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As settlements and communities grew in western Virginia, there was a growing need for religious institutions. The stylized worship services of the Anglican and Episcopal churches, both well-represented in eastern Virginia at an early date, did not meet the needs of the frontier. Baptist, Methodist, and other evangelical Protestant denominations filled the vacuum in the west, utilizing emotional camp meetings and revivals. Travelling ministers, called circuit riders, carried the gospel to isolated settlers. The most famous of these was Francis Asbury, who kept a journal of his travels through western Virginia. Between 1776 and 1815, Asbury made at least thirty-four trips into the west. During these years, many new churches were established, becoming a fundamental element of frontier culture and social life. Religion represented frontier values and politics to the extent that when the issue of slavery divided the nation, it also caused divisions in all major religious denominations.

Settlement in West Virginia

West Virginia History Center

West Virginia Archives and History