CLAYSVILLE – Built in 1850, the Claysville Church served both Confederate and Union troops in the 1860s.
“The church opened its doors to all people,” said Mineral County Historical Society president Cindy Pyles, as area residents gathered for the annual Christmas service.

By Ronda Wertman
Tribune Correspondent
CLAYSVILLE – Built in 1850, the Claysville Church served both Confederate and Union troops in the 1860s.
“The church opened its doors to all people,” said Mineral County Historical Society president Cindy Pyles, as area residents gathered for the annual Christmas service.
The preacher at the time was a circuit rider and Pyles noted how troops would post sentries outside while they worshipped and when the pastor reached the post and was asked what side he was on, he responded, “I am on the Lord’s side” and was allowed to pass.
Darlene Frederick offered prayer over the service to “celebrate the birth of Jesus and the history of this church.”
A moment of silence was observed to honor of three members of the historical society who passed away this year, including Edith Ludwick, Mary Alice Hannah and Bobbie Robinson.
In Christmas tradition, the tree in the corner was adorned with popcorn strings, crocheted snowflakes, red bows and holly and cardinal ornaments - sparse in comparison to the decorations of today, but symbolic of the simplicity and using what you had to celebrate.
As the war drug on, supplies at home and for the troops grew scarce and while early Christmases were marked with presents and trees decorated with pork and hard tack, by 1862 soldiers spent the holiday remembering Christmases past.
“Families wondered when the vacant chair would be filled,” said Dave Frederick.
Frank Roleff shared about a soldier who wrote of spending his Christmas in a tent camped by New Creek and closed the program with the reading of the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth.
The annual candlelight service featured traditional selections of  “O Christmas Tree” and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” along with hymns of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Silent Night,” accompanied by Karen McDonald.
Pyles announced that the society has received a $2,000 Windforce Grant toward the museum on Lynmar Street and that anyone with items to donate or display is asked to contact Dinah Courrier.
Members noted several other historical events for the holiday season, including the upcoming open house at the Stone House Travelers Rest from 11 a.m.  to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 3, featuring live music both days. This event is open to the public free of charge, but donations toward the continued restoration will be accepted.
The Carskadon Mansion Christmas Tour will be held from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 and 9, and from 1-4 p.m.  Sunday, Dec. 3 and 10. Cost will be $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12 with proceeds to go toward the restoration efforts at the mansion.