Moss Hill Methodist Church
This historic church was a
center for activity in early
Washington County, Florida.
Moss Hill Cemetery
The cemetery at Moss Hill
includes the graves of the
early settlers of Washington
Moss Hill Methodist Church - Washington County, Florida - Moss Hill Methodist Church, Florida - Moss Hill Methodist Church, Florida
Moss Hill Methodist Church
Constructed before the Civil War, Moss Hill
is one of Florida's oldest standing churches.
Located in Washington County's historic
Holmes Valley community, Moss Hill United
Methodist Church is one of Florida's oldest
standing church buildings.

Founded as a Methodist Mission soon after
the 1821 transfer of Florida from Spain to the
United States, Moss Hill grew from the efforts
of Methodist missionaries to bring Christ to
the settlers who began moving into the
Holmes Valley area in around 1819. It
appears most likely that the Holmes Valley
Methodist Mission, from which the Moss Hill
Church later grew, became an identifiable
entity in 1823 when the area was still part of
Jackson County.

The mission was definitely in operation when
Washington County was created just two
years later.

Morgan Clower Turrentine was assigned to
the mission in 1826 by the South Carolina
Methodist Conference, which then included
not only South Carolina, but also Georgia
and parts of Alabama and Florida. Cathlic
Bishop Michael Portier reported that he
encountered a "well-meaning Methodist"
while passing through Holmes Valley in

Local tradition holds that services were first
held in a log blockhouse or fort just to the
northwest of today's church site. Since the
area was heavily engaged in fighting with
refugee bands of Creek Indians during the
Second Seminole War (1835-1842), there is
probably considerable truth in the legend.

The blockhouse is thought to have remained
in use until it so deteriorated that it was
replaced with the current structure in 1857.

A beautiful old building, the church that
stands today was built of milled lumber on
what was then public land. An effort was
made by Igdaliah Wood to obtain title to 40
acres surrounding Moss Hill Church and,
uniquely, the patent for the land was signed
by President Abraham Lincoln on December
5, 1861, nearly eleven months after Florida
seceded from the Union.

The church is said to have been the second
building in Washington County equipped with
glass windows. The lumber was sawed at a
water powered mill on nearby Hard Labor
Creek and both square nails and wooden
pegs were used to fasten the structure
together. Popular with visitors to the building
are the "upside down footprints" that can be
seen in trails across the ceiling. They were
probably left behind by workers and children
walking along the planks when they were
stacked on the ground during the building

Moss Hill was a center of life in the Holmes
Valley community during the Civil War. Many
of the men and boys of the church fought for
the Confederacy and a at least a few took up
arms on the side of the Union. Many became
members of Captain W.B. Jones' Vernon
Home Guard when that unit was formed by
order of Governor John Milton during the
summer of 1864.
Markers in Moss Hill Cemetery honor some
of the local men and boys who were captured
when the Vernon unit tangled with Union
troops returning from the Battle of Marianna.
The September 28, 1864, skirmish is locally
remembered as the
Battle of Vernon and a
number of the men taken prisoner died in
Northern prison camps and never returned

The church was attended by both whites and
African American slaves during the years
leading up to and during the Civil War. The
division of the races in worship was a result
of the Reconstruction era, not the war itself.
Both whites and blacks assisted in the
construction of the structure and it stands
today as a landmark to all of the early
residents of Holmes Valley.

The grounds and cemetery at Moss Hill are
open to the public daily. A marker in front of
the historic church provides information on
the structure and the cemetery contains the
graves of many early settlers of Washington

Moss Hill Methodist Church is located on
Highway 279 between Vernon and
Greenhead in Washington County, Florida.
There is no cost to visit the historic site.

The 1857 church structure is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places. The
grounds and cemetery are open daily.
Glass Windows a Rarity
Legend holds that Moss Hill
Church was only the second
building in Washington
County to be fitted with glass
Historic Moss Hill
An interpretive marker at the
church notes that it was the
first Methodist congregation
between Pensacola and the
Apalachicola River.
Copyright 2010 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
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