History of the Church
The Makemie Church has an old and interesting history. Francis Makemie settled in Accomack county in 1688 as a Protestant Missionary. He preached and held meetings in his home, as well as at a place called “The Meeting House” in the town of Accomac. It was here that the present Makemie church had its beginning. Under Francis Makemie it flourished. In later years it gradually dissolved and in 1790 the land and buildings were sold.
Makemie Presbyterian Church is a memorial to the Rev. Francis Makemie, 1658-1708,
the chief founder of organized Presbyterianism in America and the moderator of America's
first Presbytery. He was responsible for Virginia's and New York's first acts of
toleration giving religious freedom to those colonies and, in many ways, laid the
foundations for our American Republic. He lived and is buried in Accomack County.
In 1837 the church was reorganized by the old Meeting House members. New members were added and the present site was bought and a new church was built. It was furnished in an interesting way. One of the members, Mr. William Beach, had been an elder in the Brick Church in New York City. Through his influence the Makemie Church received a mahogany pulpit, a bench, chairs and pews that the Brick Church was no longer using.
During the War Between the States, the Union Army occupied Accomac and the soldiers used Makemie church as a stable for their horses. (The Union General was an Episcopalian.) The pews were destroyed. Fortunately, a member of the church, Dr. Edward J. Young, managed to take out and save the pulpit furniture.
After the war the pulpit furniture was returned. It was used, along with cheap dogwood benches until 1895, when some of the members decided to put in a light oak pulpit and pews. The Misses Poulsons were violently opposed. As a kind of peace offering they were given the pulpit and settee.
A few months before Miss Sarah Poulson died in 1925 she gave back the pulpit and settee on the condition that the interior of the church be restored as nearly as possible to its original state before the war. With the aid of a few members who were old enough to remember the church in its pre-war days, the church the restoration was completed and once more the church has the quaint boxed-in pews and the Chippendale pulpit furniture.
The present members of the church have finally given in to the 21st century and are adding a small addition which includes indoor plumbing. However, they love their historic church and vow that Makemie Church will never loose its historic look.