message. Your email will be forwarded to the Historical Preservation Ministry Chair and they will reply as quickly as possible.