The Cradle of Methodism
The Reverend Gary Ziegler as The Reverend Edward Dromgoole
The Reverend Gary Ziegler portrays The Reverend Edward Dromgoole at the 2014 Annual Meeting of The Old Brunswick Circuit Foundation. Rev. Ziegler is standing in front of the Edward Dromgoole House, which has been wrapped to prevent further decay.

Edward Dromgoole House, circa 1786.

Location: 2578 Christanna Hwy, Valentines, VA. The site is located .5 mile east of Route 46 (a Virginia Scenic Byway) .8 mile north of its intersection with Route 626 (Gasburg Road). Open by appointment only. Email info@oldbrunswick.org.

History

Edward Dromgoole (1751-1835) had emigrated to America from Ireland in 1770 and had been converted from Catholicism to Methodism. While preaching on the Brunswick Circuit, Dromgoole met, converted, and married Rebecca Walton, daughter of wealthy planter, John Walton. As a wedding present, Rebecca was given 200 acres of land in southern Brunswick County on which they built “Canaan” their home and the home of their family for generations. [The Dromgoole home and property was sold after the death of Edward Dromgoole III (grandson of Edward Sr.) in the 1920s.] Through the years Dromgoole acquired extensive lands in the Valentines area and operated a thriving plantation and a store, named “Sligo” which was the name of his home town in Ireland. He was also a magistrate and a member of the County Court for 45 years. He rode the circuit until 1784, then took over the ministry at Woolsey’s Barn, later called Mason’s Chapel which eventually became Olive Branch Methodist Church in Gasburg.   Dromgoole was devoted to the cause of freedom. During the Revolutionary War, Dromgoole read the Declaration of Independence from the courthouse steps in Halifax, NC for the benefit of those who could not read.

The Dromgoole home was frequently visited by the American Bishop Francis Asbury. It was at Canaan that Bishop Asbury, Reverend Peter Pelham and Dromgoole met to organize Ebenezer Academy, which was the first Methodist school in America. Canaan was also the birthplace and home of Edward’s youngest son, George Coke Dromgoole, who served in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate; in the US Congress for 9 years where he was serving at the time of his death in 1843.

Interpretive Plan

In 2008 in order to preserve this architectural and historical gem, the Foundation purchased the Rev. Dromgoole house and 16 acres. The long term goal is to preserve and restore the house and grounds and to add a structure for meetings and retreats in this quiet natural setting. The house will serve as the focal point and visitors will be able to watch progress as the house slowly undergoes restoration. The house reconstruction and research into the life and times of the Dromgoole family can serve as a tool for teaching and study.

For more information

on Edward Dromgoole, his family or for information on early Circuit Riders, please use these links: