"The Legend of Colonel Werth"

-an excerpt from Springs of Life Camp's: My Story is HIS-tory

Over the years, thousands of campers have walked by this piece of granite as they walk into the Chapel here at Springs of Life Camp over the years. Most never even notice that it existed; but the ones who have, were left wondering if it was real or an ancient prop left from Summer Camp's of the past.

Was Lieut. Colonel William H. Werth a real person?

Why is it here and what does it have to do with Springs of Life Camp?

Just a few years before the War Between the States, God was heavy at work in the lives of Methodist Minister Beverly A. Davis and his wife Mary. Having a heart for discipleship and a passion for education, the Davis family had a yearning to launch the very first female Bible college in "the South". After much prayer and careful deliberation, they purchased an old plantation home with the date 1790 carved high in the chimney of the structure positioned nearly central on 20,000 acres of land in now, Patrick Springs, VA.; and, on July 19, 1860 commenced the first session of the “Patrick Springs Female College”.

Legend has it, that Colonel William H. Werth (of the 45th VA. Calvary) served on the maintenance staff at the college on his down time while overseeing production at the iron-ore mine at now, Fairy Stone State Park. By the end of the Civil War, William was left with no family and really no place to call "home". So, since the college managed to stay open throughout the entire war, his relationship with the staff and students had become more like that of his own family. It was fitting that in 1870, Col. Werth would be handed the responsibility of taking over Rev. Davis's role as head of the school as he himself transitioned to a new role in Washington, DC.

Sadly, when William. Werth passed away in 1872, the vision to maintain “Patrick Springs Female College” died with him, and the halls went silent for nearly 2 decades...

(from the book, "The History of Patrick and Henry Counties of Virginia.")

"In 1864-65 William was hired by the Confederate States Army to take ore from the mines which was made into blistered steel to build their battleships. He was a chemist and a soldier. The ore was taken to a crucible for making it into blistered steel. The furnaces were about ten miles from Patrick Springs and were operated by a man named Barksdale from Halifax County, VA. The ore was placed underneath boxes in which iron bars were placed, the spaces between the bars before were filled with chemicals, which produced blistered steel. The Yankees tore up the furnaces near the close of the War. William Werth owned Patrick Springs."

Date of Birth: Oct. 11, 1829; Date of Death: Feb. 10, 1872 (aged 42)

Over the years, Col. Werth's headstone was moved all over the property for one reason or another. For at least the last 10 has it laid directly behind the wooden cross at the entrance of the Chapel .

But, where was the Colonel's body actually buried?

Historical evidence shows that William Werth's final wish was to be buried on the very site of what is today's Springs of Life Camp. In fact, legend has it that he was buried between 2 Osage Orange Trees that overlooked the entrance of the property so that he could see all of the happy children coming in to hear about Jesus.

Mock Orange, Hedge Apple, Monkey Ball, Monkey Brain; The Osage Orange was derived by the Osage Native Americans who used this wood (2 times stronger than white oak) to make hunting bows and was later used by settlers as a natural barbed wire.

A lot has changed since 1872, are those even the same trees?

Meet the Kier's (1st Directors of Springs of Life Camp) cir. 1973; Pastor Everitt, wife Jane, and the family dog, Hercules.

Hercules was loved by every camper that came through the same entrance that has been used for generations. One summer, Hercules was found after a horrific accident near the swimming pool area and the decision had to be made to "put him down". That summer, the Kiers along with the Summer Staff Family, buried Hercules directly next to where the Colonel had been laid to rest nearly a century before.

The site had been previously untouched by anyone other than the United Daughters of the Confederacy who had installed Col. Werth's headstone at the request of alumni of the "Patrick Springs Female College".

Springs of Life Camp's: Our story is HIS-tory:

The origins of Springs of Life Camp and the people who's lives over time have intersected at this very place, tells an over-arching story of a creator who continually pursues us. One with a love so great that He gave us Jesus as the example for everyday living, ultimately becoming the literal sacrifice for our separation from all things good.

Jesus Christ willingly took on the shame of each person who identifies with a misapplied life and restores us back to our own purpose in the overall telling of God’s story of restoration from brokenness. When our identity is in anything other than Christ, our ability to understand our purpose as His follower is misled by our own emotions and perceived abilities...

As we began to clear out the overgrown trees to make way for more outdoor space in a post-COVID world, we found remnants of old bus seats that made up our 1st attempt of an open-air Chapel in the mid-1990's.

Not only that, we found some curious stumps scattered across the hillside that seem to point to the evidence we need to validate the HIS-tory.

Help us get to the next phase of the Nehemiah Project!

Restoring the Reputation - Reconditioning the Facilities - Revitalizing our ministry's ability to Serve

Future plans of the all new amphitheater at Springs of Life Camp include:

- Seating room for up to 500

- A stage large enough for almost any ministry application

- A large firepit for campfire nights

- A big beautiful open sky for stargazing!

And a special fenced in area complete with flags and the headstones of Lieut. Colonel William H. Werth and Hercules!

Please contact us for more info about this and any of the other projects happening at or through the ministry of Springs of Life Camp!