St. John's Church


WFP Historical Society

Contributed from the 1980 Audubon Pilgrimage Booklet
by the WFP Historical Society
St. John's Church in Laurel Hill

For 106 years St. John's has served country parishioners of Grace Episcopal Church. In regular use today, it is one of the few such parochial missions in the Diocese of Louisiana. It shares its one acre with the Lemon-Walsh family cemetery.

Mrs. Sidney Lemon sold the acre to the church for $1.00 when the mission was organized in 1873. The cost of construction, including furnishings, was $2,000, the major portion donated by faithful parishioner Col. Vincent D. Walsh, a self-made man who was born in this parish but made his fortune in Minneapolis. Col. Walsh came back to West Feliciana, yet served in the Union Army during the Civil War. A lonely man, he had lost his young wife and later their daughter to yellow fever. His contribution was a memorial tribute to Susie's memory, and from his pew he could gaze on her gravestone.

St. John's was consecrated on Whitsunday, 1874, with Col. Walsh as junior warden. Senior warden was J. Burruss McGehee, who continued in that office until his death in 1913. A profound theological thinker whose ideas on the merging of the Anglican Communion with others became known as the Lambeth Quadrilateral, he was also a progressive farmer whose introduction of lespedezia hay did much to replenish Southern soil depleted by one-crop cotton planting. The Sunday School he taught at St. John's is tended by a devoted neighborhood; Mrs. John F. P. Farrar of Laurel Hill Plantation is organist.

Thanks to the West Feliciana Parish Historical Society for this write-up.


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