Grace Church

WFP Historical Society

Contributed from the 1973 Audubon Pilgrimage Booklet
by the WFP Historical Society

On Easter Day 1860, the first service was held in Grace Church, begun in 1858 to replace a smaller structure used since 1827 by the second-oldest Episcopal church in Louisiana. Less than a year later, the ruinous Civil War over-ran West Feliciana, and before the new church's fourth anniversary it lay in shambles, a victim's of the war's devastation. The church tower drew tellingly accurate fire from Federal gunboats patrolling the river during the Seige of Port Hudson, not until 1893 was the church fully repaired.

The sadness of these war-torn years, when brother warred against brother, is lightened by one comforting measure: In Grace church's sublimely peaceful cemetery lie the remains of those who quietly demonstrated the universal brotherhood of man within the bonds of Free Masonry.

When the commander of one of the gunboats died, his Masonic brothers in Confederate gray buried him in their Lodge's plot. Years later, William Walter Leake, who lived in the Camilla Leake Barrow House, sent this report to his Lodge:

"In the Spring fo 1863.....Capt. White of Bayou Sara whom I knew to be a Mason informed me of The Albatross were Masons and sent him to ascertain if I would bury Captain Hart.... I replied we would. We collected a few members of our Lodge and met the procession, preceded by a flag of truce, at the top of the Hill. In the procession were Bros. Benj. F. White and Samuel White of Bayou Sara, the surgeon and two officers of the gunboat (Masons), and a squad of Marines at trail arms. We marched in front of the corpse....and buried Bro. Hart in the Masonic plot..... I read the Masonic service at the grave...."

The Rector of Grace Church, the Rev. D.S. Lewis, read the Burial Office and noted the interment in the cemetery records. Another member of the Feliciana Lodge present was William Town, a Methodist who later helped build that congregation's present church. All of them now rest in peace in Grace Church cemetery.

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