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Parish History Notes 25: The Rev. Horace Stringfellow

Rev. Horace Stringfellow was born at The Retreat, a home overlooking the Rapidan River, on November 9, 1799. He attended law school and soon became attorney for the Commonwealth at Madison Court House. In a seemingly abrupt career change, he and his wife, Louisa Gibbs Strother, moved to Alexandria, where he attended Virginia Seminary.

After his ordination in 1835 and a brief assignment at Old Chapel in Millwood, Virginia, he became rector of Trinity Church in Washington, D.C. While at Trinity he was described as “a grave and godly man of patriarchal appearance, without any of the arts of oratory, but sound in doctrine and rightly dividing the word of truth as he saw the truth.”

In 1847 Rev. Stringfellow was called to St. Paul’s Church in Petersburg and remained there until the church burned in 1854. Then he moved to Hanover County and served as rector of St. Martin’s Parish through the tumultuous times of the Civil War.

The recently constructed St. Martin’s Rectory was already in disrepair when the Stringfellow family arrived. Apparently an apple tree was growing between the roof and a decaying window. So Rev. Stringfellow built Forest Hill, modeled after his boyhood home, two miles west of Fork Church on Old Ridge Road. The house is still known by some as “Parson Stringfellow’s.”

Thomas Nelson Page described him as “A tall distinguished looking man who believed in conversion and preached it with a vigor of tone and gesture which was not without effect.”

Although he retired from the clergy in 1866, he continued to live at Forest Hill until near his eightieth year, when age and health issues persuaded him to move to Ashland. He lived among friends there until his last day, December 26, 1883.