Continuing the work of the church
Orange, Virginia, like the rest of the country, was feeling the effects of the Great Depression. But the Women’s Auxiliary was not slowing down. They had made it their mission to financially support their church however they could.
And they did so quite creatively. That year the Methodist Ladies asked to use the OPC dining room and kitchen, and the Auxiliary received a payment of $5.00. The yearly rummage sales continued, the women served meals at other churches, garden clubs and to the Rotarians. They held lawn parties, donated their egg money, made and sold Christmas cards and sold their handwork. In March, the Auxiliary gave $50 toward the church debt ($959 in 2021 dollars!).
In 1933, the Auxiliary took a vote to pay the sum of $125.00 on the church's note held by the bank. It was due May 1st, and the Auxiliary voted to not only pay $125.00 on the Principal of the note but to also to raise the additional amount needed to cancel the debt. (The $125.00 was equal to $2,400 in 2021 dollars). Mrs. W. W. Sanford offered to act as chair of a special committee to raise the sum.
In June, repairs on the Manse began and the Auxiliary discussed ways to raise the necessary money. At their August meeting, it was voted that each member pledge and donate up to $1.00 to be paid toward this expense.
In November, Mrs. Rawlings, chairman of the Sunshine Band, donated $50.00 made by the “little band” to the Auxiliary Fund and asked it be applied to the Building Fund.
At the same time, the Auxiliary continued their work in the community, essential during the Depression. There was always White Cross work making compresses and bandages.
At the June meeting, Mrs. Hazzard brought to the attention of the Auxiliary the responsibility of the Church to the employees of the Silk Mill. American Silk Mills, Inc. was established in 1929 and was one of the town's biggest employers. Mrs. Hazzard and Miss Elma Williams were appointed to confer with other churches and organizations in Orange and try to work out some plan by which the girls and boys working in the mill could be helped.
In March of 1934, Dr. Stribling, then pastor of OPC, the Auxiliary for the noble work accomplished in the past year.
Lelia Johnson Sanford was born November 26, 1890 at Woodley Farm in Orange County. She was named after her mother, Lelia Johnson, who was married to Walker W. Sanford. Lelia was the youngest of five children.
Lelia graduated from Fredericksburg College, a small Presbyterian College in operation from 1893-1914. The school served missionary families. who sent their children back to this country for an education. Fredricksburg College was especially noted for its strong music program.
Lelia had a long family and personal relationship with Orange Presbyterian Church. At one time, she served as the organist. To get to Wednesday night choir practice, she would ride the mail buggy to Madison Run. From there, she'd catch the afternoon train to Orange. Lelia would spend the night with Dr. Lewis Holladay and his family. Thursday she would return home by the reverse route.
In 1922, Lelia left home to respond to a call to teach in a Presbyterian mission school in Nelson County, VA. She moved into a cabin on Shoe Creek with a minister, Rev. Arthur Francis, and his wife. Lelia was dedicated to her work. And she was devoted to the Presbyterian churches in Massies Mill, Harmony and Tyro.
Lelia traveled on horseback each weekday to a one-room school building. There she taught seven grades. She also taught Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and played the organ. She visited the sick and arranged for medical care. She also and transported people to doctors and hospitals.
In 1955, Lelia retired from teaching. The one-room school had grown into a public school. But she continued to be a part of the church and community in Nelson County.
Lelia later returned to Orange County and lived with her cousin, Mrs. Rowland F. Hill, Jr. at Berry Hill. She passed away on February 3, 1969. Miss Lelia Johnson Sanford was, undoubtedly, one of the saints of our church.
In gratitude and affection, her nieces and nephews established the Lelia J. Sanford Memorial Scholarship Fund. The fund continues to this day. It supplies aid to worthy young people in the Massies Mill and Harmony Presbyterian churches. The Sanford family hopes it will honor and promote the Christian character and endeavor that shone brightly in Lelia’s life and work.
Jennie Hill Robinson
- OPC History Team