1928 - Alderson High School - 1968
GREENBRIER HISTORICAL SOCIETY 814 West Washington Street Lewisburg, WV  24910 304-645-3398                                                                                                                An Interesting Case of Racial Justice The   Greenbrier   Historical   Society   invites   the   public   to   attend   an   entertaining   presentation   on   Saturday, February   17   at   1   pm   at   the   Greenbrier   Historical   Society--North   House   Museum,   814   Washington   Street, West,   in   Lewisburg.      Local   historian   and   writer   Courtney   Smith   will   talk   about   the   1886   court   case,   In   re Lewisburg   Baptist   Church,   a   racially   charged   event   with   a   surprise   ending   for   the   times:   justice   was   served!     The   upbeat   program   will   last   approximately   one   hour   and   will   include   light   refreshments.      It   is   free   and   open to all. Many   people   have   heard   stories   about   the   origins   of   Mt.   Tabor   Baptist   Church.      This   well   researched presentation   will   present   the   available   facts.      In   1884,   William   R.   Foglesong,   the   sole   surviving   white   trustee of   the   original   Baptist   congregation   in   Lewisburg,   brought   suit   in   Circuit   Court   to   evict   the   black   congregants that   had   been   worshiping   in   the   previously   abandoned   church   building   (which   is   today   known   as   Mt.   Tabor Baptist   Church).      To   bolster   his   position,   Foglesong   retained   the   services   of   the   most   prestigious   and stalwart    lawyer    in    town,    Prosecuting   Attorney,    John    Preston.        Together,    they    recruited    six    important community members to serve as fellow petitioners.   In   contrast,   the   respondents   were   mostly   former   slaves   with   no   standing   in   the   white   community   that dominated   the   town.      While   their   lawyer,   James   McPherson,   was   one   of   the   most   active   defense   attorneys in   Lewisburg,   he   had   not   attained   any   positions   of   status   at   that   time,   and   surviving   documents   suggest   that he had a somewhat irreverent and playful disposition.      The   judge   in   this   matter   was   Homer   A.   Holt,   a   former   slave   owner   who   had   served   in   the   Confederate cavalry   and   had   a   business   relationship   with   the   prosecutor.     Although   Judge   Holt’s   1886   decision   in   favor of   the   respondents   appears   inconsistent   with   his   personal   propensities   as   well   as   the   general   racial prejudices   of   the   community   at   the   time,   his   ruling   failed   to   provoke   significant   outrage;   accordingly,   In   re Lewisburg   Baptist   Church   serves   as   a   prime   example   of   the   historically   incoherent   attitudes   of   the   white population   toward   people   of   color   not   only   in   Greenbrier   County   but   also   throughout   the   state   of   West Virginia. Smith   explained   that   she   decided   to   investigate   the   court   case   because   she   was   intrigued   by   its   happy ending.      “Too   often,”   she   stated,   “only   the   bad   news   is   reported   and   remembered.      I   wanted   to   celebrate   a forgotten   time   in   our   local   history   when   justice   prevailed.”      Her   research   was   conducted   over   a   three   month period,   chiefly   at   the   Greenbrier   Historical   Society   (GHS).      Archivist   Sam   Hale,   volunteer   archivist   Larry Hefner   and   GHS   Board   Member   and   Archivist   Jane   Hughes   were   especially   helpful   with   locating   sources and   listening   to   Smith   as   she   excitedly   described   her   latest   discoveries.      There   were   several   mysteries associated with the case.  Some she found answers for; others remain unsolved.   Margaret   Hambrick,   President   of   the   Board   of   GHS,   said,   “Courtney   really   makes   the   people   involved   come alive!  I know you will enjoy this presentation.” For   more   information   about   this   presentation,   please   call   the   Greenbrier   Historical   Society   at   304-645- 3398. PHOTO CAPTIONS:  Judge Homer A. Holt, presiding judge in 1886 case In re Lewisburg Baptist Church. Lewisburg   Baptist   Church,   now   Mt.   Tabor   Baptist   Church,   and   the   subject   of   a   presentation   by   Courtney Smith on February 17 at 1:00 p.m. at the Greenbrier Historical Society. (Click on photo for larger view)
Date: January 24, 2018
News Release
Contact:  Margaret Hambrick  or Nick LaCasse     304-646-2439               304-645-3398