Archives for 1999:

First Fund-Drive Letters Mailed

December 20, 1999

The first set of Fund Drive letters are mailed out in late October, early November and December 1999, to over 1700 potential contributors.

Digging Up Elk Run’s Past

December 15, 1999

From The Fauquier Times-Democrat, Wednesday, December 15, 1999 (with permission)

By John Toler, Times-Democrat Staff Writer

Under the watchful eye of Dr. Pat Curry, an archaeologist from Marshall who is volunteering her time and skills for the project, the excavation of the old Elk Run Church site has recently begun.

On Nov. 11, Dec. 4 and Dec. 11, members of the congregation of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and Boy Scouts of Troop 1177 working on their archaeology merit badge went to the site to work and to learn.

“The objective of these initial excavations is to find what might be remaining of the foundation of the old Anglican Church, built in the 1740s,” said Ed Dandar, chairman of the Elk Run Church Site Preservation Committee. “An exploratory trench dug on Dec. 4 uncovered some stones fastened by mortar that might lead to further clues as to the size of the church and its orientation on the site.”

The group has used field tables loaned to them by the Virginia Data Processing Unit, Army National Guard, of Manassas.

Jackie Lee, director of the Old Jail Museum in Warrenton, is conducting ongoing research on the church and its first minister, the Rev. James Keith. It is planned that a state historical marker will be erected on the site next year.

The project’s fund drive, which will provide money for research, historical interpretive signs, fencing and landscaping, has now reached $9,000 of a targeted amount of $25,000, according to Dandar. Persons wishing to contribute are urged to call him at (703) 791-6158.

The old church’ site was given to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, near Catlett, early this year by the late Edward P. Browning, one of Keith’s descendants.


Second Dig Success!

December 4, 1999


Archaeological planning begins on November 13, 1999, and the second dig takes place on December 4.  The second dig uncovers the first parts of the Elk Run Church structure.


Committee Meetings

November 11, 1999

The first Elk Run Church Site Preservation Committee meets on August 18, 1999. The Preservation Committee meets a second time on September 29, 1999. The Preservation Committee meets for a third time on November 11, 1999.

Site Preparation Starts

November 10, 1999



Church Site preparations start on November 10, 1999, with the Virginia Department of Transportation installing a donated Culvert Pipe. The initial parking area is also established.

Elk Run Church Site will be preserved

October 20, 1999

Fauquier Times-Democrat, Wednesday, October 20, 1999 (with permission)

Last summer, members of the congregation of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church near Catlett, organized a committee to preserve the site of the old Elk run Church in southern Fauquier.

After conducting its initial research and accomplishing a number of its preliminary tasks, the committee is poised to commence its public campaign to raise money to begin the physical preservation work.

Richard Gookin, of Warrenton, has agreed to head the fund raising effort.


Built in the early 1740, Elk Run was the first Anglican Church established in the frontier of Northern Virginia. Until late in the 18th century, it was the center of the bustling village of Elk Run.

As growth spread westward and America won its independence from england, the church fell on hard times and was abandoned.

Eventually, only a pile of rubble remained, but it is still regarded as the “mother church” of all the Episcopal churches that were established later in the area.

The property was given to St. Stephen’s last July by the late Edward P. Browning, a descendant of the Rev. James Keith (1696-1753), the first rector. The gift was with the understanding that the 100-foot by 100-foot lot on Elk Run Church Road would be preserved for historic purposes.


“The preservation effort is being led the St. Stephen’s committee, in collaboration with St. James Episcopal Church in Warrenton and ecumenically with other churches in the region,” said Edward F. Dandar Jr., committee chairman.

According to Dandar, the required survey of the property has been completed, and research on the establishment of the church is ongoing.

Sources thus far include archivists in London contacted by committee member Michael Wade, and a request for assistance sent to historical researchers at the University of Virginia’s Alderman Library.

Also, members of the committee visited St. Thomas Episcopal Church (c. 1740) in Croom, Md. on Aug. 29 to get some idea of what the “cruciform design” Elk Run Church might have looked like.

Although St. Thomas was altered greatly over the years, Dandar said that committee members obtained much useful information from its historian, Frank Robinson.

As a result of that visit, Sarah Gulick, a young member of St. Stephen’s, prepared an initial artist’s rendering of what the Elk Run Church might have looked like. Her work will illustrate the fund rasing brochure that Gulick and Norman Williams are preparing.

High-tech research options are also beign considered. Dandar has contacted Geophysical Survey Systems Inc. to get an estimate of the cost of a “ground-penetrating radar survey” of the site, to accurately locate the old church foundation.

Pat Curry, an archaeologist working with the committee, will contact other similar companies for bids on the work.

Local historical research is being conducted by Jackie Lee, director of the Old Jail Museum in Warrenton, who is preparing a draft genealogy of the first Keith family. She is also trying to locate the Keith family Bible, thought to be in the hands of descendants still living in Virginia.

In addition, Lee has offered to contact the Virginia Historic Research Department to determine when the committee can apply for an official stat historic marker for the site.

With the site surveyed and property borders marked, the Virginia department of Transportation can begin work on the roadside pull-off soon, possibly as early as next week.

This was made possible through the efforts of Cedar Run Supervisor Wilbur Burton and Robert Flournoy, of Elk Run. Lane Metal Products of Bealeton has generously donated 50 feet of 15-inch culvert pipe.


Other assets planned for the site will include appropriate fencing and an interpretive sign explaining the significance of the church and outlining its history.

Dandar also plans to arrange for limited excavation of the site by college-level history students or archaeologists. He also hopes to publish a history of Elk Run.

But all of this will take time — and money. According to Dandar, completion of the basic preservation tasks is estimated to cost about $25,000.00.

Donations are tax-deductible. Checks can be made out and sent to: Treasurer, Elk Run Church Site Preservation Fund, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 8538 Greenwich Rd., Catlett, Va. 20019.



Elk Run Church site will be saved

August 25, 1999

The Fauquier Times-Democrat, Wednesday, August 25, 1999 (with permission)

By John Toler, Times-Democrat Staff Writer

Through the generosity of an out-of-town landowner and the efforts of the congregation of St. Stephen’s Episcopal church near Catlett, the site of historic Elk Run Church will be preserved forever.

The chain of events began last December, when a neighboring property owner cleared the overgrown, 100-foot square property of trees, brush and debris.

Others living nearby complained to authorities that the site of Fauquier’s first Episcopal church — built around 1740 — should not have been disturbed, and that perhaps graves on the property had been desecrated.

The matter was investigated by the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office, and when the accusations could not be proven, the case was closed.

But the incident generated great interest in the site, which was owned by Edward Parry “Ned” Browning, of Winchester, a descendant of [The] Rev. James Keith (d. 1751), the first rector of Elk Run Church.

When contacted about the controversy, Browning was troubled by what had happened there, and expressed the desire to donate the property to a group or organization that would preserve the site.

Browning, a former assistant superintendent of Public Schools for the City of Winchester, had deep roots in Fauquier, and had once taught here. He had acquired the small plot from his aunt, the late Mrs. J. K. Browning, several years ago.


Initially, interest in preserving the property was expressed by members of the Fauquier Historical Society and St. James Episcopal Church in Warrenton.

The county of Fauquier was contacted through Cedar Run District Supervisor Wilbur Burton, who worked with the county attorney’s office on the deed search.

However, it was the congregation of St. Stephen’s that finally acted on Browning’s generous offer.

Edward F. Dandar Jr., chief historian of St. Stephen’s, became intrigued with the site, and contacted Jackie Lee, director of the Old Jail Museum, and Richard Gookin, chairman of St. James’ History Committee, who had been working to find a suitable custodian for the site since the issue arose.

Dandar discussed the current options with Lee and Gookin, and visited the property with other churchmen of St. Stephen’s.

Although only a mound of dirt and broken bricks and a lone tree now mark the site, Dandar was convinced it should be saved.

He contacted Browning earlier this year, and presented a proposal for preserving the site.

After serveral discussions, Browning approved Dandar’s plan, and on June 27, ownership of the property was passed to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.


On Aug. 18, about 20 people attended a meeting at St. Stephen’s to learn more about the project, and offer their help and support.

Now known as the Elk Run Project, the effort focuses on the agreement signed with Browning, and other ideas still under development.

The preservation effort will include fencing the property, applying to the Virginia State Historic Resources Department to have the property designated as an historic site, and installing a traffic pull-off on Elk Run Church Road.

It was announced that a bid of $600.00 for surveying the site had been received for consideration.

Research work into the early history of the church has been started by St. Stephen’s Historical researcher Micheal Wade, who has contact The Rev. and Rt. Hon. Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, requesting information on the early establishment and operation of the Elk Run Church.

Also discussed were fund raising options to provide for the purchase of the roadside marker, when approved (about $1100.00); landscaping; interpretive sign; and the culvert pipe for the pull-off.

Future plans include a minor excavation of the site by the students of a Virginia college or university.

While those in attendance had anticipated thanking New Browning for his gift of the property in person at the meeting, that was not to be.

Browning died Aug. 4 after a long battle with cancer, at age 58.

In both the opening and closing prayers, the Rev. Roma Maycock, rector of St. Stephen’s, praised Browning for his generosity, kindness, and appreciation of history.



Church site benefactor dies

August 4, 1999

Edward Parry Ned Browning III

Elk Run Church Site Benefactor, Mr. “Ned” Browning, III dies 4 August 1999.

After a long battle with cancer, former Winchester Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Edward Parry “Ned” Browning, III, 58, died on August 4, 1999. He was a benefactor of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Catlett, Virginia by deeding the Elk Run Church Site in Fauquier County, Virginia to the Church on June 23, 1999 to be preserved as a historical site and held in perpetuity.

Ned was a professional educator who was in public education for the right reasons. He had a high regard for the impact of education in the lives of children. Browning’s focus was all about education — both the students and the teachers. Winchester educators state that their school system’s powerful staff development program probably is one of Browning’s crowning achievements.

Ned was very civic-minded and cared for our community tremendously. He was just a very sensitive person. He’d show that in the way he formed his ideas and the development of the staff and administration of the schools. Colleagues stated that he was the energizing type. He loved academic challenges and was a lover of the language.

Ned Browning was born on July 15, 1941, in Winchester, the son of Edward P. Browning Jr. and Marion Barkley Browning. He married Elizabeth Dent on Nov. 27, 1964, in Waynesboro, Ga. Surviving with his wife are two sons, Edward P. Browning IV of Winchester and John D. Browning of Harrisonburg; a daughter, Sarah B. Boone of Boone, N.C.; two sisters, Roberta B. Mason of Lynchburg and Elizabeth K. Browning of Richmond; and two grandchildren.

Ned Browning was a descendent of the Rev. James Keith, first Rector of the Elk Run Anglican Church and maternal grandfather of Chief Justice John Marshall.


Preservation Plan Proposed and Approved

June 23, 1999

A detailed draft of the Preservation Plan is sent to Browning on May, 12 1999. Browning approved the plan on May 21, 1999, and deeded the church site to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on June 23, 1999.